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Verdict: 
A top-end, lightweight stem with plenty of stiffness for a good price
Weight: 
136g

Ritchey's WCS C220 is the lightest stem in its range, pipping even the top-end carbon models on the scales. It hasn't sacrificed stiffness either, so you can have a little bit of everything performance-wise.

  • Pros: Lightweight, excellent quality and finish
  • Cons: Erm... nothing really

Ritchey has based the C220 stem on its top-level C260 model but without the faff of having to navigate the handlebar through it. To explain, that number after the 'C' refers to how much of the bar (diameter) is wrapped by the stem itself, so 260 degrees in the case of the C260, which means there is only 100 degrees for the clamp to deal with. With the C260 this means that to get the centre of the handlebar to line up with the stem you have to kind of feed it through from the curve of the bar where the hoods of your shifters would sit – a bit of a faff.

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This C220 stem locates around 220 degrees of the bar, which allows you to get the bar into the clamp without issue; it's just a little bit more snug than using a standard stem, which splits the clamping diameter 180/180°.

It makes the bar easier to fit as it is kind of held in position while you locate the faceplate and bolts.

Ritchey says that by wrapping the main stem body more than 180 degrees around the bar, the bolt forces are aligned with the clamp so that the stem body 'embraces' the handlebar. This makes it less prone to damaging lightweight bars.

Ritchey C220 stem - front.jpg

The C220 comes in a range of options not only in length but also angle. This 84D model has a +/-6 degree rise depending on which way up you fit it, and is available from 60mm to 130mm lengths in 10mm increments.

You can also get a 73D (+/-17°) and a 25D which offers a whopping +/-25 degrees of rise or fall.

Weight and build

Weight is pretty impressive at just 136g on the road.cc scales for this 100mm option, which makes it one of the lightest we've tested, even if that is 15g more than Ritchey claims for the 110mm stem.

Both the stem and faceplate are forged from 2014 aluminium alloy and are compatible with 31.8mm diameter handlebars and 1 1/8in fork steerer tubes.

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Performance-wise it's hard to gauge a stem's contribution in isolation, but I have ridden some that flex a bit when out of the saddle and the C220 certainly isn't one of those.

There is plenty of stiffness here, and swapping out a carbon fibre stem for this one I never noticed any difference to the ride quality, for better or worse.

Value and competition

When it comes to value, you can pick up a decent enough alloy stem for under 20 quid these days but what you are getting here for the C220's £85 price tag is the complete package.

It's part of Ritchey's WCS line-up, its top end World Championship Series, and it's quality throughout. The finish is impeccable, smart looking and hardwearing.

You've got that impressive weight, too, but Ritchey hasn't gone all-out to get it. I'm glad to see 4mm chromoly steel bolts being used throughout rather than going for something lighter like titanium. Yeah, you might save a couple of grams, but they can be a little fragile even when using a torque wrench.

As for competition, well, I've tested the PRO Vibe Di2 stem, which came in at 144g and £99.99, or if you want to go really light you could check out the Deda Supperleggero. Our 120mm version weighed in at 124g but it'll set you back £129.99.

On the whole, I think the WCS C220 does the job and looks the business, all at a decent price.

Verdict

A top-end, lightweight stem with plenty of stiffness for a good price

If you're thinking of buying this product using a cashback deal why not use the road.cc Top Cashback page and get some top cashback while helping to support your favourite independent cycling website

road.cc test report

Make and model: Ritchey WCS C220 84D stem

Size tested: 100mm

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?

Ritchey says, "You really can have it all - the WCS C220 stem rivals the performance of the revolutionary C260 stem design, but it's quicker and easier to install and remove thanks to a press-fit handlebar clamp interface and forward-facing hardware.

"The WCS C22 84D Stem offers 6-degrees of positive or negative rise. First proven on the Ritchey Trail Stem, the C220 handlebar clamp design creates a more secure interface by wrapping a full 220 degrees over the handlebar. Bolt forces are aligned with the clamp so that the stem body 'embraces' the handlebar, which is less prone to damaging lightweight bars. This clamp design allows for a lighter faceplate and stem body with no sacrifice in strength or stiffness.

"The stem body is forged 2014 aluminum for further weight reduction. Premium quality CrMo steel bolts are used throughout."

I think the WCS C220 stem is an ideal solution if you want the light weight and excellent stiffness but don't want carbon fibre.

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

Ritchey lists:

Material: 3D forged 2014 alloy body

4 x 4mm coated CrMo steel forward-facing faceplate bolts

2 x 4mm coated CrMo steel offset steer tube clamp bolts

5Nm torque max on all hardware

Compatible with all 31.8 bars

Press-fit clamp design installs and removes like a standard stem

Lengths: 60-130mm

Angle: 84/6 degree

Steerer Height: 42mm

Steerer: 1-1/8'

Faceplate Width: 42mm

Blatte finish

Rate the product for quality of construction:
 
8/10
Rate the product for performance:
 
8/10
Rate the product for durability:
 
8/10
Rate the product for weight (if applicable)
 
9/10
Rate the product for comfort (if applicable)
 
8/10
Rate the product for value:
 
7/10

Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose

It clamped everything without movement and offered no flex when riding hard.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the product

Excellent finish and quality for the money.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product

I didn't really dislike anything.

