Highly desirable and highly machined stem delivers top notch performance, but at a price
What they say: X4 is absolutely the best combination of strength and weight available. Enduro and downhill riders can run Thomson confidently, yet X4 is light enough for cross country and cyclocross. X4 offers precise steering and tracking for the ultimate in control while riding.
What it is: Thomson are a highly regarded brand in the mountain bike world and they earned this reputation by producing beautifully CNC-machined stems and seatposts that have become hugely desirable over the year.
The Thomson Elite X4 Oversized stem is available in a wide range of lengths, and switches to this chunky brute of a design for the shortest options. I tested the shortest but one length they offer, 50mm, and paired it with Thomson’s own 780mm Downhill bar recently reviewed on Bikemagic. The chunky looks won’t be to everyone’s tastes, but the stout design certainly plays out well on the trail, where it’s noticeably stiffer than the stem it replaced. It provides great reassurance at the front-end when you’re loading up the wide handlebars through rough corners.
It’s exquisitely machined from a solid lump of 7000 series aluminium in the company’s Georgia, US factory. There are smooth transitions and shaping to remove unnecessary weight where possible. It’s an easy stem to install, with a very good fit on the steerer tube and flush around the handlebars. Two 3mm bolts secure it to the steerer tube and four bolts hold the one-piece faceplate to the stem. It’s not heavy, despite its looks, at a respectable 178g on the scales.
There’s been a shift towards shorter stems over the years with 50mm becoming the new normal on many trail and enduro bikes. If you’re in the upgrade market for a new stem, the Thomson certainly lives up to its heady reputation. The only downside really is the high price, but I had a quick look online and you can get it some quite decent discounts, at which point it starts to become a bit more palatable.
Who it’s good for: Enduro and trail riders looking to upgrade their stem won’t be disappointed with the extremely high quality finish, superb build quality, nor the high performance of Thomson’s stem, it’s one of the coolest stems and will provide a nice finishing touch to any bike.