Carbon Bike Stem Adjustments


Carbon Bike Stem Adjustments

Mark in Florida wants to raise his handle bars by putting more spacers under the stem, but he needs to know how to do it; so here are our directions.

Question: Just purchased a Giant composite racing bike and please would some one post how to properly remove and adjust the carbon stem (raise it up) with spacers I was thinking of raising my bars some.

Hi Mark, I guess you have an A-Head stem, not the old style of stem.

First loosen the bolts that hold the stem tight to the steering column, these will be at the side or at the back of the stem. Then loosen and remove the top bolt and cap, the stem should then just lift off.

You can then put spacers bellow the stem raising it on the column, be careful not to put too many spacers underneath as there won’t be enough columns for the stem to hold onto.

Put the stem back on top of the extra spacers and replace the top cap and its retaining bolt, don’t tighten the stem bolts yet. Now by tightening or loosening the top you have to adjust the tension on the bearing in the head set.

Pull the front brake on and feel if there is movement in the head set, if there is then tighten the top bolt. Then lift the front of the bike and turn the bars from one side to the other making sure that the bars and wheels turn smoothly, if not you need to loosen the top bolt.

Stem Bolts

Once you have the tension correctly adjusted then tighten the bolts holding the stem onto the steering column making sure that the stem is in line with the front wheel.

It can be a tricky job getting the tension just right, but with some practice you should manage to adjust the head set correctly.

Top Bolt

The adjustment of the head set is very important; if it is too tight or too loose then it will damage the bearings.

Make sure that the bolts holding the stem are also tight as you don’t want it to come loose when out on a ride.

If there is not enough steering column for the stem to grip and you need to raise the stem further you can buy an extension piece that bolts into the column and allows you to raise the stem further.We hope this answers your problem?

Should you have any more questions about carbon stems for handlebars…then head over this thread at, It’s really worth the time to read it!

Image credit

TIP : If you want to know if it is better to adjust stem length as opposed to top tube or head tube lengths, then here is the answer

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  1. scott

    in the article you have said about an extension stem.I have fitted one of these but the setting up is quite a bit the head adjuster screw sits right down inside the stem.Also once you have an extension stem fitted you only need to slide your bars up or down the stem without needing to touch the head screw.Very useful if you are not sure what exact height you want.

  2. David Dornian

    Nice to have a video answer to this question – there’s a lot of information (like how to test the ‘movement’ of the headset after reassembly) in the context of the presentation. It would be nicer to have a less busy background to the vids.

  3. Peter Hazeloop

    Wouldn’t it be easier to replace the stem with one with a larger rise. That way you don’t need to worry about too many spacers which may make it harder to secure the stem bolt. It may also be possible to just turn the stem that came with the bike upside down if it was originally installed “pointing” down. Peter

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