Home > Other Fun Stuff > How To

AASQ #7: 27.5″ bikes for short riders, riser stems vs. bars, and the future of the bicycle?

Support us! Bikerumor may earn a small commission from affiliate links in this article. Learn More

We know, there’s no such thing as a stupid question. But there are definitely some questions too embarrassing to ask your local shop or riding buddies. This is the first in a weekly installment where we get to the bottom of your questions – serious or otherwise. 

Kicking things off this week, we get a question from Don about wheel size and rider height:

I’m only 5’4″ tall and not so very experienced rider yet… will i have a hard time riding a 27.5 tire bike since i’m used to only riding a 26 tire bike… Thanks.

That’s a reasonable question, though I think you’ll be just fine. As long as the bike is properly fit, you should be able to find a 27.5″ frame in a small enough size that will work for you. The difference in wheel size from a 26″ to a 27.5″ is pretty negligible as far as effort to start from a dead stop, maneuverability, etc. The biggest things to consider would be proper standover height (can you straddle the bike over the top tube comfortably with your feet at least touching the ground), reach (you may need to play with stem length to shorten the cockpit), and proper adjustment of the brake levers so they are easy to operate. Any decent shop should be able to steer you in the right direction and get you fitted on the right bike.

Tim wants to know, “Why do riser bars exist? Wouldn’t it be simpler and lighter to just raise the stem angle?”

It’s possible, but there are a number of caveats. It may be vain, but many cyclists care a lot about how their bike looks – and massive stems angled up into the sky are decidedly uncool. You’re also limited by the rise of the stem before you start getting too far out in front of the bike, extending the reach. Since you’re talking riser bars I’m assuming mountain bikes or hybrids, and for mountain bikes geometries are going longer in the top tube allowing riders to run shorter stems. At that point, there’s not much length to work with in terms of the stem angle. Also, even with positive rise stem angles, some riders still want a higher handlebar position and therefor will use a riser stem and a riser bar. To be honest, modern handlebar design results in pretty small weight increases from a low rise to a high rise bar, so you may actually add weight in some cases with a riser stem rather than a riser bar.

Finally, Jerry comes at us from the philosophical side, wondering, “What will happen when all cars are driverless and actually “driving” a car becomes illegal? Will cyclists still be allowed to use the roads or will they just provide the pedal power and a computer will actually control the bike?”

Wow, great question. Short of all the virtual training currently happening indoors through Zwift (guilty), I don’t think the humble bicycle is going anywhere. As one of the most efficient modes of transportation in the world, it’s hard to beat a machine that is easily reparable at the most basic level and requires no fuel other than your own to run. I do see the need for more devices like the Ilumaware radar “reflector” which causes a car’s accident avoidance system to better recognize a cyclist which typically has too small of a foot print to activate the system. The roads are getting to be a pretty scary place to the level of distracted driving out there, and it seems like it’s only going to get worse. Fortunately, there are companies like Volvo who have made it a goal to have zero car – cyclist/pedestrian collisions by 2020. With cities getting more crowded, eventually something will have to give, which will probably be the idea that we all have to get in a car to drive to work. And since you can fit a lot more bicycles in the space needed for the same amount of people in cars, the bicycle will probably gain traction out on the roads rather than decline. As far as the computer control? We heard that Zwift is working on a VR headset to use outside while you’re riding, but that could be just a rumor…

Got a question of your own?  Click here to use the AASQ form, or find the link under the Contact menu header up top anytime a question pops into your mind!

Notify of

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
6 years ago

The short stem comment about mountain bikes is based on a lack of understanding of stem geometry. A 90 mm +35 degree stem has the same horizontal dimension as a 50 mm -7 stem. I find that most people ordering riser bars like how they look and the fit conversation is more rare.

Ashwin Amanna
Ashwin Amanna
6 years ago

For the short rider asking about 27.5…I made the switch last year. It is difficult finding frames with short enough reach, especially as modern geometries are getting longer in the front end. I ended up with a custom hardtail, but am looking for a dually now… Norco makes some XS in the Optic and Revolver, Rocky Mountain Thunderbolt, pivot mach 4, long hei hei dl trail, yeti asrc in XS are some I am considering due to their short reach.

Subscribe Now

Sign up to receive BikeRumor content direct to your inbox.

Subscribe Now

Sign up to receive BikeRumor content direct to your inbox.