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Showing posts with the label Stem

Joystick Binary stem

Joystick say this stem combines strength and stiffness with race-friendly weight. It certainly ticks the latter box, weighing just 120g (35mm length, 35mm bar clamp). Made from a proprietary ‘8-bit’ alloy, Joystick also claim that the Binary provides “unmatched performance and feel”. We can’t say we noticed any particular difference in ride characteristics, but the wider-thanaverage faceplate keeps a firm grip on the bar without the need to over-torque and there was no movement on the fork steerer. It looks sleek, with its minimal shape and subtle laser-etched graphics. While not excessively expensive, it’s definitely at the upper end of the price spectrum for an alloy stem.

Lightweight and performs flawlessly, but a little pricey

Price $135

Race Face Chester 35 (40mm) stem

Although it’s the cheapest stem here by a long way, Race Face’s Chester works flawlessly. The 5mm steerer clamp bolts, which carry a massive 9Nm max torque spec, mean it clamps super-tight and we couldn’t get it to twist on the steerer, either out on the trail or with the wheel held still. Its traditional four-bolt faceplate works just fine too, and the whole thing feels as stiff and secure as anything else here. At 141g, it’s not even that heavy.

You have to swap Allen keys to fit the faceplate… We’re clutching at straws here!

Price $60

Gravity Grid (50mm) stem

Because Gravity have specced 4mm bolts throughout, fitting the Grid stem is a one-tool affair. The large bolts hold the faceplate securely in place and it feels nice and stiff on the trail. The upper bar clamp bolts have to be done up all the way first, which takes the guesswork out of clamping the bar evenly and makes it easier to adjust bar roll. There’s a 35mm length option too.

With the bolts tightened to the recommended 6Nm, it was just possible to twist the stem on the steerer in our static test. Its 168g weight is mid-pack rather than class-leading.

Price $105

Chromag HiFi 35 (50mm) stem

This is a seriously solid stem. Chromag use 5mm Allen bolts throughout, which makes it that bit easier to fit because you don’t have to swap tools. Once torqued up to the recommended 6-8Nm, it clamps both steerer and bar solidly, with no appreciable flex. We couldn’t get it to twist on the steerer, either in our static test or when riding. It’s also available in a 35mm length and three other colours.

At 204g the HiFi is the heaviest stem on test by some margin, despite being one of the more expensive offerings here.

Price $112

Renthal Apex 35 (40mm) stem

The Apex is the lightest stem here, at 120g. Its twin wraparound clamps need to be slid on from the side rather than clipped straight on, but this was never a problem, even with non-Renthal bars. The six-degree rise/ drop adds bar height options. Despite the narrow bar clamp, it feels stiff enough.

Care is needed when fitting. It’s essential to grease the bolts and tighten them to exactly 5Nm (the max recommended torque) to avoid it twisting on the steerer. Even then, we’ve had it twist slightly when riding hard.

Price $135

DMR Defy 50+ (50mm) stem

With its super-short steerer clamp height (33mm) and 5mm of rise or drop (depending on which way up you run it), the Defy offers lots of options for experimenting with bar height.

DMR’s unusual ‘Top-Close’ clamp allowed it to twist on the steerer more easily than most of the stems here in our static test, even with the bolts tightened to the 6Nm maximum torque. The short stack also introduces more flex during standing sprints. At 187g it’s the second heaviest stem on test. It’s only available in a single 50mm length.

Price $82

Ritchey WCS Trail 35 (45mm) stem

At 123g the WCS Trail is one of the lightest stems on test. The wide bar clamp (45mm) and tall steerer tube clamp (also 45mm) help to deliver lots of stiffness and clamping force.

The unusually tight fit of the bar clamp means you have to force the bar into place. It scored our test bar slightly, and creaked as we tightened the bolts. We tried two different bars with similar results. It also twisted more easily on the steerer than the most solid stems here when we held the wheel and hauled on the bar to test its clamping force.

Price $132 

Sonder Love Mud Piskie stem

Sonder, and associated outdoor brand Alpkit, are known for top-value, no-nonsense kit and that’s exactly what the Piskie stem is. It only comes in a 31.8mm bar bore and lengths are limited to 35 or 55mm, but that’s the direction most riders are heading in with their cockpit adjustments anyway. The thick-walled, cold-forged body with four-bolt faceplate is plenty stiff even with a wide bar, and that’s impressive because it only weighs 123g in the 35mm length. At $34, with Alpkit’s usual no-questions warranty, it’s a total bargain too.

Price $34

Rehthal Duo stem

THE DUO’S UNIQUE two-piece design allows more scrupulous machining to save extra weight. At 125g it’s among the lightest here, yet it holds everything together more securely than many of its featherweight rivals. It’s a bit of a faff to install it properly and swap bars, and it can creak if the two halves aren’t aligned just so.

Race Face AEffect 35 stem

THE AEFFECT IS the cheapest stem on test by some margin but you’d struggle to tell on the trail. It uses a similar interlocking faceplate design to the more expensive Atlas, which holds the bar snugly, but the finish and fit is slightly cruder and it’s a bit heavier at 166g.

Race Face Atlas stem

AVAILABLE TO SUIT both size bars and with a super-short 35mm length option in the larger diameter, there’s an Atlas stem to suit most tastes. The faceplate uses 4mm bolts, while the steerer clamp has bigger 5mm bolts.

Truvativ Holzfeller stem

THE HOLZFELLER ISN’T the most visually striking stem, but it’s solidly constructed and works well. It’s 3D forged for strength and uses 5mm bolts throughout. At 164g, our sample is actually a bit lighter than SRAM’s claimed weight, so there may be a bit of natural variation in the manufacturing process.

Renthal Apex stem

LOOK CLOSELY AT this beauty and you’ll see it’s been extensively machined in a bid to shave weight without compromising strength. At 117g it’s the lightest on test, but what about strength?

Hope AM/Freeride stem

IN CHARACTERISTIC STYLE, Hope’s offering is intricately CNC machined, available in a slew of bright colours and beautifully laser etched.

Joystick Builder stem

CNC MACHINED AND available in both clamp diameters, the Builder employs a novel bar interface. The faceplate clips onto the bar before being bolted onto the stem itself via the twin bolts up top.

Gravity GRID stem

THE GRID HAS been built for strength – it’s 3D forged for extra durability before being CNC machined – so its mid-pack weight came as somewhat of a surprise. Gravity use 4mm Allen bolts throughout, but deep bolt heads help prevent rounding.

Syncros AM1.5 stem

UNUSUALLY, SYNCROS USE Torx T25 bolts throughout. These are less likely to round than conventional 4mm Allen bolts, but older/cheaper multi-tools sometimes lack the tool needed to adjust them. The recommended torque setting is a minimal 5Nm, which we found insufficient to stop the stem spinning on the steerer in our indoor tests.

Easton Havoc stem

THE HAVOC IS designed to steer you through the most chaotic of trails and, at 186g for our 50mm sample, it’s reassuringly heavy. Easton have used 5mm bolts throughout, which means you’re unlikely to have to swap Allen keys after tightening your headset top cap.

PRO Atherton Star Series stem

DEVELOPED WITH THE Athertons, this is aimed at hard riders with a gravity bent. At 174g it’s not light, but it has a solid construction. The hardware is all 5mm bolts, which are greased rather than threadlocked.

Straitline Pinch (SSC) stem

ROUND NUMBERS APPEAR to be important to Straitline – our stem weighed exactly 200g and costs 150$. That makes it the second priciest and the heaviest stem on test.