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Looking for a strong link between your bar and steerer tube? One of these three could be it.

RACEFACE DEUS PROS: Could be the best stem on the market CONS: None

PRICE: $75 WEIGHT: 179 grams (100mm x 5-degree rise) Colors: White and red powder coat; black and sliver anodized

SIZES: 70mm by 15-degree rise; 90, 100, 110, 120mm by 5- or 15-degree rise; 130mm by 5-degree rise IDEAL BUYER: You want performance and style, and aren't afraid to pay for it. CONTACT: 604/527-9996; www.raceface.com

RACEFACE RISES ABOVE

RaceFace is clearly on a mission with its new Deus stem. Though known for its in-house testing, the company has kept the test num­bers to itself-until now. RaceFace is out to prove that the Deus stem is superior to the hottest stem on the market-the Thomson. With that in mind, RaceFace has produced numbers stating that, compared with a Thomson of the same reach and rise, the Deus is 20% stiffer torsionally, 19% stronger in impact strength and lasts more than 4.5 times longer on a fatigue testing dyno. When compared with a Ritchey WCS, those num­bers jump to 45%, 262% and 9 times longer.

Those numbers are perhaps even more impressive when you find out that the Deus isn't forged, but machined from billet 7075 aluminum. Those machines must be working hard, because the Deus is not only attractive, but it also has an almost impossibly smooth and low-profile steerer clamp. The clamp bolts are opposed, which is said to increase clamping power, but not more than they increase flair.

Of these three stems, the RaceFace is the stiffest, no doubt helped by the wide, inter­locking, four-bolt bar clamp. The bolts are well recessed, so we had no problems with housing snag. The Deus also had the nicest finish of the group-the impressive machine work was set off by a tough anodized surface

and laser-etched graphics. Plus, it's the only stem of this group that's offered in more than one color.

The Deus is a sexy, high-performance stem at a surprisingly reasonable price. Is it better than the terrific Thomson? We think so-and the numbers say so, too.

EASTON REDESIGNS

Easton introduced the first EA50 stem in 2000. It wasn't light or pretty, but it was solid, and we liked it. Easton, however, wasn't particularly stoked on the stem, so the com­pany went back and completely overhauled it.

Unlike the old one-piece design, the new stem uses a forged 2014-aluminum bar clamp and extension welded to a forged steerer clamp. The resulting stem is lighter (by 42 grams for a 110mm x 0-degree rise), and far better looking, with nice details such as an embossed logo on the faceplate, small win­dows cut in the steerer clamp and a shoot­-peened finish to increase fatigue life. Even though it's nicely finished, it can't match its machined competition for detail. The two-bolt bar clamp is on the narrow/small side, but the large steerer clamp makes up for that. Though well rounded, the clamp does project rear­-ward into the range of your knees.

On the bike, the EA50 is a solid com­panion, with stiffness that falls right in the center of this bunch. The bar-clamp bolts are nicely recessed, so there's no cable snag to worry about.

Though cheaper than the FSA, the Easton's finish is tougher, and it gives you one more size option. It's also only slightly heavier than the $20-more-expensive RaceFace. Over­all, the new EA50 is much like the old EA50­a great performer at a reasonable price. But with a slimmer waistline and a sexy facelift, you don't need to be embarrassed about taking it home with you.

FSA JUMPS IN

Primarily known for its headset and drivetrain components, FSA (Full Speed Ahead) has plunged into new waters with its XC 120 stem.

The svelte and attractive XC 120 starts life as a chunk of 7075 aluminum that's forged, then polished off by a CNC machine. The overall look is unique-sort of a swoopy angular thing with hints of a Euro road stem. Unfortunately, the look isn't very knee friendly, a situation only exacerbated by the steerer pinch bolts, which aren't recessed.

The XC 120 is light, in part because of the full titanium hardware kit-it's just a couple grams heavier than the Ritchey WCS, one of the lightest stems we've

ever tested. Though stiffer than that Ritchey, it's the least stiff of this group. The four bar clamp bolts are recessed much better than the steerer bolts, so cables are unmolested.

Though we generally liked the XC 120, the fashion slaves in us were disappointed with the finish.

The anodizing marred easily, and the printed graphics held up poorly. Worse, the logo on the faceplate was slightly crooked.

It's an unfortunate oversight on an otherwise good stem. Also note that only four sizes are offered-the fewest options in this test.

Clydesdales and DH/FR riders should steer clear of this stem, but we didn't need to tell you that, did we? With its smaller diameter, titanium hardware and low weight, the XC 120 stem is an XC rider's dream. FSA may be in new waters, but it seems to swim very well.

EDITOR'S CHOICE:

We're vain, we're snobs, and we want the best we can get. And the best we-or anyone-can get in stems is the RaceFace Deus.

-Matt Phillips

EASTON EA50 PROS: Great performance at a reasonable price CONS: Knee-seeking steerer clamp

PRICE: $55 WEIGHT: 183 grams (110mm x 0-degree rise) COLORS: Black only SIZES: 90, 100,

110, 120, 130mm;

0- and 10-degree rise IDEAL BUYER: You need a stem (and also need to eat). CONTACT: 831/394-7114; www.eastonbike.com

FSA XC 120 PROS: Light and sexy CONS: Finish quality; steerer-clamp bolts not recessed

PRICE: $80 WEIGHT: 147 grams (105mm x 0-degree rise) COLORS: Black

SIZES: 90, 105, 120, 135mm; 0- or 6-degree rise

IDEAL BUYER: You have a license and you're going racing.

CONTACT: 425/488-8653; www.fullspeedahead.com 
 

Questions or problems regarding this web site should be directed to abeckman@outdoorssite.com.

Copyright © 2008 Art Beckman. All rights reserved.

Last Modified: March 9, 2008