Tech Tuesday - Stem Choice and Cockpit Setup

May 3, 2011
by Richard Cunningham  

What you'll need to get started: Small measuring tape or ruler, hex keys, spare stems of various lengths borrowed from a friend or local bike shop, a torque wrench is recommended to properly clamp the stem to the handlebar and steerer tube

Stem Setup Tips:

• Take a few rides to get used to stem length changes before you make a final judgment. Even a small change requires you to reposition your body over the bike, which usually feels "wrong" at first.
• Can't feel a difference? Instead of making a small, 10-millimeter change, go 15 or 20 so that you'll experience a dynamic difference in handling. You'll probably find that scaling back to a stem length half-way between the new extreme and your old standby will be perfect.
• Choose a stem made for your riding style. A super-lightweight stem may work well for a lightweight rider who has proven not to break anything on his bike. That same part, however, would probably be a ticket to the hospital's emergency ward for a FR/DH specialist. Always match the part with your bike and your riding style.
• Be sure that your new stem installation will not cause the brake hoses or shift cable housings to bind when the handlebar is turned full left and full right - or when the fork is fully extended, in the case of adjustable-travel forks.

Pinkbike's Tech Tuesday Stem-Choice and Cockpit Setup Video:
Views: 45,430    Faves: 50    Comments: 2

Pinkbike's video covered the basics for getting your stem length right, but we know that every rider has a slightly different idea about the perfect stem for his or her bike. Got an opinion you'd like to share? We'd love to hear it below.

Past Tech Tuesdays:

Technical Tuesday #1 - How to change a tube.
Technical Tuesday #2 - How to set up your SRAM rear derailleur
Technical Tuesday #3 - How to remove and install pedals
Technical Tuesday #4 - How To Bleed Your Avid Elixir Brakes
Technical Tuesday #5 - How To Check And Adjust Your Headset
Technical Tuesday #6 - How To Fix A Broken Chain
Technical Tuesday #7 - Tubeless Conversion
Technical Tuesday #8 - Chain Wear
Technical Tuesday #9 - SRAM Shift Cable Replacement
Technical Tuesday #10 - Removing And Installing a Headset
Technical Tuesday #11 - Chain Lube Explained
Technical Tuesday #12 - RockShox Totem and Lyric Mission Control Damper Mod
Technical Tuesday #13 - Shimano XT Crank and Bottom Bracket Installation
Technical Tuesday #14 - Straightening Your Derailleur Hanger
Technical Tuesday #15 - Setting Up Your Front Derailleur
Technical Tuesday #16 - Setting Up Your Cockpit
Technical Tuesday #17 - Suspension Basics
Technical Tuesday #18 - Adjusting The Fox DHX 5.0
Technical Tuesday #19 - Adjusting The RockShox BoXXer World Cup
Technical Tuesday #20 - Servicing Your Fox Float Shock
Technical Tuesday #21 - Wheel Truing Basics
Technical Tuesday #22 - Shimano Brake Pad Replacement
Technical Tuesday #23 - Shimano brake bleed
Technical Tuesday #24 - Fox Lower Leg Removal And Service
Technical Tuesday #25 - RockShox Motion Control Service
Technical Tuesday #26 - Avid BB7 Cable Disk Brake Setup
Technical Tuesday #27 - Manitou Dorado Fork Rebuild
Technical Tuesday #28 - Manitou Circus Fork Rebuild
Technical Tuesday #29 - MRP G2 SL Chain Guide Install
Technical Tuesday #30 - Cane Creek Angleset Installation
Technical Tuesday #31 - RockShox Maxle Lite DH
Technical Tuesday #32 - Find Your Tire Pressure Sweet Spot
Technical Tuesday #33 - Three Minute Bike Preflight Check
Technical Tuesday #34 - MRP XCG Install

Visit to see their entire lineup of tools and lubes.


