3 Common Bike Set Up Mistakes that will sabotage your standing climbing.

Most mountain bikers don’t realize how important their bike set up is for standing climbing. In fact, a lot of what most riders feel as standing climbing being “hard” is really your bike set up making it that way.

The irony is that these bike fit tips will also help your skills as well – you’ll descend with more confidence, corner faster and feel more stable when/if you jump.

What’s worse, some very common bike fit advice falls into this category. Here are 3 common bike set up tips that make it harder to stand up and pedal and how you should have your bike set up instead:

1) Having a long stem to help with climbing. This advice comes from the theory that you need to spread your weight out over the bike in order to keep your front end weighted while climbing. The problem is that this only applies to seated climbing and when you stand up with a long stem your weight gets pulled too far forward, making it tough to get your hips back to weight the rear end. Using a 50-60 mm stem will not only make it easier to get your weight in the right spot for standing pedaling but give you much better control of the bike on descents as well.

2) Using narrow bars for… I don’t really know why you’d want them. This is as common anymore but you still see some XC riders with narrow bars cruising around bars less than 27 inches wide for some odd reason. While I also think that you can go too wide as well, getting some bars that are slightly wider than shoulder width apart will help you get your shoulders into a better position, giving you better stability. It also helps you get your upper body into the pedal stroke more by pulling up as you push down on the the pedal, which is tough to do if your bars are too narrow.

3) Putting the axle of the pedal under the ball of your foot. This is a huge problem for one simple reason – you can’t get balanced or use your hips as effectively when you are balanced on the ball of your foot. Once you place the axle in a more mid-foot position you’ll instantly feel more balanced and increase your leg power. You’ll also feel more stable on technical descents and improve your cornering stability as well. BTW, that is the same foot position you naturally go to when riding flats so this applies more clipless riders who have their cleats set way to far forward.

If you are struggling with your standing pedaling, especially when climbing, then make sure you aren’t making one of these 3 bike set up mistakes and unknowingly sabotaging your efforts. The irony is that these bike fit tips will also help your skills as well – you’ll descend with more confidence, corner faster and feel more stable when/if you jump.

In other words, the only area of riding that this common advice is good for is seated pedaling. Riding gets really fun when you stand up but if your bike set up leans towards seated pedaling – not skills and standing pedaling – then you’ll always feel like something is off when you get out of your safety zone, a.k.a. having your butt planed on the seat.

Hope this advice helps some of your out there, if you liked this tip please hit one of the Share buttons below to help spread the word. Also, if you have any tips or stories about things that have helped your standing pedaling please leave a comment below, I’d love to hear them.

BTW, the Bear Crawl and Beast Crawl from my new No gym, No Problem Workout Program are a great way to re-set the “primitive pattern” behind standing pedaling, which is why they are such a great core training exercise for mountain bikers. In fact, if you aren’t doing these two Bodyweight Flows then you’re missing out big time…both in the fun and results category.

Click here to learn more about the No Gym, No Problem Workout Program and how it can help you improve not only your standing pedaling but everything else you do on the trail as well.

Until next time…

Ride Strong,

James Wilson

90 Day MTB Skills & Fitness Program

90 Day MTB Skills & Fitness ProgramLearn how to permanently fix the bad movement habits that are really keeping you from improving your mountain bike skills. It isn’t “bad technique” that’s stopping you from improving your mountain bike skills. This program will fix the real cause - bad movement habits you don’t even realize are holding you back on the trail. Improve your performance and safety on the trail in just 90 days with the only workouts designed to integrate mobility, strength and skills drills.
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  1. Jan says:

    OK James, I’m convinced but I would love to see a video of your technique for standing climbing. You promised in your podcast and I’m anxiously awaiting. I stand and climb all the time on my road bike but on the mtn bike I struggle somewhat with rear traction. If I move my weight back to give more traction, I feel awkward. Should I be more in the attack position or more upright?


    Reply • July 22 at 7:29 am
  2. HundredDollar says:

    I wonder if I could add one more to this list, just from personal experience: Over-using an adjustable travel fork in the fully compressed range.

    Has anyone else had this problem?

    I had a fork that was adjustable from 3 to 5 inches, and of course down at 3, the steering is more snappy, and your weight tends to be over the front wheel more, which benefits you for (it turns out) seated climbing only. When I was beginning to stand up more on shallow climbs it was great and I had no problem but try to climb something steeper or over a ledge where front to back wheel balance is a little more critical, and I would lose pedaling traction on my rear wheel and spin out.

