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Dealing With Tragedy: The Passing Of The Quill Stem

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Dealing With Tragedy: The Passing Of The Quill Stem

Old 02-02-15, 08:06 PM
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jyl
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Dealing With Tragedy: The Passing Of The Quill Stem

I think bicycles lost something important when the quill stem was replaced by the clamp-on "threadless" stem.

No doubt there were reasons for it. Threadless steerers and clamp-on stems are lighter, apparently; they do make changing handlebars and stems more convenient; thin walled and carbon steerers are possible; and perhaps manufacturers and bike mechanics alike find threadless systems a labor-saver. So, some gains, granted. But, the loss!

We had graceful flowing shapes, swans of polished alloy, grasping our bars in seamless fists. We got abrupt and lumpy angles, bolted like Frankstein's skull, graceless like a motorcycle part. Here, they said, trade your silver swan for this here clump of plumber's pipe. And we did it.

If bicycles had retained quill stems, they would have evolved to address all the supposed advantages of threadless clamp-on stems. Alloy expander bolts, hollow forgings, even carbon fiber would have made them lighter; open or hinged faces, more convenient; extended expanders, gentle enough for thin wall steerers; and, why, them lazy mechanics could just have HTFU'd and continued threading steerer tubes like man was meant to do.

But here we are, making the best of our imperfect fate, hunting among the shrinking supply of vintage parts, and a few new parts, for the one component that we look at, even pray to, on every ride.

Let's share our knowledge and recommendations. It is for the greater good. Tell us - better yet, show us - your nominations in these categories:

1. The most beautiful quill stem, ever.

2. The quill stem that best addresses any of these: a) lightest weight, b) ease of changing handlebar, c) gentle to steerer tubes, while still being graceful as a quill stem should be.

3. The clamp-on threadless stem that is the most beautiful, or perhaps least unbeautiful - if you were forced to install a threadless fork, threadless headset, and clamp-on stem on a classic Cinelli or [insert your dream lugged steel vintage road bike here], which would it be?
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Old 02-02-15, 08:16 PM
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Anything pantographed, but mostly the Campy 50th
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Old 02-02-15, 08:35 PM
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Cinelli still makes the 1A. They are cheap, beautiful, and work fine. And they can be polished and modified if you want something special. Buy 'em so they keep making 'em..................
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Old 02-02-15, 08:46 PM
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Originally Posted by Otis View Post
Cinelli still makes the 1A. They are cheap, beautiful, and work fine. And they can be polished and modified if you want something special. Buy 'em so they keep making 'em..................
Agreed!

Plus you have the line of Nitto stuff out there,.... still cold forged quill stuff,.. still good quality!
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Old 02-02-15, 08:54 PM
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I'm putting a Nitto Craft 1 on my Della Santa.

Really a nice stem.

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Old 02-02-15, 09:04 PM
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Visually pleasing as they may be, I don't know how they would fit in with all the large "aero" shaped tubing. I think older Cannondales look a little awkward with the big frame tubes and skinny stems and steel forks.

Nothing is stopping us from assembling and riding traditional steel frames.
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Old 02-02-15, 09:12 PM
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I am partial to Nitto Pearls, particularly the black ones if they match the bike. The Nitto Deluxe is the same stem with a longer quill.
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Old 02-02-15, 09:14 PM
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The only reason road bikes went to threadless was because mountain bikes used them and companies figured they could save money by only having one kind of stem and one fork size. They passed the labor of cutting the fork to the bike shops.
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Old 02-02-15, 09:24 PM
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Old and new are really not comparable...

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Old 02-02-15, 10:22 PM
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Not all quills are created equal!

My new bar bike:


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Old 02-02-15, 10:47 PM
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Let's talk about quill stems that fully open, either a hinged clamp or a removable clamp. Criteria: that don't look awful.

I think 3T kept trying to make graceful quill stems that had open faces. The Motus, Evol, Mutant, and maybe others. Cinelli made the Oyster; also the open face Frog, but it fails the "awfulness" criteria IMHO. Mavic made the 370 stem with a notched clamp that lifted off, I've never seen one in the flesh. What are some others? These were all pretty unsuccessful. Any thoughts on why? Maybe there just isn't a need.

Last edited by jyl; 02-02-15 at 11:01 PM.
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Old 02-02-15, 10:53 PM
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Originally Posted by jyl View Post
Let's talk about quill stems that fully open, either a hinged clamp or a removable clamp. Criteria: that don't look awful.

I think 3T kept trying to make graceful quill stems that had open faces. The Motus, Evol, and maybe others. Cinelli made the open face Frog, but it fails the criteria IMHO. Mavic made a stem with a notched clamp that lifted off, I've never seen one in the flesh. Any others?
They're ugly, all of 'em (IMO). Maybe nice when trying to set up a bike for fit. But once you know what size stem and what bars you like I see no point in this feature.
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Old 02-02-15, 11:00 PM
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Originally Posted by Chrome Molly View Post
Old and new are really not comparable...

Amen, brother !
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Old 02-02-15, 11:33 PM
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Originally Posted by gomango View Post
I'm putting a Nitto Craft 1 on my Della Santa.

Really a nice stem.

Wow! That's new to me. Reminds me of the Ritchey Force, but much more elegant.

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Old 02-02-15, 11:44 PM
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I can appreciate this...

