As long as its a specialized.
Not that i have any clue.
Added a product review for Enve Composites Direct Mount Stem 3/11/2014 5:19 PM
by Steve Wentz
I love chocolate chip cookies. The butter, the sugar, the chocolate chips, I don't know how it could get any better. I think one thing I really appreciate is the fact that the best ones tend to be homemade. There is a certain amount of care and love that goes into the best homemade cookies, and it is something that is rarely up for sale. Like those favorite cookies of mine, Enve's new direct mount stem is made in the good ol' US of A. Specifically, it is made in their factory in Ogden, Utah. Luckily for well to do cyclists, Enve's new labor of love is up for sale. I was lucky enough to try out this new homemade masterpiece. It looks good, it is really light, and their strength claims are reassuring. Lets see how it performs in the real world.
Carbon Direct Mount Stem Highlights
It seems to me that on paper the biggest highlight is the scant 117 gram weight. It is the lightest direct mount available to my knowledge, and around 50 grams lighter than many competitors. That's a bit over a tenth of a pound, the importance of that weight savings is of course up to you. Enve put this carbon direct mount stem up against other competitors, and it compares favorably strength wise, but without lots of the girth. On their machines, they tested leading bars on the stem, and every bar failed before anything would happen to the stem. `The stem is available in 50mm or 60mm lengths. Interestingly, the 60mm weighs less than the 50, because of the tight confines of the 50mm compared to the 60mm, and different manufacturing used in both. As mentioned before, this stem is made in the US. That to me is one of the most important highlights. I like knowing I'm supporting US jobs. I happen to make my living as a small business owner, and I try to buy things locally whenever I can, even if it is at a slightly higher price point. That being said, I'm far from a hippie, as I have burnt literally tons of dinosaurs driving all over to ride my bike. But, I still think every little bit helps, and we all choose our battles. The largest battle of all with this stem will of course be the price. At $325, I can't say for sure if it is sensible to pay triple what many other quality stems cost in order to save a few grams and support US manufacturing. Enough about the numbers though, I feel it is high time to mount up this beauty and see how it handles in the dirt.
The first impression of course is taking the stem out of the box. No-nonsense cardboard packaging is subtle, simple, and really underscores the marvel that is inside. Faceplate bolts are installed in the stem, while the bolts for the direct mount are in a small bag. Taking the stem out of the box, it is very apparent that it is light. It is really, really light. I really liked the fact that it also looks robust. I'm not a huge fan of direct mount stems that have multiple pieces connected to a faceplate. I've had one bolt come loose before which set off a chain reaction of everything loosening up. That is NOT COOL. While my teeth aren't perfect, I want to keep them. I don't want to even think of anything going wrong with the front end of my bike. The 50mm Enve stem I tested actually looks slightly similar to the previous stem I had on my bike, the Truvativ Holzfeller. That's a good thing in my mind, because I never had an issue before, and that same robust look instilled a sense of confidence right away. A small bonus point for Enve is the fact that their stem clears steerer tube spacers very well. Some stems come so close to the steerer tube that they require the use of very thin spacers. Bravo to Enve for leaving a little bit of clearance in this area.
Upon installation, the Enve showed its only flaws. I put the stem on the top camp of my fork, and put the bolts in. The rearward bolts were no problem. For the front two direct mount bolts though, they would not go into the stem. It seemed as though there was a half a millimeter or so too little clearance. Before I pushed them in I inspected the bolts, and thought maybe the faceplate and direct mount bolts were switched, making the tight tolerances an issue. This was not the case, as the faceplate bolts are 4mm, and the direct mount bolts are 5mm. This in and of itself is a negative in my mind, I'd rather have the same bolt heads for both parts of the stem. Once I thought the bolts must be correct, I pushed the bolts a little bit harder, and they went through the stem and were ready for install. Unfortunately, during this process the bolts chipped away a little bit of the paint that was on top of the stem. I proceeded to tighten the 5mm and 4mm bolts evenly and slowly with a three way 4/5/6 wrench for the bar and direct mount attachment points. Once I felt some resistance, I put away the three way and took out my torque wrench. My torque wrench, like many others, uses sockets which attach to 4mm and 5mm allen heads. I set the correct torque (which is nicely indicated on the stem) and proceeded to tighten the bolts slowly. The 4mm faceplate bolts gave me no issue. The 5mm rear direct mount bolts gave me no issue. Once I got to the forward direct mount bolts, I encountered a slight issue. I had to be really careful to orient the torque wrench toward the rear of the bike, because there is so little clearance in the hole that the bolts go through. That robust look of the stem unfortunately made it a royal pain to install bolts using a torque wrench, which in my opinion is the only way to go with a carbon stem. I nicked the side of the stem with the socket 5mm attachment while tightening it to torque, and that created a small paint chip as well.