    It took me a couple rides for it to dawn on me that if I dialed the travel out it would put me in a more upright position, and put more weight on the rear wheel when standing and climbing. Theoretically this means you don’t need any more mincy 3″ travel forks, you can just roll with 5, and if you’re strong enough, never have to adjust your travel.

    Reply • July 22 at 10:31 am
  3. WAKi says:

    Well, you are oversimplifying it a bit James with that stem length. What actualy counts is the actual reach of the bike, the distance between BB and the grips. If we were to isolate the factor of good body position for syanding pedalling, stem length would not matter at allas long as the actual reach was optimal. The stem length is affecting mostly bike handling, and is a matter of likes to a great degree (stability vs fast snappy steering) and is greatly connected to head angle thus fork trail, thus the relation grips – wheel patch. Now what you wrote about stem length would be great if most producers wouldn’t make frames that are bloody short, let’s take SC Nomad vs Yeti SB-66. For Large frames you get same actual reach with 90mm stem on Nomad and 50mm on Yeti. Bike manufacturers are here to blame as shorter frames are easier to ride in static position for people who have not learned to move around the bike. So they are kind of supporting the bad habit.

    Now in my opinion anyone that gets an optimal position with a stem longer than 100mm should consider getting a larger frame. With one exception. There are people living in densely wooded areas, for whom running a bar wider than 700mm is not an option. Now if you want to derive some handling stability out of that, you must run a longer stem.

    So as a generalization you are preaching the right thing, but I’d say the good range for anyone doing climbing is 40-100 stem and 680-760 bars, depending on sea of factors 🙂 quite honestly a good advice on setup can be given only to people living in the area, the advisor comes from.


    Reply • July 22 at 3:33 pm
    • bikejames bikejames says:

      The problem is that you aren’t looking at how those different set ups affect your center of gravity in relation to the bikes center of gravity. You have the same “reach” with a shorter top tube and longer stem as with a shorter stem and longer top tube but when you have the longer stem your center of gravity will get pulled forward further. It is this that affects the balance and leg drive, not the reach itself.

      And I’m not sure how a longer stem will help with stability no matter how narrow the bars – the further your control point is from the stearer tube the slower your steering will be and the less stable you’ll be when you lean it over.

      Again, I stand by the recommendation for a 60 mm stem of less for any rider who wants to maximize standing pedaling and skills and leave the long stem (a.k.a. roadie set up in disguise) to the riders who just want to sit and pedal.

      Reply • July 22 at 4:37 pm
      • WAKi says:

        I guess you are relating the the relation between riders center of gravity in an optimal standing pedalling position to wieght balance between tyre contact patches. Rider transfers weight to the bike in 99% through the bottom bracket (here front and rear center plays a large role) and then that load is being transfered to hubs (here wheel size plays a big role) then to tyre patches. On each stage a lot happens that affects balance of the bike. Then another variable is for instance the handlebar sweep angles which change relation between head grips and head tube axle of rotation (what you are mostly interested in here I guess). Then if we talk balance, we can talk head angles and cockpit heights that influence it as no other dimension on the bike. Stem acts like a wheel in wallmart cart, longer the offset more stable is steering, harder it is to tirn and correct it. XC riders want steep head angles for best handling on climbs that have less inherent stability than slack ones, then because it is a mass start game, they can’t run too wide bars, which don’t help in passing on single track either. So they need long stems for downhills to gain stability with steep head angle and narrower bars.
        But they have also dialed the actual reach on xc racing bikes, therefore those frames are shorter.

        To cut it short – the slacker the head angle the snappier steering you need to control the bike on uphills, you need that short stem more for handling than pedalling stance. We can say that if we are around 180cm high, and we go anywhere under 68deg (a current standard for trail bikes) we cant afford a stem longer than 80mm, at a standard 8-9deg handlebar backsweep. At 66deg we need 50mm or shorter and handlebar longer than 720 to get enough speed and leverage to control forces acting on front wheel. Then if your stem gets so short because of demands put on handling slack bike on steeper technical climbs, then in order to
        maintaon the reach providing optimum body position, we need longer reach. Then you can go even further, you might want even faster handling and even shorter stem, then in order to krep bike stable, you will slacken the head angle further and get even wider bar, and even longer top tube, getting something like Mondraker zero geometry 🙂

        It’s a huge can of worms…

        Reply • July 27 at 4:37 am
        • bikejames bikejames says:

          I have to be honest with you – I disagree completely on the importance of that other stuff you mentioned IF your basic balance is off, which has to do with the relationship between your center of gravity and the bike’s center of gravity.

