Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Short Stem

Shortcrust, Short Selling, Short Stuff, Short Stem

My Cube Analog 29er "Herman" is a fairly basic MTB with a geometry (e.g. 70 degree head angle) that suggests it is aimed at cross country (XC) and easier trails. With a 700mm bar and a 90mm stem as stock it is a very stable bike to ride. I've had it (slowly) round the red trail at Gisburn and, with the seat dropped down a bit, it's quite capable of handling terrain I wouldn't have expected it to. Indeed, the fat fleshy bit pushing the pedals is often the limiting factor.

A lot has been written about running a short stem and wide bars on a mountain bike. The idea being that it improves the steering speed and allows the rider's weight to be moved back further when descending. It should also make lifting the front wheel on trails easier, something I've struggled with in the past.

I thought I'd make a large enough change to the geometry that even a lump like me might stand a chance of noticing a difference. So the 90mm Cube stem has been swapped for a 50mm On-One "Hot Box" part cos it was the cheapest 50mm stem available at the time.

First Thoughts

This isn't a scientific A-B comparison as I haven't ridden Herman for a couple of weeks as I've been commuting on the Croix. However the bike seems to feel lighter of steering and I amused myself by slaloming between the gaps in the white lines whilst going up the road.

Along the track to the golf course it seemed to feel a bit more composed on the rougher sections and on the Golf Course Flyer segment on Strava it felt quite stable, even going straight down the middle of the rocky bit. Perhaps this is due to my hands being more in line with the line of the shocks rather than being offset.

Slightly more precise of steering perhaps?

Front wheel lifts seem a bit easier judging by my experiments on a flat road.

I'm looking forward to doing some of the usual routes with this change and seeing if there really is a difference.

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