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handlebar & stem upgrade(18 posts)

handlebar & stem upgradembernal
Nov 26, 2001 5:31 PM
I want to upgrade my Klein's Quantum Race Icon Graphite handlebar & stem. I was looking for an ITM Millenium combination but as I was reading your reviews it seems that the handlebar it's not strong enough for me.I'm 6'3" and 207lbs can anyone recommend me something light but not as flexible as the ITM???
re: handlebar & stem upgradecdlynx
Nov 27, 2001 11:52 AM
I upgraded my Quantum Race (Icon Sterling Stem and 3T bars) with the Easton Carbon (EC-90) and the Thomson Elite stem (silver). I've tried many bars and tapes to isolate vibrations. The new set-up is light, isolates road vibrations, is stiff (5'10", 175lbs) and looks incredible. I bought the Thomson Elite seatpost (see posting below on seatposts) to match (swapped out Icon seatpost) because of the looks and build quality!
re: handlebar & stem upgradeGrover
Nov 27, 2001 4:18 PM
I have a 3t Zepp stem and a 3T bar. Its not the XL (31.8 size clamp) version, but the stem is amazingly light and is very stiff. I might avoid the 3T Prima 199 bar since you're trying to avoid flexiness at your weight, but the Zepp stem coupled with a slightly heavier bar (like the Forma SL) is a pretty good combo.
Survey Says.....grzy
Nov 27, 2001 4:52 PM
Ritchey WCS and an Easton carbon bar would be a pretty strong and light combo. While the jury may still be out on the Easton bar, the verdict on the WCS has been in for a while - it's solid and light. TTT Prima 199 is a nice bar, the Deda 215 is OK, some like the Cinelli. None are as light, strong, or spendy as the Easton unit.
Survey Says.....Little Pooter
Nov 28, 2001 10:00 PM
I think the Easton bar deserves a stiffer stem... Ritchey is a little too flexy.
Nov 30, 2001 10:08 AM
Got any idea how stiff it really is?
Well, ya I do....Little Pooter
Dec 3, 2001 6:21 AM
First, common sense dictates that when you shave every little bit of material from a component that your life and dental work depends on, its gonna flex. Maybe not an issue for 120lb riders, but it is for me.
Second, recent test in Mountain Bike rated it (MTB version, same thing)as the flexiest of the bunch, against some very basic competition. Not a surprise.
Lastly, tried it myself recently, on a TCR1 with a Cinelli bar and substantiated my suspicions. FLEX! When it comes to stems and bars, only fools push the limits of strength and weight, and I wouldn't ride this stem if it was free.

I know from past posts that you think this stem is the cats a$$, and if it works for you, great, their your teeth, but I dont agree with you.
Dec 4, 2001 5:37 PM
Correction: everything flexes and nothing is infinitely stiff.

So I go looking and find your article mentioned -

Your basic criticism is that the WCS is flexy and apparently you and Mr. Phillips used the same test criteria (i.e. nothing). The basic competition is some MTB pig iron. The very same Easton stem was slammed in Bicycling mag, for example, for being so heavy and expensive and not that stiff. Ultimately there was no comparison to anything in the road bike world - even the WCS "tested" is a MTB product nor did anyone bother to make any measurements. Bear in mid that most scribes working for bike mags are flunkies from journalism school - not too many of them made it through an engineering program - and are as hooked into the bicycle industry payolla as anyone alive. It is quite typical for them to review one component, but advise another - like the one on their own bike for which they usually paid nothing.

Now your own scientific home test is pretty funny - I will point out that what a lot of foks perceive as stem flex is really bar flex. Next time hook up a piece of steel pipe and do some stem comparisons - a scale and a means of measuring deflection will be needed. Think about the length of thin walled aluminum tubing and the applied moment arm, and the relatively small diameter of a bar. It's also important to realize that flex is part of alomost every component designed for a bike - the important thing is that something doesn't exceed it's elastic limit or cycle life.

