Adjustable Stems - recommendations?

For discussions about bikes and equipment.
gregoryoftours
Posts: 1024
Joined: 22 May 2011, 7:14pm

Re: Adjustable Stems - recommendations?

Postby gregoryoftours » 4 Mar 2019, 8:20pm

LittleGreyCat wrote:In my head I see myself moving the bars in an arc where the bars are furthest when horizontal, and come back towards the rider when moved up or down. This would, for example, allow me to move the stem one spacer down and then swing the bars upwards to get them into roughly the same position as they started, but closer to the saddle.

I am still moving the saddle position a bit so I will wait for that before addressing the bars.

As you say, once you start tinkering then everything else is in a slightly different place.

Sounds like a plan, using the adjustable stem largely to adjust reach and compensating for height change with the spacers. The bell spacer looks to be about 10mm and the smaller spacer 5 ish, so re arranging them in conjunction with the 20s will give increments of 5mm over the entire height range.

Most of those stems can be adjusted while mounted on the steerer, although as you say you might well be swapping the spacers around with each angle adjustment so you are only adjusting reach independent of height. Of course you have to fiddle around with bar angle as you adjust stem angle too.

By the way if you want to make frequent adjustments to your spacers you can buy locking stem spacers. If you put one of these right above the headset and lock it off once you've set your headset up it saves you having to re-set your headset bearing adjustment every time you swap the stem and other spacers around. If you live near decathlon you might be able to get one cheaply from there as they come fitted to some of their bikes. Otherwise available online.

LittleGreyCat
Posts: 607
Joined: 7 Aug 2013, 8:31pm

Re: Adjustable Stems - recommendations?

Postby LittleGreyCat » 5 Mar 2019, 12:52pm

gregoryoftours wrote:
LittleGreyCat wrote:<snip>

By the way if you want to make frequent adjustments to your spacers you can buy locking stem spacers. If you put one of these right above the headset and lock it off once you've set your headset up it saves you having to re-set your headset bearing adjustment every time you swap the stem and other spacers around. If you live near decathlon you might be able to get one cheaply from there as they come fitted to some of their bikes. Otherwise available online.


Thank you.

That sounds a very sensible tip, as I wasn't looking forward to constantly resetting the headset bearing adjustment (and making sure the bars were straight ahead).

No Decathlon near me, unfortunately.

Edit:
found a Problem Solver locking stem spacer. Fine until you look at the stack height!
Stack height of 8.5 mm, mine seem to be 20 mm, a quick online search turns up sizes of 3, 5, and 10 mm.
The blurb says " It is a compact, low profile design barely larger than a standard aluminium headset spacer.".
Mr. Picky wonders why it couldn't be, say, 10mm instead of 8.5 to match standard sizes.

http://hub.chainreactioncycles.com/buying-guides/components/headset-spacers-buying-guide/
helped me to understand more about spacers and why we need them; although not why an 8.5 mm spacer is a good idea.
I suppose adding 4 * 3 mm spacers would be close enough.

simonhill
Posts: 2590
Joined: 13 Jan 2007, 11:28am
Location: Essex

Re: Adjustable Stems - recommendations?

Postby simonhill » 5 Mar 2019, 3:38pm

My only comment is that I had an adjustable stem on my last touring bike and it creaked. Not a lot, but it was noticeable when under stress. I believe it was a fairly common complaint.

If the OP is bike/component noise adverse, it may be something to consider.

I posted a similar comment yesterday, but it either failed to post or the mods found creaking unacceptable.

Vorpal
Moderator
Posts: 17414
Joined: 19 Jan 2009, 3:34pm
Location: Not there ;)

Re: Adjustable Stems - recommendations?

Postby Vorpal » 5 Mar 2019, 4:28pm

LittleGreyCat wrote:I'm now even more confused (if that is possible).

Apparently with the Ritchey adjustable stem you have to take it off the bike to change the angle.

I was assuming that you could ride a bit, slacken off the clamps, move the angle a bit and tighten up again.
Are all the clamps like this, or just the Ritchey?