          You have to be careful how much power you give to numbers – mountain biking isn’t a math equation. It is about applying how we move best to the bike and having our bike set up to allow us to do that. Bike set up to the level your talking isn’t nearly as important as the bike manufacturers would have you believe.

          Reply • July 27 at 1:06 pm
          • WAKi says:

            Heh, I’m all fine with numbers and marketing, I think I know how both work 😉 And I also have to honestly disagree with you, because the difference in geometry between your 6″ Cove and an XC race bike is very big, even if we were to eliminate the suspension factor. And your clients surely ride a large spectrum of different bikes. If a guy at shop offering a free bike fit of a kind we both know, and tell him to run a 100mm plus stem, he will loose both on climbs and on deacents. If you tell him to run a 60mm stem or shorter, he will not gain almost anything on climbs, but he will loose confidence on descents. Please go ahead and try riding a xc bike, especially a hardtail, with a 40mm stem with any handlebar you wish and tell me it rides downhill, especially on your rough trails, as well as than one with 80mm stem.

            You need that short stem for balance, especially on long travel bikes like your 6″ Cove, and I will never buy the concept that 4cm on a stem makes a difference for climbing position, particularly the issue of power transfer to pedals, as everyone can bend elbows.

            60mm is a good point of departure, but only if frame is the right size, and vast majority of frames sold these days, have too short reach in comparison to seat tube length. For a simple reason: most of their clients are average or poor riders, not completely familiar with the idea of moving around the bike, and short bikes inspire confidence among those who ride staticaly.

            Anyway, thank you for sharing your version of reality and disagreeing with me, I always enjoy reading it, consensus is not always necessary

            • July 27 at 3:13 pm
          • bikejames bikejames says:

            I honestly have no idea where you get the idea that a longer stem will increase control and stability but my own experience and the experience/ advice I’ve gotten from the top skills coaches in the world say the opposite. Gene Hamilton even goes so far as to offer his own money-back guarantee to any rider taking his camp – including his XC racing camps – that if they buy a 60 mm or shorter stem and don’t like it he’ll by it back from them. To this day he’s had no takers.

            Dropping from an 80 mm stem to a 40 mm stem will make a huge difference on the descents and make you far more stable and comfortable.

            Also, geometry isn’t the most important factor, the rider is. That is why I can ride my ASR-5, Cove G-Spot, Transition TR-250 and my dirtjumper and have no problem with the fit or feel of the bike – as long as the cockpit is set up right with a 60 mm or shorter stem and wide bars.

            I’ve personally helped hundreds of riders (thousands if you include my online training programs) and one of the biggest changes I’ve seen in people’s riding came from getting a shorter stem and wider bars no matter what bike they were on. It improved their overall balance, stability on descents and ability to stand up and climb. Bike geometry and reach and all that stuff is secondary to how well you can get your center of gravity to groove with the bikes center of gravity and if that is off then nothing else matters. In my considerable experience getting a shorter stem helps most riders find that sweet spot while a longer stem tends to pull them too far forward when they stand up.

            Again, I appreciate your enthusiasm for this stuff and I know that you’ve been an advocate for me and my programs but in this case I have to say that you’re lack of real world experience is showing. As far as I know you don’t actually work with any riders and instead are a hard-core enthusiast. This is fine but your research group of 1 (you) doesn’t really give you enough feedback to know if what you are saying is just theory or actually holds up in the real world.

            • July 28 at 9:36 am
          • Guzz says:

            I brought a new 140mm travel trail bike a few months ago that came with a 60mm stem and 750mm bars, in the first few rides on it I had two front end washout cornering crashes, really unexpected crashes, after about a month or so of trying to adapt to the new bike I decided to put an 80mm stem on from one of my old bikes, and what a transformation! no more front end crashes, I’m guessing the shorter stem just didn’t put enough weight over the front of the bike.

            I also cut the bars down to 700mm as the wider bars felt like they had just too much leverage, the combination of an 80mm stem with 700mm bars just felt right in terms of pressure required for a given amount of bar movement, the bike also wanders less on climbs as more bar pressure and more bar movement is required for the same amount of wheel movement.

            As far as descents go, I don’t feel any less stable or feel like I have any less control, in fact I now have the confidence to chuck it into downhill corners without worrying about an unexpected front end washout, I’ve also not noticed any difference in regards to stand up climbing.

