I picked up a used mid 1990s Serotta Colorado CSI (lugged steel) bike. It is a size 54L which in Serottas from that era means it has a 54 seat tube but a 55 top tube. The size was not intentional, it was what was on offer, and I grabbed it at a good price. I do fit on most 53-54 cm bikes well though I can also go with 56 cm in some cases. I am 5 ft 10 inches tall. Coming to it from a hybrid and having this as my first road bike makes me want to adopt a more upright posture than is traditional for a road bike. I raised the Ritchey quill stem it came with as high as it will safely go but am still seeking an easier reach.

I am thinking of getting a long quill stem and using that to go higher. I am also contemplating getting one with a shorter reach (it can come with as little as 50 mm reach. I intend to start with the stem higher up and go gradually down as I get more used to a traditional road bike posture. I am OK with having to buy another stem later (or reuse the Ritchey quill stem I am currently using) as the season progresses.

Am I thinking along the right lines?

Should I consider another reach for the stem other than the shortest (50 mm)?

I am thinking of a quill stem due to the easier adjustment on the fly and since it is more appropriate for bikes from that era.

Unfortunately most LBS do not have many quill stems in stock so I may have one ordered online, or ask the LBS to order it, before asking for it to be installed.

  • Different sized quill stems were rare enough back when quills were the standard -- probably scarce as hen's teeth these days. But I did roughly the same replacement you're contemplating back when I bought my Randonnee ca 1995, and I have no regrets. May 28, 2013 at 21:51
  • I would avoid very short stems unless you absolutely have to. If you put the bars up higher, that effectively shortens the stem anyway. Short stems affect the handling of a bike quite a bit. Aug 19, 2015 at 21:49

3 Answers 3


I know this will affect the looks of the vintage bike, but I would personally put a quality threadless stem adaptor on the bike, then add a threadless stem. You can swap the stem around, flip it upside down, get fitted at your LBS, all without un-wrapping the bar tape, pulling at least one brake lever off, and removing the bars (which is a requirement for changing out a quill stem). Your other option is to use the limited number of quality quill stems remaining in the world, which usually tend toward either expensive or short (and rarely both).

I linked to Velo-Orange not because I work there, but because their stems are affordable, light, strong and beautiful.


Nitto makes a tall quill stem called the Technomic that will give you about 160 mm of extension above the minimum insert line. I've seen them in the Rivendell, Harris Cyclery, and Velo Orange catalogs. The Rivendell one is fancy and polished and costs more.

There are also extenders that allow you to use a standard quill stem. They aren't pretty but they get the job done and are about 1/3 the cost.

The Technomic stems are fairly common on e-bay.


I did this exact change on my 1993 road bike. The quill stem was short and had 120 mm of reach, combined with old school drops made me feel like I was reaching forwards too much.

So I found an alloy SR stem on trademe (ebay) and fitted that. It is 50mm taller and the reach is only 50mm, so I can now hold the hoods comfortably.

So search ebay for something not ridiculously-priced.

Don't disobey they minimum insertion line - If your headset creaks, that is a bad thing. Also, once you get it all rigged nicely, shout yourself some fresh bartape. Makes things feel nice again.

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