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Carbon or part-carbon stems and 31.8 mm -- fad or function?(4 posts)

Carbon or part-carbon stems and 31.8 mm -- fad or function?Tahoe Gator
Apr 6, 2003 11:18 PM
Just got fitted to my bike today and it looks like I need a different stem size. With the purchase decision, I am wondering about all these new fangled carbon, or perhaps more revelently due to price and size options, part-carbon (aluminum clamps bonded to a carbon tube). Do they truly improve the ride? They weigh no less than a good aluminum stem, so the price premium can only be justified by damping out road vibration. Also, wondering if I should switch to the new 31.8 diameter standard. Are they much stiffer? Lastly, I currently run aluminum bars. Does a carbon bar eliminate the need for a carbon stem or are there incremental improvements for both regardless of the other? Any experience or recommendations appreciated.
Is there a need for a carbon stem? No, IMHO. nmSpunout
Apr 7, 2003 6:26 AM
Carbon stemfiltersweep
Apr 7, 2003 8:54 AM
I have a carbon stem (on a carbon bike with carbon bars... overkill to be sure)- anyway, the stem was recalled, and the LBS gave me a cheapo loaner. Aside from the humilation of riding around with something that says "Bontrager" on it for a few weeks, I can assure you that the ride is the same. Carbon stems are for lunatics such as myself. If you want to go lighter, go mag....
Carbon stemrussw19
Apr 7, 2003 1:54 PM
Yeah, what filtersweep said.... a carbon stem is for aesthetics. It won't dampen any road vibration. (well, I shouldn't say any... OK it won't dampen enough to be noticable.) It's like a carbon seatpost. They look sweet, but do they really change the ride of your bike? To a noticable degree? Not really. If you want a good light stem, get a Deda or Stella Azzura Magnesium stem. They are light as light can be, but costly too. Or get a Deda Newton. It's light, stiff, and strong.

As for your other question... yes, 31.7mm clamp bars do make the bar stiffer. The weakest point of the stem/bar interface is at the clamping zone of the bar. The oversize bar simply spreads that force out over more bar area. It makes the bar a little stiffer, but it's also stronger. But be very careful if you use a carbon bar. You have to make very sure you don't pinch it or overtighten your stem when you install it. If there is ever a true call for using a torque wrench on your bike setup, this is it. I looked at a few carbon bars, and I may try one later this year (the one I wanted wasn't available back in Feb when I built my bike) but there are aluminium bars that are just as light and maybe stronger. It's important to note that in testing of carbon bars last year versus aluminum bars, no carbon or aluminum bars failed prematurely in a test done by Easton. They used a few of the better known bars in their tests, like their carbon bar, Kestrel's bar, Cinelli's Solido, Deda's Newton and Magic bars and a few more. The stiffest in their test was the Deda Magic, which is only like a $60 bar. I don't remember seeing anything about dampening qualities though.

Hope this helps out...