Stems: How short is too short?

I’m taking your advice and installing a shorter stem. My question is “how short is too short?” I’m riding a Giant Trance with a 110mm stem; would going straight to a 40mm stem be too big a change? Or just too short for the bike?
Thanks! Dan

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Hey Don,

As someone who rides bikes with 50mm stems and motos with direct-mount handlebars, I’ll say this: The shorter, the better!

At least from a handling perspective. The shorter your stem, the more your bike will braaap the downhills. Many riders have trouble climbing with super-short stems, but you can learn to climb with a shortie. I defy any mortal to out-climb pro DHer Curtis Keene with his 50mm stem and flat pedals …

As long as you’re on a correct-length bike, a 40 or 50 mm stem will work fine. But it will be a huge change from your 110. Expect your bike to feel very different.

My advice: Buy or borrow a cheapo 50mm stem and see how it feels. Give it a fair chance. If it wigs you out, try a 70.

Remember to ride with your feet. Your hands are just there for control.

A quick rant

Unfortunately, mountain bikes came from road bikes. It’s taken us 20+ years to evolve from the road-based long/low position — remember the 150mm stems and flat bars? — to a shorter/higher/saner position. If mountain bikes had come from moto, we would have had short stems and riser bars the whole time.


— Lee

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