What Do Riders Think? Eight Stems Reviewed by Vital MTB Members 16

With dozens of stems to choose from, how do you find the best one? Vital MTB members weigh in on some popular options.

What Do Riders Think? Eight Stems Reviewed by Vital MTB Members

There's power in numbers, and collectively Vital MTB readers put in more trail miles and try out more products than our team of professional reviewers ever could. With over 17,000 reviews and 15,000 products in the Vital MTB Product Guide, it's a great place to find real-world opinions and compare product specs. Here are eight highly-rated stems and product impressions from riders just like you.


Chromag BZA Stem

The Good

The Bad

  • Strong
  • Great looks
  • Oversized M6 hardware
  • High quality and craftsmanship
  • Made in North America
  • Overbuilt just enough that you will never doubt the durability
  • Very pricey
  • On the heavier side - 184g (35x50mm, claimed)

Key Impressions

"The CNC grooves and unique shapes of the BZA make it, in my opinion, one of the best looking stems ever made. A bit on the heavy side but as long as the performance and stiffness was there, I was okay with it. Where I used to feel flex on high impact situations, the BZA is stout and stubborn. One of the major features that drove me to by the BZA was the oversized M6 hardware compared to more common M5 hardware. I ride in situations where I can’t afford to have a stem twist on me, doing so could result in some pretty nasty medical bills." - dirtworks911

"After six months of hard use including Whistler Bike Park, Squamish tech gnar, and Finale Ligure rocky hard trails the stem has not batted an eye. Upgraded the bolts to Titanium for a 20g weight savings. This stem will be on my bike for a long time." - madparts2018

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Shop the Chromag BZA Stem at Jenson USA, starting at $120.60


DEITY Copperhead Stem

The Good

The Bad

  • Multiple lengths and colors to choose from
  • Super short stack height of 30mm
  • Moderate weight - 161g (31.8 and 35x50mm, claimed)
  • Strong
  • Versatile enough to be used on any and all bike builds
  • Looks great
  • One review said the machinist missed putting an edge-break on a single edge on the bar clamp
  • Pricey

Key Impressions

"The Copperhead has a short 30mm stack height, 10mm shorter than most all other stems available. This gives riders a little more adjustability in handlebar height up and down steerer tubes. The short stack along with zero degree rise and stubby 35mm length is perfect for dialing in cockpits on bikes with today's longer top tube measurements with wide bars." - Goto11

"I’d say they nailed it. It’s held up so far (unlike my previous 2 stems) and looks good mounted to the front of my bike. It’s on the slightly more expensive side for an aluminum stem but it’s not wildly pricey." - jcook

Read More

Shop the DEITY Copperhead at Jenson USA, starting at $98.99


Race Face Atlas Stem

The Good

The Bad

  • Well built stem great for FR, DH, AM, and even XC use
  • Looks great and aggressive with Whistler Bike Park trail map detailing
  • Great style, function, and form
  • Unbreakable, burly with a solid feel
  • Color and length options
  • Doesn't creak
  • Moderate weight - 155g, 160g (31.8 and 35x50mm, claimed)
  • No sub-50mm options with 31.8mm diameter
  • Limited ano color variety
  • Pricey

Key Impressions

"Pairs awesome with the Atlas bars. It's a great looking stem, stiff but compliant, and built to take some abuse without being too heavy. Could use some shorter length options and more ano color choices." - Goto11

"I like the chunky design that still looks pretty sleek somehow. The 5mm hex hardware on the steerer clamp portion is nice. Definitely a solid strong option." - Lance_h

"Very happy with it. Would put on other bikes." - Adam_Mitchell

"I've used Race Face bars for a long time and after having a creaky experience with another brand's stem I gave the RF Atlas 31.8 50mm stem a try. It's one of those parts on the bike that just does it's job without complaints." - westeast

"Rode this for two seasons. Had no problems with it. A bit pricey, but awesome quality component." - megatryn

Read More

Shop the Race Face Atlas at Jenson USA, starting at $84.99


Race Face Aeffect Stem

The Good

The Bad

  • Low price for a 35mm stem
  • Clean and simple look
  • Performs exactly as it should
  • Zero twisting on hard hits
  • Moderate weight - 155g (35x60mm, claimed)
  • Not as refined or blingy as other stems (might be a good thing)
  • Comes in any color you want as long as it’s black

Key Impressions

"If you are looking to run that fancy 35mm bar, but don't want to drop a ton of dough on an expensive new stem, this is a great option. While it is not as fancy or refined as other stems (like the Race Face Atlas stem), it does its job well and without issue. I am running a carbon bar and I have not had any issues with the bar cracking or getting scarred from the stem, and even without carbon grip I have not had the bar slip at the recommended torque." - lagocza

"A no thrills but all performance stem from Race Face. The price is reasonable and it’s in stock at most bike shops." - Jacob_Spera