How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?

Compared to the competition it stands up well as a whole package against many on the market. It's lighter than some more expensive options and offers plenty of stiffness to boot.

Did you enjoy using the product? Yes

Would you consider buying the product? Yes

Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes

Use this box to explain your overall score

Offers pretty much all of the performance of much more expensive stems and looks smart too, though you can still get near this weight for less money if you really want to.

Overall rating: 8/10

About the tester

Age: 40  Height: 180cm  Weight: 76kg

I usually ride: This month's test bike  My best bike is: B'Twin Ultra CF draped in the latest bling test components

I've been riding for: Over 20 years  I ride: Every day  I would class myself as: Expert

I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, commuting, club rides, sportives, fixed/singlespeed

With 20 years of road cycling and over 150,000 miles in his legs it's safe to say Stu is happiest when on the bike whatever the weather. Since writing his first review for road.cc back in 2009 he has also had a career in engineering including 3D-CAD design and product development, so has a real passion for all of the latest technology coming through in the industry but is also a sucker for a classic steel frame, skinny tyres, rim brakes and a damn good paintjob.
His fascination with gravel bikes is getting out of control too!

12 comments

Avatar
joules1975 [610 posts] 9 months ago
0 likes

Good value?!

Not really when you realise that you can get a Control Tech CLS stem that has a claimed with of 110g (100mm) for £30!

 

Sure the ritchey stem is nicer, and I can see why the way it clamps the bars is perhaps better than the conventional style, but is that really worth £55 more ... for a stem!

Avatar
Miller [298 posts] 9 months ago
0 likes

I had a C260 stem on a bike for a while. Lovely stem, very nicely made. What I liked is that the way the bolts are angled makes the faceplate relatively unobtrusive. The stem/bar combination then has something of the feel of an integrated setup.

Avatar
Freddy56 [435 posts] 9 months ago
2 likes

Love my wcs set up. staring at stems is a thing, staring at a nice stem  makes the pain easier

Avatar
NorthEastJimmy [161 posts] 9 months ago
0 likes

Does anyone actually feel the difference to a good quality stem?  ‘Feel’ being the crucial element here. 

Avatar
StraelGuy [1746 posts] 9 months ago
1 like

Oops, might have just ordered one to replace the super cheap stem on my Strael... Lordgun are doing them for for ~£70 posted to the UK.

Avatar
Bobbinogs [345 posts] 9 months ago
1 like
NorthEastJimmy wrote:

Does anyone actually feel the difference to a good quality stem?  ‘Feel’ being the crucial element here. 

 

For God's sake, don't start trying to bring common sense into bike purchasing decisions.  The world of the carbon botte cage will collapse overnight  3

Avatar
Rapha Nadal [1167 posts] 9 months ago
0 likes
joules1975 wrote:

Good value?!

Not really when you realise that you can get a Control Tech CLS stem that has a claimed with of 110g (100mm) for £30!

But what if your bars & seatpost aren't Control Tech?  Come on, some people do enjoy having everything match.

Avatar
javi_polo [25 posts] 9 months ago
0 likes
Rapha Nadal wrote:

But what if your bars & seatpost aren't Control Tech?  Come on, some people do enjoy having everything match.

I actually like unbranded seatpost and stems because it will match with whatever bars I'm using cheeky

Avatar
Nixster [412 posts] 9 months ago
1 like

I use Kalloy Uno stems, 20ish quid on ebay, 110g for 100mm, under 100g if you use Ti bolts (which not everyone wants to, I get).  Remove the decals with acetone (or the wife's nail varnish remover if she's out) and then it's plain black and goes with everything. 

I can't see the need to buy anything else tbh - anything made of carbon will be heavier and only crazy things like Extralite are any lighter for more than 5x the price.  And I say that as a proud owner of  8g carbon bottle cages smiley

 

Avatar
Burt [1 post] 9 months ago
0 likes

I'm sure it's a very nice stem, but light it ain't. It's exactly the same weight as the own-brand 100mm Cannondale C3 stem that came on my 105-level-spec CX bike.

Straelguy, be interested to hear what your "cheap" stem weighs.

 

Avatar
StraelGuy [1746 posts] 9 months ago
0 likes

It's a Cinelli Vai, roughly £20. I'll weigh them both when it arrives. I will however just say now that, in case the weight difference is negligible, the Ritchey one looks way cooler cheeky.

 

Edit: I googled 6061 vs 2014 alloy and 2014 is nearly twice as strong so at least it'll be strong...

Avatar
philhubbard [206 posts] 9 months ago
0 likes
Burt wrote:

I'm sure it's a very nice stem, but light it ain't. It's exactly the same weight as the own-brand 100mm Cannondale C3 stem that came on my 105-level-spec CX bike.

Straelguy, be interested to hear what your "cheap" stem weighs.

 

 

Those are the Kalloy Uno stems Nixster speaks of just rebranded