Nitto Craft stem £155

Quill stem from a past master

BikeRadar score 5/5

In an uninterrupted tradition of quality Japanese craftsmanship and engineering spanning nearly 90 years, Nitto continue to create and produce some of the most sought-after components in the bike industry.

The company are still major players on the keirin scene but after the high water mark of the 1980s, changing markets and rising manufacturing costs meant that what was once a ubiquitous brand on tens of millions of bicycles in the West gradually lost ground to a flood of aggressively priced Taiwanese imports.

Fast forward to the present day and a slow fightback is taking place, brought about by a combination of trends: fixed gear fashion, an interest in cycling heritage and an exploding urban cycling culture.

The Craft stem is an uncompromising stand for traditional handcrafted values. No effort has been made to lighten the unit by using a shortened wedge bolt. Twin-bolt front-loading clamps? Forget it – that’s so 21st Century! Just pure sculpted steel, luxurious chrome and sensuously smooth hand-brazed joints; run your fingers over the stem to feel the beauty.

Mounted on a suitable urban fixie – we used a chrome coloured Specialized Langster – the Nitto Craft stem makes the perfect cherry on the icing on the cake. The 26mm clamp is correctly shaped to allow easy handlebar positioning and there’s plenty of gripping power in the clamp, bolts and wedge. No timid carbon torque values here: go ahead and tighten the thing!

When out on the town, kerbs, cobbles and potholes seem to lose a bit of their sting, while hard acceleration imparts just a little flex, keeping the steering comfortable yet responsive. Although hardly cutting edge, the Craft stem features an alloy wedge machined from billet as a token concession to weight reduction. When plugged into a stout steel track fork, it provides a pleasantly sharp steering response.

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