The humble stem has come a long way since the days, when I was growing up, that threaded headsets were the norm. But with the introduction of the Aheadset and the widespread adoption of the CNC machine as a way of making bike parts, the stem has changed considerably since.
Canadian-based Straitline Components produce a range of lovingly finished components from pedals, bash rings, brake levers and as tested here, stems. The stem looks wonderful, with the companyâ€™s background in precision engineering clearly evident. The lines are sharp and the stem is well-proportioned, with excess material machined away. It looks good from every angle.
Itâ€™s not all looks though, as performance is excellent. Youâ€™ll notice the absence of steerer bolts, which Straitline get around with a vertical clamp nestling in the heart of the stem. Two 5mm bolts operate the internal wedge, clamping against the front of the steerer tube for a secure fit. The company claim several benefits such as greater clamping force than a conventional design and less weight. And to prevent damaging your forks steerer tube, the wedge will bottom out first.
The stem is available in 31.8 in lengths of 55mm and 65mm, or 25.4 in 55mm and 70mm lengths, both with 10Â° of rise. Both variants have a stack height of 1.5in. As with all Straitline components, thereâ€™s a range of vivid colours available, with Bright Pink, Titanium Grey and X-Ray.
The stemâ€™s clearly designed for bikes of a tough riding persuasion, with the short lengths favouring longer travel setup. We swapped it for a forged aluminium stem on an all-mountain bike and noticed a slight increase in stiffness, with steering feeling more direct.