Your bike’s stem is a small part that does an important job. It’s the connective piece that attaches your handlebar to your bike’s fork. Without this crucial connection, you wouldn’t be able to steer your bike’s front wheel in the direction you want to go.
⚠ WARNING: An improperly adjusted or tightened stem can cause you to lose control and fall. Make sure the stem is positioned and tightened properly before riding the bicycle.
Types of stems
Direct-connect stems clamp to the outside of the fork’s steerer tube.
Quill stems have a tube—known as a quill—that’s clamped inside the fork by way of an expanding wedge.
Inspecting your stem
Check that all the bolts are tight. The correct tightness varies according to the type of stem on your bicycle—be sure to follow the torque specifications (typically printed on the stem). If you are unsure of which type of stem your bicycle is equipped with, consult your bike shop.
Adjusting the angle of the handlebar on a direct connect stem
1. Loosen the handlebar clamp bolt(s) on the stem just enough so the handlebar can be rotated in the stem. 2. Position the handlebar to the desired angle, making sure it is centered in the stem. 3. Tighten the bolts. For best results, tighten the bolts a little at a time using an X-pattern: top right, bottom left, top left, bottom right. Repeat. 4. Once all clamp bolts are snug, torque the bolts to the value printed on the stem or check the torque specifications.
Adjusting a quill stem
To adjust the angle of the handlebar
1. Loosen the handlebar clamp bolt(s) on the stem just enough so the handlebar can be rotated in the stem. 2. Position the handlebar to the desired angle, making sure it is centered in the stem. 3. Tighten the clamp bolts to the value printed on the stem or check the torque specifications.
Note: Make sure to tighten the clamp bolts evenly for the best fit.
To adjust the handlebar height
1. If necessary, loosen the angle adjusting bolt to gain access to the stem expander bolt. 2. Loosen the stem expander bolt two to three turns. 3. Tap the top of the stem expander bolt with a wood, rubber, or plastic faced mallet to loosen the stem wedge. 4. Adjust the handlebar to the desired height, making sure the minimum insertion line is inside the frame. 5. Align the stem with the top tube. 6. Tighten the stem expander bolt to the correct torque specification. 7. If you loosened the angle adjusting bolt in Step 1, be sure to tighten and torque it too.
Lubricating a quill stem
1. Loosen the stem expander bolt and remove the stem from the frame. 2. Wipe any old grease off the stem and clean it thoroughly. 3. Apply a thin layer of bicycle grease to the section of the quill that will be inserted into the frame, including the stem wedge. 4. Insert the stem into the frame to the correct height, ensuring the minimum insertion line is inside the frame. 5. Align the stem with the top tube. 6. Tighten the stem expander bolt to the correct torque specification.
For more great bicycle information and sound advice, see our owners manuals