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Stem Riser vs Adjustable Stem: What Do You Need?

Stem Riser vs Adjustable Stem
Written by Cobie Brown

Riding a bike is a great way to move around and exercise. However, bikes are all built the same while our bodies are not. Sometimes it can be awkward for some people to ride bikes.

Luckily, there are parts you can add to your bike to make it ride better. In this article, we’ll be looking at two such parts: the stem riser and the adjustable stem.

Both parts raise the handlebars of your bike but in different ways. Let’s look at the differences and see which one is best for you.

Stem Riser

A stem riser is a metal tube that fits over the fork of your handlebars. With a couple of bolts, it lets you raise the handlebars higher than normal.

Since the tube is hollow, it is easy to install onto your bike. Simply detach your handlebars and place the stem riser on the metal tube, then reattach your handlebars.

Pros

  • Great for tall people
  • Simple installation
  • Sturdy

Cons

  • Can only be moved up and down
  • Can’t be adjusted while riding

Adjustable stem

An adjustable stem is a lot like a stem riser, but it can be adjusted back and forth. However, most models require a hex wrench to do this. Make sure you keep one handy.

Pros

  • Full range of motion
  • Easy to adjust
  • Makes sharing a bike between people more convenient

Cons

  • Don’t reach as high as stem risers
  • More expensive

Stem Riser vs Adjustable Stem: How do they differ?

Adjustability

Stem riser

A stem riser raises and lowers the handlebars. It does not allow forward or backward movements.

Adjustable stem

An adjustable stem lets you move the handlebars back and forth up to 60 degrees. It doesn’t go up and down

Winner

Although both of them offer different ranges of motion, an adjustable stem has a higher range of motion and is easier to adjust on the fly, so the adjustable stem is the winner here.

Grip strength

Stem riser

With bolts securing it in place, a stem riser will grip tightly to your bike, making it a safe option.

Adjustable stem

An adjustable stem is similar to a stem riser when you install it. The big difference is that it has another part that allows for the back-and-forth motion.

This part must be tightened properly with a hex wrench. If you’ve let someone else ride your bike, make sure to check the adjustable stem’s grip tightness before you ride.

Winner

With its set it and forget it installation, a stem riser is a safer option because its grip can’t be adjusted as easily as an adjustable stem.

Height Range

Stem riser

A stem riser can lift your bike’s handlebars up to 210mm, which is quite a significant height increase.

Adjustable stem

An adjustable stem can also lift your handlebars, but at a much more limited range, only 85 to 100mm maximum.

Winner

A stem riser’s height cannot be compared to, so it’s an easy win for the stem riser.

Bike fit and installation

Stem riser

A stem riser’s installation is simple and can be done by anyone. Its size is made for most commercial bikes, but double-check your bike size before you buy.

Adjustable stem

Installation is similarly easy to do. Like a stem riser, make sure your bike matches the size of the part.

Winner

No clear winner here. Both are easy to install and use.

Durability

Stem riser

Most stem risers are made from aluminum alloy, which is both lightweight and durable. Cheaper options use thinner metals, which can wear down quickly, so don’t always choose the cheapest option.

Adjustable stem

With a little more complexity, the adjustable stem is a little more durable. It is made from the same materials as stem risers.

Winner

Both are durable because they are usually made of the same materials. But with the extra parts, you can expect adjustable stems to last a little longer.

Safety

Stem riser

For maximum safety, make sure your stem riser is not made of carbon steerer tubes. This material is quite thin and can compromise the stability of your bike if it breaks.

Even with non-carbon steerer tubes, stem risers are thin, so any kind of intense biking is not advised.

Adjustable stem

Adjustable stems cannot be built thin, so they will always be sturdy. You can have some crazy rides with an adjustable stem, but mountain biking is still inadvisable.

Winner

The adjustable stem’s sturdier build allows for more options to ride safely.

Weight

Stem riser

With its lightweight material and simple build, the average stem riser weighs between 200g to 250g.

Adjustable stem

Since it has extra parts, the average adjustable stem weighs between 280g to 350g.

Winner

The stem riser is the lighter option, but the weight difference is not that much.

Price range

Stem riser

The average cost of a stem riser is $10 to $15.

Adjustable stem

The average cost of an adjustable stem is $18 to $30.

Winner

The stem riser is half the cost of an adjustable stem, making it the cheaper option.

Stem Riser or Adjustable Stem: Which One to Choose?

If you are tall and riding a standard bike is bad for your posture, then go for a stem riser. You’ll be able to raise the bars much higher so they’re more parallel to you and keep your back straight.

However, the handling and stability of the bike will be compromised with a stem riser. That’s why an adjustable stem is preferred by those who want a bit more control over their bikes.

FAQs

1. How do I know what size stem to buy?

Ans. A bike stem length is measured in 10 mm increments beginning from 70 mm to 140 mm. Generally, your bike stem should be between 100 to 120mm in length.

However, most riders will be able to handle shorter lengths, say between 70 to 90 mm, but the stem length affects both the comfort and handling of your bike.

2. How does stem height affect handling?

Ans. A shorter stem allows for faster steering, for those who are riding on windy roads or for those who like to make quick turns.

A longer stem’s steering is slower that’s good for nice, easy cruises on straight paths. It is not recommended to have a longer stem to do any sort of intense biking.

About the author

Cobie Brown

Born and grew up in Colorado, I chose to work in the field of what I liked most, biking. I’ve been working as a full time mechanic in the cycling industry for over 13 years. I started BMXing when I was just a 6-year-old kid and got hooked from the very first day. Then I started riding and not a single day went by since then that I didn’t touch my bike.

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