The stem is an important component of a bicycle, enabling a cyclist to steer the bike. However, bike stems do not only play a functional role, but they also allow a rider to make a personal statement about the bike. People take notice of the stem, and it can enhance a bike's look with its shape, colour, or material. This makes the bike stem an important component, no matter whether the cyclist rides a utility bike on the streets of London or a mountain bike in the Scottish Highlands.
One way to save money without sacrificing functionality or style is to buy a used bike stem from a source such as eBay. Buying a used bike stem for a bicycle can be challenging, though. In order to shop successfully, consumers should be well versed on bike stem basics, such as the role of a bike stem and the types of bike stems. They also must pay attention to important specifications related to materials and dimensions. By educating themselves, consumers can purchase used bike stems that are well-suited to their bicycles.
Bike Stem Basics
Before shopping for used bike stems, consumers should be familiar with a few basic points about these components. By understanding the role of a bike stem and how types of bike stems differ from one another, consumers improve their chances of finding the used bike stems that meet their needs.
The Role of a Bike Stem
A bike stem connects a bicycle's handlebar to the steerer tube of its fork. This connection enables the rider to steer the bicycle by controlling the direction of the front wheel. Bicycles feature either a quill or threadless system for this connection, and bike stems are designed to be compatible with one or the other.
Bike Stem Types
The type of bike stem is determined by how the stem fits with the bicycle's steerer tube. A quill bike stem goes directly into a threaded steerer tube, and a threadless bike stem clamps around the steerer tube. The table below compares the main features and advantages of each type of bike stem.
Older system; remains standard for utility bicycles; headset must be specific length; steerer tube contained entirely within headset
Handlebar height is adjustable; rider can raise stem; removable without headset adjustment
Newer system; featured on sport bicycles; available in different fixed lengths; steerer tube extends from headset
Stems are easily swappable; can replace heavier steerer tubes with lighter ones
A wedge and bolt or expander nut and bolt hold a quill stem in place inside of the steerer tube. For a threadless stem, a star-shaped nut goes into the steerer tube, and two barbed flanges secure it there. The top cap of the steerer tube fixes to the star-shaped nut and hangs slightly over the top of the round opening of the stem. Bolts then tighten the threadless stem around the tube.
Important Bike Stem Specifications
Bike stems have different specifications from one another, even within the same type of bike stem. Before purchasing used bike stems, it helps consumers to be familiar with the different materials from which bike stems are made, handlebar attachment variations, and the measurements of bike stems.
Bike stems are often made of aluminium. This material is lightweight and strong, though there are variations in the quality of aluminium that manufacturers use. The 6061 grade of aluminium is heavier and weaker than the 2014 grade. It is also less expensive as a result. It is also possible to find used bike stems made from carbon fibre or titanium. The former weighs less than aluminium and is generally reserved for performance bicycles where trimming grams makes a difference. Carbon fibre stems may receive inconspicuous damage that causes them to fail later. Titanium is more expensive than aluminium, but weighs about the same and has more give to it. Cyclists who purchase titanium stems often do so for the enhanced look they lend to bicycles.
Bike stems vary in how they attach to a bike's handlebar as well as to a bike's steering tube. Whereas a bike stem either goes into or around the steering tube, it always goes around the stem of the handlebar. The difference is in how it fixes into places. Either pinch bolts or detachable faceplates connect the handlebar to the bike stem, with the latter being prevalent for BMX bike stems. The advantage of detachable faceplates is that users can remove a handlebar with other components on it without detaching those components first.
Consumers must pay close attention to the measurements of a used bike stem before buying it. Measurements such as the rise, length, steering tube diameter, and handlebar diameter determine whether or not a bike stem is compatible with a bicycle.
Road quill bike stems usually have a rise, or angle, of 73 degrees and are almost parallel with the ground. Some quill stems also have other angles, e.g. 90 degrees, which results in the stem pointing forwards and upwards. Threadless stems may vary in rise from 0-40 degrees. It is also possible to flip these stems around so that the angle is negative. Some quill and threadless bike stems have adjustable rises.
The stem length runs from the centre of the headset to the centre of the handlebar. Stem lengths vary, and different lengths suit different kinds of riding better than others. Shorter stems give cyclists better control while longer stems help them climb hills. The longer a stem is, the more the cyclist has to reach for the handles. This forces the cyclist to bend his or her back, which can make him or her fatigued more quickly than a shorter stem might. Cyclists who are uncomfortable riding with their current threadless stems can replace them with longer ones in order to improve their posture on bicycles.
Steering Tube Diameter
The diameter of the steering tube can vary from bicycle to bicycle, with standard diameters being 22.2 mm, 25.4 mm, 26 mm, or 26.4 mm. A consumer should measure the diameter of the steering tube in order to determine the steering tube diameter of the used bike stem he or she needs to purchase. Ignoring this measurement could result in the purchase of an incompatible stem.
Another important measurement is handlebar diameter. Common handlebar diameters are 25.4 mm, 25.8 mm, and 26.0 mm. BMX bicycles often have a handlebar diameter of 22.2 mm, while mountain bike handlebars are usually 21.8 mm. Once again, the consumer should take this measurement on the bicycle before purchasing a used bike stem.
Buying a Used Bike Stem on eBay
Finding used bike stems for sale can be challenging. eBay is a good source for used bike stems because it offers a large selection of these components. You can perform a search from any eBay page by entering a term, such as "bike stem", into the search bar and selecting the Cycling category when you receive the search results. In order to filter for used bike stems, select the Used option from the Condition menu. You can browse the listings or continue to filter for brands, bike stem materials, and stems designed for certain types of bicycles.
When buying a used item, it is important to deal with a reputable seller. You can evaluate eBay sellers by checking the feedback they have received from other customers. This is a collection of previous buyers' impressions about purchasing from the seller and an indication of the percentage of buyers who have had a positive experience with that seller. You can see a seller's feedback by clicking on the seller's username on the listing. By checking feedback, you should be able to gauge whether or not you can expect a positive outcome when purchasing a used bike stem from the seller.
Buying a used bike stem is a good way to enjoy the benefits of a new bike stem for significantly less money. Successful shopping for a used bike stem requires consumers to be aware of the role of a bike stem and the types of bike stems available in the marketplace. Beyond that, consumers should also carefully consider the specifications of used bike stems to be sure that they fit on the bicycles in question. Important specifications include the material from which a bike stem is constructed, the manner by which a bike stem fits with a handlebar, and the measurements of a bike stem.
While a used bike stem can yield impressive savings over buying a new one, it can be difficult to find high-quality, used bike stems for sale. eBay is one source where consumers can find a broad selection of bike stems that can match their bicycles. On eBay, a consumer who is familiar with the buying process and is already equipped with knowledge about bike stems can expect to find the right bike stem for his or her bicycle.