My bike shop says I need a 110mm stem

Jaison, a tall skills client from NorCal, is looking for a new bike. He’s been riding a large Santa Cruz Superlight, which looked short to me. He wants an Ibis Mojo SL. His LBS wants him to buy a large frame (which they have in stock) and a 110mm stem. He asked me about that.

Now that’s a trail bike: Medium Stumpjumper with a 70mm stem. My previous Stumpy had a 90. This climbs just as well and braaaps better. Captain America and Mighty Enduro have 50s because they are braaap-optimized.


The Mojo SL is a great bike. I rode a client’s the other day. Freaking awesome. All of the Ibisis (Ibi?) feel incredible.

You DO NOT want to ride a 110mm stem. From a handling perspective, you don’t want to go longer than 90mm. It’s way better to rock a longer top tube and a shorter stem.

The XL Mojo SL is 20mm longer than the L. If the bike shop guy is right about your fit, you can rock an XL with a 90mm and be stoked. If I fit you on your bike, you’ll probably end up with a 70 or a 50.

Sounds like the XL Mojo SL will be a good choice. But a Stumpy would be radder. 🙂



PS: I’m excited to ride with you in September. (He and his buddies are coming to Colorado for a week of braaapage). Any stem longer than 90mm will be trimmed with a hacksaw.

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8 replies
  1. NORCALRIPS says:

    Go XL!

    Most large bikes are designed for people 5’10”-6’1″… XL’s usually are the way to go for riders 6’2″ and up.

    Stay away from the large if you are a tall lengthy dude! At 6′ i ride larges and recently have even considered going XL on a few of my bikes. However I’m on the same program as Lee. I run 50’s on all my bikes and try to size the frame correctly for maximum brappppage!

  2. Raymundo says:

    Beware the LBS full of XC racer heads. They may not understand your need to braaaap.
    I’ve been riding the same Santa Cruz BlurLT for 5 years. It’s always felt a little off but I could never put a finger on why. After the fortuitous entry into my life of a Spec P1 (which made made the Blur feel like a dead fish in comparison) I thought to shorten my stem.

    When I I proposed this to my LBS they looked at me like I had asked for a steering wheel to be installed. They proceeded to offer me my pick of the stems on the wall – the shortest of which was 100mm. Thankfully I bullheadedly insisted that they order me up a short stem (50mm Thomson). My Blur is a whole new bike. Comfortable and so responsive – I should have done this years ago.

    So- if your LBS’s staff bikes have towering fixed seatposts, narrow bars, and semi-slicks- you may want to take their advice with a grain of salt.

  3. Anne says:

    I agree with Lee on a shorter stem. Shorter stem and wider bars rules.

    Keep in mind, you can go too short. For my rides, the 60-70mm stem was perfect, but the 50mm felt too twitchy.

  4. Rob Pickels says:

    I’m going to play devil’s advocate, in a sense.

    Appropriate fit is going to be different depending on the bike and its intended use.

    Buying new is when its easiest to get appropriate stem / top tube length.

    However, if you plan on riding your bike for any extended period of time, you may need to find the balance point between appropriate fit and handling preference.

    However, if you shorten your stem for better handling, but that shortens your reach too much you may experience low back pain as you arch your body backward trying to effectively lengthen the top tube. This is one of many potential detrimental results.

    Your balance point (fit vs handling) may be different depending on your bike and preferences. I just caution people that if your bike is too small, its too small… which is a good reason to buy something new.

    Rob Pickels
    Boulder Center for Sports Medicine
    Exercise Physiologist
    (My stems are all shorter than 90)

  5. leelikesbikes says:

    Listen to Rob: He knows his stuff.

    I totally agree bike setup is a compromise: for handling, pedaling, comfort, cool factor.

    In this age with long top tubes, I think it’s fair to say a mountain bike that requires a very long stem (>100 mm or so) is too short for the rider. Right Rob?

  6. Rob Pickels says:

    Lee I’d agree, although XC race stuff will probably always have longer stems due to tradition (much like road bikes).

    If you have a 5+ travel bike (tail, all mountain, freeride, DH). I’d agree that you will probably be happiest on a bike that fits appropriately and has a stem of 90 or less. If you’re going to 105 or more and enjoy the BRRAAPPPP, perhaps you should be on a longer bike.

    Now, if its a DH or slopestyle bike, keep that cockpit short for good handling… you’re only going to be on the bike for a few minutes at a time.

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