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There are short and long stems:

What effect does changing the stem length have on my bikes handling

There are flat bars and there are curved back bars for comfort upright position: enter image description here

There even seem to exist bikes with no stem (apparently called "with forward geometry"): enter image description here


But I have never, ever seen a bike with stem, going back from the headtube towards the rider. Such a setup would provide extremely wide wheelbase, which seems to be a good idea in some scenarios. Why is this geometry never used?

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The stem itself has no effect other than to position the handlebar. Handling is affected by the position of the hands on the handlebar, both because a forward position is more stable, and because the more forward (and lower) the hands the more you can lean forward. –  Daniel R Hicks Oct 1 '13 at 11:32
    
Consider that a stem could be in the shape of a curlicue, a la Dr Seuss, and, if it were stiff enough, it would make no difference. Everything between the hands and the headset is just a connection and can take any shape without affecting comfort/stability/handling. –  Daniel R Hicks Oct 1 '13 at 12:10
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wheelbase is not affected by anything you do on the stem. –  cherouvim Oct 1 '13 at 12:43
    
@cherouvim, I mean longer wheelbase for the same position of the rider. That is, riding upright, on a long bike. –  Vorac Oct 1 '13 at 14:09

2 Answers 2

up vote 0 down vote accepted

Reversing the stem (without changing the top tube length) will make the bike:

  1. very easy to wheelie and manual (see video http://goo.gl/qHy6dP which shows a person who did that in order to learn to manual)
  2. harder to corner properly because you wouldn't be able to push the handlebars down hard. In downhill you'd most probably tend to go straight.
  3. harder to climb because of #1
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"downhill you'd most probably tend to go straight" - bwahahahhahah. Other than that - this is just what I am looking for. Might try it out, actually! –  Vorac Oct 1 '13 at 14:11

I actually have a VO Grand Cru stem angled back toward me. With the trekking bars, it works for my modest mostly-upright-posture purposes. No effect on bike handling that I can tell. If I get a yen to lean further forward someday (unlikely, with my middle-aged back) I'll flip it.

Adjustable stems can also be persuaded to do this. So it's possible, just not common.

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