Gusset S2 31.8mm Handlebars and Stem Review

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This Gusset S2 31.8mm cockpit combo is great for those occasions that require a higher rise set of bars or an even shorter stem.

  • Brand: Gusset
  • Product: S2 Handlebars 31.8mm, S2 AM Stem 31.8mm
  • From: Ison Distribution
  • Price: £59.99 handlebars, £69.99 stem
  • Tested by: Benji for 6 months
Nuff cables

In a way, these two items are both at the extreme of things. The Gusset S2 31.8mm x 50mm rise handlebars are pretty much as risey as you can get these days (I think Spank and Answer make even higher rise bars?). You can get the bars is loads of rise options: 10, 20, 30, 40 and this 50mm. The 30mm stem is literally as short as you can get without going down the Pacenti P-Dent route.

The stem is yet another argument for staying/returning to the 31.8mm standard (the other argument being that 35mm cockpits are overly harsh feeling). You can’t make a 35mm clamp stem as short as this. 32mm is as short as you can get for the 35mm clamps.

It’s mainly this super short stem that is of most interest and exhibit the most influence on bike handling.

Let’s get the handlebar review out of the way first then.

Shot-peenings

The numbers speak for themselves. The 5° upsweep and 8° backsweep felt fine. Not weird. Neutral. The 780mm width is borderline for some wider-is-righter riders but I was fine with it. The shot-peened stem clamping area is generous and mates well with its stem sibling.

The ends of the bars, where the grips sit, are also shot-peened. I kinda wish they weren’t. I prefer to run push-on grips and shot-peening surfaces are what tend to allow water ingress resulting in spinning grips. I wish Gusset had just left the bar gloss finished all the way to the ends. Ah well. Most folks run lock-on grips I guess.

(You may be able to see the scratty ends of some parcel tape in some of the photographs in this review. Applying a single layer of parcel tape to the ends of bars is how I stop my push-on grips from water ingress-induced spinning.)

Shot-peened clamping area

The bars are made from 7075 aluminium. They have cut markings. The bars have been custom butted and swaged, apparently. Whatever. They offer a very pleasant ride feel. And in this 50mm rise version are really useful for curing any test bikes that come with low front ends (especially those that have had their fork steerers cut to within an inch of its life).

All-in-all, good to have another 50mm rise handlebar option in The Best Standard (31.8mm). Price is good too. Well done Gusset gang.

On to the rinky-dink stem then.

Oof. That is rather short.

Numbers time. This is the 30mm long one. Also available in 40 and 50mm length. Zero rise. Fair-to-middling 42mm stack height. CNC machined form 7075 aluminium.

It’s a ‘zero gap’ design (the faceplate fits with a zero gap on the upper bolts). I like zero gap stems. Easier to tighten properly (bars fit precisely with equal torque).

Zero-gap stems are great

Most modern short-stemmers out there are probably riding around on 35mm (in every sense) stems. If you’re reading this review, this is quite possibly your setup. So, the $64,000 question here is, “is it worth going 5mm shorter?”

The answer is… Maybe. Depends. Probably not. Definitely.

I’ll elaborate.

Crisply made

If your bike has a long enough reach to it, by all means slap a 30mm stem on there. Especially if your bike’s head angle is the righteous side of 65° (ie. slacker than). There are no down sides to short stems, so long as the other important geometry numbers are in place.

If you’re already feeling a bit shy of reach and/or twitchy of head angle, I’d probably not go to a 30mm stem.

Unless…

Good for any bikes, great for heavy ebikes

Unless your bike is an e-bike.

Even on e-bikes that aren’t exactly generous on reach can benefit from such a super short stem. Why? Gosh, I’ll do my best to explain in as unconfusing a way as possible.

Basically, more of your intended inputs go into the tyre/ground contact patch instead of going into jackknifing the cockpit.

Less basically – and for example – when you want to load-up the left side of your front tyre to increase its traction (whether off-camber and/or turning left), the action of pushing down on the lefthand grip and pulling up on the righthand grip generates – with this sten – the desired force into your wheel. There’s less deflection or understeer.

I specifically mention e-bikes in this regard because of their extra weight and momentum. Lighter non-E bikes take much less Body English and the understeer is far less of an issue.

