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Ritchey WCS Chicane Stem



A great design and plenty stiff enough for the racers among you

At every product is thoroughly tested for as long as it takes to get a proper insight into how well it works. Our reviewers are experienced cyclists that we trust to be objective. While we strive to ensure that opinions expressed are backed up by facts, reviews are by their nature an informed opinion, not a definitive verdict. We don't intentionally try to break anything (except locks) but we do try to look for weak points in any design. The overall score is not just an average of the other scores: it reflects both a product's function and value – with value determined by how a product compares with items of similar spec, quality, and price.

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Ritchey's WCS Chicane stem is aimed purely at the road market, focusing on stiffness and a smooth finish, as we all know how important those marginal gains are, right? It does the job, looks cool and for the level of quality, I'd say it's fairly priced too.

  • Pros: Clean looks, excellent stiffness levels
  • Cons: You can't adjust your bar height by adding spacers above the stem

While not as aggressive looking as some of the stems you tend to see in the pro peloton, the Chicane is very close with its 10-degree angle giving you a slightly less upright position than most stems on the market.

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You don't necessarily need to have the front end slammed like a pro, but you are going to have to cut your steerer tube to your upper limit because the magnetic cap design means there isn't any room for spacers on top. Most of us don't fettle with our position too much, so it shouldn't be an issue.


The main thing you'll notice is the lack of visible bolts on the Chicane. The stem is clamped onto the steerer by way of an expanding wedge which is tightened from the inside, working alongside the specially designed headset adjustment plate. Both fit together seamlessly and keep everything secure; once fitted I had no need to touch the setup.


The top cap has a strong magnet fitted to its base and you have no need to worry about it jettisoning off, even when riding on rough country lanes.

At the front the face plate is hinged and clamps around the handlebar, fastened in place with two rear-facing bolts. It's a bit more of a faff to fit compared with a front loader but, again, once you've set it up there should be no need to move things.


The whole thing is made from 2014 grade aluminium alloy, and Ritchey says that it is the second stiffest in its line-up, sitting just below the £250 Superlogic C260. It's stiffer than the Ritchey WCS C220 that it replaced on my bike apparently, but I can't say that I noticed.

The Chicane is about 65g heavier, too, but unless you are a weight weenie it doesn't really matter.

Stems are probably the one component that have the least bearing on a how a bike rides or feels, so there is little to say really about the overall performance of the Chicane other than it is stiff enough for even the most full-on of sprints, and it holds both the handlebar and steerer without issue.

> 9 ways to make your bike more comfortable

> Getting a bike fit

Is it worth its £97 suggested retail price?

Well, comparing it to other similar stems on the market it's not bad value, plus I love the way it looks. The quality of the paint is top notch and pretty scuff-resistant so it'll stay looking good.

The Pro Vibe stem has similar wind-cheating properties to its face plate and that'll set you back a similar £99.99.

ITM's X-One uses similar thinking but in carbon for £129, but it requires the matching bar and you have to feed the bar through the stem like an old-school quill model.

Overall, I like the way the Ritchey WCS Chicane looks and works, and while you can get a decent alloy stem for around half the price, the Ritchey shows some clever design and thinking.


A great design and plenty stiff enough for the racers among you test report

Make and model: Ritchey WCS Chicane 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?

Ritchey says, "Tom Ritchey's on-going legacy of innovative bicycle stem design realizes its next step with the aerodynamic Chicane. This stealthy stem is optimized to reduce drag but retain stiffness and a lower weight thanks to the use of 2014 alloy. The unique Chicane achieves its low drag by using hidden bolts that secure the low-profile hinged faceplate from behind, a low-profile magnetic top cap and an internal steerer wedge clamp. The combination of the unique top cap and the lack of external steerer clamp bolts, provide the Chicane with clean lines for an elegant and integrated look to the front end of any bike."

Most fast road riders would happily sacrifice a slight gain in weight for extra stiffness and aero gains.

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

From Ritchey:

* Material: 2014 alloy.

* Cr-Mo Steel faceplate bolts.

* Lengths: 90-130mm.

* Angle: 80°.

* Bar Clamp: 31.8mm.

* Steerer: 1-1/8".

* Steerer Height: 45.5mm.

* Faceplate Width: 45mm.

* Colour: BB Black.

Rate the product for quality of construction:
Rate the product for performance:
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Rate the product for weight (if applicable)
Rate the product for comfort (if applicable)
Rate the product for value:

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

Loads of stiffness and connects the handlebar to the fork without issue.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the product

Easy to fit and looks the business.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product

You have to be confident about your position if you need to trim the steerer tube.

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

For this kind of aero design it is in the right ball park.

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

It's not the lightest or the cheapest but it does exactly the job it is designed to while looking cool.

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

As part of the tech team here at F-At Digital, senior product reviewer Stu spends the majority of his time writing in-depth reviews for, and ebiketips using the knowledge gained from testing over 1,500 pieces of kit (plus 100's of bikes) since starting out as a freelancer back in 2009. After first throwing his leg over a race bike back in 2000, Stu's ridden more than 170,000 miles on road, time-trial, track, and gravel bikes, and while he's put his racing days behind him, he still likes to smash the pedals rather than take things easy. With a background in design and engineering, he has an obsession with how things are developed and manufactured, has a borderline fetish for handbuilt metal frames and finds a rim braked road bike very aesthetically pleasing!

Add new comment


aegisdesign | 4 years ago
1 like

It looks like it might work well with more classically proportioned steel frames. Ahead stems with bolts at the back have never quite sat well with skinnier tubes. And -10 degrees is good too.

Now I just need Mr Ritchey to do a 1" version. yes

maviczap | 4 years ago
1 like

Love the way the top cap has been eliminated, and I hope that Ritchey use it on other stems, but I wouldn't swap it for my carbon Ritchey stem because it's not pleasing to the eye, don't like the hinged front or forged look.

ridiculouscyclist | 4 years ago

If I worked for Ritchey, I'd really want to know why made this stem look as bad as possible, even fitted on the bike. A bit of spit and polish wouldn't have gone amiss.

Bob's Bikes | 4 years ago

My Bad

ktache | 4 years ago

Syncros made lovely hinged stems back in the late 90s.

bechdan | 4 years ago
1 like

Im sure its been tested to death but a hinged front plate would make me uncomfortable, but not as uncomfortable as the price.

Bob's Bikes | 4 years ago
1 like

Smooth  finish and Cool looking? Who are you kidding dirty great big weld down the side! Fugly!

Ritchey UK replied to Bob's Bikes | 4 years ago
Bob's Bikes wrote:

Smooth  finish and Cool looking? Who are you kidding dirty great big weld down the side! Fugly!


The stem is forged from one piece of solid aluminium, we do not weld alloy parts.  The line you can see is the decal that runs over the top of the stem to keep the top cap in place for display.  Once fitted to the bike, no need for the sticker, and no lines.


matthewn5 replied to Ritchey UK | 4 years ago
Ritchey UK wrote:
Bob's Bikes wrote:

Smooth  finish and Cool looking? Who are you kidding dirty great big weld down the side! Fugly!


The stem is forged from one piece of solid aluminium, we do not weld alloy parts.  The line you can see is the decal that runs over the top of the stem to keep the top cap in place for display.  Once fitted to the bike, no need for the sticker, and no lines.


All good in theory, but in the images of thie installed stem, tihere's a clearly visible line of remnant glue. Clearly harder to remove than one might hope, as is so often the case with stickers.

Yorky-M | 4 years ago

It looks awful, but hats off to the tester, that lawn is in great nick.

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