            • May 22 at 3:17 am
          • bikejames bikejames says:

            While I can appreciate your experience and won’t argue with your results, I will say that what you are experiencing is more a result of how you use your hips and not the equipment. I’d be willing to bet that you have trouble easily touching your toes and would probably not pass the Active Straight Leg Raise part of the Functional Movement Screen.

            What this means is that you tend to lean over rather than shift your hips back, which would put too much weight on the front with a shorter stem. The longer stem allows you to compensate for the lack of hip movement, which is why it feels better to you on the trail.

            However, if you fixed the movement and strength problems you would probably find that the 60 mm stem feels better and that you can actually take advantage of the better positioning on the bike.

            • May 23 at 1:10 pm
          • Guzz says:

            I can touch my toes not only with my fingers but also with my fists, I can also raise my leg straight to 90 degrees relatively easily, with regards to hip movement, as far as I’m aware I stay more or less neutral on the bike, depending on the corner of course.

            To elaborate further, there’s a forest plantation nearby which is completely flat with loose over hardpack flat corners, the kind of place where you just sit and pedal as fast as you can for the entire track, with the 60mm stem the front end would slide quite easily at only mild lean angles, I would have to stand up and push the bike into the corner while weighting the outside pedal to get around at a decent speed.

            But after putting the 80mm stem on I could corner at the same speed without any front end slides whilst remaining seated on the bike.

            • May 23 at 6:41 pm
          • bikejames bikejames says:

            Well, there is the problem – you aren’t supposed to corner while sitting down. The fact that standing up made the 60 mm stem work better proves my point. Don’t rely so much on sitting down all the time and you’ll see the benefits of the shorter stem.

            • May 25 at 1:42 pm
          • Guzz says:

            But there are corners out there that don’t require you to stand up just to get around, mellow flat corners for example that only require mild lean angles, you shouldn’t have to stand up just to get around those, if the shorter stem can’t enable me to make it around a mellow corner without the front end sliding out then I consider that to be a major drawback.

            Standing up and weighting the outside pedal only enabled the 60mm stem to work as well as the 80mm stem does while seated, and those front end crashes I had on the 60mm stem happened while I was standing, from my experience there is a negligible benefit to the 60mm stem, but a big benefit to the 80mm stem.

            • May 25 at 8:25 pm
          • bikejames bikejames says:

            To each their own, however I prefer to stand up in most corners – it is the best, most efficient way to corner and so that is what I use most of the time.

            Based on my considerable experience (working personally with hundreds of riders -including a few national champions – plus taking skills training courses from some of the best in the world) a shorter stem helps with steering and cornering (when standing up and using proper technique) and when descending. The only place a longer stem might help is seated pedaling. For the vast majority of riders I’ve worked with, the trade-offs were more than worth it once they took the time to adjust their riding style to take advantage of the shorter stem, i.e. learn how to stand up to pilot their bike more.

            But I understand that not every rider is willing to re-adjust and so the shorter stem might not be as valuable for them.

            • May 28 at 10:44 am
          • Guzz says:

            I stand up most of the time too, when its required, like when going fast downhill, but generally not when riding a flat family orientated XC loop.
            Personally I just don’t see how a 20mm shorter stem can help with steering, cornering, and control, the only thing it can possible do is quicken the steering, take more weight off the front, and reduce your reach.

            Now there will be people out there who may want to quicken their steering, take some weight off the front, or shorten their reach, but I believe that’s a personal preference thing, or a bike fit thing, you have to find the right balance, you can have too much weight on the front, and you can have not enough weight on the front.

            For me and my bike the 60mm stem just didn’t put enough weight over the front, the 80mm stem found that right balance, I can now corner (both standing and sitting) with confidence that the front end won’t washout, descending is negligible between the two, and I don’t loose any stability or control with the longer stem either, if anything the longer stem actually helps as the steering isn’t as twitchy.

            I don’t believe in blanket statements, everyone should see what works best for them and their situation, if a shorter stem works for them… great, if a longer stem works for them… great, in my opinion if you have to adjust your riding style just to compensate for a shorter stem when a longer stem enables you to ride how you want to ride without any drawbacks, then that shorter stem isn’t a benefit at all, it’s a hindrance, regardless of what someone else says, even if that person is a world champion, what works for them on their bike may not necessarily work for you on your bike.


            • May 28 at 4:43 pm
          • WAki says:

            WAKi – fullu agree with your idea that BB-Grips(mid) is what determines the best riding position. Bikejames – if that is too short for somebody that may mean a longer stem, a shorter rise handle bar etc.