  • 42 14
 With so many people rocking I-phones and I-touches, can't Pinkbike make an effort to post non flash videos only? It's so annoying. What should really happen is for Apple to start supporting flash but that's a no go.
  • 13 4
 Agreed, PB is one of the only sites I visit where I still can't watch the videos properly on my phone (Android, not iPhone... but same problem exists).
  • 58 9
 No no you don't realize what is the problem here - just visualize yourself while using your phone, no no - think for a moment that you look at yourself doing what you do with the phone for like 5 minutes: you are sitting and staring passionately at a small block of plastic and slowly touching it with a finger. If you lack imagination look around you, there will be someone else with one - stare at him for a while - no don't worry, there is a very small chance he/she will notice you Big Grin - it is not what you see in the small box, it is the box that is the problem buehehe Big Grin
  • 26 4
 get an android phone, does everything an iphone can do, plus it supports flash. good video thoughh!
  • 2 0
 All the videos work with an I-pad now
  • 20 0
 @rottenron, aren't you a Schwalbe tyre?
  • 3 0
 @worm-burner - buahaha, +1 for you. They should make one like that, Rocket Rons dissappear so fast, that they might make it to be able to rotten anyways Big Grin Ride your tires fast, as your Rocket Ron will become a Rotten Ron!
  • 3 0
 +1's always some kinda box that's the problem. electronic and/or organic.
  • 5 1
 Since i got Iphone from work i found my self sucking at the hype nipple all the time. It's good to have some time off-line Big Grin I'm sure there's plenty of people commuting with busses or trains, using this crap, who say: "when did they built this skyscraper?" - WTF?! It's here since a year! - ah... must have missed that in the News - don't go to news sites too often U know... - WTF?! just look outside the window! - gimme a link would'ya? some gov shyte? - NO! Life!
  • 47 0

I currently live in NYC and everyday when I commute to work or step outside period people are linked up to some device and distracting themselves from the world around them. I honestly see on the subway a line of people sitting all staring at their stupid little gadgets. The world is going by and they don't see anything.... their world view and perspective has been simplified down to a cell phone screen.... I'm not knocking the people being productive on them, but really, how many people are enlightening themselves on their way to and from work???

One of the main reasons I enjoy cycling so much is because of what I see around me and the sounds and smells one experiences on a ride... no matter where you go, there you are. But when you have your nose glued to your phone you don't see much of anything at all.

People don't even know how to converse with each other anymore... uggghhhh.... sorry for the rant boys and girls... go ahead, let the neg props pour in.

  • 5 1
 i think it is funny that you're tech rant came in on "tech" tuesday. did you type it all in from your hand held, sayword? I agree with you. the vid on the stem thing was nice as well.
  • 5 1
 Since Sea Otter, all new videos do play on the Iphone, Ipad etc. Apple TV and Ipad will play all PB videos, but currently only newer videos will play on your phone. This TT was filmed a month ago and may not work on some devices.
  • 1 0

Totally typed it all on my iphone.... mad skillzz son, no biggie. No, I'm at work and Pinkbike is the most awesome site to burn time and get my bike fix for the day.

That's funny about the "Tech" rant on the "Tech Tuesday".... had it been a Monday I may have come off more negative, it being a Monday and all.

  • 3 0
 This video was uploaded a while ago, but ALL videos uploaded in the last week or so are now iPhone compatible Example
  • 2 0
 I'm loving the phone/computer technology rants, and I totally agree. I love getting away from it all and biking or surfing or talking or just taking it in. However, just remember that I am writing this on my laptop and you are reading it on yours! We are all guilty! I should be on my bike right now...
  • 2 0
 sayword, i couldnt agree with you more, having experienced exactly the same thing taking the subways around in the mornings.

I was definitely guilty of that in my highschool years, tuning out listening to my music on the 1, but then i decided to take my bike to school purely because it was 2 minutes faster than the subway, and my life has never been the same since.

Unfortunately, im studying abroad in mexico, and dont have a bike with me, so im constantly thinking of my baby sitting at home Frown
Lesson for all those going away for a long time-secure a bike where you're going to be, or bring your own-the separation pain becomes very hard to deal with!!!!
  • 13 1
 If I may bring in another issue of separation much more connected to mountain biking: don't you guys feel that bikeparks separate you a bit from the nature? They offer tons of phun, with mechine dug trails like A-line, full of table jumps, so good that if you don't learn to whip after few days there, you never will. They give you possibility to have the best dessert in mountain biking which is downhill, no matter the bike you are on, without much pain - lift takes you up. Then off course the adrenaline and stuff, doing dangerous stuff, aking you feel like laying with fire etc. But shit... I started a small routine lately on my XC/trail rides - stop for a while. Even i the middle of flow, where heart kicks over 200bpm. Just stop and look at the nature around, texture of tree bark, roots, plants, sometimes if you stay still long enough, you will see a passing deer, i even met a capercaille (fkr jumped at me, but whatever). Don't we do it to be in nature and all this Shredding the GnaRR, doesn't it shred the link to it too?