The following article was stolen verbaitum from the website. Nowhere does it mention failures and expensive dental repairs. Cosider the editor's closing remarks "a heavy, strong stem is a good thing." It pretty much illuminates their bias and puts objectivity in the trash can. With some steel I could fabricate you an even heavier and stronger stem and warranty it for life. It's all about tradeoffs - you want to run strong heavy stuff then that's fine - most of us prefer an excellent strength to weight ratio. Check out a ti stem from SEven and the like if you want to see some flex....

Ritchey WCS Mountain Stem
September 2001
By Matt Phillips
Originally tested against the Answer Orbit and Easton EA50.

In Search of the Perfect Stem
From light to strong to sexy, there's a stem here that will match your needs.
PROS: Super-duper light; one-piece, forged
CONS: Expensive; somewhat flexy
Ideal Buyer: You want a light, sexy stem for
Price: $90
Weight: 145 grams (110mm)
Sizes: 100, 110, 120, 120mm
Contact: 650/368-4018;

Ritchey's lightweight wonder
This stem blends one-piece forged construction with light weight, combining the
best elements of the Answer with the best elements of the Easton. The material is
2014, an unusual aluminum alloy for stems. The material's expensive and tricky to
work with, and Ritchey is using an advanced manufacturing method to pull it off,
which is the reason this stem runs about 90 bucks. Ritchey said the material allows
for a stem that is significantly lighter but just as strong as a stem made of 6061.
The four-bolt bar clamp is said to increase stiffness and put loads in the right
places for a long fatigue life. Also, redundant fasteners are very cool should there
ever be an inopportune failure of any sort. By angling the fork-clamp split and using
opposing bolts, Ritchey says loads are distributed more evenly around the steerer
tube--a benefit for superlight steerer tubes and carbon steerers (that's right--at
least one suspension-fork company is experimenting with carbon steerers).
Shot-peened finish and laser-etched graphics round out the list of features.

This stem only weighs 145 grams--that's insanely light. We expected it to be on
the flexy side, and it is. Not unacceptable, but there's a bit more give than you get
from the average stem--or from the other stems we test here. But we had no
complaints of creaks or the stem working loose.

Of the stems we test here, the Ritchey has the fewest reach and rise options (it
only comes in six-degree rise), it's the least stiff, and it's the most expensive. It's
lighter than the average aluminum stem by about 30 grams (it's even 10 grams
lighter than the lightest titanium stem in our office, and the same weight as a
carbon road stem that's here). The steerer clamp and bar clamp are on the small
side, and the strut tube is somewhat small, which saves weight and contributes to
the flex we felt. With no welds, it's probably more than strong enough, but we don't
recommend it for you freeriders or Clydesdales out there, and it's not at its best
with wide riser bars. It's perfect for race geeks with flat bars--which is why it's the
stem of choice for the Ritchey race team.

