I've been looking at expedition bikes and I've noticed on some bikes I've seen that they have a lot of headset spacers such as http://www.oxfordbikeworks.co.uk/models/overview/ and thorn cycles in particular. Why is that?

  • more spacers = higher handlebars = greater angle between your legs and torso = more upright = more comfortable [= less aerodynamic]. Or so the theory goes.
    – PeteH
    Commented Dec 31, 2014 at 23:20
  • 1
    why not design a frame with a longer headtube then? Commented Dec 31, 2014 at 23:40
  • flexibility? But I'm sure if you look around you'll see variation in head tube length too.
    – PeteH
    Commented Dec 31, 2014 at 23:48
  • I'm just curious because back in 07 when I put together a touring bike using a mtb frame, I ended up using a lot of spacers, which at the time I thought wasn't a good thing, because the frame wasn't designed for it, and I also decided later that the frame was also too small. Plus since then I've use an adjustable stem instead. Maybe there is a benefit of smaller frame diamond segments for strength? Commented Dec 31, 2014 at 23:53
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    It also allows the production of a fewer number of sizes and allows for more adjustment (since you can always cut the steerer tube later).
    – Batman
    Commented Jan 1, 2015 at 0:30

1 Answer 1


Having received an answer from Oxford:

As regards spacers, cycle tourists want/need a low stand over height, so that their bikes handle nicely and so that they can stop easily and grip their bike between their thighs when fully loaded. However, many cycle tourists want a head-up relatively high front end so that they can see into the middle distance without getting a stiff neck. For those cyclists who come from a road/700c background, they typically want a lower handlebar setting at the front, so the number of spacers is less, so generally its not an issue.

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