I'm 6'6" but have very short arms for my height. Many guys 6'0"-6'2" will outreach me if standing flat footed.

I have an XL frame, 2014 Raleigh Talus 29er comp. I feel great on it, but I feel like I'm constantly 'reaching' forward for the handlebars when just sitting and pedalling around the neighborhood.

What are some things I can do to be more comfortable on my frame? Do I need to raise my handlebars higher, or get a shorter stem??

Thanks from an awkwardly built guy! haha

  • 1
    With your situation you'd normally want to avoid getting a frame that is "large enough" for your height, but one a bit smaller. But that's water over the bridge (or is it under the dam?). You can raise the handlebar a bit and also get a stem with a shorter forward extension (though this affects stability to a degree). Maybe look at a different handlebar (though I don't have one to suggest). And, of course, you can move the seat forward a smidge (but not too far!). None of this is optimal, but you gotta compromise somewhere if you don't get a custom bike. Apr 10, 2015 at 21:57
  • Thank you for replying to me so quickly, Daniel! I'll give the stem some attention and see what I can find out there...the local shop here in Fargo tried to get me on a new Specialized Rockhopper 29er on a 3XL frame. I felt like I was pedalling a tandem. haha IF you find any good links for a handlebar stem for my 2014 Raleigh Talus 29er... I wouldn't cry foul if you shared. :-) Apr 10, 2015 at 22:20
  • Mike, from Raleigh's website, your current stem is 90mm long and the handlebar diameter is 31.8mm. This one is 45mm long and would work: nashbar.com/bikes/…
    – Nik
    Apr 10, 2015 at 22:33
  • This one is 60mm and a bit cheaper: specialized.com/us/en/ftb/mtb-components/stems/mountain-stem
    – Nik
    Apr 10, 2015 at 22:35
  • Basically, any MTB stem for a 1-1/8" steerer (extremely common) and 31.8mm handlebars will work. Or go to a bike store, they can order something for you and if they help you pick it out, you know it will fit (although it's more expensive than Amazon). If you have a couple of hex wrenches (4mm, 5mm), you can easily install it yourself.
    – Nik
    Apr 10, 2015 at 22:38

1 Answer 1


Stems come in a wide range of lengths (45-130mm), and they are generally fairly cheap (starting around $20, and generally around $50). It is very easy to remove the existing stem and install a different one. So I think it is worthwhile to get the shortest reasonable-looking stem you can find and give that a try.

Raising the handlebars is not so easy, other than by getting a different stem. Unless there are spacers above your stem on the steerer (the part of the fork that the stem is attached to), in which case it is extremely easy to remove the stem, move the spacer below the stem, and reinstall the stem. It is fairly rare that a bike is sold with extra spacers above the stem. Beware: Sometimes there is a small (5mm) spacer above the stem that has to stay there; its purpose is to prevent the steerer cap from touching the steerer.

Another way of raising the handlebars would be getting different handlebars with more rise built into them -- generally the bars would be horizontal in the center, then bend up at an angle, and then flatten out to horizontal at the grips. I don't think this would help much, because the amount of rise you get out of these bars is usually not very large, maybe an inch.

Here is something else to consider: I'm 6'5", and for years I was riding a mountain bike that was too small for me, because it was the biggest frame that I could easily find in my price range back when I bough the bike. I got quite used to this bike, so when I finally got a new bike with a larger frame, I felt quite stretched out when reaching for then handlebars. Eventually I got used to that and I doesn't cause any problems even on long rides. But if you've had this bike for several years and it still bugs you, then you should probably get a short stem and see if that makes it feel better.

  • An angled stem may be used both ways, pointing up or pointing down. So there's room for play. And you can get stems with steep angles, normal is around 5° but 15° stems exist. Be aware that a short stem makes the bike more 'nervous'.
    – Carel
    Apr 11, 2015 at 7:25

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