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It's the time of year that I start tweaking my bike set-up and starting trying to improve position. This year I'm trying a longggger stem, and so far it seems to be working and I think it's faster. The only thing that scares me is that this is a pretty long stem for 'cross. It's a 130, which is the same as I use on my road bike. Usually I use a 120 for cross. The 130 feels very comfortable for me, and so far, driving the bike hard on grass, dirt, and in sand, the handling seems good - almost better. My long torso, short legs, and my preference for low bars makes going to a larger bike a little problematic - first I end up with very little seat-post showing, and the taller head-tube puts the bars too high. Even on my small bike I have the stem set as low as it can go. I'm even thinking of taking out the hanger and drilling a hole through the stem to get it even lower ... but that's another story.

Soooooo....

Anybody use this long of stem on their cross bike? What do you think the down-side in handling is? I think I see stems this long on a lot of the European's bikes, but then maybe that's an optical illusion and of course that their courses are, well, European. Thanks for the input!

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Last year I noticed that I was getting a lot of numbness in my hands on my cross bike, so I went for a fitting with a well known cross guy here in NYC. After throwing me on a trainer the first thing he did was say I needed a longer stem. I've had a 130 on my bike for over a year now, and it definitely works for me. I'm sure it depends a lot on each persons body types, but if it works run with it. I can't see any reason that it would be a problem.
Thanks Michael - very good to know - I appreciate the input. I was just out in the park with two bikes - one with a 120 and one with a 130, and the 130 was much more comfortable. Glad to hear you didn't have any "handling" issues. Right now it feels like I can drive the 130 through the turns harder. Do you do a lot of racing? Did you notice any difference on different courses? surfaces?
I'm actually racing today, starting my season at Specta Cross in NJ. At first I felt a little nervous when there was really nasty slop on the course, because with a long stem I felt like my weight was more forward. After a while though, I realized that was more or less my imagination, and with a little longer reach I'm able to have a few more positioning options and can hit the turns just as hard. Anytime a course has a nice rideable section though, the longer stem really lets me crank on the pedals like I'm on my road bike.
Racing today! Lucky dog. We've got a month before we start 'cross here. It's crit season now and I can't wait to get through it.

Thanks again for the feed-back on the stem. It was just what I was looking for - somebody who had first hand experience with the issue. Everything you've said really validates my experiences so far - it's pretty cool. Hat's off to CX Mag for providing the forum for things like this. Thanks guys!

And good luck racing today Michael!
Sven Nys uses a 120mm stem, and Ryan Trebon uses a 130mm stem.
If it feels right for you, then go for it.

I'm also trying to get my bars lower this year (no spacers), and have had to buy a brake hanger with a much longer drop.
Feels a faster position.
Thanks pow ... the more I ride the130, the better and faster it feels. I'm also just moving up from a 120 which I've always used so it's not a great leap. However the 120 didn't make me ride like Sven, so there's not much hope that the 130 will make me rail like Tree Farm. But it's a nice thought!

I also like the bars as low as I can get them (which still isn't anywhere as near as low as I ride on the road). I've got all the spacers out now so the next step is to drill a hole through the center of the stem and drop it that way sans hanger. And, yeah, right now I use one of the long-drop hangers which is the deal on almost any set-up.

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