Mountain bike stem: all about the ‘mountain bike stem’

The mountain bike handlebar is connected to the mountain bike using the stem. An MTB stem is also called a mountain bike stem. The stem can be in different positions. Which position is best depends on your driving style.

What is a mountain bike stem?

Let’s start with what a mountain bike stem is. The MTB stem is the connection between the handlebars and the MTB front fork at the headset. When you turn the handlebars, the front fork turns with it. The MTB handlebar is clamped in the middle using Allen screws.

The MTB stem determines the position of the MTB handlebar. For example, the length of an MTB stem has an influence on the ‘reach’, an important element of the mountain bike frame size. And the angle of the stem also has a major influence on how you sit on your mountain bike.

mountain bike stem
A mountain bike stem from Specialized. © MTBdex.com

Mountain bike stem positions

As I just mentioned, the stem determines the position of the MTB handlebar. The choice for a specific MTB stem depends on whether you often climb or descend (downhill) during mountain biking.

  • Climbing: if you often go climbing with your mountain bike, it is best to choose a long stem with a negative angle. This will make you sit a little more forward.
  • Downhill: mostly downhill? Then it can be smart to opt for a short stem with a positive angle. This raises your handlebars a bit higher.

Don’t worry if you currently have the wrong stem on your mountain bike. Replacing an MTB stem is very easy and a new stem does not cost much.

FAQ: frequently asked questions about the MTB stem

What is a mountain bike stem?

The stem is the part that connects the handlebars to the fork at the headset. The handlebars are clamped between the stem and ensure that your wheel turns when you move your handlebars.

Long vs short MTB stem: what’s the difference?

With a long stem you end up sitting a bit more. This means a greater reach. This is beneficial for aerodynamics. It is best to choose a long stem if you often have to climb. When you descend a lot, it is smarter to opt for a short stem. This makes you sit a little more upright.

Are there carbon stems?

Mountain bike stems are usually produced in three different materials: aluminum, carbon and titanium.

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