Apologies if I have mentioned this before, but I suffer from a bit of a bad back.
Fortunately it is not very serious, but sometimes it seems like half of my waking hours are spent trying to get comfortable.
On my bike, I favour a more upright riding position. The standard geometry on my Giant Roam is OK – because I am tall-ish for the frame, the bars end up about level with the saddle, and have a bit of reach to them. Good for enthusiastic riding; not too uncomfortable around town; but not quite perfect…
My first change was to try swept-back handlebars instead of the fairly straight risers that came with the bike. I picked up some cheap Chinese bars from eBay, which were delivered very quickly and turned out to be pretty substantial. What I gained with the backward sweep was partially lost by the decreased height (because the bars need to be angled down). Definitely more comfortable – but I needed to get them higher.
There are a lot of “high rise” stems available but the one that really caught my eye was the Humpert Ergotec High Charisma – because it is the only one that I have seen that is actually shaped to flow smoothly into the top of the stem itself. I was baulking at the price until I noticed that Amazon were doing them at a serious discount – I paid just over £16!
The shots above should give an idea of how it compares to the standard Giant stem. The Giant stem is marked as 100mm and 15 degrees; the Ergotec is 90mm and an unknown angle (but no less than 45 degrees in my opinion). They also offer a 110mm version.
I wasn’t sure how the 90mm would be measured, but it is the distance of the centre of the handlebar from the centre of the steerer, measured along the centreline of the stem tube (rather than being the horizontal offset).
Although the relatively shallow angle of the Giant stem means the horizontal offset is still close to 100mm, the Ergotec stem’s horizontal offset is much, much less.
Because of the extreme angle, the Ergotec stem has a horizontal offset of only 70mm or so, and a rise from the base of the stem of about 95mm. Compare this with the Giant’s rise of 40mm. In old money, the Ergotec stem brings the bars an inch closer and lifts them two inches higher!
Fitting was straightforward – the closed top of the stem means you can’t adjust the height using spacers (I had to use the same spacing as the standard stem in its highest setting). No concerns with the quality either – there is a neat rubber seal to protect the top bolt.
Looking at the bike, I was a bit worried that this extra rise might be a bit too much… thankfully, it isn’t. A quick ride around the park has confirmed that I now have the “dutch bike” seating position I was searching for. Should make the commute a lot more comfortable!
All I need now is for it to stop being so cold and wet…