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Advantages of a "nicer" stem

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Advantages of a "nicer" stem

Old 09-19-10, 10:07 AM
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xavierjaguilar
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Advantages of a "nicer" stem

I'm getting new handlebars and need a stem to accommodate their larger clamp size. I've never noticed before how widely prices range for stems that seem to have similar build quality and materials. So, now I'm wondering: What are you paying for when buying a nicer stem? Seems to me like you're paying for the name, and/or aesthetics. I'd be happy to learn otherwise, if anyone wants to throw in their two cents.

Are nicer stems supposed to be more rigid or something? I can't imagine why I'd pay $90 for a Thomson stem if an identical X-brand stem made from a similar alloy costs 1/3 that. Functionally they seem the same, and I'm not looking to impress anybody with my stem. Thoughts?

EDIT: Also, I realize a nicer stem may have a weight advantage. That's also not something I'm particularly concerned about.

Last edited by xavierjaguilar; 09-19-10 at 10:12 AM.
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Old 09-19-10, 10:12 AM
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Weight, quality of machining, adjustability
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Old 09-19-10, 10:14 AM
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For me, I got this for PURE self-gratification.
I LOVED how it looked (happen to get it at 50% off).
I didn't even have a bar for it yet.



The LBS owner happened to have the exact same bar with this
stem combo which I came to find out after I purchased the stem.
I got a chance to get a "feel" of the combo and I was very happy.

Besides stiffness, product testing for safety and weight, what else is there to consider?

I'll always prefer a brand name product over a no-name product especially for something
as vital as a control component (pedals, bar, seat post, STEM, etc...).

"Nice" is a relative term.

Thompsons are undeniably some of the best stems one could buy.
How "identical" can an X-brand be if they don't produce the same stem?
They might look jussst like a Thompson, but is one willing to risk their face for a few bucks?

Food for thought.

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Old 09-19-10, 10:41 AM
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I agree with the above, some of it is paying for the name but then there are weight as well, particularly if it includes titanium bolts with it. with that said, there are lots of good name brand stems for cheap on ebay. I got an Easton EA50 along with a new set of bars for something like $40
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Old 09-19-10, 10:47 AM
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Originally Posted by 2ndGen View Post
They might look jussst like a Thompson, but is one willing to risk their face for a few bucks?
I'm not denying that a Thomson stem is better made than an X-brand stem, in fact I have their seatpost and I can absolutely attest to its quality. BUT, I don't think that buying a generic-brand stem is necessarily putting anyone at a greater risk for catastrophic failure and landing on your face than a name-brand stem. After all, Salsa, Easton, and Trek have had stem recalls in the past 2 years. It may be a generic-brand stem, but it's not being sold by a 9 year-old at a bazaar in Calcutta, it'd be from my LBS.

It's also worth saying that we're talking about road componentry in this case. Component failure is ALWAYS dangerous, but if we were talking about a stem for mountain bike use, the strength issue might be a bigger concern.
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Old 09-19-10, 10:52 AM
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Originally Posted by xavierjaguilar View Post
I'm not denying that a Thomson stem is better made than an X-brand stem, in fact I have their seatpost and I can absolutely attest to its quality. BUT, I don't think that buying a generic-brand stem is necessarily putting anyone at a greater risk for catastrophic failure and landing on your face than a name-brand stem. After all, Salsa, Easton, and Trek have had stem recalls in the past 2 years. It may be a generic-brand stem, but it's not being sold by a 9 year-old at a bazaar in Calcutta, it'd be from my LBS.

It's also worth saying that we're talking about road componentry in this case. Component failure is ALWAYS dangerous, but if we were talking about a stem for mountain bike use, the strength issue might be a bigger concern.
Good example.

If an x-brand company produces a faulty stem, can they afford
to have a recall at the prices they are selling their stems for?

They can fold up shop, start a new company and start selling Y-Brand stems.



Personally, I like to buy the strongest/safest product I can afford.
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Old 09-19-10, 10:57 AM
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$29.






VS.





$249.
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Old 09-19-10, 11:06 AM
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I wouldn't trust an ebay stem. Sure, it is probably fine, but there is no company to be held liable if it does break and if you stem snaps you're going to be in a world of hurt.
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Old 09-19-10, 11:15 AM
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Originally Posted by mike868y View Post
I wouldn't trust an ebay stem. Sure, it is probably fine, but there is no company to be held liable if it does break and if you stem snaps you're going to be in a world of hurt.
How often do you hold a company liable (I assume you mean file a lawsuit) when your components break? How many lawyers can you afford, versus how many Trek can afford? You're usually hard pressed to get a warranty replacement, let alone go through a lengthy legal process. Recall the recent issues with Trek steerers breaking. Improperly installed... right.
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Old 09-19-10, 11:19 AM
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I am a huge fan of carbon fiber, my bike is carbon and the spokes on my wheels are carbon; but, there are somethings that just don't need to be made from carbon--stems and seat post are such things. Unless there is some substantial weight savings, I am fine with aluminum.