My experience...

The Ritchey requires more time and effort than some of the others. I wouldn't do it on the road, but you don't have to take it off the bike to do it. You do have to separate the two parts of the toothed spline fitting, so you have to partially disassemble it. Despite this, it is, to me, the better stem because the splines fit very closely, and I think it is unlikely to fail, even if the bolts loosen. The Ritchey adjustable stem on my tourer does not creak.

Ritchey have a new type that I understand is easier to do, but I haven't tried it.

The other stems I have are much easier to adjust. I can and have done them in the middle of a ride. The Kalloy stems are easiest, but not something I would want on a bike long term. They're fine on the kids bikes (which are currently outgrown every year or two and adjusted regularly), but I wouldn't put one on my tourer or commuter. I think they would be okay for trying out different positions.
“In some ways, it is easier to be a dissident, for then one is without responsibility.”
― Nelson Mandela, Long Walk to Freedom

slowster
Posts: 1043
Joined: 7 Jul 2017, 10:37am

Re: Adjustable Stems - recommendations?

Postby slowster » 5 Mar 2019, 4:39pm

LittleGreyCat wrote:I suppose adding 4 * 3 mm spacers would be close enough.

It's probably simpler than that. If you look at the photographs gregoryoftours posted on your other thread showing the stem/steerer with top cap removed, you will realise that plus or minus 1.5mm variation in the total height of all the spacers underneath the stem is unlikely to be critical.

viewtopic.php?f=5&t=128463#p1330654

If, as it looks, one of the spacers currently underneath your stem is 10mm, then exchanging it for the Problem Solvers locking spacer will lower the stem by 1.5mm. That will only be a problem if the top cap is then too close to the top of the steerer, i.e. such that when you tighten the top cap to pre-load the headset bearings, the bottom of the top cap comes into contact with the steerer tube before the play in the headset disappears. In that case you would need to increase the total height of the spacers under the stem, e.g. most likely with a single 3mm spacer.

Less importantly, it looks like you have one 5mm spacer, one 10mm and the rest are all 20mm. As I said above, those give you adjustment of stem height in 5mm increments using the various different permutations of spacers above and below the stem. However, if you replace your 10mm spacer with the the Problem Solvers locking spacer, you lose the ability to adjust in 5mm increments because the Problem Solvers locking spacer will always be below the stem. The obvious solution would be to replace one of the 20mm spacers with two 10mm spacers, but in your case if you get an adjustable stem and use that to make small adjustments to bar height, then I suspect you may not be bothered about raising and lowering the stem in 20mm increments.

With regard to the idea of multiple 3mm spacers, in my view you should always aim for the least number of spacers possible, e.g. rather than five 5mm spacers fit either a 15mm plus a 10mm or a 20mm plus a 5mm. Lots of small spacers looks bad and is, I think, bad from an engineering perspective (more gaps for water to get to the steerer and possibly then into the headset, and possibly more likely to result in uneven/insufficient pre-load of the headset bearing).

LittleGreyCat
Posts: 607
Joined: 7 Aug 2013, 8:31pm

Re: Adjustable Stems - recommendations?

Postby LittleGreyCat » 5 Mar 2019, 9:27pm

Thanks to all for the awesome amount of information.

Just realised that to get to 20 mm spacing I could have TWO Problem Solvers at 8.5 mm each (17 mm) and a 3 mm normal spacer.
However that might be getting slightly silly.

User avatar
NATURAL ANKLING
Posts: 10788
Joined: 24 Oct 2012, 10:43pm
Location: English Riviera

Re: Adjustable Stems - recommendations?

Postby NATURAL ANKLING » 5 Mar 2019, 9:52pm

Hi,
Brucey wrote: Lets put it this way; if the whole bike were built like most adjustable stems, it would be twice the weight, half as stiff, and half as reliable.
cheers

What like a moulten :mrgreen:
If You Don't Try You Don't Do.....Don't Do You Don't Get...I'm Still Trying....Well Very..
You'll Find Me At The Top Of A Hill...............Somewhere...After Dark..