This year my wife and I bought a used tandem and have been having fun. We like long rides on our singles, but the tandem cockpit is uncomfortable for me. I'd like to put an extra-long stem on the front, and it looks like the longest you can get are adjustable stoker stems, some of which are the right size to clamp on a 1-1/8" steer tube (pictured).

picture of an adjustable stoker stem

Would that be dangerous? I assume the adjustment weakens the stem somewhat, but also they are built to withstand being used as stems, so it seems like it should be fine? If anyone has some actual knowledge (rather than my semi-informed speculation), I'd love to hear it. Thanks!

2 Answers 2


I've used stoker stems on recumbents to optimise the fit, and they work no better or worse than a normal threadless stem.

Two gotchas though - there's an extra point of adjustment for length, so another place that bolts can come loose. And the extra leverage afforded by a longer stem can allow more force onto the steerer tube. Neither is a big deal.

On the plus side, you get more room for mounting things like bike computers or other rider-facing stuff, and you get adjustability if you leave hoses/cables with enough slack for full range of motion.
And being a tandem there's way less risk of endo compared to hard braking on a single bike.

But my underlying thought is that if you need a stem this long to get a better fit, then the frame is far too small for you. However getting a good bike fit for two people is harder with tandems. Sounds like you're compromising on fit here, and that a better fitting frame might be the longer-term solution.

  • 1
    Thanks - we did make tradeoffs on the fit in order to get a quality tandem at a good price, and I would be better suited by a larger frame. But I think we will live with it, making what adjustments we can to get the fit dialed in.
    – Wesley
    Nov 15, 2023 at 19:45
  • 1
    @Wesley Another option is to swap positions, see how you each feel in the other place.
    – Criggie
    Nov 15, 2023 at 22:16

I used an adjustable stem on a touring bike for many years. I had no problems. Mine only had 15 degrees rise but that won't make any difference. If it works on a solo bike I see no reason it would not work for a captain. I eventually decided on a 120mm stem with 15 degree rise and bought that (lighter and less to go wrong).

Mechanically, I think this would work fine. However, ask yourself why you need so much reach. Are other aspects of your bike fit off? A professional bike fit may identify other size issues you should address too, such as seat post height and crank lengths.


  • Thanks! The fit is definitely not ideal. I'm fairly tall and always struggle to make my bikes fit. But I'm experienced enough that I'm not afraid of experimenting to get the cockpit right. Anyway, we got a great deal on a quality tandem in good shape, that fit my wife well and included a car carrier. So I am wiling to spend some time and money to get my fit right.
    – Wesley
    Nov 17, 2023 at 2:08

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