Q: I have a problem, I am only 5’1” and want to ride but we don’t have a lot of money. I got my brothers old Haro Backtrail but it was too big so my dad turned the stem backwards and mounted the bars backwards in the stem to make them easier to reach. Everyone keeps laughing and telling me its wrong and its gonna break, is it?
A: Wow, this is a unique letter to us, even after a dozen or so years of answering them, so cheers to your dad for this seemingly bad idea and making our day. Truth be told, as much as we would love to hang out with your friends and make fun of you, and your dad, its functionally a solid idea. He shortened your reach to the bars without expecting any of the parts involved to work other then they were designed to. Your bars are still facing forwards, your stem is still clamping the bars and your dropouts are still facing the proper direction, forwards, so as strange as it seems it will work. Now lets discuss if there is a better way, shall we? The major downfall to this is your front wheel will always have the slight desire to go where it wants and by the time you get used to it, you will be ready to put them stem back the right way and have to readjust. The better option would be to simply pull the bars back just enough so you can comfortably reach them, with the stem in its intended position and work with what you’ve got. In the long run, this will smooth your learning curve and make your next big progressive step the stair gap you have been checking out, and not getting used to handlebars in the position they should have been in all along.