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Used for clamping your handlebars to your fork. This is how you control the bike. The fork steerer passes through headset bearings pressed into the frame head tube, then is clamped to this steerer. Stems are preferential for different riding styles and fits. Typically on aggressive mountain bikes they are shorter, this to allow the rider better control in technical terrain. On the road and in XC, stems are longer. This is because the rider is more conscious of their positioning than their handling. The correct stem position will allow them to perform at their best for the duration of the ride. Stems typically come in two handlebar clamp options, 31.8mm and 35mm. The clamp onto the steerer itself is fairly universal nowadays for most 1 1/8″ steerers.