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Old 02-02-15, 11:50 PM
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Originally Posted by tarwheel View Post
I am partial to Nitto Pearls, particularly the black ones if they match the bike. The Nitto Deluxe is the same stem with a longer quill.
I'll second the Pearl. Nicer than the 1A. I would rather Nitto kept the sides plain like the 1A., but that is a quibble. The machining and accuracy is second to none. When you look beyond the outside appearance, it is a knock-out and a true joy to set up. (But do keep in mind a Nitto's stem of "X" length is roughly a cm longer than a TTT, Cinelli or most others "X". Ie, replace Cinelli 130 with a Nitto 12. The Mitto 13 is that really rare Cinelli 140.)

Ben
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Old 02-03-15, 12:11 AM
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There's so many beautiful quill stems out there, to say that one is best is crazy. Depending on whatever vintage your frame is, I think one should choose an appropriate stem of the same era. In the 50s and 60s I like the chromed titan stems, the old cinelli stems were marvelous to, the longer the better! In the 70's, the 3ttt record was a great stem, I have one on a 74 professional, the cb stem like came on my 74 international is gorgeous, the cinelli stems that my 70s paramounts have, the 1a are sleek and sophisticated, while the cinelli stems in the 80's and 90's tended to be more aero, but equally if not more pleasing to the eye. I know I've left several great quill stems of the past out, there were so many good ones. With the clamp on stems being in their infancy, I think we just have to give them time for the form to follow the function. I'm sure there are good ones out there, just as there are hideous quill stems on huffys etc.
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Old 02-03-15, 12:24 AM
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What, no "quill stem lovers' club" thread title?
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Old 02-03-15, 01:08 AM
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Here's my favorite quill stem.....

Maybe because it worked out so well with the silver and black theme on my ALAN...

It's a clamshell type clamp stem from ITM. I think it was made in the 90's. The hinged clamshell clamp gives the same convenience the modern threadless stems give with their removable clamp face plates, so I get the best of new C&V (looks) and modern stems (easy to de-mount handlebar).

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Old 02-03-15, 01:23 AM
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There are actually two ways to measure a stem.

First, there is the drafting-board, center-to-center-on-center method that puts a number on the actual center (bars) to center (handlebar) along the centerline of the extension.
This is mostly used today, since the demise of race-quality quill stems, and was almost universally used on Japanese stems (but for a few of the higher-end ones).

The second method better suits the needs of field measurement, perfect for determining what stem length is on the bike without having to withdraw the quill from the steerer as is usually needed to find a number. This method is done by laying a ruler or tape measure across the top of the stem's extension and measuring from the center of the expander bolt to the top-center of the clamp (the tangency point where the ruler touches the OD of the stem clamp.
This method applies to racing stems like Cinelli, ITM, TTT and to certain top-level Japanese quill stems, such as Shimano's Nitto-made "aero" stems (which accept 26.4mm bars BTW).

The difference in measurement methods means that a typical racing quill stem is 4mm or so shorter than a same-sized (designated size) Japanese stem.
This difference arises from the vertical distance from the stem extension's centerline up to the top of the clamp and quill bolt, up along the canted quill axis, which makes for a larger measured dimension when laying a ruler across the top (field measurement method).

I agree that it can be a bit of a dilemma coming up with the right stem and bars for a particular quill-stemmed build. Being as there are potentially four clamp diameters and three quill diameters, on top of having to find the right extension length, I have to keep a stockpile of parts on hand.

I like these stems, which I've found only in 60, 90 and 110mm extensions and with reduced 21.1mm (.833") quill diameter.


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Old 02-03-15, 01:28 AM
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If only some manufacture would create a 31.8 clamp quill stem that was compatible with modern flat top drop bars!

Vote for 3t Record Strata, Sakae/Ringyo (SR) Super Light, SunTour Superbe, Dura-Ace EX and Cinelli #1

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Old 02-03-15, 01:47 AM
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Did someone say quill stem lovers' club? I'm in!

As for most beautiful, it's hard to top a badged Cinelli stem. I like the Nitto craft stem gomango showed, too, for something more attainable. From an aesthetic point of view, I do believe it's important to match the right stem with the bike, which is part of the reason the Cinelli 1A is both beautiful and iconic--it "fits" on so many bikes.

Toei also makes some beautiful stems, like this one with an integrated front bag mount:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/363973...57616106935937

Check out this Chris Bishop stem inspired by some of the classic Rene Herse randonneur stems:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/bishop...57625931201851

2. Lightest weight? Certain low-weight stems just don't look that great. The Cinelli grammo (titanium) stem is cool, but looks out of place on a lot of bikes IMO. If looking for a lightweight quill, personally, I'd go with a classic Cinelli stem and upgraded weight-weenie bolts. Or maybe a 3ttt Record stem. Assuming I couldn't find a Pino Moroni Ti stem. Ease of changing handlebars? What's this changing you speak of? Set it and forget it.



(^Note: I lifted this photo from another forum member. I believe it was Citoyen du Monde, but apologies if I'm mistaken.)

Gentle to steerer tubes? Haven't really taken that into consideration. I'm not aware of any high end stems that would worry me in this way.

3. I don't keep up to date on threadless stems, but I do not find the Nitto lugged threadless stem as objectionable as most other threadless stems:
Nitto Lugged Threadless Stems
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Old 02-03-15, 05:15 AM
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If someone wanted to make a classy pantographed threadless stem, then they could. Why they don't? I have no idea. I guess the plain flat black look is just what the "modern" (IE younger) group wants. Probably doesn't help that they're all mass produced in China now.
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Old 02-03-15, 05:25 AM
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I love a good quality European made stem


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Old 02-03-15, 05:28 AM
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GB "Biba" stem

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