Buyers guide to bicycle stems

Buyers guide to bicycle stems

 If you are contemplating on new bicycle stem you need to keep in mind of length, rise, bar diameter, material, and style. Once you know the difference below it will be easy to select a stem for you. If you have any questions leave me a comment and I will reply and update this information.

Bicycle stems appear to be a standard size on every bicycle but choosing the wrong one will give you massive disadvantage when maneuvering. Choosing the wrong one based on looks can compromise  your control. It's time to get you set up and fine tune your cockpit.

Bmx stem length guide


Q: What stem do I need?

A: The answer can be a little complicated but it is best to start from the frame and make sure everything is compatible with it. Next you want to select a style that fits the size. Frames are available most commonly in 1" Threaded, 1
 Threadless, 1 1/8" threaded, 1 1/8" Threadless, integrated, internal, tapered. 1.5" threadless, and semi integrated. These all fit either a 1" quill stem, 1" Threadless or 1 1/8" Threadless stem. 
     A 1" quill stem looks like a goose neck and utilizes a wedge system that slides into the forks to remain secure. A threadless design utilizes two pitch bolts that clamps the stem to the forks. Once you figure out what size fork, headsetset and stem you need you need to figure out what style of stem you want. 

guide to bicycle stem styles


Q: What style should I get?

A: Stem comes in specific sizes depending on what style bike you are riding. Youth bikes usually have the 1" quill stem and are usually a 1 bolt clamp style stem. Most BMX bikes have 1 1/8" Threadless. Bmx stems have a 4 bolt clamp that secures the handlebars to the forks. Think of stems as adapters. BMX stems come in bottom load, front load or top load. Keep reading below for more info about what these mean.

Mountain bike stem come in sizes the same as bmx stems but their geometry is slight different. MTB stems are mainly front load but also a few top load are out there. MTB stems usually feature a two bolt system on the front load style and 4 bolt system on the topload stems. On these stems you want to pay attention to reach, rise, and angle.

Road bike or fixed stem are really similar to MTB stems but are longer to shift their body for better aerodynamics. 

Gravel bike stems are similar to Road bike stem but in between them and MTB stems in length.   

E-bike stems are either a mtb stem or bmx stem.

How to measure rise on a bicycle stem


Q: What is rise on a stem?

A: Rise is how high the bars sit on the stem. You measure the height from the bottom of the stem to the center of the handlebar where it is clamped. Bottom load stems are the lowest and top load stems are the highest. 

On BMX bikes the top load stems lift up the bars and give you more room in the cockpit. Front load stems give you more pull from the front of the stem. The bottom load stems give you more pull from under the stem. 

Road, Gravel and Mtb stems are usually 10 degree rise but are available in positive or negative rises or angle.  

Q: What length should I get?

A: Mountain bikes usually use a stem 50-80mm long. Downhill, enduro, solam use the shorter lengths and cross country tend to use the longer lengths.

Road or fixed bikes ride best with a 90mm 130mm stems. If you need a longer or shorter one you most likely need a different size frame.


Q: What material should my stem be?

 A: When you are choosing a stems material you should think about how you want it to perform. Forged aluminum is a great introductory style stem, CNC'd aluminum is amazing for strength to weight applications and carbon is recommended you race use.

Stem buyers guide

Colors: Stems can look so many different ways based off the manufacturing process. The most common are powder coat which is a plastic that is heated to cover the metal. Matte and raw finishes are usually on aluminum and are similar color to an aluminum can. Anodized colors are vibrant and penetrate the metal surface to give it a durable outer. Polished is simply polishing raw aluminum until it becomes shiny like a mirror. Chrome and gold are a 3 layer process with a polishing step to give it a super mirror finish. Oil slick is similar to chrome with an extra step to give the metal a shiny rainbow color effect. Carbon fiber or paint stems usually on road stem that are carbon.

Stems I recommend

20" BMX 

Haro Baseline Stem

Theory Bond Stem

Profile Push

BIke Life

SE Bikes Narler Stem

Knight Bike Co Ruf-Neck stem

Bullseye Stem