Read More

Shop the Race Face Aeffect at Jenson USA, starting at $33.99


Renthal Apex Stem

The Good

The Bad

  • Looks
  • Very lightweight - 127g (31.8 and 35x50mm, claimed)
  • Handlebar clamp really well designed
  • Well made
  • Good bolts
  • Easy to mount
  • Minimalist design
  • Split ~220deg clamp design looks great when paired up to a Renthal gold ano bar
  • Pricey
  • Some reviews question strength and steerer clamps being too thin

Key Impressions

"The stem is light and stiff, no creaks, cracks or corrosion in 6 months of use on my long travel bike. The stem will spin on the fork in a heavy crash, but I've only done that once and everything looked fine after and hasn't moved since." - yzedf

"The handlebar clamps with the wrap around feature are great. It makes the handlebar easy to fit and torque correctly. The steerer clamp is probably the weak point of the design. I think in the pursuit of lightness they took too much material out of the bands which sacrifices grip strength. I've seen a lot of people over tighten these probably due to this fact." - wojo

"It's one of the best stems, also best looking IMHO. Paired with a Renthal FatBar Carbon it's a perfect match." - Hillside_Cycling

"I unfortunately was in the process of figuring out my front end and was taking the stem on and off quite regularly. I think, due to that, I weakened the steering clamp and both clamps ended up breaking off." - cableguy5586

"I have two of the 35mm diameter versions. No issues with either. I like the minimalist kind of moto style design. I only wish they were a little less expensive." - VonR

"A great lightweight stem that would be solid for 95% of riders, but I personally feel it's a stem for a trail bike and not up to the task of being ridden hard. I've managed to break two in 14 months... a stress crack developed on the top edge of the central bore, visible if you remove the bars. Or, if it gets big enough and propagates out, you can see it with the bar installed." - jcook

Read More

Shop the Renthal Apex at Jenson USA, starting at $89.99


Renthal Duo Stem

The Good

The Bad

  • Lightweight - 143g (31.8x50mm, claimed)
  • Looks
  • Strength
  • Stiff
  • Built well
  • Pain to put on and take off, longer time to install 
  • Twists easily
  • Creaking
  • Bars would slip until carbon grip gel was used and the surface was slightly roughed up
  • A little pricey

Key Impressions

"I had quite high expectations of this stem before buying it. It looks great and the attention to detail in the machining is superb. However, it really is a hassle to attach to the bike and to the handlebars due to its two-piece design. The other downside to this stem is that it seems to twist on the steerer far too easily." - Nic Cotton

"I loved this stem but it creaked horribly." - cableguy5586

"It is very stiff and light, but takes a little more time to install and remove handle bars. In addition I had to rough up the anodizing and use carbon grip gel to to keep my bars from slipping with the recommended torque on the bolts. I have to admit I really like the way it looks and the slightly longer adjustment time is ok with me." - Curtis Gillen

"Never had a problem with it." - SpeshyDhNz

"Been rocking this stem for three years now and I still have nothing bad to say about it. It is a nicely engineered two-piece design with all excess material removed to bring it's weight down to 150grams with the bolts. As stiff as some other brands big blocky stems that weight 250g." - Jeff Dube

Read More

Shop the Renthal Duo at Jenson USA, starting at $79.99


Spank Spoon Stem

The Good

The Bad

  • Short 40mm length option
  • Stiff
  • Loads of color options
  • Price
  • On the heavier side - 170g (31.8x40mm, claimed)

Key Impressions

"Great stem with a very cool aesthetic. This stem has a very rounded shape which looks very cool and lacks lacks sharp edges to hit yourself on when practicing." - edward.hwhat

"Stems are an often over looked part, if it gets the job done. And that's exactly how I describe the Spoon stem. What I do notice about it is how easy it is to pick one of these out that will match the color scheme of the most obsessed bike nerd out there." - Dirty Jane

"I like zero rise short stems that are tough, fairly light, and look good. This stem works for me. I have a comparable (in price, length and rise) Truvativ Hussefelt stem and I much prefer the machining and anodized finish on the Spank. Also comes with matching top cap which makes it even better value!" - ZMC888

Read More

Shop the Spank Spoon at Jenson USA, starting at $39.90


Truvativ Hussefelt Stem

The Good

The Bad

  • Strong
  • Strong bolts
  • Price
  • Heavy - 203g (31.8x40mm, claimed)
  • Limited color choices
  • Painted and not anodized

Key Impressions

"I feel as if I should have payed three times as much for this stem. If you are not a weight Nazi trying to shed every ounce you possibly can, there is no reason not to buy this 220 gram stem. This is a perfect stem if you are trying to keep it cheap and still look like you know what you are doing. Which is easier said than done..." - frankietheman21

"At 220 grams on my scale it's a tad on the heavy side. I'd only buy this for a budget freeride or DH build, maybe spend extra and go lighter for AM and trail bikes. However it is a serious stem that gives you piece of mind with no doubts to its strength." - ZMC888

Read More

Shop the Truvativ Hussefelt at Jenson USA, starting at $29.99


Love your stem? Know how it could be improved? Help out your fellow MTBer by writing a review. The top Vital reviewer each month earns a $100 Jenson USA gift card.

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