What Are the Different Types of Bike Stems?

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What Are the Different Types of Bike Stems?

A bicycle has a number of purposes in people's lives. Originally, a mode of individual transportation, a bicycle has become a recreational vehicle for many people. It is also used for racing. Cycling as a sport has gained a lot of popularity all over the world. Since its invention in the 19th century, a bicycle has become a common mode of transportation all over the world. Right now an estimated one billion people worldwide own a bicycle.

People using a bicycle for utility, recreation, or racing must be familiar with its structure and parts. One important part of a bicycle is the stem. The stem is essential because it connects the handlebar, which is directly accessed by the biker's hands, to the bicycle fork that controls the movement of the front wheel. Basically, the bicycle stem enables the rider to control the direction of the bicycle. Understanding the different types of bike stems and which one is appropriate for the type of bicycle is crucial so the rider is always in control of the bike's direction.

Bike Stem Construction

Bike stems are usually made of aluminium, but there are varieties that are made of carbon fibre or carbon fibre-covered aluminium, titanium, and steel. Carbon fibre stems are pricier than its alloy counterpart. But high-end alloy bike stems are lighter and quicker to respond than the carbon variety. Titanium stems, on the other hand, have an aesthetic value, and they are lighter and cheaper than alloy-made stems.

Stems generally have two dimensions: an angle and a forward length. Stems must be compatible with the dimensions of the steerer tube diameter and the handlebar clamp diameter. Quill stems can angle at 73 degrees, which makes it point downwards, or at 90 degrees, which makes it point forwards and upwards. Newer designs can have an angle ranging from 0 to 40 degrees, and they can be adjusted to point up or down.

Handlebar Diameter

To fit into a handlebar, a quill or threadless bike stem must adhere to the diameter of the handlebar. For Japanese road handlebars, the clamping area has a diameter of 25.4 millimetres, which happens to be the ISO standard. For Italian bikes, however, the unofficial standard for clamping area is 26.0 mm, a common diameter for road bikes.

Steerer Tube Diameter

To fit into a fork steerer tube, stems usually come in 1" and 1 ⅛" sizes. One and a quarter inch used to be an industry standard but is now limited to some brands, such as Giant and Canyon. One and a half inch can be seen in very upscale downhill bikes.

Types of Bike Stems

To be specific, a bike stem is an L-bent component of a bike that connects the handlebars to the steerer tube of the bicycle fork. A bike stem is also called a goose neck, and it has two major varieties: quill and threadless. The quill stem needs a threaded headset with a length depending on the bike model. The term threadless stem does not originate from the stem being literally threadless; it is derived based on whether the stem requires an un-threaded steerer tube with a length that varies depending on the model of the bike.

Quill Stem

The quill stem existed before the threadless type, and because of that, it is still the industry standard on utility bikes of any price and high-end retro bikes. However, the quill stem has long been replaced by the threadless stem as an industry standard in a particular type of bike. A quill stem is fitted inside the top of the fork steerer tube and kept in place by either a cone-shaped expander nut and bolt or a wedge and bolt. The quill stem is compatible with a threaded fork that reaches up to the headset. When a quill stem is used, the fork steerer tube should have a length that does not protrude above the headset. A quill stem can be made of steel or aluminium.

There are a number of advantages in opting for a quill stem. One advantage is that it allows fine adjustment to be made to the height of the handlebar. It can also be easily raised with a long shaft, for example. Quill stems have a more slender and smooth appearance compared to threadless stems. Also, quill stems can be detached without damaging the headset.

Threadless Stem

Threadless stems are the newer type of stem, and they replaced the quill stem as the industry standard on sport bikes. This type of stem clamps around the top of the fork steerer tube that protrudes above the headset, as opposed the quill type that is fitted inside the top of the fork steerer tube. The length of a threadless stem can vary, reaching up to around 130 millimetres.

A threadless stem is modular in appearance. A threadless stem may need a star-nut or an expander plug. A star-nut is driven down into the threadless steerer tube, stabilised by a couple of barbed flanges. In newer variety of carbon fibre steerer tubes, an expander plug is used instead of a star nut. The expander plug has an advantage of doing the job of a star-nut without damaging the carbon fibre forks.

There are also many benefits from using a threadless stem. First off, it is simpler to flip, swap, and mix and match stems when a buyer opts for a threadless stem because it can come in a variety of preconfigurations, colour, reach, angle, and construction variations. A threadless stem makes it possible to use a steerer tube that is lighter such as carbon fibre or aluminium alloy, making the bicycle generally lighter. It is easy to detach a threadless stem using an Allen key. Also, the centring of a threadless stem can be adjusted without disturbing the handlebar height.

Summary of Advantages of Quill and Threadless Stem

The table below exhibits the summary of advantages for each type of stem. It serves as a quick reference guide for buyers.

Type of Bike Stem

Advantages or Benefits

Quill Stem

Can make fine adjustments to handlebar height; easily raised by a long shaft; slender, smoother look; can detach without damaging the headset

Threadless Stem

Simpler to flip, swap, mix and match stems; possible to use a lighter steerer tube; easy to detach with an Allen key; the centring can be adjusted without disturbing the handlebar height

A bike stem is an important component in the bike. Buyers must weigh the different advantages of each in order to decide on which one to buy.

Variations in Bike Stems

There are some bike stems that are adjustable with the handlebar clamp unit staged on a moveable slide so the fore and aft settings can be varied. The famous cyclist Major Taylor introduced that type of stem. Another variation of bike stems is a suspension stem, which is manufactured by Softride. The stem has a steel coil spring and a polymer bushing for shock absorption. It also utilises a parallelogram linkage.

Buying Bike Stems on eBay

You can rely on eBay to provide you with all bike parts that you need, from forks to handlebars, and from frames to tyres and wheels. For those looking for bike stems, eBay is the place to go. You can find a quill and threadless stem made of different materials, such as alloy, aluminium, carbon, cork, steel, titanium, magnesium, and others.

You can see different brands of bike stems on eBay, and with just a few clicks you can zero in on a particular brand you prefer. As you navigate through the site, you can find functions that allow you to make your search easier and faster. When dealing on eBay, check the seller's page first to see if he or she has positive feedback from other buyers. Before making a purchase, remember to read the product and shipping details carefully to make sure that you are getting a deal that you agree on.


A bicycle is a very popular mode of transportation, and its use extends to recreational and sports. For a biker, it is important that a bike has all parts in tip-top condition, including the bike stem. A bike stem can be a quill or threadless type. A quill stem was the first to be invented and considered the industry standard on utility bikes and high-end bikes. The benefits of having a quill stem include allowing fine adjustment to the height of the handlebar, having a smooth and slender look, and easy adjustment of height of the handlebar.

A threadless stem is the newer type of stem, but it has replaced the quill type as the industry standard on sports bike. A threadless stem can come in a variety of preconfigurations, so it is simpler to adjust. It also allows a lighter fork steerer tube to be used, making the bike generally lighter. A bike stem connects the handlebar to the fork steerer tube, which in turn controls the direction of the front wheel. For this reason, buying a quality stem that fits perfectly to the bike makes it possible for the biker to control the bike's direction.

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