            • January 5 at 4:26 pm
  4. Paul says:

    Right now, I am running about 31 in bars or 787mm or so, and a 60mm stem. Just wondering how wide is “too wide” for handlebars? I’m about 6ft btw… I’m addicted to them but do notice sometimes that I will wonder around a bit on the trail…..

    Reply • July 25 at 12:17 pm
    • bikejames bikejames says:

      I’m a little under 6 feet tall and I find that 30 inch bars are perfect and that 31’s start to feel a little wide. Wider than 31 inches for me would be too wide and my arms would start to get too spread out for max stability on the bike.

      Reply • July 26 at 7:58 am
  5. Jonathan says:

    I love the idea of using a wider bar and shorter stem on my bike. Would the advice to move to this kind of set up apply to any bike or type of riding you do? I am riding in some local xc races and really feel that improving my bike handling on the decants would help quite a bit…

    Right now I’m running a 120mm stem and 580mm bar. Would it be too big a jump to go 60mm stem and 700mm bar?

    Thanks for all the great info!

    Reply • March 19 at 10:31 pm
    • bikejames bikejames says:

      I’d suggest that set up no matter what type of riding you do. I don’t think that it would be too big of a jump, just more of a feeling of balance and stability that you will get. Hope this helps, let me know how it goes.

      Reply • March 20 at 12:38 pm
  6. kent says:

    James, in #2 you say “getting some bars that are slightly wider than shoulder width apart”. Have you ever measured your shoulder width. It’s probably somewhere between 18-22 inches. So unless someone is an NFL lineman, everyone should have bars at or narrower than 27 inches with that advice.

    I can’t find anyone fitting bikes based upon shoulder width, but a formula should exist. Shoulder width x +/-50% = bar width. I’m 5’8″ with a 6 ft wing span, my shoulders are 19 inches wide and my pushup hand width position is approx 30 inches to the outside of my hands, therefore I ride a 30 inch bar. It feels perfect with hard lay down bike cornering and climbing…running a 35 mm stem on one bike and 50 mm on another.

    Let’s stop propagating the slightly wider than shoulder width myth for bar width measurements.

    Reply • May 30 at 7:41 am
    • bikejames bikejames says:

      Thanks for your insights, I guess I am guilty of using the same terminology I use during coaching someone on how to do a push up. I tell them to put their hands on the floor slightly wider than shoulder width apart, which puts their hands in the same position you are describing. If you are doing a literal measurement then I see how that can get confusing. I should have said to get some handlebars that let you put your hands slightly wider than shoulder width apart, which is about 30 inches for the average rider.

      Reply • May 30 at 9:14 am
  7. joe says:

    why is it that trials riders have f’ing long stems??
    Control Sh**thead.

    Reply • November 12 at 8:13 pm
    • bikejames bikejames says:

      That is on their specialized trials bikes with a small frame and no seat. If you look at the stems on their more stock bikes they are short. Shorter stems give more control, at least to the dozen or so skills coaches I’ve talked to and Ryan Leech, who is one of the best trials riders ever.

      Reply • November 13 at 8:49 am
  8. JON says:

    Hi James,
    I ride a Specialized S-Works stumpjumper hardtail 29er. It has a 110 mm stem on it with flat bars. I am a fast climber, but slower and cautious down-hiller. I find after long rides that my neck gets stiff and achy. I am considering changing to a shorter stem. I am thinking either 80 or 90 mm. I am looking for more comfort and control.
    What stem length and angle would you recommend fro me.

    Reply • December 14 at 8:54 am
    • bikejames bikejames says:

      I recommend a 50-60 mm stem for all mountain bikes, there really is no reason to have a long stem on a bike that you plan on riding on the trail. You don’t need much of an angle either, no more than 10-20 degrees of rise. Getting the handlebars in closer will actually take a lot of strain off your neck because you can keep your shoulders packed in better plus it will change how balanced and confident you are on downhills. But it has to be at least 60 mm, any longer and you run into steering and balance issues.

      Reply • December 15 at 8:53 am
  9. Tyler says:

    Just read your coments on stem length over the last few years i have been swiching between 50 mm 60 mm and 70mm back and forth trying to find the right size. I injoyed the decution between you and waki as this is what goese on in my head all the time. My experence is you are focusing on one factor standing and a bike is a combanation of fators as we dont just stand and pedel. And swiching stem length longer and showter all affect diferent parts of the ride and chosing the best ballance is omportant.

