Choosing your Track Cycling Stem

The increase in technical bike-fit services has resulted in the task of choosing a correctly fitting components such as Stems being vastly over-complicated. 

If you are riding incorrectly fitting equipment you'll find your bike difficult to control and open yourself up to the huge potential for postural problems and injuries. 

Velodrome Shop provide a simple guide to help you fix setup problems to give you a faster, safer and more comfortable Track Cycling experience. Even if you are comfortable with your setup, check out our guide to see what improvements you can make... 


Due to the demands of Fixed Gear riding without brakes, Track Cycling requries the highest level of bike handling skills. If your Top Tube length and stem lengths are incorrect your handling ability will be dramatically reduced and you will be a danger to yourself and fellow cyclists.

The trend for 'low and long' stem lengths adopted by road riders is not correct for Track Cycling. Whilst a stem positioned low down on the steerer tube is beneficial for aerodynamics, a stem that is too long is dangerous on the track as it reduces your handling ability.

A low stem is demonstrated in the below photo of Great Britain's Joe Truman. You can clearly see his stem is positioned as close as possible to the head tube to provide a low, aerodynamic setup.

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Even Points/Scratch and Omnium riders such as multiple World Champion Kirsten Wild of the Netherlands follow the correct setup guidelines for Track Cycling, despite being primarily a road rider.

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As these examples also show, the stem length is short enough to allow for an aggressive elbows bent position on the track bike.

Below are two further examples, the image on the left is too high, however even though moving your stem down to the position on the right is correct, leaving the steerer at this length is very dangerous so you will need to cut your steerer tube down once the stem is setup correctly.


Stems are available in numerous shapes and sizes, for example

3T Arx Ltd Stealth Carbon Stem
This is a standard angled stem (3T Arx Ltd Stealth Carbon Stem), whereas the below is an angled stem (Velodrome Shop Pista Stem)

Velodrome Shop Pista Stem

All stems are obviously angled to a certain degree, however stems like the Velodrome Shop Pista Stem are angled to such a degree (65/25 degrees) that allow you to considerablly drop your ride height.

The choice between a standard angled and an angled stem is purely down to personal preference, positioning a standard angled stem on the top of the head tube pointing down and cutting down your steerer or using an angled stem to drop the height down is up to the individual rider. 

Velodrome Shop Adjustable Ahead Stem

Other options include the above, this is an adjustable stem (Velodrome Shop Adjustable Ahead Stem), it allows you to bend your stem in the middle to achieve numerous stem angles. Such a stem is only used in either Time Trials or when your frame size is wrong to the extent that you cannot achieve the correct setup without a high level of adjustment.


If your top tube measurement is too long for your height you will be over-stretched on your bike and you will quickly development pain in your upper back and in your shoulders. Numbness will also commonly radiate down your arms causing incredible discomfort on and off the bike. 

You can find out the correct frame size for your height here

If the top tube length is over two centimetres bigger than what you require for your height it is difficult to safely adapt your position, however you can start by following the below guide 

REMEMBER: You are not Graeme Obree, your arms should be bent when positioned on the handlebar drops. 

The Ideal Top Tube/Stem Length
If you are the correct height for your Track Bike frame then you will be using a 10cm stem. A rider 5ft10in/177.8cm with average arm length on a 54cm frame will have a 10cm stem, this means the combined Top Tube/Stem Length is 64cm. If you have shorter arms than average reduce your stem size by 1cm, do the opposite for longer arms. 

If you are 5ft 10in with average arm length but on a 56cm, frame, simply adjust your stem length to obtain a combined length of correct frame size + correct stem size = 64cm. 

To simplify:  Your Correct Top Tube Length + 10cm = Correct Setup for Track Cycling.

The only exception to this rule would be for Time Trials where you require a minimal stem, i.e. one that simply connects your bars to the bike so a 60mm-80mm size. This is because of the position adopted during a time trial means your bars have to be a lot closer to you so that you can position your elbows in the arm rests without over stretching and losing power.

The below photos show correct Track Cycling setups 

The frame size and saddle height allow the body and legs to be at the optimal position for track cycling and power generation. 

The arms are also slightly bent that generates a tighter setup, making the bike easy to control. The rider also has a more crouched position this is better for acceleration and aerodynamics