Hi. I'm looking for any tips on adjusting mountain bike stem length. I love my full-suspension trek women's specific mountain bike almost all the time - except when climbing steep pitches, then I have a hard time keeping my front wheel down on the ground, even while sitting as far forward on teh nose of the saddle as possible. Never had this problem with my old hard-tail (which also had climbing bars). I've lowered the handlebar, which helped some, but I think I might need a longer stem. Does that sound right? If so, any tips on how to know what size stemwould be better? Thanks!
I had the same problem diagnosed by a riding instructor. The solution was to go to a bike store and have them replace the stem; it cost around $60. Well worth it as I felt much safer on the bike. Hope this helps.
have you considered adding bar ends? that would let you get your hands and some weight out in front of the handlebars and keep the front wheel down in those situations. a longer stem would put your hands higher which would seem to make your problem worse. A stem that extends further horizontally would help, but would mean you are leaning forward all the time. The bar ends would give you the ability to be in the position you are comfortable riding in, then utilize them when you need to be more forward.
Another cool option is to get an "on the fly" adjustable drop seat post, like a Crank Brothers Joplin R Drop seat post. You can easily install it on your bike instead of a regular seat post. You then adjust your seat post length, depending on if you are climbing or descending, without ever getting off your bike. You just pull on the lever while riding. Combine that with climbing bars and you'd be set.
Bar ends (assuming you do not already have them) might help, as might moving the saddle forward (you say you end up on the nose, which suggests the possibility that it is too far back) -- you still might need a longer stem, though.
A longer stem would help elongate your body across the bike, which would displace more weight to the front wheel on climbs but you could risk making the bike very uncomfortable for you on regular riding. I'd suggest making sure your rear suspension is locked out on your climbs before you buy a longer stem, only because I wouldn't want you to make such a permanent change to your bike just for climbs and risk making it really uncomfortable for all your other riding. Just a thought.
When you're ready, I'd suggest this bike stem: http://www.roadrunnersports.com/rrs/products/NYTSM05013/
For quick & cheap if you have a riser stem, try fliping it. It likly to look like a road stem at that point puting more weight on the front & making you more aero at the same time.