To sit more comfortably on your mountain bike, replacing the MTB stem can be a smart move. You can easily adjust the position of the handlebars. For example, with the right stem you can position the handlebars higher or lower or further or closer to your hands. On this page I explain how you can replace the MTB stem, what you need for this and what you should pay attention to.
Why replace the MTB stem?
Let’s first consider why it can be interesting to consider a new stem. To be able to mountain bike comfortably and safely, the right mountain bike frame size is incredibly important. However, factors such as reach and stack also play an important role.
The reach – this is the horizontal distance from the bottom bracket to the handlebar – can easily be shortened or extended with another mountain bike stem. This allows you to sit more forward or straighter. In addition, a stem can also make the handlebars stand at a certain angle. This allows you to position the handlebars higher or lower, which affects the stack.
Redenen voor vervanging
But why would you want to place the MTB handlebar higher, lower, closer or further away than it already is? Let me list a few reasons:
- Preventing physical complaints
- More and better control over your steering wheel
- More comfortable mountain biking
- Adjustment for specific riding style (climbing or descending)
- If you can’t make enough adjustments with handlebar spacers
With a different stem you can ensure a stack or reach that better suits your body. Read more about this in the mountain bike frame size guide.
What do you need to replace the stem?
You can easily replace the mountain bike stem yourself. You do need the right tools and resources for this. I’ll list everything you need for you:
- Allen key set
- Torque wrench*
- Mounting Paste
- Optional: handlebar spacers
* Although you can also tighten the bolts with a normal Allen key, I still recommend using a torque wrench with the stem. It is often indicated on the stem (in Nm) how tight you can screw it. This prevents cracks in the handlebars or stem.
Step-by-step plan to replace the MTB stem
All the necessary tools packed together? Then we can start with the replacement.
Follow the steps below to replace the MTB stem.
- Remove the MTB handlebar
Unscrew the Allen keys on the front of the stem to remove the mountain bike handlebar. Carefully place the handlebar with cables over the frame of your mountain bike.
- Loosen the stem at the headset
The stem is clamped around the top of the fork at the headset of the mountain bike. Also use an Allen key here and unscrew the bolts.
- Install the new mountain bike stem
Place the new stem on the front fork near the headset. Provide the bolts with some assembly paste, so that you can always loosen them easily. Tighten the bolts with a torque wrench. Keep to the Nm guidelines, so that you do not screw them too loosely or too tight.
- Place the handlebar between the stem and mount it
Take the mountain bike handlebar again and clamp it between the stem. Apply mounting paste to the bolts and tighten them with the torque wrench. Check carefully whether you place the steering wheel in the middle, there is often an indicator for this on the middle of the steering wheel.
After replacing the MTB stem, it is a matter of experience and trying. Do some test rides and adjust the handlebar height with handlebar spacers as needed. Also planning to buy a new steering wheel? Then read all about changing an MTB handlebar here.
Frequently asked questions about replacing a mountain bike stem
If you are not comfortable on your mountain bike, replacing the stem may be the solution. You can of course also use spacers first, but if that doesn’t work, a different stem is often a smart move.
Certainly! Replacing the stem requires no technical knowledge. Make sure you use the right tools.
You need Allen keys, a torque wrench and mounting paste. In particular, a torque wrench is very important, so that you can tighten the steering wheel with the right force. Without such a torque wrench, there is a chance that the handlebar or stem will tear if you accidentally over-tighten it.