Suspension stems are back, if US brand StaFast is to be believed.
Younger readers might not have seen suspension stems or even know that they existed, but you can pretty much work out the concept from the name. They were stems. And they were designed to provide suspension. That’s pretty much it in a nutshell.
The idea of a suspension stem, the best known example of the genre being the Girvin Flex Stem, was to provide bump-damping movement at the handlebar. They were big – or biggish – in the 1990s.
How successful were they? Well, when was the last time you saw one? There’s your answer. Suspension stems actually come fifth in Dirt magazine’s 15 Worst Mountain Bike Products Ever.
StaFast, however, reckon that their suspension stem is ‘the one-of-a-kind component that will revolutionize the cycling experience’, whether than be on or off road. It’s not that they don’t know about previous suspension stems, it’s that they believe their system is better engineered using superior components.
The stem is made from 3D forged 6066 T6 aluminium and the suspension comes via a Swiss CNC-machined pneumatic (air) cylinder, whereas the Girvin Flex Stem from back in the day relied on elastomer.
“Bicycles equipped with StaFast attain faster speeds, provide enhanced comfort and deliver superior results overall,” according to StaFast. “By replacing a standard bicycle stem with Stafast, strain on a rider’s upper body is decreased dramatically; and unlike other dampening components on the market, Stafast lessens impact without sacrificing performance.”
StaFast stems are available to order now for US$350 (around £224). Some have already been despatched with others to follow in January and March, and remaining orders to be fulfilled by May.
For more info go to sta-fast.com.
Mat has been in cycling media since 1996, on titles including BikeRadar, Total Bike, Total Mountain Bike, What Mountain Bike and Mountain Biking UK, and he has been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. Mat has been road.cc technical editor for over a decade, testing bikes, fettling the latest kit, and trying out the most up-to-the-minute clothing. We send him off around the world to get all the news from launches and shows too. He has won his category in Ironman UK 70.3 and finished on the podium in both marathons he has run. Mat is a Cambridge graduate who did a post-grad in magazine journalism, and he is a winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer. Now pushing 50, he's riding road and gravel bikes most days for fun and fitness rather than training for competitions.