Poll Results: MTB Stem Length – What is yours?
Now that you guys have had some time to marinate on the mountain bike stem length question, I thought I would throw the answers on the board to see what the overall results were. While some of you may have thought that this was a question with too many variables, I did have an underlying goal with this poll that I will explain after we get to the results. I was actually pleasantly surprised with the results and very happy with the way this turned out. Ok…enough of my rambling…how did the mountain bike stem length poll turn out?
Poll Results: MTB Stem Length – What is yours?
You guys were asked two simple questions…what is your stem length and did it come on your current mountain bike? So here is how it all panned out…
According to the results, the vast majority of you are using 90 – 100 mm mountain bike stems with 70 mm stems bringing up a close 3rd place.
Surprisingly (a in a good way), most of you (66% of voters), are experimenting with stem length and dropping the one that came with your current mountain bike in favor of a stem that better fits your needs (or built up the bike yourself and chose the stem length for your build).
What do I think about the results?
First, why did I ask these questions? I have been riding a long time and I like to watch trends over time as riding styles and mountain bike technology change. If you would have asked these same questions in the 1990′s (or even early 2000′s), the results would have been drastically different. Instead of the median length around 90 mm, we would have found that most riders were using a mountain bike stem around the 110 mm to 120 mm length range. As mountain bikes have gained more travel and slacker angles, the need for a super long stem (by today’s standards) has drastically diminished in favor of shorter stems that are easier to control. Add to this…the trails have changed to include faster, more technical downhills that bikes of today can tackle easily. With faster, more technical downhills, you need a stem length that is easier to control. Stems that are in the 90mm range provide enough climbing stability on today’s mountain bikes but also give mountain bikers a more stable platform to enjoy the downhills with more speed.
Back in the 1990′s, I was running the 130 mm, bright ass canary yellow, Control Tech stem you see pictured here. Can you even imagine running this stem on a mountain bike that has been produced in the last couple of years? It would feel terrible!
The second question I asked in this little experiment was to see how many of you are tweaking your mountain bikes to fit your riding style and fit needs. Thankfully, I can see that a lot of your are choosing the right place to start as you continually try to tweak your mountain bike for better trailability. Your stem on your mountain bike is one of the areas that you can really dial in your ride to fit both your height/proportions and how your bike handles on your trails. Luckily, it is also one of the cheaper options that has the most drastic affect on your riding. Some of you may have bought a bike that came with the length you need…and that is great. Most of the time, you will find that you need to change out the stem length to really get things dialed in and experimenting is really the only way to accomplish this.
Where these the results you were expecting?
Thomson Seatposts, Stems and Seatpost Clamps
Whenever I am doing a build, there is only one brand I go to for my seatpost and stem needs…L.H. Thomson Co.. Located in Macon, GA USA, the L.H. Thomson Company makes, by far, the best posts and stems on the market.
Thomson MTB Product Features
- Machined out of 7000 series aluminum
- One piece design with no welds or joints
- The bolts are custom-made from high strength steel. A corrosion-preventative plating is added to prevent rust. All six bolts are interchangeable. A 4mm hex wrench will fit all bolts on our stems and seatposts.
- Every component of the Thomson stem, including the fasteners, is 100 percent American made.
Why Are Thomson Stems and Posts The Best?
One look at these parts and you will notice the manufacturing superiority over the competition. Every tolerance is held perfectly. Thomson’s bread and butter business is in specialty manufacturing and engineering for companies like Boeing and Ford, so it is pretty safe to assume that bike parts are on their “simple to do” list.
The Thomson Stems
I can actually feel a difference in the overall stiffness of the front end when switching between brands. The widely spaced 4 bolt front clamp design tightens evenly around the bar and does not slip over time. Each bolt has a torque setting printed on the stem. If possible, stick to these settings as close as possible. The Thomson stems have a lot of clamping force and over tightening can damage bars or steerer tubes.
You can purchase these stems in 3 flavors with plenty of length/rise combination’s with each.
- Thomson Elite – Your typical 25.4 mountain stem size. This stem uses Thomson’s own two bolt wrap around clamp design. The makes the stem have no exposed bolts that normally damage knee caps.
- Thomson Elite X2 – The 31.8 road stem with 10 and 17 degree rise options.
- Thomson Elite X4 – The 31.8 mountain stem that is stronger and 30 grams lighter than the Elite.
For all of my bikes, I run the X4 for the oversized 31.8 mountain bars.
The Thomson Seatposts
Thomson posts are solid. When properly greased, you will see absolutely no creaking between the post and seat tube. The two bolt clamp is easy to adjust and they provide hash marks to correctly set the saddle angle. Changing out saddles can be a pain, but with the Thomson posts…it seems to be easier than usual. The rough lined surface is durable against scratching and provides a little resistance while setting the saddle height.
You have two options when choosing a Thomson post (besides seatpost size).
- Elite – The standard seatpost.
- Masterpiece – A 40 gram lighter version of the Elite.
I have no justification for the extra cash it takes to save 40 grams, so I always go with the Elite version. If you are a true gram counter…you will probably disagree.
Conclusions on Thomson Mountain Bike Products
I know what you are thinking…this is starting to sound like a Thomson commercial instead of a product review article, but honestly…I can’t find much at all wrong with their product. The posts and stems come in silver and black with no nonsense performance. The multiple stems and posts that I have had over the years have worked flawlessly. I can honestly say that I think the Thomson products are the only parts that I have had zero issues with their performance or reliability. One can argue that this is due to the lack of moving parts, but I have had creaking and loosening issues out of other manufacturers.
What Is Next For Thomson?
At this years Eurobike, Thomson revealed the much anticipated seat post clamp and 1.5 steerer tube stem line. I would like to eventually see a wide handlebar to match the stems and posts…hopefully that will come to fruition in the near future.
Where To Buy Thomson Posts and Stems?
Thomson X4 | Thomson Elite Stem | Thomson Elite Seatpost | Thomson Masterpiece Seatpost