Malaconotus wrote:Also, be aware the steering will feel quicker depending how much you are shortening the stem by. Check that the hands will still be in front of the steering axis despite any sweep of the bars. Handling is wierd otherwise unless the bike is a roadster or similar with a really slack steering angle.
No it won't. That's just bikeshop folklore, to justify their inability to supply what normal people want, when it deviates from what pro racers want. The stem length has negligible effect upon the steering characteristics of a bicycle, which is entirely a function of steering geometry, front tyre properties and the weight carried by it. And that's the one way in which stem length does have a small effect, by letting the rider sit a bit further back, there will be a bit less weight on the front tyre, which makes the bike insignificantly less stable and easier to steer. But if you need to sit futher back, you need to sit further back and needs must locate the handgrips accordingly.
This was proved to me by a colleague who due to a back injury could no longer reach the bars on her lovely touring bike. She simply turned the (already very short) stem around to point backwards. The bike looked really weird
, but steered just like it always used to.
The physical act of steering was different of course, but arguably better.
There is nothing especially ergonomic about the way one steers a typical road bike equipped with a long extension and dropped bars - apart from the alignment of ones wrists. With hands on the hoods, they are a long way in front of the centre of handlebar rotation, so that rather than simply rotate, the bars swing side to side in front of the bike. It's as much like a boat tiller as a steering wheel! One advantage of this arrangement is that leaning forwards on the bars centres the steering. But pulling backwards de-stabilises it and makes the bike harder to control when working hard and weaving e.g. up a steep hill. It's six of one, half a dozen of the other, but you would think, would you not, that a racing bike ought to be more stable when pulling than cruising - rather than vice-vera?
The most neutral, ergonomically ideal position for the handgrips is either side of and level with the steering axis. The only reason bikes aren't usually like that is that it would place too great a constraint upon other more important aspects of the bike's geometry, so the shape of the handlebars and the stem are designed to accommodate those aspects to the needs of the rider, putting the handgrips somewhat behind or in front of the axis as necessary. Humans are adaptable and a moderate offset is not a problem even though it does have some effect upon how the act of leaning or pulling on the grips interacts with steering.
In conclusion, the steering will feel superficially different, but that's merely a matter of habituation, the bike as a vehicle will be capable of all the same manouevres and you'll soon get used to the slightly different feel of its controls. It's not fundamentally different to altering the height or reach to the steering wheel in your car.