Just been writing up the BMC SLC01 Pro Machine that's just in, and it got me all angry about carbon stems again. Not because it has one – sensibly BMC spec the EA90 – but just because they exist, really. Why do they exist? The EA90 and EC90 are a good case in point. The EA90 is an excellent stem. The EC90, which is £100 dearer and 5g heavier, is average at best. Why even bother?

I test rode an MTB with an '07 EC90 stem a year or so back. I could move the bars an inch up and down at the ends. Carbon doesn't cope well with the twisting forces that a stem encounters. In an ideal world you want some kind of large diameter metal tube with... oh.

Dave is a founding father of road.cc and responsible for kicking the server when it breaks. In a previous life he was a graphic designer but he's also a three-time Mountain Bike Bog Snorkelling world champion, and remains unbeaten through the bog. Dave rides all sorts of bikes but tends to prefer metal ones. He's getting old is why.


jezzzer [329 posts] 6 years ago

I think carbon can probably cope plenty well enough with twisting forces *if* if is properly used ... ie laid in the right directions to resist the expected forces.

that EC90 above looks more like it's got carbon print stuck on.

Dave Atkinson [6083 posts] 6 years ago

you're still paying a massive premium for no performance improvement or weight loss. so why bother? a stem's only function is to be a solid link from the steerer to the handlebars, and the lightest and best way to do it is with metal. go to weight weenies and look at the stem listings - no carbon among the lightest ones. the lightest carbon one i can see, the Time Monolink, is £200 or as close as dammit. Save yourself 6g, and £140, and get a Syntace F99.

The EC90 has a vanity layer of weave. just to add a bit of weight  1

DaSy [686 posts] 6 years ago

...puzzled me too.

In an effort to make a stem stiff enough it ends up weighing more than alloy, it is expensive, and still doesn't perform as well.

People do like to see carbon on their bike though (me included), but to use it at the expense of performance seems a step too far.

bicycleworld [26 posts] 6 years ago

How far can you go for the sake of carbon.
The main advantage is the vibration damping.
So you will not always save the weight.
Carbon seatposts are a great upgrade but only if you buy a quality product like the Easton version.
All because they produce a much more comfortable ride.
I have never bothered with a carbon stem.
Recently used the smica range of ahead stem.
Fantastic value for money.
But nothing compares to Easton Monkeylite handlebars & seatposts