FSA SL-K stem  £82.95

7/10

Unremarkable but efficient stem that does what you need it to without being remarkable in any way.

Weight 165g   Contact  www.windwave.co.uk

by Liam Glen   February 4, 2014  

FSA SL-K stem 2

The FSA SL-K stem is part of the, you guessed it, SL-K range from the Italian-based part makers. It's FSA's second tier group below the range-topping K-Force series. As befits a race oriented component, the focus is on weight and stiffness, with price being of only secondary importance. Still, at just over £80, the SL-K is far from the most expensive of stems, though at the upper end of those constructed from aluminium.

The 2014 aluminium alloy used is typically used in aerospace applications, and is among the strongest aluminium alloys whilst also having high hardness – which is what you want in a stem I guess.

The SL-K is manufactured first by 3D forging – a process which typically improves the material properties by aligning the grain structure – and finished by CNC machining. The carbon faceplate adds a dash of the more exotic to the whole ensemble while the bolts are good old reliable chromoly steel.

Weight could surely have been lopped off via aluminium hardware (or even titanium but that would significantly increase costs), but only at the expense of durability. On the scales, the SL-K is a run-of-the-mill 165g for the 120mm length tested, meaning there a plenty of lighter options out there at around this price.

The finish on both stem and faceplate is glossy, and the in-your-face SL-K stickers leave little doubt as to the provenance of this stem. In conjunction with a full SL-K finishing kit (stem, handlebars and seatpost), this overt advertising would perhaps blend in a little, but as an individual part, I suspect most people will find it a little too brash.

In terms of performance, the SL-K does everything well enough, but nothing really stands out about it. Stiffness is good and should be plenty for most riders, while the weight is about average. One thing that does stand out is the fact that the bolts have remained uncorroded despite over a year's worth of use in between periods of storage in a very damp shed.

Verdict

The SL-K stem is one of those difficult to review items, in that it does everything that you expect it to, without being outstanding in any way. Buyers purchasing the stem as part of a full SL-K finishing kit won't find anything to worry them here, but anyone looking to the SL-K stem as a single purchase might be better off either going for a cheaper option, or pushing the boat out and getting something significantly lighter and/or stiffer.

road.cc test report

Make and model: FSA SL-K oversize stem

Size tested: 110mm

Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?

FSA describe the SL-K stem as a "New weight-reduced professional racing stem". However, looking at the numbers, it appears that SL-K won't be gracing the wish-list of weightweenies any time soon. That said, it does offer a balanced performance and would be appropriate on any race bike.

Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?

DESCRIPTION AND MATERIALS

* 3D forged and CNC machined AL2014

* Carbon fiber faceplate

* Cr-Mo steel hardware

SIZES

* �6� x L70, 80, 90, 100, 110, 120, 130,

140mm

* Ø31.8mm handlebar clamp diameter

* 40mm fork clamp stack height

FINISH

* Black anodized

* Color graphic options – Red

WEIGHT

* 141 grams (100mm) - claimed, 165 grams (120mm) - measured

Rate the product for quality of construction:
 
8/10

Well finished product that comes with quality chromoly hardware and a neat carbon faceplate.

Rate the product for performance:
 
7/10

It does everything well, but nothing stands out as amazing.

Rate the product for durability:
 
8/10

The finishing hardware, typically the first thing to corrode on cheaper options, is still in great shape despite over a year's worth of use and storage in humid environments.

Rate the product for weight, if applicable:
 
6/10

Not spectacular, but still good enough to stick on your race bike.

Rate the product for comfort, if applicable:
 
7/10
Rate the product for value:
 
6/10

There are some cheaper options that beat the SL-K from a weight point of view.

Did you enjoy using the product? Yes.

Would you consider buying the product? Too expensive for me.

Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes.

Overall rating: 7/10

About the tester

Age: 22  Height: 190cm  Weight: 69kg

I usually ride: Canondale EVO Red  My best bike is:

I've been riding for: Under 5 years  I ride: Every day  I would class myself as: Semi pro

I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo cross, commuting, mtb,

 

8 user comments

Oldest firstNewest firstBest rated

It's a stem. What else were you expecting it to do?

posted by MNgraveur [24 posts]
4th February 2014 - 19:50

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Like (15)

Be lighter than, for instance, a 115g Ritchey C260 that costs the same amount as this?

posted by Nick T [603 posts]
4th February 2014 - 20:06

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Like (18)

This site really suffers from the plague of smart Alec's clamouring to get one up on the reviewers. If they give a Granny Smith 8/10 and praise its nice appley flavour, I fully expect the first comment to helpfully remind us all that it's not as orangey as a satsuma.

posted by Nick T [603 posts]
4th February 2014 - 20:46

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Like (32)

Nick T wrote:
This site really suffers from the plague of smart Alec's clamouring to get one up on the reviewers...

...and failing, as above.

posted by Mr Turning [20 posts]
4th February 2014 - 21:31

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Like (14)

Fair enough. I "rock" inexpensive alloy stems on all my bikes. Seems a silly place to spend money.

posted by MNgraveur [24 posts]
4th February 2014 - 21:41

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Like (8)

You'd seriously give a Granny Smith 8/10? Braeburns are sweeter and just as juicy for the same price.

nowasps's picture

posted by nowasps [200 posts]
4th February 2014 - 23:50

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Like (17)

A well raised point. Where do you stand on the extra outlay for a Pink Lady, arguably the rapha of the apple world, but perhaps even better value in the sweetness-juicyness stakes with an extra dose of crunch thrown in too?

posted by MattT53 [119 posts]
5th February 2014 - 1:40

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http://weightweenies.starbike.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=116669&start=30

I know everyone wants a finishing kit from the same manufacturer-group. But some stems are incredibly expensive. I have no problem whatsoever with BBB stems neither. Cheap, robust, lightweight..

2ryd

posted by Vejnecske [16 posts]
5th February 2014 - 7:05

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Like (6)

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