To everybody - I DON'T SMOKE POT! I get accused everytime!
  • 11 0
 you should. you'd be amazing
  • 1 0
 I don't know. The incoherence may induce whiteys in others.
  • 1 0
 pause at 2:46
  • 1 0
 @ waki- i learned early on to dig where you're at not where you're not. with or without pot! haha.
  • 3 1
 wow iPhone doesnt support flash? its easy to forget how bad apple is when you pretend it doesnt exist
  • 2 0
 Thought I had all three dialed but then I went to Costa Rica to DH it changed everything. The frame Manu sizing does change things somewhat eg. SC and Yeti make stuff a bit shorteer and my torso is longer= longer by 10mm overall

Someone give Waki a job so he'll SHUT THE f*ck

Oh hey RC, not that simple eh?! I've been in front of the camera for 25+ years, You are awesome, enjoy it!
  • 1 0
 calm down matey, no need to get your nickers in a knot.
  • 1 0
 RottenRon- Grab the SkyFire web browser. It plays most Flash movies for the times when you have to have them.
  • 1 0
 sky fire is complete shit, the streaming quality is awful. id recommend not watching videos on such a tiny screen in the first place. a larger screen makes movies look much better
  • 7 0
 There are many other factors that Richard didn't get into, but the video would've been half an hour. Best thing to do is experiment to find what feels best.
  • 2 0
 except not all of us can afford to buy five different stems.
  • 1 0
 Your LBS should be helping you achieve proper fit. If that's not an option, find a shop that will let you test fit before you buy.
  • 2 0
 but I've found that when i set up my bike and ride it up and down my street, it will feel fine, but when i get on the trail it feels different. They can help you, to a point.
  • 1 0
 my lbs has this bike fitter, what with the laser doohickeys and such. come to think of it, thats mostly for road bikes
  • 2 0
 By the way of tech tips: do you guys have any tricks how to tighten up the bolts of my brake without moving the caliper? While torquing them, the caliper rotates a bit. Any idea how to stop that? Maybe it depends on the bolts I use?
  • 1 0
 counteract the movement by putting it out of place to begin with, then when it rotates a bit its in place?
  • 1 0
 it's like with tightening the cones on shimano hub. In the last moment the outer nut will rotate the cone into the cup and bearings, making it tighter than you did with fingers. My solution is, to find the proper position then move it slightly towards to the unwanted position from which the bolt is going to move it, so when it does move the caliper it will rotate it to the proper place. I find that only with tightening the upper bolt, so fasten the lower bolt to like 90% of wanted torque and then do as above with the upper one. Then upper is fastened to like 90%, fasten the lower to the wanted torque, then repeat with the upper one. tightening each one by one tighter and tighter is a good strategy for all bolts in your bike, stem, bars, cranks,
  • 4 0
 Assuming it's a decent hydro brake, clamp the brake really hard as you're tightening the bolts. Brake pads both retract and you have a perfectly aligned calliper.
  • 3 0
 Put proper M6 washers underneath the bolts, convex side down (they have a convex and a concave side which arises from the way they're manufactured). This means that the bolt is moving independantly to the caliper and stops things moving around as you tighten it all up.
  • 1 0
 the-masked-rakist: it rotates too much to act like this...
Waki: in my case, both bolts seem to move the caliper. This method is good, but still not perfect...
Wa-Aw: yes, but the caliper moves with the brake rotor when I'm torquing the bolts. Not that easy.
cloverleaf: I'll search one and try it. Now I have the simplest washers mounted...
  • 2 0
 Hold it in place with your thumb. Sounds stupid but really, just trying to force the caliper back over as you tighten it can often solve the problem.
  • 1 0
 I completely skipped what all of you said, but....Loosen the caliper via bolts, and then rotate the wheel press the brake and while holding the brake tight, tighten the bolts. Done. Not that hard and it self centers the pads.
  • 1 0
 collin: tried it, it's too hard to hold it in place by bare hands Wink
  • 2 0
 like my father once said. if in doubt, give it a clout. others words use a hammer Razz
  • 4 0
 To stop rotation of the caliper- Squeeze and hold the brake lever, then ever so gently snug up one bolt then the other. Alternate bolts, tightening 1/8th of a turn on each until they are both tight.
  • 1 0
 Foghorn....I just said that.
  • 3 0
 Ratts....I just said that, first! Bazinga!
  • 1 0
 Oh well.
  • 1 0
 Rattsl - yellow card! Wa-Aw - red card! Honestly cloverleafs way sounds most convenient.
  • 1 0
 brooce: bummer, I have had a couple of those before too, they are really a pain. If you only have simple flat washers then I'd definitely go with what cloverleaf said, those washers should do the trick. Most calipers should come with them but if not I'm sure the local shop has some.
  • 6 1
 I like the FOX product placement with that fork in the back Smile
  • 4 0
 iphones are are very over-rated.. what happened to regular conversation anymore? Great videoSmile
  • 2 1
 I think this is probablly one of the most important spots that is over looked. You stem and handelbar choice is important. And Maybe dumb Apple should get with program and allow flash to run on there products. Southpark was right Apple is retarted lol. PC all the way!
  • 1 0
 Yeah apple is retarted, But at least the os is stable and you don't have to be a computer whiz to keep it that way.
  • 1 0
 thanks for the helpful info, i switched out my stem for a shorty a month ago on my ss 29'er and now i know why. at the time, i thought to myself, "self, this long-ass stem feels weird. i need a short stem on this here two-niner". low and behold, it feels way better, and the man himself Richard explains it all right here, right now. my day is now complete.
  • 4 0
 Good job, I found this rather interesting.
  • 2 0
 any chance i can snag that 2011 fox 36 fork Wink
  • 1 0
 Good stuff! Another Tech Tuesday I'd appreciate is how to choose crank lengths and how to get the right saddle height. Sadly most of my cycling these days is a city commute on an AM bike.
  • 2 0
 Interesting stuff with the weight balance, and front wheel axle position/stem length while climbing. GOOD STUFF!
  • 1 0
 What happens to your front wheel will also be depicted by geometry, suspension setup/type etc.
Personally I use a 50mm stem on the XC and Jump bikes, and 42mm on the AM and Dh bikes.
  • 2 0
 Yup, As far as my godly trio (Hamilton,McCormack,Wilson) advises it is better to go for longer frame in shorter stem, rather than to buy a short bike (like Santa Cruz) and then compensate with longer stems. In general no matter the bike whether it is XC, Trail, Am or even FR, when pedalling is involved - you should be able to comfortably or at least easily straighten and strain your lower back for effiency, if you can also easily strain your upper back, you are in the zone. Before widebars era, XC bikes with short stems and steep head angles were sketchy, and long stem improved handling stability a bit. But since wide bars provide so much leverage it is much easier to control dancing front wheel. Worst thing peopel can do is buy a too small frame, put a long stem and a setback seatpost on it - screwed up dh control and wheelie on uphills.

