I bought a second hand hybrid bike and would like to adjust the stem of the handlebars such that I can ride it in a more upright position.

The following photo shows a side view of the stem with an arrow pointing in the direction I want to tilt it.

Stem with tilt direction

As you can see there is a hex bolt; a similar bolt is on the other side of the stem. I managed to loosen them on both sides (the bolt seen in the photo was very tough to turn), but could not get the stem to move.

What am I missing here?

1 Answer 1


Adjustable stems follow a couple different design schemes, all of which involve some interlocking toothy bits that hold the angle in place. If the angle isn't changing, the toothy bits are still locked together.

There's probably a bolt on the underside of the stem extension. If so, that's what locks the angle adjustment in place. So you loosen the side bolts, loosen and adjust the underside one, re-tighten underside, re-tighten sides, in that order.

There's another type of adjustable stem without the underside bolt, where the side bolts are tightening down a pair of toothed plates that hold it all together. That doesn't appear to be what you have, but in the case of a recalcitrant one of those, you would just need to gently pry the plates free.

  • 7
    So, what you're saying is, the Knutson the bottom. Oct 11, 2017 at 8:35
  • 1
    @DavidRicherby that's truly dreadful. Congrats!
    – Criggie
    Oct 11, 2017 at 10:15
  • The underside! That's it! I can't believe I didn't look there. Thank you! Oct 11, 2017 at 12:22
  • @DavidRicherby Well played. Oct 13, 2017 at 3:53

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