Friday, October 28, 2011

Stem-Pad, How to Make Your Own

Hello and Welcome,
Before I begin, I would like to remind you to check the "Video Of The Week" section from time to time. I have added a couple very good videos in the past week. One is a tutorial about adjusting a rear index derailleur. The other is a video showing the proper way to skid your fixed gear bike. As of late I have been learning to ride my fixed-gear conversion. "The Skid" is a lot tougher than it looks in the video. This post is a direct result of my learning to skid experience.
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Above: Probably not the best stem for a fixed gear bike. Especially as the frame is about 5 or 6 cm too big for me, as is my belly. OK so I watched the "Skid Video" and thought "I can give this a shot". How hard can it be? Answer: Really Hard. As I pushed my considerable girth forward to take some of the weight off the rear wheel. I got this bugger poking me in my lower abdomen. I did manage a few really short (and painful) skids. Afterwords I knew I had to do something about this "Stem in the Gut" situation.
Above: This is a 6ft piece of foam pipe insulation, cost under 2.00 U.S. It is available in different sizes, So you should be able to find a good fit for your stem.

Above: All you need to cut this stuff is a fairly sharp pair of household scissors.
First bend it while holding it next to your stem and cut-off an approximate length piece. Don`t worry if it is a little long, you can trim it latter.
Above: The foam comes already split length wise. Centering the split towards the front of the bike cut a notch right at the point where the stem turns. You notice I cut the top angle different than the bottom. This is so the foam will will fit properly after it is folded and placed onto the stem.
Above: As you can see here I cut another notch in the foam tube so I could continue it all the way over the top of the handle-bar clamp. You can end yours where ever you want. If you don`t get it right the first time, No Worries, You still have another 5 feet of tube left.
Above: You can now tape it into place "as is" with electrical tape if you like. I`m going to coat mine with 3M Trim and Detailing Tape. Notice I have not taped over the fold area, I will do that last.
Above: Now I start applying the Trim Tape from the opposite end. I leave the area where the fold is untaped till last. Then I folded the tube and placed the last pieces of tape in place while keeping it folded. When finished it should hold it`s shape.
Above: Here you can see I cut the tape long enough to wrap the edges on the foam-tube. This should help it last longer and not soak up moisture on the edges. I did not worry about covering the bottom facing edge.
Above: Here I am checking the fit. Now I will pop it into place and secure it with pieces of the same trim tape.
Above: Here is the finished stem-pad. This one is literally "over the top" just like the graphics. Remember you can make yours any size and color you want. With the left-overs you can make stem-guards for the kids BMX or Mountain Bikes as well.
If you consider how many stem-guards you can make with a 6 ft piece of foam pipe insulation and one good roll of plastic trim tape. Well the cost per guard has got to be ridiculously low.
Enough with the Stem-Guard pictures already! That`s the last one, I promise.

***UPDATE*** Yesterday I removed the pad and lowered the stem. Then I trimmed the pad to fit. Why is it the simplest solution is sometimes the hardest one to find?
While the frame is still to tall for me, this is a huge improvement. I even managed to do a little skid in my driveway!
Until Next Time Please RIDE SAFE and Remember to always RESCUE, RESTORE & RECYCLE ..... Cheers, Hugh

Coming Soon! The Rock-Hopper FS gets some badly needed attention.


  1. Oh my!

    At least flip the brake levers around.

    You've really outdone yourself this time.

  2. I like the idea of the stem pad/cover especially after seeing the video on how to skid a fixie. The pad/covers I recall from my youth had a pleather cover with Velcro or snaps to hold them in place, I was wondering how well yours stays put.

  3. Hey John,
    So far so good, But the vinyl tape I use is not typical colored electrical tape. It is "3M Trim and Detail Tape" It can usually be found in the paint department. I mention this because the other colored tapes I have used in the past do not work anywhere near as well.

  4. Hey Anonymous,
    I am probably going to move the brake-lever down to the flat eventually. I am just waiting for the right lever to pop up. Although this set-up is working fine so far. I do need to shorten the cable housing a bit though. And by the way Thank You

  5. Does this stem pad end up cushioning your "considerable girth" as intended?

  6. Hey John Romeo Alpha,
    It definitely took some of the bite out of that dog for sure. And coupled with lowering the stem I think it will be bearable until I can build a 57-58 cm.
    Also I have decided to "get in shape" I am going to watch my diet closely and make sure I get some exercise every day. This morning it was 40 degrees Fahrenheit when I rode my bike into town for coffee. I recently purchased a vintage "Schwinn Exerciser" which I will ride when it is too cold to ride outside. Or when I need to add some more miles to my winter ride. Having a few health issues is no longer going to be an excuse not to exercise. From now on it will be my motivation. Cheers

  7. Although I don't plan to ride it myself, i just started working on a 1985 Fuji Gran Tourer 12 speed. It's a 'found bike' - it had been in someone's garage for many years, and even though it was unloved and unridden, it IS in remarkably good shape. It has no chain, and I'll need new tubes and tires, but I was wondering if you could pass along any "gotchas" I might have to watch out for working on this bike.

    My blog - with a picture of this bike is here. My email is .

    Be an S.O.B. - Saver of Old Bikes.

  8. Greetings Lou,
    Funny you should ask. I did a post a while back titled "All Original What That Really Means".
    Although I did not write it for this purpose, I think it would make an excellent reference for anyone restoring an old road bike for the first time. You can find the post by Google searching the title. Or it should be listed at the bottom of my blog page on the Label list.
    There are also some Fuji restorations on the same label list. Good Luck with your restoration. I hope you find some useful info on my blog. By the way, That`s great! S.O.B.
    "saver of bikes" That would make an excellent tee shirt!
    Cheers, Hugh

  9. Cool handlebar. Is this a time trial type or selfmade from a drop handlebar?

  10. Hey Mark,
    These are flop and chop bars I made from a typical drop handlebar. Sorry for the delayed response.
    Cheers, Hugh

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