On the positive side, aside from the good steerer spacer clearance, the Enve stem features a grippy texture on the bar clamp area. When I had the bar snug and before it was torque spec tight, it still felt very solid. I had no worries once installed that the bar would ever slip.
On The Trail
I eventually made it to dirt after my time spent questioning myself and questioning the stem. What can be said about a stem's performance? I rode Enve's stem with both my usual Truvativ Holzfeller bar, so I could accurately compare apples to apples and isolate the stem as something new. I've got to say that I couldn't tell a difference in performance with my usual setup. It was as stiff as the last stem I had and there was never a bar slip during the entire testing period. Through mud, snow, rain, dust, no issues. I tried to wrench it in corners, I tried (and did) to over-clear jumps, I screwed up a lot of stuff to try to get a hiccup out of the carbon stem. I double checked the torque specs once and everything had stayed snug. Of course the Enve stem is lighter that my last setup, but I couldn't really tell I was going faster. I also tried the stem with Enve's new Minnaar bar for the ultimate in cockpit envy, and that did provide a bit more damping on the chatter bumps. I have to attribute that to a carbon bar more than a bar/stem combo though.
In the end, this seemingly mundane trail performance from Enve's stem is rather remarkable. For a lot less weight relative to competitors, Enve made a stem that does everything on trail that is needed. It stayed tight, held everything it should have, and never had me doubting its ability to keep me on trail.
Things That Could Be Improved
If the bolts that came with the stem would have had just a slightly smaller diameter, the stem would not suffer from slight nicks in the finish. Also, with a little more room for proper torque wrenches, there would not be any marks in the finish from installation. Finally, the stickers did not match up perfectly. While all of these issues are cosmetic, I would guess they would be very important for riders looking to have the best possible equipment on their bikes.
Long Term Durability
I have no worries about long term durability. Everything on the stem from a carbon standpoint seems to be unaffected by the slight paint chips. For that reason, I don't see anything in the future that would cause a problem. Were your bike to take a massive tumble and have a chunk taken out of the stem by a rock, then I'd see a very good reason to replace it. However, that could be said of any stem, so I wouldn't fault Enve for that.
What's The Bottom Line?
The issue of the bolts cracking the paint ever so slightly upon installation is a very superficial problem. The issue of my torque wrench and socket adapters not fitting the stem perfectly could be a fluke. I strongly believe my gripe about having 4mm and 5mm bolts on the same stem could be overboard. The added fact that the graphics don't match up perfectly is another questionable complaint. That being said, whenever you make the most expensive product on the market, by far, it had better be perfect. It was on the trail. I just wish it was perfect all around. I see no issue with the stem from a performance standpoint. It is a borderline engineering marvel. The only question left to answer is a matter of worth. What is it worth to have a made in the USA stem that is the lightest and one of the strongest? I surely can't answer that for you. For me, I'll save the gram counting for someone else. Why? Because I eat cookies.
Visit www.enve.com for more details.
About The Reviewer
Steve Wentz has always done things and ridden his own way, and he's really happy about that. He grew up in the middle of Southern California and had to build his own trails to ride when he was too young to drive. To make a long story short, that's what he's still doing today, minus the California part. Now he tries to do that everywhere. He has been to every continent except for Antarctica, and has either raced, built trail or been able to ride all over. He loves seeing the world, for better or worse. He has been through ghettos where children beg for pennies, and that really gives perspective to our world where a pair of soft rubber tires costs $150. That being said, he's skidded on those soft rubber tires on so many race courses and trails he can't even count anymore, and he loves it. He'll always ride if he can, and race if he wants, but now he tries to do it with an eye on the course and also an eye to what is practical, what is worth supporting, and what he thinks can benefit the sport as a whole.
