Like this site? Help us to make it better.


Carbon for carbon's sake


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, having previously worked on Cycling Plus and What Mountain Bike magazines back in the day. He also writes about e-bikes for our sister publication ebiketips. He's won three mountain bike bog snorkelling World Championships, and races at the back of the third cats.

Add new comment


bicycleworld | 15 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

DaSy | 15 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.

jezzzer | 15 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 replied to jezzzer | 15 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

Latest Comments