Editor's Choice:
Of this group, you're going to find us choosing the Easton for our own bikes. It's
the heaviest, but a heavy, strong stem is a good thing. It's also the stiffest, so
there's a perceptible performance benefit as well. Heck, it's the cheapest, too, and
it has the longest warranty--two years. How can you go wrong?
Oh brother....Little Pooter
Dec 5, 2001 9:13 AM
Do you have shares in Ritchey? Of course these magazine guys are biased, everyone knows that. I dont think a "bias" is the case in the article. Its an attitude, that they prefer to have strength over weight in a stem. So do I.
BTW, my home test was an actual ride, not some rediculous "scientific/engineering" approach like you suggest. Gimme a break! (and a pocket protector) If it doesn't feel right on a bike in the real world, I dont really care what numbers your experiment come up with. The point is, in my opinion, the stem flexes, MORE than I like, (combined with a reletively stiff bar, not the stiffest, but middle of the road).
Maybe you are a featherweight, or you dont muscle your bars around the same way I do, whatever the case, this forum is for opinions, and I stick by mine.
Enjoy your stem.
Too bad ignorance isn't painful (nm)grzy
Dec 5, 2001 9:35 AM
Come on... don't take it personallyLittle Pooter
Dec 5, 2001 10:39 AM
So now you wish pain on those who disagree with you?
I read in a previous post that you fly for the Navy, for that you get some of my respect, but your narrow views and "Holier than thou" attitude regarding this damn stem is laughable. Who the hell goes to their local shop, with a metal pipe and weights and rigs up your "experiment" to a stem to find out its stiffness?
In the real world, you find the product, hopefully set up the way you would use it, AND TRY IT for the purpose it was intended. From there, you apply some common sense, consider price vs weight vs performance and decide whether to buy it or not. I would not buy this stem. Period.
For god sake, all I am saying is that the stem is not that stiff. If its stiff enough for you, ride it. I dont plan on replacing my stem every year when the fatigue life of this ultralight part nears its end. If you believe that 125gms of aluminum offers the same stiffness and strength as a well made 170-200gm stem, go for it.
My caution regarding the limits of technology does not make me ignorant, it just means that I have more important goals in life than having the lightest bike part at the expense of performance and safety.
I'm getting tired of this... lets just agree to disagree?
I see.grzy
Dec 5, 2001 1:25 PM
You bring up a lot of issues as critical faults yet have no data to backup your position. Why hasn't the WCS been recalled due to the hihg number of failures and excessive accidents with people requiring huge amounts of painful dental work that you mention. Ahh, maybe b/c it hasn't happened. You know to stay away from some of the Profile stuff and the Deda Newton - correct?

When confronted you demonstrate your ignorance and claim you have more important things to argue with me. It's pretty typical for people in the bike biz to throw around all sorts of criticisms yet have no basis for their statements other than a friend of a friend. If people actually understood some of the terms and concepts they tossed around like buzzwords they'd realize how easy it is to actually quantify things. The reason why I tossed out the ignorance/pain thing is that I realize you have no motivation to dig into things deeper and you'll continue to spew inaccurate and untrue statements.

The only valid point you've been able to make is that you wouldn't buy this stem - gee, no sh!t Sherlock. You made that point on your first posting. It's just that none of your criticisms stand up to any sort of objective scrutiny and, like me, you like to have the last word.

The very fact that we disagree is what gives us a wealth of choices, but you shouldn't debate facts or make them up.
Here are my last words... really, I mean it.Little Pooter
Dec 5, 2001 2:45 PM
I did NOT make up any facts. I never said that the stem HAS broken, or WILL break, I said that I do not trust it FOR ME. I have a right to make a judgement call regarding the weight of the stem vs. my weight, taking into account past experiences with super light products, and decide whether I will risk using that product. There is always a first, and its not going to be me.

My opinion was not a "friend of a friends" opinion. It was my own. I tried it, it flexed too much for me. Period.

I dont need to dig into anything deeper, I tried it, I didn't like it. It didn't perform for me. What's to dig?

Maybe we are not all engineers, or stem designers, or in "the biz", but yes, we do use the stuff. What works for you might not work for me, and vice versa.

I'm not sure exactly what vested interest you have in this stem, but its obvious that by criticising it, I have inadvertantly offended you. Pardon me.

Its been interesting.
Dec 5, 2001 6:44 PM
I've always understood your opinion and that it's as valid as any other. What I've objected to is your half cocked subjective rationalization, lack of critical thinking, and excessive back pedaling when confronted. Simple as that. We'd probably get along famously.

You made a couple statements that caught my attention, that sopund an awful lot like you think that it WILL break:

"When it comes to stems and bars, only fools push the limits of strength and weight, and I wouldn't ride this stem if it was free."

Meaning: So anyone that uses the stem is a fool and the product is worthless (i.e. even at a price of $0 it's not worth the risk). In that light then the bicycling world is made up of an awful lot of fools - both consumers, manufacturers and racers. But hey, you're no fool. You use good manly products.