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Liked a comment on the item SRAM Announces Formation of SRAM / Troy Lee Designs Mountain Bike Team 2/28/2014 5:08 PM
As long as its a specialized.
Liked a comment on the item Prepping for the 2014 Downhill World Cup in South Africa - Prototype 27.5 Nukeproof DH Bike for Team CRC 2/13/2014 8:25 AM
How exactly is it "killing" DH?
Added a comment about video Prepping for the 2014 Downhill World Cup in South Africa - Prototype 27.5 Nukeproof DH Bike for Team CRC 2/13/2014 8:24 AM
bturman, you simply don't understand. This 'cross country' course at Pietermartizburg is the worst thing ever. Forget the fact that it is part of a whole series, where there should be rough tracks, steep tracks, physical tracks, twisty tracks, wet conditions, dry conditions, you know, forget about the fact that a series should crown the best OVERALL rider. Also, forget the fact that Nigel Page, a guy who has never even raced a world cup *cough, cough* is concerned with frame failure because of the biggest, fastest jumps on the whole circuit. On a serious note enrico, this 'trend' (which usually means a series of events, not a one-off) makes for one of the few tracks where speed, jumps and style makes the sport of DH even more easy to appreciate to the average joe viewer, and outside sponsors. But you don't want that.
Does any thing that isn't the steepest or roughest feature possible constitute a failure in a track? Do you want the whole damn series in Europe and a couple in North America? I surely wouldn't want to race PMB. Andorra fits my bill better (not the old course, which I rode, and was like a pinball alley with trees). My heart might explode in PMB, but it is cool to see the best in the world do a little bit different course. I suggest you go ride the track enrico, and tell us all how you aren't scared of the blind drops, the 60kph jumps, fall away corners, and relay back to us all how easy it was for you.
Lastly, I seriously urge you to change your name from enrico650 to enrico26.
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Liked a comment on the item Meet the Testers from 2014 Vital MTB Test Sessions 1/19/2014 7:50 AM
Who you kiddin, that's chocolate. You ever see that kid blitzkrieg a pile of cookies?
Liked a comment on the item Meet the Testers from 2014 Vital MTB Test Sessions 1/19/2014 7:50 AM
hey wentz, you have some tapatio on your face.
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Liked a comment on the item Prototype FOX RAD 34 Fork Testing - What The Pros Ride 12/29/2013 10:42 AM
Loving my Pike
Added a comment about video Prototype FOX RAD 34 Fork Testing - What The Pros Ride 12/29/2013 10:36 AM
Are you two jokers serious? You are complaining that 'pros' get something you don't? I'm sure you want a fork that is cheap, that is super smooth, and you never have to work on. They say this new fork has different seals, those might blow up since they are lower friction. Good thing the Fox is there to rework the forks often. You would want to send your fork in ever week right? The new fork has different bushings with a tiny bit more room, which I'm sure you wouldn't complain about, even after they get sloppy after six months. And the forks have different damping, which they are trying to make sure works without a hiccup. But I'm sure you would use that too, and hit your trails or races or jumps flat out on the first time knowing something that might blow up. That's right up your alley. That fork might be cool to drool over and that's it. Maybe it would make the existing stuff better in the future, that would be cool too. Until then get a Pike.
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Keep up the good work riders, looks like everyone has fun there when bikes are the distraction from some worse options.
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Liked a comment on the item Leogang World Cup Update - No Timed Training, Hill and Minnaar with Possible Knee Injuries 9/21/2013 5:44 AM
there is plenty of proper journalism on vital. But what i also like about it is their connection...
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This message translated from Svenfricanese. Can you sleep at night now? Obviously it was one of...
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Excellent work. I'd hope this gets way more views and comments and gets shared. So much better than lots of video.
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