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review

Vision TriMax Carbon Stem

5
£139.95

VERDICT:

5
10
Decent alloy stem with features that add obvious extra cost, but little extra function
Stiff
Stealthy looking
Faceplate cover may save a watt
Expensive
Only available in +/-6° rise
Weight: 
166g

The Vision TriMax Carbon Stem is aluminium with a carbon skin, which makes it less expensive than a full carbon one for a similar weight. Some may find the plastic faceplate cover a bit gimmicky, but underneath that and the bling carbon skin is a functional, decent stem – something you can easily get elsewhere for less.

The 'Carbon' refers to the unidirectional carbon skin Vision applies to the aluminium body via its CSI (carbon structural integration) process – this is not a full carbon stem.

> Find your nearest dealer here

But then, full carbon is not necessarily an advantage in a stem, as alloy stems can be as light or lighter. The TriMax is lighter than its own full-carbon big brother, the Metron, for instance. Part-carbon is also cheaper – the Vision Metron costs over £250.

Vision does not claim any extra performance benefits from the carbon skin, but it looks great, especially with the stealth graphics, and matches a Vision carbon bar well.

2020 Vision TriMax Carbon Stem 3.jpg

The TriMax Carbon's actual body is 3D forged and then CNC machined from 2014 aluminium, which is common in automotive and aerospace manufacturing and perfect for a lightweight bike stem.

The faceplate is surprisingly minimalistic, with a relatively small clamping area even compared to similar cutaway or even two-piece faceplate designs. However, once installed (I paired it with a carbon Metron Aero) I found no movement of any kind and no creaking. The bolts are chromoly rather than titanium, so there are no strength worries there.

2020 Vision TriMax Carbon Stem 2.jpg

The faceplate cover, made from a very tough composite plastic, gives a menacing drone-like look. Those seeking ultimate performance will have to decide whether to put it on for the probable single-watt saving, or take it off and save nine grams. You may also want to review your life choices at the same time...

The cover simply snaps on over the faceplate, but is secure enough to be hard to get back off: it takes strong fingernails to lever it away. Vision doesn't say whether the cover has any performance benefits – read into that what you will.

Also, and maybe it's a bit nitpicky, but if it is intended for ultimate aero, it could sit flush with the stem instead of leaving a step of just over a millimetre.

> How to choose the best stem length

Performance is on a par with the aluminium ITM stem this replaces. I can't detect any increase in stiffness, but then again I am no Peter Sagan bending everything except the girder-like Zipp SL Sprint. I'd say it's fine for club-level riding and racing (the Vision Metron Carbon looks designed for Sagan-level stiffness, if that's what you're after).

The Vision TriMax Carbon only comes in a +/-6° rise. Steeper options would be good for those looking for more aggressive positions.

Value

Vision's TriMax series is one rung down from its flagship Metron range, and consequently this stem is expensive at £139.95 – if not nearly as expensive as the full-carbon Vision Metron at £255.95. That, however, has a more muscular-looking design similar to the £254 Zipp SL Sprint, while the similarly super-stiff PRO Vibe carbon stem is £249.99.

> 10 of the best cycling drop handlebars — how to buy the perfect bars

Abandon the looks of a carbon skin and comparable, all-aluminium mid-range stems such as the Easton EA70, which is lighter at 140g, cost significantly less at £49.99. The FSA Energy SCR stem, meanwhile, comes with titanium hardware, is lighter still at 133g, and costs £68.

The Vision TriMax Carbon stem doesn't offer any performance advantage over far cheaper, all-aluminium stems. The faceplate cover is quirky and the whole thing has the high-end looks to happily pair with fancy carbon bars, but in reality the extra features, and the extra costs, are for the aesthetics.

Verdict

Decent alloy stem with features that add obvious extra cost, but little extra function

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: Vision TriMax Carbon Stem

Size tested: 120mm

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?

Vision doesn't say who the TriMax Carbon stem is aimed at.

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

Vision lists:

4 bolt sculpted AL2014 alloy/CSI faceplate

UD carbon skin applied through CSI process

3D Forged and CNC machined from AL2014

Chromoly hardware

Rate the product for quality of construction:
 
9/10
Rate the product for performance:
 
5/10
Rate the product for durability:
 
8/10
Rate the product for weight (if applicable)
 
5/10
Rate the product for comfort (if applicable)
 
8/10
Rate the product for value:
 
4/10

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

There is no designated purpose stated by Vision, but it's a light, reasonably stiff, mid-upper range stem that looks premium – and does that well.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the product

The carbon skin and stealth black/grey graphics look great with other Vision carbon components.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product

Nothing – it's just too average for that...

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

This stem is expensive at £139.95 – if not nearly as expensive as the full-carbon Vision Metron at £255.95. That, however, has a more muscular-looking design similar to the £254 Zipp SL Sprint, while the similarly super-stiff PRO Vibe carbon stem is £249.99.

Abandon the looks of a carbon skin and comparable, all-aluminium mid-range stems such as the Easton EA70, which is lighter at 140g, cost significantly less at £49.99. The FSA Energy SCR stem, meanwhile, comes with titanium hardware, is lighter still at 133g and is £68.

Did you enjoy using the product? Yes

Would you consider buying the product? Yes, if I had a Vision setup

Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes, if they had a Vision setup

Use this box to explain your overall score

It's a good-looking stem with a decent performance, but the carbon skin probably only adds to the look and makes it quite a bit more expensive than all-aluminium stems that weigh less. The faceplate cover is interesting, but not much more than that... all in, it's good enough to work with high-end Vision Metron components, but not exceptional in its own right. It's average and a five.

Overall rating: 5/10

About the tester

Age: 50  Height: 178cm  Weight: 68kg

I usually ride: Racer Rosa custom alu  My best bike is: Colnago Master Olympic

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

I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, commuting, touring, club rides, sportives, School run on a tandem

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