How to Choose Bike Stem Length: 3 Factors to Consider

If you’re looking at it from the perspective of the whole bike, bike stem length is a vital measurement that allows you to make the much-needed adjustment to your bike. It can affect many different factors such as bike handling and feel.

Stem length hasn’t always been adjustable or flexible like the bicycle seat post. It all started when Marshall Taylor invented the world’s first adjustable stem in the late 19th century.

He did this through the use of a sliding clamp which could be used to shift handlebars away from the person riding the single speed bike. Now, stem length is quite flexible and can go up to 50mm and even 150mm.

It’s important to keep in mind that every component in your bike is interconnected so changing a bike stem can completely revolutionize other aspects of your bike, including changing the bike’s feel.

How to Choose the Best Bike Stem Length

Here are some important considerations to make when optimizing bike stem length and doing a bike fit:

1. Front Wheel Weight

Stem length plays a huge role in determining front wheel weight which would play a role in your choice of bike carrier. A longer stem typically translates to added weight to the front of the bars.

This makes it easier to maintain stability when zipping through at high speeds. However, it can also lead to a less responsive feel.

2. Bike Steering

Bike steering is also affected by the trail and head angle or bike mirrors that you may have attached to the handlebar. However, stem length can either dull or help these effects.

Short stems typically lead to a steering wheel feel which is incredibly responsible but it can also feel twitchy.

A longer stem translates to slower handling which makes it difficult to achieve slow speed steering but you’ll still be able to achieve bike stability at high speeds.

3. Stem Reversing

It’s also important to understand how to reverse the stem when figuring out how to choose the stem length of a road bike.

Stem reversing has to be one of the best ways to improve your bike’s comfort factor because it makes it possible to enjoy a more comfortable riding position where the handlebars are higher than usual.

On the one hand, you have an angled position that allows you to maintain an upright position while the other is flat and aggressive.

For best results, we recommend you check your stem to make sure that you end up in a position that’s less stressful for your back. The good news is that high tilt stems are flexible enough to be reversed to enable a more comfortable riding position.


As you can see, it doesn’t take much to learn how to choose mountain bike stem length.

The most important thing is to ensure that you end up with a comfortable bike that won’t put undue strain on your lower back. Luckily, stem length is changeable so the position you choose to adopt is really up to you. It can go from 50mm all the way to 150mm and beyond.

It’ll also affect the bike’s steering power and ability, as well as the bike’s weight distribution.

Shailen Vandeyar

A proud Indian origin Kiwi who loves to plant trees and play with my pet bunny when not out cycling through the best routes, reviewing the latest gear, and sharing tips on everything biking.

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