I bought a 2020 GT Grade shortly after the pandemic hit. Bought it online, no test drive. It was a bit of a risk, but it seems to fit well enough with one exception: the reach feels a bit long. When I ride the hoods, I feel a little too extended. I'd guess I need to decrease it by ~30 mm.

I'd love to get a real fitting, but understandably none of the shops in my area are doing that yet, so I'm winging it and looking at some options with the help of my LBS.

My initial inclination was to shorten the stem. (It's about 80-100 mm.) But when I talked with my LBS he thought that that might modify the steering too much and suggested instead that I consider "short" or "ergo" drop bars. I think my current bar reach is about 100 mm, and I see some for sale that are 65mm.

So, my question to this great group is what is your opinion on the best way to reduce reach:

1/ shorter stem 2/ change out the drop bars 3/ something else?

  • A simple hack is to slide the seat forward a bit. Probably not 3cm, but you could maybe do half of that. Jul 25, 2020 at 2:52
  • 1
    It appears to have a setback seatpost. You could try a straight seat post or try rotating the seat post so it has 10mm forward position.
    – mikes
    Jul 25, 2020 at 10:14
  • Regarding the stem: shorter stem will make steering more direct. But at lower speeds (gravel? touring?) this is less of an issue. I decided to go for a shorter reach on my handlebar when I replaced it, which also benefited the looks of the bike to me as I prefer the look of the original stem length. But looks are personal and you might not care at all about this. Jul 26, 2020 at 13:49
  • Re-reading my comment (and after time has expired to edit) I realised that my comment could read that reducing reach of handlebar would not affect handling. As gschenk points out, reducing reach of handlebar typically has the same effect on handling as reducing stem length. But reducing stem changes the look of the bike more (in my eyes) than reducing the reach of handlebar. Jul 26, 2020 at 14:02
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    @DanielRHicks for many the looks of the bike doesn't matter. But I do appreciate my bike to have a certain look (if it doesn't impact function). Jul 27, 2020 at 1:34

1 Answer 1


When riding on the hoods reducing the reach of bars is equivalent to using a shorter stem. Only when riding on the tops a shorter stem will lead to different steering compared to shorter reach bars.

A change of 2 cm to 3 cm will change steering. However, it is not so dramatic that you will hit the dirt right away. Especially on gravel bikes that typically have slack steering angles and tend to be quite stable.

Swapping a stem is a bit less work than swapping bars. Stems tend to be slightly cheaper as well. Neither is terribly expensive or much work. You might give it a try and see if you like it.

An alternative would be to lower the height of the bars, by moving the stem further down, and/or flipping it down. When you tilt your upper body at the saddle your shoulders move roughly on a circular path. The lower your upper body is the further your shoulder are forward.

Before starting to get your hex keys you might want too try if you feel to stretched out when you are down in the drops, holding the bars where you can brake.

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