What I look for in a stem is the length and angle that works for me. The clamping mechanism will not crush my bars and the weight is reasonable. I have always used Ritchey but I would use others brands.
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Old 09-19-10, 11:25 AM
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Originally Posted by 2ndGen View Post
[B][SIZE="7"]

[IMG]http://winkel.tromm.nl/images/Stem_XXX_Lite_OS_Carbon.jpg
That's like the Bentley of bicycle stems right there.
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Old 09-19-10, 11:28 AM
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Those stems are very phallic looking.
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Old 09-19-10, 11:32 AM
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Originally Posted by Carbon Unit View Post
there are somethings that just don't need to be made from carbon--stems and seat post are such things.
Yep. I love Thomson posts. Besides reliability they take the guesswork out of adjusting your saddle. Especially if you're trying out a new one and want to do it while out on a ride.
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Old 09-19-10, 11:41 AM
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Originally Posted by 2ndGen View Post
Personally, I like to buy the strongest/safest product I can afford.
I agree. I guess the argument I'm making is that the name brand stuff also fails, as per the examples I gave in my earlier post, so the "strongest/safest" product is something of a mystery. Buying a brand-name product may improve your odds (maybe), but when is it overkill? I could buy tornado insurance here in Washington for that 1 in 1000 circumstance, but how practical is that? Does buying a top-of-the-line stem really provide THAT much more peace of mind? Guess it depends on the person. In my case, I doubt I'd feel any less safe with a mid-range eBay or LBS stem.
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Old 09-19-10, 11:48 AM
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Originally Posted by lukasz View Post
How often do you hold a company liable (I assume you mean file a lawsuit) when your components break? How many lawyers can you afford, versus how many Trek can afford? You're usually hard pressed to get a warranty replacement, let alone go through a lengthy legal process. Recall the recent issues with Trek steerers breaking. Improperly installed... right.
point being, trek has a financial interest in making sure their stems are safe whereas some random guy selling stems on bay does not.
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Old 09-19-10, 11:50 AM
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The cost of a reputable stem will be cheaper than the cost of serious medical bills.
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Old 09-19-10, 11:59 AM
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Originally Posted by BLR_0719 View Post
The cost of a reputable stem will be cheaper than the cost of serious medical bills.
correct.
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Old 09-19-10, 12:50 PM
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Originally Posted by mike868y View Post
I wouldn't trust an ebay stem. Sure, it is probably fine, but there is no company to be held liable if it does break and if you stem snaps you're going to be in a world of hurt.
so what? a broken stem is a broken stem and your probably gonna be in a world of hurt if it breaks. FWIW, I just got the carbon fiber stem and bars from ebay and am about to put them on my ride.
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Old 09-19-10, 01:11 PM
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Originally Posted by Carbon Unit View Post
I am a huge fan of carbon fiber, my bike is carbon and the spokes on my wheels are carbon; but, there are somethings that just don't need to be made from carbon--stems and seat post are such things. Unless there is some substantial weight savings, I am fine with aluminum.

What I look for in a stem is the length and angle that works for me. The clamping mechanism will not crush my bars and the weight is reasonable. I have always used Ritchey but I would use others brands.
Just out of curiosity, what wheels/spokes are you running? It seems strange to me that you would trust carbon spokes and not trust carbon stems and seatposts. And I am sure you have read about the whole R-Sys debacle...
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Old 09-19-10, 01:16 PM
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I have one of the Forte Stems, $20-$30 (it's been a while), it's aluminum, it weighs 135gms, all the sizes you could want, I have never seen anything 10gms lighter that wasn't 3-5X the price. Come in gloss or matte, really, anything more is because you like the looks better.
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Old 09-19-10, 01:32 PM
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Originally Posted by lukasz View Post
Yep. I love Thomson posts. Besides reliability they take the guesswork out of adjusting your saddle. Especially if you're trying out a new one and want to do it while out on a ride.
Thompson is the only seat post I will use. I see no reason to look at any others.
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Old 09-19-10, 01:38 PM
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Originally Posted by mrvile View Post
Just out of curiosity, what wheels/spokes are you running? It seems strange to me that you would trust carbon spokes and not trust carbon stems and seat posts. And I am sure you have read about the whole R-Sys debacle...
It isn't that I don't trust carbon stems, I just don't see much of an advantage they have over metal. I do see an advantage of a Thompson seat post though. A Thompson seat post weighs about the same as a carbon seat post and they won't get scratched up when you adjust them.

As far as my wheels, I have Topolinos ATR 3.0 wheels which have carbon spokes combined with Kevlar and they have aluminum rims. They have the best ride quality of any wheel I have tried. The carbon deadens vibration really wheel. I don't expect to have any reliability problems with them unless I am in a crash and break the wheels. I like that they have aluminum rims. I prefer an aluminum braking surface over carbon and if the rim is damaged, they are cheap to fix.

Oh, I also have carbon handlebars because I like the shapes that can be molded into which I don't can be done with aluminum.
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Old 09-19-10, 01:46 PM
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Originally Posted by cappuccino911 View Post
so what? a broken stem is a broken stem and your probably gonna be in a world of hurt if it breaks. FWIW, I just got the carbon fiber stem and bars from ebay and am about to put them on my ride.
The point being, Trek almost certainly has greater quality control than the no name asian stems.

FWIW, I wouldn't buy a carbon stem anyway because they are more expensive and not lighter (in general). 3T team ftw.
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Old 09-19-10, 01:53 PM
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Originally Posted by cappuccino911 View Post
so what? a broken stem is a broken stem and your probably gonna be in a world of hurt if it breaks. FWIW, I just got the carbon fiber stem and bars from ebay and am about to put them on my ride.
Go for it
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Old 09-19-10, 01:54 PM
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$250 stem? suckers!
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