"I dont plan on replacing my stem every year when the fatigue life of this ultralight part nears its end."

Meaning: The stem won't last a year since you've done the analysis and can quantify it's fatigue life - since no one else has done the said analysis. You do know how fatigue life is quantified correct? You also understand that light weight doesn't necessarily equate to a shorter fatigue life - there's the whole aspect of design and true understanding as to where the maximum stresses occur. If you don't know or don't care then you produce some over built POS and hope it doesn't fail, but it still can. The aerospace industry has always been about strength to weight ratios and good design - not that they haven't had spectacular failures - some of that crosses over into other areas like bikes and autos, both the success and failure aspect.

The real offense is that you haven't read or understood the forum pact - not which stem you use.
OK... I just have to...Little Pooter
Dec 5, 2001 9:26 PM
say a few more things in my defense.

"half cocked subjective rationalization, lack of critical thinking, and excessive back pedaling when confronted"

At what point does actually using a product come into play? If a stem flexes under MY use, do I have to quantify it with engineering principals before I can relay my experience on this forum? If not being able to debate things on your techno level is backpedaling... guilty.
Unfortunately, I am just a 32yr old cycling fanatic and business owner with an opinion on a product. I'm not a "stem designer", or an engineer. Stems are not my life.

I said "When it comes to stems and bars, only fools push the limits of strength and weight, and I wouldn't ride this stem if it was free."

Thats what I said, but your interpretation of it is creative. You seem to ingnore the "I" in my statements and just assume I'm making a blanket statement about everyone.

What I meant is...
If you weighed 190 lbs and saw a stem flex when you test rode it, would you not be a fool to buy it? In my opinion, riding this stem would be pushing the limits for "ME", taking into account my weight and the ultralight stem, and the experienced flex. Its not worth the risk for "ME" at any price. Not sure about your "Manly" comment.

"I dont plan on replacing my stem every year when the fatigue life of this ultralight part nears its end."

Again, note the "I" in this statement. In the 16 years that I have been a cyclist, I have seen and heard about numerous ultralight products failing prematurely. Stems included. I have even heard of manufacturers recommending that Ultralight parts be replaced yearly (Specialized Ti stem for example) I have to trust a product to use it, where do I get that trust from? Manufacturers claims of strength? Not necessarily. Everyone claims to be strong. Or maybe the marketing people? Definitely Not. I'm married to one, I know better than to believe their claims. I have to trust my judgement, and my common sense and balance that with the facts. That said, given "MY" weight, at 190lbs, and a 125gm stem, and the experienced flex, "I" would not push this stem for more than a season or two max. In the end, I am responsible for "MY" actions and "MY" decisions, stem manufacturers will not pay my hospital bills, nor will they tell me if or when a stem might break under "MY" use.
I'm not saying this stem will break, but as a consumer I have the right to think for myself don't I?

As for the forum pact, no I have not read it. I didn't know it existed. I would be happy to read it... where is it?
I'm assuming that nowhere in the Pact does it state that "real-world" experiences are not valid unless backed by engineering facts and principals? If it says this then I have truly comitted the offense you charge me with.

Otherwise, not guilty your Honor
In defense of ritcheykoala
Dec 6, 2001 5:35 AM
The road stem was rated by bicycling as very stiff and they had nothing bad to say. I realize nobody likes that mag but I do skim it on the newstand. Another subjective review.
re: handlebar & stem upgradeDavidS
Nov 28, 2001 5:01 PM
I am bigger guy as well, and I have found my current stem and bars, Cinelli Solido stem and Solida bars, to be stiff and light. The stem is really very nice (26mm clamp) but be sure to try the bars first if you can. They are a little "shallow". What I really would like is a set of Cinelli Giro D'Italia bars (they're non-ergo) in 44 or 46 size, but I can't seem to find any!

Ride lots,
-Dave S.
re: handlebar & stem upgradembernal
Nov 29, 2001 4:59 PM