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Thread: Slammed the stem on my MTB tonight - magic for steering/handling or placebo?

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    Default Slammed the stem on my MTB tonight - magic for steering/handling or placebo?

    Wowza. Finally did what I've been meaning to do for like a year and slammed the stem on my Cielo. I don't know why I had spacers under the stem so long, except when I ordered the bike I was between size L and XL and so I left a little under and over the stem when I cut the fork and had the stem positioned right in the middle. Dropped it 10ish mm tonight and hit the trails for an hour in the dark. ZOMG.

    I can't totally isolate the variable because a) I had a new, larger brake rotor on the front today (180mm cf. prior 160mm); b) bike and rider were 37% more handsome with a slammed stem; c) it was my first true night ride of the season, night as in pitch dark ... that's important because night rides always feel faster, though I know from Strava I was actually going slower on this trail than when I ride it in daylight. Anyway...

    Here's what I experienced:

    -it felt like "wheel flop" was gone or greatly reduced ...
    -entering and exiting climbs was very sprightly. I ride SS and must stand stand and pedaldammit a lot... every time I would jump out of the saddle it felt like the front end of the bike was already cooperating with what my hips and feet were doing, with no lag.
    -steering felt way more precise, no "oh, $hit" moments when lines ran close to the pine straw at trail's edge.
    -cornering confidence ... with a shorter fulcrum between tire contact patch and handlebars, I felt less likely to find the tires' edges at the apex of turns or when rocking the bike when pedaling out of the saddle.

    All in all it felt like I was much closer to the front wheel and had better control of the bike.

    Two negatives: a) I haven't gone over the bars but once since I got on a 29er and I will have my hackles raised for that... b) being a little farther forward the angle of my butt to drop the dropper post was new and so my previous butt-drop muscle memory didn't work as well.

    Does that all sound right? Is that what lowering the stem does to handling or not?

    What am I smoking?

    Cheerios,
    JZ
     

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    Default Re: Slammed the stem on my MTB tonight - magic for steering/handling or placebo?

    Sounds like more of a difference than I'd expect from that change. But, it changed in ways that could be expected. You just shifted more static weight onto the front and shifted even more out of the saddle. Also an obvious change in leverage between you and the tire patch.

    Nice when a bike snaps into focus for you.
     

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    Default Re: Slammed the stem on my MTB tonight - magic for steering/handling or placebo?

    Yes, I'm with you on this and like a low stem on my MTB.
     

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    Default Re: Slammed the stem on my MTB tonight - magic for steering/handling or placebo?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ronsonic View Post

    Nice when a bike snaps into focus for you.
    That's exactly what it felt like.
     

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    Default Re: Slammed the stem on my MTB tonight - magic for steering/handling or placebo?

    From reading some of your posts I think you and I like a lot of the same handling characteristics in a bike Zambenini. Both of my MTBs the stem is slammed and turned so it's angled down, the bars are ~2-3 inches below the saddle, so not a ton of drop, but there is some drop. I definitely prefer it that way, I like having some weight on the front wheel, it improves traction and makes the bike turn into corners much better and reduces understeer. Bikes with taller front ends, with the bar above the saddle, just don't work for me. They understeer like crazy on corner entry and just feel slow in general. I like being a bit on top of that front wheel.

    Yeah, it's not the best setup for super steep downhills. But where I live I never go down super steep hills for longer than a few seconds. I haven't endo'd my MTB...ever, I don't think**. At least, not in the last 10+ years, I know did it a few times when I was younger. But with the modulation and control offered by disc brakes, as long as you don't panic and just grab a handful of front brake you're fine. I've nearly nose-wheelied down a bunch of stuff, but as soon as you feel that rear wheel lift you just ease off the brake a bit and it'll come back down. I don't have a dropper either.

    **I did kinda-sorta endo once that I recall, but it was because my foot unclipped on a BIG log hop and everything went south in a hurry, and I didn't actually go over the bars, I rotated up onto the front wheel a bit and then fell over sideways (with my torso was stuck behind the saddle). That's totally to blame on worn out Crank Brothers cleats though. I finally ordered some Shimano pedals that night!
    Last edited by dgaddis; 11-29-2018 at 10:06 AM.
    Dustin Gaddis
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    Default Re: Slammed the stem on my MTB tonight - magic for steering/handling or placebo?

    I see a lot of people with really high bars. High relative to the BB and high relative to the saddle. They set the bike up this way for a comfortable seated position as if they are riding a comfort hybrid. They'll try a lower position that likely gives much better handling, but they have weak core muscles and put the bar right back up into beach cruiser position without really trying the lower one.
    Jonathan - Austin, TX
    A Thorn in Your Sidewall

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    Default Re: Slammed the stem on my MTB tonight - magic for steering/handling or placebo?

    Didn't Mickey say somewhere on here that if you don't have some of your weight on the front wheel you're just along for the ride?

    With the stem technically further forward down the fork angle I might try a 90mm instead of my 100, and a -10 instead of a zero rise. Should address my dropper-butt-angle issue, too. (That's a technical term).
     

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    Default Re: Slammed the stem on my MTB tonight - magic for steering/handling or placebo?

    I generally agree, and then I go to vermont and want to move my bars up higher, especially when it get really enduro like. That said, I like to keep them low, because it keeps me attacking, keeps the weight between the wheels as opposed to behind. On a slightly more modern bike I might not need the bars to be so low to do this.
    --------------------
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    Default Re: Slammed the stem on my MTB tonight - magic for steering/handling or placebo?

    I have the bars so damn high on my enduro bike that I can barely keep it pointed straight going uphill. My bars are so high because my front tire is too round. Bikes are funny.
    mickey.denoncourt

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    Default Re: Slammed the stem on my MTB tonight - magic for steering/handling or placebo?

    Crap. Did I slam it in the wrong direction?
     

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    Default Re: Slammed the stem on my MTB tonight - magic for steering/handling or placebo?

    When I'm descending it always feel like it is slammed.

    At some point I'm pretty sure someone will invent the dropper fork steerer to slam the stem in the climbs and put it back higher in the downhills.
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    Default Re: Slammed the stem on my MTB tonight - magic for steering/handling or placebo?

    Quote Originally Posted by sk_tle View Post
    When I'm descending it always feel like it is slammed.

    At some point I'm pretty sure someone will invent the dropper fork steerer to slam the stem in the climbs and put it back higher in the downhills.
    I actually quite regularly adjust my spacer stack by 25mm over the course of a ride!
    A lot of that really has to do with maybe riding a bike that is quite long, but not stupid long, and that my primary reason to ride my modern bike is to go down very sketchy things very fast.

    Modern mtb design has gotten so extreme that 90% of the time I feel like i'd rather be on a bike from the 80's or 90's! Interestingly enough I never feel like i wish i was on a bike from 2005 though!
    mickey.denoncourt

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    Default Re: Slammed the stem on my MTB tonight - magic for steering/handling or placebo?

    Quote Originally Posted by sk_tle View Post
    When I'm descending it always feel like it is slammed.

    At some point I'm pretty sure someone will invent the dropper fork steerer to slam the stem in the climbs and put it back higher in the downhills.
    There is (was?) forks that do that for you. Hit a button/lever and the travel drops, lowering the bars for better climbing. At the top of the hill, press/pull/etc the level and fork gets longer for fun times down the hill.
    Dustin Gaddis
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