At road.cc 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.
Good scores are more common than bad, because fortunately good products are more common than bad.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Decent alloy stem with features that add obvious extra cost, but little extra function
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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?
4 bolt sculpted AL2014 alloy/CSI faceplate
UD carbon skin applied through CSI process
3D Forged and CNC machined from AL2014
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.
About the tester
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