I went test riding a second hand bike. During the test I have found that the stem was wobbly around the axis defined by the red star in the picture.

enter image description here

I have tried changing the tilt of the stem to check if it depended on the position, to no good. The stem kept oscillating up and down around that axis.

Is it a serious issue (so a no go for the bike) or is something that can be easily fixed?

  • Do you absolutely want the adjustability or can you replace the stem with rigid one?
    – ojs
    Aug 29, 2018 at 15:32
  • @ojs, I would like to have it fastened when it supposed to be so. A wobbling bar is not something I want while riding. Buying a second hand bike needing a major repair is not what I am looking for.
    – L.Dutch
    Aug 29, 2018 at 15:40
  • 1
    @L.Dutch Obviously, you don't want it to wobble. The point is that it's an adjustable stem. If you want to keep the ability to adjust it then you'll either need to repair it or replace it with another adjustable one. if you don't want to keep the ability to adjust, you can replace it with a non-adjustable one, which will be cheaper. Aug 29, 2018 at 18:06
  • @DavidRicherby, adjustability is not a must have. I mean, once I set the position I am not changing it every other day.
    – L.Dutch
    Aug 29, 2018 at 19:15
  • 2
    The stem is far too critical a part to allow any weaknesses. If I were you, I'd just trash that adjustable stem and install a solid one. Imho, adding any mechanics to a stem is just asking for trouble. Aug 29, 2018 at 19:39

2 Answers 2


That's an adjustable height stem. Looks like it has some sort of quick release and adjustment.

If it is irreparably loose it's a safety issue. The joint could collapse and the handlebar would drop down and forward suddenly.

Either: pass on this bike, or negotiate a lower price with the seller and plan to replace the stem. You'll need a riser stem for a threaded steerer tube. These are not too costly and easy to install with common tools, usually just a couple of sizes of hex wrench.

BTW, the brake lever angle looks wrong, seems to be angled down too far. Levers should be in line with your arms when sitting on the bike.

  • The brake lever angle might be due to the attempts I made at changing the height, not paying attention to the proper angle of the brakes.
    – L.Dutch
    Aug 29, 2018 at 15:44
  • 1
    Make sure the stem can be removed before buying. They are often rusted in and can be next to impossible to remove.
    – Kibbee
    Aug 29, 2018 at 17:27

Are you sure that the screw that holds the stem is properly tightened? Most quill adjustable stems have a strew below the stem. It may look like the side screw is the one that holds the stem in the correct position, but it is actually the one circled in red, that needs to be tightened to hold the stem properly. If that doesn't work, then maybe the stem is damaged and it is necessary to replace it. enter image description here

  • That stem in the picture has a quick release (the lever you see in the photo).
    – L.Dutch
    Aug 30, 2018 at 2:11
  • @L.Dutch based on that comment I'd plan on replacing the stem immediately, if the rest of the bike is up to scratch. However, I believe your location is not exactly short of bikes, so do be prepared to let this one go and look out for something better.
    – Criggie
    Aug 30, 2018 at 10:02
  • @Criggie, that's my thought, too.
    – L.Dutch
    Aug 30, 2018 at 10:06

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