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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Assuming your cockpit is dialed, I was curious what recommendations and experience on the best handling and best compromise stem length as far as an all around universal stem length for all around trailbike is. This includes climbing, weighting over the wheel and steering, and technical descending. I am speaking of headtube angles of about 68.5 to 70 degrees, and an axle-crown of about 515mm which about 5 inch travel bike typicaly.

What I was figuring was a slightly shorter stem than a typical XC setup, I am guessing about 100 - 110mm long, but still long enough for decent climbing. I have had very good handling with 120mm and 130mm in the past but felt like I was too far forward on the bike, and have even headovered a couple times on really steep descents related to it particularly when I was less experienced. If people can post up their experiences that would be great!
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
I also wanted to follow up with this, that though I know a lot of it is personal preferance (and fit), at the same time, I do believe that there is a "range" particularly for good weighting and all around handling (where the stem is also slightly longer, at about 100-110 versus say a 60mm or 70 mm) where it rips around corners and handles a little better than a shorter stem and something that is twitchier.

Also, for reference we'll say that the handlebar is also a little more AM-ish, 660mm wide or so and probably a riser bar or something that would have your handles to near height of your seat unless you are exceptionally tall...
 

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I mate my stem length to my TT length to yield a certain nose to stem length. I usually run a 50-60mm stem, which I find to be very comfortable.

A lot of it will depend on top tube and upper body sizing.
 

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I currently run a 75mm stem on my Vagrant but plan to go to a 90mm later this year. It has a lot to do with your size, riding style and terrain. Anywhere between 60 and 110 or so should be fine.
 

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I don't think you can percolate all the factors that affect where your hands end up on a given bike down to analyzing the stem length that others utilize. What about rise of the stem, spacers underneath the stem, the bar's rise, the width of the bars, etc.? Let alone differences in different bikes by just comparing head angles. Not to mention the differences among the riders in preferences and riding styles....
 

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I've been mountain biking for 21 years and have gone from 135 to 120 to 100 to 90 and now 45 to 70mm. I have a 50 on my 6" bike and it does everything well. Not twitchy at all and it still climbs very well. My 5" bike and HT have 70's and this is as long as I'm willing to go on a mountain bike. If your trails are very flat or you only ride on the road then go with old school roadie fit, but you'll be cheating yourself for mountain biking.
 

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I agree with a lot of statements already mentioned. I built up a new bike this spring and am on my 3rd stem as I continue to try to get the right fit. I ran a short stem 80mm and it railed and jumped great, but didn't climb well. After trying a few stems I am testing out a 110mm. I kept moving my seat back, in order for the shorter stems to fit. Talk to your lbs and see if you can test ride a stem or two.

Good Luck
 

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Can someone fill me in on what are the benefits and costs of having a long stem versus a shorter stem as a general rule?

Thanks
 

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A longer stem moves the bars farther out from the steering axis which will slow down your steering perhaps giving you more stability but making it less responsive. It will also move your weight more forward on the bike by making you reach farther.
 

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I started with a 60 mm on my hardtail, its a bit too short. Keeping the front end down up steep climbs isn't easy. I order a 80 mm Thomson....that should be a good comprimise
 

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While a longer stem does make it seem easier to get into a good climbing position to keep the front end down it is really a matter of technique and positioning.

I experimented with my hardtail and found that I could climb the same steep hill with either a 100 or 70mm stem. This short steep hill is at the absolute limit of my climbing ability and requires my butt over the rear wheel on the way down. Any steeper and I would walk. Both stems worked the same. I am well forward on my saddle with my chest down over the bars.

The difference is on the way down when the shorter stem gets your weight back and is much safer. You have better control and are much less likely to go over the bars. The faster steering is noticeable at first but I got used to it quickly. I also run fairly wide bars. IMO narrow bars and long stems belong on road bikes.

http://www.leelikesbikes.com/stem-lengthrise-for-a-trail-bike.html#more-326
 
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