Stem length and handlebar path

Shorter stems usually create a more functional riding position, which is awesome.

Here’s another benefit of shorter stems: A simpler handlebar path.

If you’re between sizes for a new frame, I suggest going with the longer frame and a shorter stem.

Know more. Have more fun!

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3 replies
  1. MarkS says:

    The nerdy engineer in me wants to necropost that another often overlooked feature WRT the longer stem Is a larger twisting force against the forks, front wheel, front tire sideal/contact patch, and so on. Not everyone has Rockshox Pike forks and/or 35mm inner width carbon rims, etc. Just one more thing to consider ….

  2. Chris says:

    Hi Lee, I know this post is super old, but I don’t know where else to post this. I’ve been thinking about handlebar path a lot lately. I know the effects stem lengths have on steering inputs/outputs, handlebar path, ride quality (more vs. less responsive), etc. What I am curious about, and have never heard anyone comment on before is this: Imagine a 55mm stem on a BMX race bike with handlebars bumped forward 17mm. Now the rider thinks, this feels good, but wouldn’t it be better if my bars were more parallel to my fork…you know, like everyone preaches. So, he replaces the 55mm stem with a 60mm stem and brings the bars back a little and now the bars are only bumped forward 12mm (within the 1/2″ rule from “Pro BMX Skills”). The rider feels like he made a smart adjustment. My question is this: Is there really any difference? If we are only talking about handlebar path, then at the end of the day, if your grip position in your cockpit literally didn’t change at all, and the only thing that happened was add 5mm to stem and subtract 5mm from bar angle, did the ride quality change at all? Feel free to use larger numbers to illustrate why there is a difference or why not. I’m kinda of thinking that there is no difference, but I would probably make the stem swap just to satisfy the more-parallel-setup Gods. Am I crazy?


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