What Is Mountain Bike Stem?

What Is Mountain Bike Stem? – [Everything You Need to Know]

Have you ever focused on the stem of your bike?

More chances are you’ve never noticed the stem, either the size or the purpose. The stem connects the fork steerer to your handlebars, which may seem unremarkable, though it is a vital bike component.

However, the stem has a massive impact on the geometry of your bicycle and, therefore, the handling and your riding posture.

When altering or upgrading your stem, several factors include its length, angle, material, and compatibility with your steerer tube and handlebar.

But as you have not noticed these things, if you ever plan to change the stem, you need more knowledge. In this article, we’ve provided all the necessary information you could have known.

What exactly is a mountain bike stem?

bike stem

The mountain bike stem’s primary function is to link the handlebar to the fork steerer tube and, by extension, the rest of the bicycle. Stems typically have a hole from top to bottom at one end (closest to the rider while seated on the bike) and pinch bolts to secure it to the steerer tube. In this case, the stem secures the steerer tube in the headset.

The other end of the stem is where your handlebar is attached; this is called the faceplate, and it is typically attached using four bolts.

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The geometry of a mountain bike stem:

Stem Length:

Length is the first consideration when purchasing a new mountain bike stem. Not only does stem length affect bike fit, but it also significantly impacts how the bike behaves.

Using a shorter stem improves the responsiveness and maneuverability of a bicycle. A longer stem distributes your body weight to the front of the bike and improves your pedaling posture, particularly on steep ascents.

Stem Rise:

stem rise

The stem rise is the angle, measured in degrees, at which the handlebars are positioned about the stem. Imagine a line from the ground up, starting at the base of the stem and ending at the base of the handlebars.

Typical stem increases include 0° and 6°. With a 0° rise, the stem does not affect the height of the handlebars. The rise of 6 degrees raises the handlebars about the stem. The majority of stems may be turned to get the same drop. Keep in mind that You may also use stem spacers to adjust the height of the handlebars.

Stem diameter:

Standard sizes for bar clamps on mountain bike handlebars are 31.8mm and 35mm. When selecting a stem, there are two sizes: the steerer tube and the handlebars.

In addition, to add to the confusion, steerer-tube diameter is often specified in inches, whereas bar diameter is specified in millimeters. The normal diameter of steerer tubes is 1-1/8in, while some mountain bikes have a 1-1/4in steerer diameter. The diameter of the handlebars varies, so the stem’s faceplate must be compatible.

How is a mountain bike stem’s length measured?

If you are contemplating changing your present mountain bike stem, you must know its length.

  1. The first step is locating the top of the steering head, where the column is attached. It is known as a headset.
  2. Measure from the middle of the headset to the middle of the handlebars.
  3. If your ruler does not indicate millimeters, multiply an inch measurement by 2.54 to convert it to millimeters.

You have an 80 mm stem but spend most of your trail riding. Anything between 50 and 60 millimeters may be a decent option if you want a shorter stem. Consider a stem with a diameter of 40 millimeters if you’re a downhill maniac.

What is the material used for the stem of the mountain bike?

Aluminum is the predominant material for stems. However, you may encounter bikes with steel stems at a lower price.

Carbon fiber may be used to make premium stems lighter and more costly. Unless you like the appearance of carbon fiber and have additional funds, it is often not worth the price.

How Stem Size Impacts Your Ride?

The length of your stem determines the distance between your handlebars and the center of your fork.

Stem Lengths:

With a long stem (50 mm or more), your handlebars will be positioned higher than your front wheel. It shifts your center of gravity forward on the bike, putting more weight on the front tire and enabling you to pedal uphill. However, this compromises your bike’s stability while traveling at high speeds or downhill.

Short Stems:

You may get your handlebars nearer to your fork by using a shorter stem (40mm). You won’t put too much pressure on the front tire in this position. These poles help you maintain a steady stance and make descending slopes less of a challenge. Trail, hard endurance, and downhill riding are best accomplished with a shorter stem.

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size of stem on a mountain bike

Which Stem Should You Choose For Your Mountain Bike?

For Leisure Riders:

When it comes to weight and clamp design, leisure riders may relax. Get a stem with a diameter of 80 millimeters or less if your handlebar is wider than that. Always look in the clearance bins for the best deals.

For Regular Riders:

For regular rides, consider a shorter stem than the top tube of your bike frame will allow. Most riders would agree that a 60-70mm stem makes a noticeable difference in handling, and they won’t be among the few who have regretted installing one.

For Racers:

A racer should prioritize finding a lightweight stem, although stiffness is also essential. You should consider CNC stems. Carbon is an expensive option for those who race often. Alternatively, if you don’t mind shelling out for a new set of grips, the new 35mm standard is worth looking into.


Swapping out the stem is wise if you want to adjust your riding posture. Keep in mind that shorter stems are preferable for general riding because of the enhanced steering and handling qualities. Whereas longer stems aid power transfer, they also shift your center of gravity forward, making the bike less stable on descents.

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