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.
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.
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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
* �6� x L70, 80, 90, 100, 110, 120, 130,
* Ø31.8mm handlebar clamp diameter
* 40mm fork clamp stack height
* Black anodized
* Color graphic options – Red
* 141 grams (100mm) - claimed, 165 grams (120mm) - measured
Well finished product that comes with quality chromoly hardware and a neat carbon faceplate.
It does everything well, but nothing stands out as amazing.
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.
Not spectacular, but still good enough to stick on your race bike.
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.
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,
For 5 years, racing was my life and I went all the way from a newbie bonking after 40 miles, to a full-timer plying my trade on the Belgian kermesse scene. Unfortunately, the pro dream wasn't meant to be and these days, you're more likely to find me bimbling about country lanes and sleeping in a bush on the side of the road.