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Race Face Atlas 35 DM Stem

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Race Face Atlas DM 35 Stem
 Race Face Atlas 35 DM Stem  Race Face Atlas 35 DM Stem  Race Face Atlas 35 DM Stem
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Race Face Atlas 35mm Direct Mount Stem

Rating: Featured Member Review
The Good:

Stiff, Simplistic, Light weight, 5mm rise spacers included

The Bad:

Almost 10 grams (7.5% increase) off claimed weight.

Overall Review:

Picked up the Race Face Atlas 35mm direct mount stem about 3 months ago along with the Race Face SixC 35mm bars. After some solid riding time on them, here are my impressions on this product:

Quick Comparisons:

When looking for a stem to accompany my SixC bars, There were a few that had my attention. The top 3 I was debating between were the Easton Havoc 35mm Direct Mount, Race Face Chester 35mm Direct Mount, and the Race Face Atlas 35mm Direct Mount. Strength and stiffness were most important to me followed by weight. Below are the claimed weights of the three stems:

Easton Havoc: 110 grams

Race Face Chester: 130 grams

Race Face Atlas: 120 grams

These weights are all pretty close so strength and stiffness would be my deciding factor. The materials of each stem are as follows:

Easton Havoc: EA90 Alloy

Race Face Chester: 6061 Aluminum

Race Face Atlas: 2014 Aluminum

In terms of strength, 6061 alloy is a middle grade alloy found in many components. Being a middle grade alloy, I worried how it would hold up in a real yardsale of a crash. Easton's EA90 Alloy is very high end grade aluminum and if weight is what is most important, is totally the way to go. The 2014 aluminum is very comparable to Easton's EA90. Wanting something durable and light weight, I felt the extra material on the Race Face Atlas was worth the 10 extra grams which I felt would hold up slightly better in a big tumble.

Out of the box:

The Race Face Atlas 35mm direct mount is noticeably light weight, right out of the box. It comes with a 0 degree rise and a 50mm length option only. They do include a 5mm riser kit with the stem which is nice incase you are super meticulous and know exactly what specs you like. As for the length, they don't offer an adjustable bolt pattern found on stems like the Easton Havoc (45-50mm) which could be viewed as a downside. As for me, I knew that 50mm would work just fine and feel the Atlas stem would be more favored in a crash, considering there aren't any extra holes that could possibly weaken it's structure.

Photo

Going back to weight, the Atlas stem came in at 129 grams including the mounting hardware. That's a 7.5% increase from it's claimed weight of 120 grams. I know that 10 grams doesn't sound like a huge deal because in all actuality, it's not. BUT, if there was a 7.5% increase on a much heavier component such as a crank or wheelset, it would upset quite a few weight weenies. The gist of it is this, Race Face is selling a $100 stem that is the same weight of a $60 stem; sorta a let-down if you ask me.

Race Face's direct mount stem design is super simplistic and they make the most of the material used. 4 bolts to hold it down and 2 to keep that bars tight is consolidating at it's finest. Not wanting to scratch up my bars, I slid the stem onto my bar before clamping both sides to the fork crown. This took a little more time than normal because is was slightly awkward doing it but once it was all tight, it looked so good!

Photo

I was mostly impressed with how wide of a clamping surface the Atlas stem offered. At 69mm wide, it is one of the widest, if not the widest stems on the market. In a world of "bigger is stiffer," it would be hard to make a lighter, stiffer stem than this. This is all theory until I was able to get it out on the trail though.

On the Trail:

For every stem out there, they are designed to allow a rider to point and shoot down a trail; And for the most part, they all do this. With all the stems I have used, I've noticed that some stems do this better than others. While taking my Scott Gambler (with this Atlas stem) down my favorite DH trails, I was taken back with how stiff and responsive it was. I could feel a little flex in the bars due to them being carbon, but as for the stem, It felt more solid than any stem I have ever owned. Even more than stems that weigh twice it's weight. Progression in whatever you like doing stems off of confidence. Having equipment that is solid and predictable increases that confidence, which in turn pushes your progression. I know things as small as a direct mount stem wouldn't seem to play such a large role in this but for me, everything helps.

Bottom line:

Although not the complete lightest direct mount stem out there, I feel the Race Face Atlas offers an excellent balance of weight and stiffness. It has a huge clamping footprint of 69mm across which really helps with it's stiff handling. It doesn't come in an adjustable length like some out there but I feel it keeps it's ultimate strength by not doing so. The fact that Race Face includes a 5mm riser kit is always a plus for fine tuning (a kit that isn't included with most stems out there.) My only issue is that Race Face's claim of weighing 120 grams was nearly 10 grams off. It's not a huge deal but its nice when companies get their facts straight. Besides that, this is the stiffest and lightest stem I have ever owned and am stoked on it's performance. If you are in the market for a new, light weight stem and durability is important to you, I would strongly recommend this stem. If you can't justify spending such money on the Atlas, the Chester stem would be a great secondary option. 5 star performance - 0.5 stars for inaccurate claimed weight.

Specifications

Product Race Face Atlas 35 DM Stem
Riding Type Freeride / Bike Park, Downhill
Material Machined 2014 aluminium
Clamp Diameter 35mm
Length 50mm
Rise
Steer Diameter N/A - direct mount for dual crown forks
Colors Black
Weight 0 lb 4.2 oz (120 g)
Miscellaneous 2 piece direct mount design
Lightweight, low profile design with flush mount bolts
5mm spacers kit
Price $99.99
More Info

Race Face Website

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