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I'm finding that when jumping my mountain bike seems to be very nose heavy no matter how far back my saddle is. What effect will moving to a shorter stem length have?

My bike, a Boardman FS-PRO came with a 100mm Richey stem. I think that moving to a shorter stem length will allow me, and my short arms, to sit further back on the bike and hopefully make steep dropoffs a bit easier to ride. I've heard that shorter stems make the steering quicker too. Will this make my bike unrideable?

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Are you jumping or taking drop offs? If you are finding that the nose of the bike is dropping when you ride off a drop off, it could be more of a technique issue. –  deemar Oct 7 '10 at 11:37
    
Poor technique is definitely part of the problem. The bike also feels nose heavy on steep rock slabs. I have quite short arms and a long body. –  davefiddes Oct 15 '10 at 15:49
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up vote 12 down vote accepted

A shorter stem does make your steering quicker, it also enables you to sit further upright and gives more leverage on the handlebar.

The longer stem gets you more forward and in a better position for climbing but I think it makes low speed steering awkward and is uncomfortable for long stretches on the bike.

I went from some ungodly long stem (100+mm) with flat bar to a 50mm stem with a small riser bar on my Rockhopper and I'm much happier riding it now. Pulling up the front wheel is much easier (and of course this helps big time with hopping/jumping). Also riding off larger drops is easier since you can hang over the rear of the biker easier as well.

If you're primarily dirt jumping and free riding, I'd say go with the short stem. Honestly the only scenario where I would consider going back to the long stem is if I decided to start doing a lot of XC riding involving lots of climbs (NO THANKS!).

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Well. I've ended up with a 70mm Nukeproof stem. After a month of riding it really has made a big difference to the ride and my confidence levels. The shorter stem has made it easier to keep to the trail in the twisty stuff. I now look over the handlebars at the front axle instead of under. When jumping I can get my weight far enough back to fly level. Yay! –  davefiddes Oct 15 '10 at 15:54
    
Nice! It was definitely one of the best things I did to my bike, glad it's working well for you. –  kkeilman Oct 20 '10 at 18:29
    
An average "normal" length stem is typically 110mm. On an average mountain bike, or road bike I would expect nothing shorter than 90mm. Assuming that the bike is not special use, then requiring a shorter stem than that is an indication that you might want to re check your frame size. That doesn't mean it's wrong, just that it isn't really normal to need a super short stem, aside from DH or Freeride bikes. –  zenbike Jun 21 '11 at 16:08
    
Gene Hamilton suggests using a 60mm stem for XC and slightly shorter (40-50mm) for DH. This is supposed to improve handling during climbing and descents. I have not yet tried this but it is on my next purchase list. –  Ryan Anderson Aug 13 '13 at 14:09
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