I run 70mm stem on my trail/AM bike and it's on the edge of comfortable length, but with 50mm i was too cramped to put power down. I started off with 40 and that was madness... on my XC bike proudly sits a 130mm stem, and stuff is still doable, no matter how steep it is, but corners get sketchy. No way to put the weight on the bars properly in apex and then to move back for exit
  • 1 0
 for me, this is the most useful tech tuesday i've ever seen. specially from a confused guy who's new into FR/DH. props to pink bike for discussing this.
  • 1 0
 No mention about stem choice for wide bars and the stress the extra leverage can put on the stem?
  • 2 0
 its unlikely that extra length will put enough extra stress on the stem for it to be to be a concern. its only really an extra 30-40mm on either side for todays wider bars. id be woried if someone designed a stem that would be at risk of failing under that extra bit of stress...
  • 1 0
 Certain stem manufacturers have raised concerns, especially on their direct mount stem products, stems that are designed for 695mm 31.8 bars will have issues with 800mm 31.8 bars, to put it another way, if you are using a E13 direct mount Boxxer stem from 2007/8 designed to take the flex & stress of a 695mm - 710mm bar, the extra weight from upper body pressure on a 740mm - 800mm will be cause for concern with a stem that has no steerer tube attachment..
  • 1 0
 ah fair enough, i had a steerer tube stem in my head
  • 2 0
 More importantly, the Tech Tuesday awkward video cap is back!
  • 1 0
 no one is talking about the vid here ,lol ,nice too see you richard and not in the pages of mtba
  • 1 0
 Point One Split Second stem and a Renthal Fatbar is the way to go!
  • 4 2
 For Sale 140mm 1" stem.
  • 1 0
 what about for dj and street?
  • 1 0
 40 to 50 mm. Forty is about as short as you'll find since the measurement is from the centre of the steerer tube to the centre of the bars - so you've already blown length right there. My 40 makes the bars very close to the steerer tube.
  • 1 0
 most dh stems are then suitable for dj is they are not dm
  • 1 0
 This video was Rad

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