Maybe Grandpa put your bike together with the fork backwards, maybe you need to raise the bars up to get a more upright riding position, or maybe you're commute's turned windy and you want to slam the stem to get even more aero. In today's post we'll talk quill stems and what you need to know to get everything adjusted to your liking. Let's get wrenching!
How They Work
Quill stems are delightfully simple. The shaft of the stem slips into the steerer tube and an expansion nut holds the stem in place once the stem bolt's been tightened!
Sometimes the stem bolt is covered by a plastic or rubber cap. If you don't see a bolt at the top of stem's shaft, you've probably got a cover on there. Just pry it up with a fingernail or something and you should expose the bolt.
You'll also find a "minimum insertion height" labeled somewhere on the shaft. Make sure your stem's always in the head tube "deeper" than that line and you'll be set for miles of easy riding.
That simplicity makes adjustments as easy as turning a wrench. Step 1 of any tweak is loosening the stem bolt. That'll retract the expansion nut so you can raise, lower, turn your stem wherever you need it to go. Using your allen key (typically a 6mm) give the bolt on the top of the stem a few counter-clockwise turns, just enough that you can move the stem independently of the bike.
Once you're loose, make your adjustments. If you're flipping a fork, just hold the stem in place while you turn the fork frontwards. If you're raising or lowering, just gently lift or lower the stem accordingly.
And once everything's where you want it, all you have to do is tighten the stem bolt back up! Give that bolt a few clockwise turns until everything's tight again, and you're all set!
Easy! And now you're ready to roll.
One of the best things about quill stems is their adjustability, so play with your set-up until you've got everything dialed in perfectly. Then it's as easy as taking measurements and grabbing the appropriate parts if you want to get your other bikes to match.