    Reply • February 11 at 9:06 am
    • bikejames bikejames says:

      I’m not sure that I am only looking at it from a standing pedaling perspective. A shorter stem will also make it easier to corner, help with you balance and body position during descents and generally quicken up your steering. I was just highlighting how most people don’t think about how stem length also affects your balance points when you stand up to pedal.

      As far as I know there are no drawbacks to a shorter stem and yet there are many advantages. If someone has trouble with a shorter stem then odds are there are some mobility and strength issues that keep them from getting into the right position and those should be addressed instead of covered up with a longer stem.

      Reply • February 12 at 9:17 am
  10. Tyler says:

    Thankyou for your coment the issue i have is i have a older bike (reign x 2009 size L I am just over 6 feet tall) shorter top tube ( old style geo) put totem on in and when i did this i found it rased the frount shifting my weight back and hard to get grip from the frount wheel in corners went to 70mm stem from 50mm seemed to fix it. Dose this seem to be streangth and mobility or fighting with old geo long fork and my hight.

    Reply • February 12 at 8:13 pm
    • bikejames bikejames says:

      We’re all different to some degree so I can’t say for sure that a longer stem isn’t better for you. But you shouldn’t need a longer stem to get your weight on the front end, that should come from your ability to hip hinge and get your weight spread out properly over the bike. If your front end came up then you have to adjust your body position. I ride bikes as trail bikes with 5 inch forks and steep head angles to DH bikes with 7-8 inch forks and with slack angles and I use the same length stem for all of them, I just have to adjust how I move on the bike to compensate for the different angles.

      Again, a longer stem may work better for you but for most riders a 50-60 mm stem will make it a lot easier to stand up to pedal and corner.

      Reply • February 13 at 9:47 am
  11. Leonard says:

    A wide bar that is too high is no different from a short bar – it forces the rider to a hunched shoulder position. Engaging the lats are difficult to attain or uncomfortable. Bar height is dependent on frame geo, so same cockpit/spacer setup may not equally work on different frames, assuming they have been specd correctly for the rider.

    Reply • October 10 at 10:51 pm
  12. Mike says:

    How about seat height in relation to handlebar height? I’m 6″1 with 35″ riding inseam. On a typical size L frame my seat is higher than the handlebars in a stock setup (also with narrow bars, longer stem). I need a solid 36″ from pedal to seat top for full leg extension, but reluctant to move to big, XL frames for more room. Concerned about being too cramped with a shorter stem. Am I focused on the wrong thing? Experiencing neck pain/stiffness after rides. Insight? Thanks!

    Reply • January 5 at 8:54 pm
  13. Brian Meyer says:

    I have a 2016 Trek Xcalibur 8 XC Hardtail. I am looking to ditch the 100mm x 7 degree stem that cam on the bike. I have 690mm x 15 mm rise handlebars. What head stem do you recommend to stay close to the same bar height?

    Reply • July 22 at 7:46 pm
    • Brian Meyer says:

      Ps. Or will a lower bar height be okay with a shorter stem?

      Reply • July 22 at 8:35 pm
      • bikejames bikejames says:

        The lower bar should be alright with the shorter stem, although you can find a 50-60 mm stem with the same rise as your current stem which will put it at the same height.

        Reply • July 25 at 4:36 pm
  14. Scott says:

    I have to say that I don’t believe a short stem is for everyone. It definitely reduces the reach and can make a bike fit very uncomfortable while standing especially if you have a long torso. Having the bars in the knees and handlebars at my waste doesn’t feel right while standing and I don’t believe it’s efficient. Yes I do have wide bars at 740mm and wide bars do not compensate for reduced reach from a short stem while standing and pedaling. Not enough anyway Just my 2 cents I agree with everything else you’ve stated though. This is my experience through many years of experimenting.

    Reply • August 12 at 8:53 pm
    • bikejames bikejames says:

      Thanks for the insights. However, I would look at achieving the reach you need through a long enough top tube and great hip mobility. The longer stem does set your weight forward more in relation to the axle of the front wheel and changes how your weight and pressure get applied into it, which does affect balance and steering. I agree you need a bike that fits comfortably but I’d still suggest going with a 60 mm stem and finding a frame that is comfortable.

      Reply • August 15 at 10:31 am
  15. guymondo says:

    Swapped a 90mm stem for a 60mm and have 720mm bars. Now climbing for me is loads better my back wheel is more weighted and doesn’t spin as much on the trails I ride . Also the bike feels more neutral in balance which helps me over obstacles and small jumps. I have also noticed fatigue is less , so a massive win all round , never going back!

    Reply • October 20 at 4:43 pm

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