The sheer shortness also has (in my opinion) a beneficial impact on the general responsiveness and nimbleness of the whole bike when it comes to e-bikes, especially full-fat big-battery e-bikes.

In many ways, going to 30mm (from 35mm) feels like going to 35mm (from 50mm). If there’s one place where a handful of mm can be felt significantly – and instantly – it’s stem length.

As mentioned earlier, the only stem system that’s shorter is the Pacenti P-Dent system. Which are great and everything but, for me, the bars don’t come in high enough rise options and the general feel of Pacenti P-Dent bars is incredibly stiff and harsh. So, 30mm is the shortest option we have currently if we want high rise bars and/or a comfy ride feel.

When they were box fresh (alongside matching squidgy grips)

Overall

A pair of well made and decently priced items that are well worth knowing about. They may not be utterly essential for everyone but for those occasions that require a higher rise set of bars or an even shorter stem, the Gusset S2 31.8mm combo have a permanent place in my componentry collection.

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Review Info

Brand: Gusset
Product: S2 Handlebars 31.8mm, S2 AM Stem 31.8mm
From: Ison Distribution
Price: £59.99 handlebars, £69.99 stem
Tested: by Benji for 6 months

Orange Switch 6er. Stif Squatcher. Schwalbe Magic Mary Purple Addix front. Maxxis DHR II 3C MaxxTerra rear. Coil fan. Ebikes are not evil. I have been a writer for nigh on 20 years, a photographer for 25 years and a mountain biker for 30 years. I have written countless magazine and website features and route guides for the UK mountain bike press, most notably for the esteemed and highly regarded Singletrackworld. Although I am a Lancastrian, I freely admit that West Yorkshire is my favourite place to ride. Rarely a week goes by without me riding and exploring the South Pennines.

More posts from Ben

Viewing 10 posts - 1 through 10 (of 10 total)
  • Gusset S2 31.8mm Handlebars and Stem Review
  • anthonyweighell
    Full Member

    🙂

    sharkattack
    Full Member

    I’ve always thought Gusset was one of the grimiest sounding brand names out there and I’ve never fancied having it anywhere on my bike.

    I love high rise bars though. I prefer 31.8 and I’d be curious to try a 30mm stem on my ‘arsing around’ bike.

    I’d probably combine the stem with my old favourite 40mm Fatbar.

    tomparkin
    Full Member

    I’ve always thought Gusset was one of the grimiest sounding brand names out there

    I initially read that as “grimiest sounding band names”, which confused me a bit.

    It would be a pretty grimy band name too mind.

    fahzure
    Full Member

    50mm rise means fewer headset spacers, more pop/control and adjustability for most riders 5′ 10 and above and 780 or narrower width with 31.8 clamp is appropriate for almost everyone not racing gravity, especially with today’s longer reaches and short head tube bikes.

    sharkattack
    Full Member

    especially with today’s longer reaches and short head tube bikes.

    Preach Brother. I’ve been saying this for ages.

    zerocool
    Full Member

    31.8 bars for the win. I’ve never tried a pair of 35mm bars that have been in anyway comfy (I haven’t tried the One Up bars though) over rough stuff.

    greavo
    Full Member

    Looks like a good option to me.

    “32mm is as short as you can get for the 35mm clamps.” mmmmm.  The OnOff Stoic FG 30mm BB35 Stem is 30mm length for 35mm bars.

    noeffsgiven
    Free Member

    That gusset stem looks a little clunky, like it had two designers, one for face plate and one for the rest of it, doesn’t even seem to match up properly at the no gap part where it contacts the bar.

    rickon
    Free Member

    I did some back to back testing with a 35mm OneUp stem and carbon bars (the comfiest 35 bars you can get, and then 31.8mm Spank Vibrocore bars, and then 35mm Spank Vibrocore.

    The result…

    The 31.8 Vibrocore were head and shoulders the winners.

    The OneUp came second, and the 35mm spank third. So I suspect the Vibrocore helps but the size makes the real difference to comfort.

    Marketing making us buy inferior products? Never.

    doomanic
    Full Member

    I’ve got a 32mm long Loam Lab 35mm stem with Renthal Fatbar Carbons and it’s more comfortable than the 31.8mm Spank Vibrocore bars it replaced.

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