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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I went mountain biking today for the first time in 6 years. I've been grinding gravel for all those years and I decided to get back into my true passion today. I've got a 2014 Soma B side V4 that I built up in 2014. I recently put a Rockshox Judy Gold fork on this bike and swapped out the end caps on my hope hubs for the through axle. This fork also had a tapered steerer so I installed an external cup lower headset which raised the front end 10 mm. With the increased stack height of the external bottom bracket and possibly a little higher axle to crown than my old rigid fork, I felt comfortable with a 60 mm stem and 720 bars where as with the old rigid fork the 60 always felt cramped in the cockpit. So off I went today and the trails I was on were some extreme climbs. There was just as many ups as there were downs and it was brutal. One thing I noticed was if I was in the seat the front wheel kept wanting to wheelie on the climbs because of my short stem. I could just as easily keep in a smaller gear and stand up out of the seat and lean forward over the bars but some climbs I like to use my mechanical advantage of the gears and relax on the seat while my legs do the work. On more than one occasion I had to bail off and push the hill. So I'm feeling like I need a little bit longer stem for the typical type of riding that I do. The reach on this soma is short enough that even a 90 mm stem doesn't feel too stretched out. But I'm still undecided as to what length stem would be best for me. The 60 was very responsive in the switch back turns today and I don't want to lose that. Do most mountain bikers change out stems depending on where they are going riding for the day or do you guys try to find one that works well for 90% of the terrain you encounter and just adapt your riding style to compensate?
 

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One thing I noticed was if I was in the seat the front wheel kept wanting to wheelie on the climbs because of my short stem.

Do most mountain bikers change out stems depending on where they are going riding for the day
Where is your seat? About centered, or slid back?
I've never put on a different stem, based on where I'm riding, in my 30+ years of riding.
I don't know if other people do.
I currently ride with a 50mm stem and almost never have trouble keeping the front end down, and I ride pretty steep stuff, so it could be your bike fit, or a somewhat obsolete design.
Edit: Not obsolete as in, you need a new bike. But everyone needs a new bike. I'd say throw a longer stem on and be done.
 

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I haven’t met anyone who changes out depending on what they ride. Most people i know change things like tires or wheelsets or forks, but do what works for you.

I’m really picky about my setups, mainly because my body can get super unhappy about the way the bike is setup. So if i was changing these around per ride, it would be more than the stem.
 

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Sounds like two things are the issue - the external headset adding 10mm of height and the suspension fork which is always going to be longer than a rigid. I don't think goin to a longer stem is going to fix this but since it is an easy fix it is worth trying. What travel fork was the bike designed for? If it is over forked + higher headset you are naturally going to be fighting the front wheel coming up while climbing.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Sounds like two things are the issue - the external headset adding 10mm of height and the suspension fork which is always going to be longer than a rigid. I don't think goin to a longer stem is going to fix this but since it is an easy fix it is worth trying. What travel fork was the bike designed for? If it is over forked + higher headset you are naturally going to be fighting the front wheel coming up while climbing.
I'm running a 100 mm travel fork and that is what Soma told me the bike was designed around as well as SRAM when I called them to help me pick out the proper fork for my bike.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Where is your seat? About centered, or slid back?
I've never put on a different stem, based on where I'm riding, in my 30+ years of riding.
I don't know if other people do.
I currently ride with a 50mm stem and almost never have trouble keeping the front end down, and I ride pretty steep stuff, so it could be your bike fit, or a somewhat obsolete design.
Edit: Not obsolete as in, you need a new bike. But everyone needs a new bike. I'd say throw a longer stem on and be done.
Seat is right in the middle of the rails on an older race face turbine setback seat post. Some of this stuff I was climbing was super steep and when I was in my lowest gear pumping away if I hit a root the tire would wheelie out on me. I know everyone is always said cross country racers use longer stems to get their weight more over the front tire for climbing so this made sense.
 

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Seat is right in the middle of the rails on an older race face turbine setback seat post. Some of this stuff I was climbing was super steep and when I was in my lowest gear pumping away if I hit a root the tire would wheelie out on me. I know everyone is always said cross country racers use longer stems to get their weight more over the front tire for climbing so this made sense.
When you raise the front end you are also moving the saddle position back and shortening the reach. I would recommend sliding the saddle forward or replacing the set-back seatpost with a 0 offset. Lowering the stem 10-20 mm will get the bars where they were and get some of the reach back. A slightly longer stem might be needed also.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
All of my bikes are 10 year old XC geometry with 100mm or 120mm forks and I run 80-100mm stems and 710mm bars. I used to run layback Thomson posts, but my droppers are straight posts so I am in a more forward position with the droppers.
Kind of the same here but my bike has more trail geometry and not XC but I understand what you're saying
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
When you raise the front end you are also moving the saddle position back and shortening the reach. I would recommend sliding the saddle forward or replacing the set-back seatpost with a 0 offset. Lowering the stem 10-20 mm will get the bars where they were and get some of the reach back. A slightly longer stem might be needed also.
I never thought about lowering my stem. And it just so happens I have a brand new race face zero offset seat post in my toolbox that I didn't like before because I wanted to be set back more but like you say maybe now I want to be set forward more?
 

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With the increased stack height of the external bottom bracket and possibly a little higher axle to crown than my old rigid fork, I felt comfortable with a 60 mm stem and 720 bars where as with the old rigid fork the 60 always felt cramped in the cockpit.
A longer front end reduces the reach of the bike, roughly 10mm shorter for every 20mm raised. If the fit was good before the longer fork, you would need a longer stem (and bar height and seat position changes) to duplicate the same position. Maybe with the time off, maybe you are preferring a shorter reach than what you previously considered cramped.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
A longer front end reduces the reach of the bike, roughly 10mm shorter for every 20mm raised. If the fit was good before the longer fork, you would need a longer stem (and bar height and seat position changes) to duplicate the same position. Maybe with the time off, you are preferring a shorter reach than what you previously considered cramped.
I added the ES44 lower and replaced my upper that had 10mm stack with a zero stack upper. So before I had a 10mm upper stack with about 30mm spacers and an 80/90 Stern. Now I have 20mm spacers under the stem with a zero stack upper so in essence 20-25 mm less stack on top than before but of course 10mm higher underneath. It's gonna take some experimentation for sure. Keep in mind this bike did double duty in the past as a bike packing rig and occasional gravel grinding when I needed a change from my gravel rig. So a longer stem before was fitting this bike for these purposes and now I'm trying to get back into single track mode
 

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Seat is right in the middle of the rails on an older race face turbine setback seat post.
Ah yes, the old "setback" seat post. That's putting your weight back for sure. I think, with some of these older frame designs, the manufacturers were trying to emulate road bike geometries. I'd start with moving the seat forward and try getting used to a shorter cockpit before you put on a longer stem. That will cost $0. If it doesn't work, go to a next step.
 
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