Ruggedly made and will easily endure mountain, BMX, and track adventures.
Made of high-strength aluminum alloy. Lightweight and versatile. Available in 3 different sizes.
Currently only available in black.
An affordable, colorful, and effective option.
Made of steel. Designed with 4-bolt clamp for added stability. Easy to install. Available in multiple metallic colors.
A few customers noted that it was smaller than expected.
Compatible with road biking, fixed-gear biking, and mountain biking.
Made of high-quality aluminum alloy. Lightweight and short. Suitable for mountain bikes.
A few buyers noted its heaviness.
This short option is suitable for most road biking, fixed-gear biking, and mountain biking.
Made of aluminum. Designed with a hollow interior and a 4-bolt bar clamp. Adjustable and easy to install.
Some users noted that the product is heavier than expected.
Boasts a light, yet durable, design.
Made of an aluminum alloy. Lightweight and easy to install. Suitable for mountain bikes. Available in different colors.
Pricier than others.
We recommend these products based on an intensive research process that's designed to cut through the noise and find the top products in this space. Guided by experts, we spend hours looking into the factors that matter, to bring you these selections.
You may not give your bike stem much thought, but overlooking this small component is a mistake. A bike stem affects the handling of your bike as well as your position and angle as you ride.
The bike stem is the piece of metal that connects the handlebars to the fork steerer. Shorter bike stems, often found on mountain bikes, give you more responsive handling. Longer bike stems, typically found on road bikes, encourage a less upright position which aids aerodynamics and uphill pedaling. The length of bike stems can vary widely depending on the type of biking you plan to do and your personal preferences. In addition, the rise of the bike stem — its angle relative to the fork steerer — impacts the rider’s position and comfort.
While it isn’t the first part of a bike people think of when considering comfort and control, bike stems play a major role in how you rest on your bike and control the handlebars.
There are two primary factors to consider carefully when buying a bike stem: the length and the rise.
The length of a bike stem affects its distance from the fork steerer — the part of the bike that turns the front tire. This has a large impact on the position of the rider, and a shorter stem generally provides better handling. The length of your bike stem should be appropriate for the type of bike you have, but you should also find a length that’s comfortable for you as all riders are different.
Mountain bike stems are usually 35 to 60 millimeters in length for moderately responsive handling.
Road bike stems vary from 80 to 140 millimeters to keep the rider’s weight toward the front of the bike for a more aerodynamic position.
BMX bike stems are generally shorter, around 60 millimeters, for highly responsive handling.
The rise of a bike stem is its angle compared to the fork steerer. A stem with a 0° rise encourages a stretched-out position that’s good for coasting downhill. A stem with a significant rise of around 10° allows the rider to sit upright comfortably and makes for more responsive handling.
Some road cyclists prefer a 0° rise for a stretched-out position, while others prefer a higher rise of 10° to aid with climbs. The same goes for mountain bikes and BMX bikes, which may have more extreme rises of 45° or more. It’s possible to have a negative rise — meaning the handlebars can drop below the top of the fork steerer — for an extremely low position on the bike. Bear in mind that the relative height of the handlebars can also be adjusted by shifting the bike stem up or down the fork steerer using spacers. The rise of a stem can be inverted by flipping it upside down.
Though there are guidelines on stem length and rise for different types of bikes and cycling styles, you should listen to your body before you listen to the pros. Find a fit that is comfortable for you, even if it means sacrificing handling or aerodynamics. You likely ride your bike for an hour or more at a time, and if you’re uncomfortable, it doesn’t matter how well your stem is performing.
Like other bike components, stems vary in color and material. While these may seem like small details, they can have an impact on the stiffness and appearance of the stem. In addition, bike stems come in different sizes and styles.
While almost all modern bike stems are threadless models that clamp onto the fork steerer, there are also adjustable and quill stems. Quill stems screw into the top of the fork steerer and are more common for older bikes. Adjustable stems are rare and allow you to easily change the rise of the stem.
Bike stems are generally made of either aluminum alloy or carbon fiber.
While carbon fiber stems are often the choice of professional cyclists, the higher price can be difficult to justify for many people. Compared to other larger components, the stem does not increase or decrease the overall weight of your bike significantly.
Carbon fiber is slightly stiffer than aluminum and reduces vibration, which can be useful on road bikes.
Aluminum, by contrast, is far less expensive and may be lighter in weight depending on the design of the stem. While it doesn’t absorb vibration as well, most cyclists still find it a comfortable option. In addition, it is more durable than carbon fiber and less likely to break — though broken stems are rare to begin with.
Less common options include steel and titanium. Steel is inexpensive and heavy, making it a good option for beginners or casual riders. Titanium is the most expensive option and is very lightweight, but it does not dampen vibrations as well as carbon fiber.
Quite simply, the color of your stem should match or complement the colors of your bike or gear. Companies offer stems in a wide variety of colors.
The size of a bike stem refers to the diameter of its handlebar clamp and fork steerer clamp. There’s no wiggle room here; your bike stem must fit your bike properly or you cannot install it.
Almost all modern stems have handlebar clamp diameters of one and a quarter inches. Steerer clamp sizes vary from seven-eighths of an inch to one inch.
Inexpensive: Basic bike stems for $8 to $15 are usually steel or aluminum in construction and are best suited for casual cyclists. There are many high rise stems for mountain bikes in this range.
Mid-range: For $15 to $30 are a variety of stems that may be made of aluminum alloy, carbon fiber, or a combination of the two. They vary greatly in their length and rise.
Expensive: High-end bike stems for $30 to $100+ may be made of aluminum alloy, carbon fiber, or titanium. While most cyclists may not have room in their budget for stems in this range, these high-quality options may appeal to those looking for a lightweight stem that gives them an advantage over the competition.
Choosing a bike stem isn’t a science. It’s all about comfort and your riding style.
Q. How easy is it to install a stem?
A. If you are familiar with bike repairs, it shouldn’t be an issue for you. If you are concerned about installing your stem improperly, you may want to have your local bike shop do it for you.
Q. I’m not sure about the size of my handlebar or fork steerer. How do I measure them?
A. You can measure the diameter of both parts using a caliper, but it is possible to get an inaccurate measurement. If you can, look up the manufacturer’s dimensions of each part.
Q. Should you take frame size into consideration when deciding what length stem to get?
A. Yes and no. The frame should be an appropriate size for your body, but the size of the frame does combine with the stem length to impact how much you have to stretch to reach the handlebars. If you currently find the distance of the handlebars from the seat post uncomfortable, a new stem can help to correct that.
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