Are Adjustable Bike Stems Good?

Last Updated on September 24, 2021

BIke stems are an integral part of a bike. It is the one that connects the handlebar to our steerer and it also affects how we ride our bike greatly as well. And with innovations in bike parts and geometry, stems now come in different sizes and shapes.

With this also came the advent of adjustable stems. In this article, we will be looking at whether adjustable stems are safe for use in our bikes.

Importance of Bike Stems

Your bike stem is a key part of the steering mechanism of your bike. Changes in stem length, drop, or rise, will affect how your bike will handle when you are riding it. 

Stem size varies depending on the type of bike that you ride. And small changes in the stem can make a big difference in the overall ride characteristic of your bike. 

Bike stem can be a big factor as to how you fit your bike as well. If your frame is too small, you can install a longer stem so that you will feel more comfortable when riding. 

What are adjustable stems?

Mountain bike stems are normally constructed as one solid material and are normally set at a certain length and degree of rise. They cannot be adjusted that’s why you would need to purchase a new one if you feel uncomfortable. 

The only adjustment you can do with your mountain bike stem is to lift it by using spacers below the stem clamp on the steerer tube or you can flip it over if you want to change from positive rise to negative and vice versa. 

However, an adjustable bike stem are built differently. They are comprised of a two-piece design which allows you to adjust the rise and sometimes the length of the stem. 

As its name implies, this type of mountain bike stem can easily be adjusted for you to be able to adjust the positive and negative rise of your handlebars or to simply bring it forward and back. Adjustable stems have a four bolt bar clamp fastener and that you can tighten to clamp the stem and hold it in your preferred setting. 

Significance of Adjustable Stems

Its concept is pretty much simple, it improves your bike fit and riding position just by getting the right adjustment on the stem. If you are a leisure biker or you do biking to stay fit, then adjustable stems might work for you. 

Not all people can ride comfortably in an aggressive position the whole day, and by having an adjustable mountain bike stem installed, you can easily adjust your mountain bike riding position once your body starts getting tired during a long ride. 

Having an adjustable mountain bike stem also makes a bike-sharing setup easier. Stems are of a personal preference, and by having one, different riders can easily adjust the stem to different settings that work for them.

Are adjustable stems good?

Well, it all boils down to what type of bike you ride and your specific riding style. If you are more of a leisure biker, bike camper, and even if you do biking as a means to exercise, then having an adjustable stem will work just fine. 

But if you lean more onto the aggressive side of biking, BMX riding, freeride, slopestyle, or mountain biking in general, having an adjustable stem is not advised. 

Let’s take a look at mountain bikes as an example. Many forces are involved in mountain biking that greatly affects your bike.

For one, your bike will be carrying your weight and it should be capable enough to ride on rough terrain. Even the mellowest form of mountain biking will be involved in rough sections from time to time. 

And when you have an adjustable stem or quill stem installed, it might break under these forces and conditions. Mountain biking requires a more solid type of construction for its stems. 

And especially with the new bike geometry, bike stems have been shorter, thicker, and built from the best materials, for mountain bikes to sustain all kinds of rough forces that your mountain bike has to endure. 

Related: Is a Shorter Stem Better for MTB?


Adjustable mountain bike stems are great if you do biking for leisure trips and not for aggressive riding. They are very convenient if you have to share a bike at home or rental shops. 

But like all bike components, these adjustable stems have their limits. And they cannot be used in very rough terrains.

Safety is always the priority for every rider. So if a bike fit is your concern, just get the best mountain bike stem for your bike and it will last a very long time.

Related: Best Mountain Bike Stems for a Much Sharper Steering

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