Ah, the humble stem. Simultaneously pivotal and ignored; at the same time vital for modulating ride feel and often overlooked – forever playing second fiddle to its more glamorous and obvious companion, the narcissistic handlebar.
This fine example of the sculptor’s art by Renthal has a number of interesting features. Principally, it’s distinguished – at least initially – by the two gold handlebar clamps offsetting the black body in a manner reminiscent of certain seventies formula 1 cars. They envelope 240 degrees of the bar, apparently lowering stress on the bars, and enabling Renthal to machine an oversized central bore, which according to the website ‘increases stiffness and strength’. I admit I fail to see how increasing the bore could increase stiffness and strength for a given diameter (I are not an engineer), although I can see the benefits in weight saving.
The body is CNC machined (in the UK) from a single billet of 2014 aluminium (used in the aerospace industry) and is engineered with tiny external channels which apparently increase strength. They certainly look distinctive (up close – they’re quite small). And the stem has a +/-6° (or drop) to optimise your bar height too.
In use, those all-encompassing bar clamps are slightly fiddly to fit – this isn’t a stem for serial bar-swoppers – but remain commendably creak-free. It’s not the most unobtrusive stem in the world though – those clamps certainly make it distinctive, and it polarised opinion in the office somewhat, but the stem grew on me aesthetically. It certainly felt stiff enough, and the weight is creditable – a 50mm stem is 141g by our scales, and a 70mm stem is 218g – within a gram of their advertised weights, then, and well within the normal tolerances of an average pair of scales.
Overall: this is a fine, unique stem. If you like the looks, it’s commendably low in weight, and strong (and stiff) enough for some proper hooning. Recommended.
|Tested:||by Barney for 4 months|