Short mountain bike stem selection

Ten stubby options to speed up your steering

Reducing the length of a mountain bike's cockpit by fitting a shorter stem remains one of the easiest and cheapest ways to improve its handling. A stubby stem isn't for everyone, but it can be a good upgrade for those looking for a little extra on the descents.

A stem less than 50mm long is considered short these days, and there is no shortage of them out there. Here we take a first look at several stumpy stems from popular brands as well as some familiar older models that should make your shortlist.

Spank Spoon

The Spoon from Spank Industries has been improved for 2014. At £36.99 / US$44.95, it's one of the cheapest ways to cut length from the front of your bike. It's only available in this 40mm length but comes in a dazzling array of colour options for its shot-peened finish. The design isn't to everyone's taste but it is decent quality and surprisingly light at 160g (169g including top cap). Unusually, it's sold with its own matching top cap, which is a nice component in its own right. If you are conscientious enough to use a torque wrench to tighten the 5mm bolts, Spank has helpfully stated the torque figure on the faceplate of the stem.

  • Price: £36.99 / US$44.95
  • Length: 40mm
  • Weight: 160g
  • Bolts: 5mm
  • Rise: 0°

www.hotlines-uk.com

Funn Funnduro

Funn funnduro 45mm stem:

Introduced to satisfy the needs of enduro riders, Funn's new Funnduro stem is available in 45mm and 60mm lengths. Our sample is the former and retails for a reasonable £39.99 / US$65.99. The entire stem is aggressively machined, resulting in an ultra lean appearance and a weight of just 121g. The slanted angled faceplate is designed to spread forces from the handlebar into the stem body rather than them being applied directly to the lower bolts. There are several colour choices on offer, all of which feature raw/polished sides. The Funn uses 4mm bolts and the torque figure is displayed on the stem.

  • Price: £39.99 / US$65.99
  • Length: 45 or 60mm
  • Weight: 121g
  • Bolts: 4mm
  • Rise: 0°

www.decade-europe.com

Hope 35mm 

Hope 35mm stem:

Hope has now joined a few other manufacturers who are producing stems in this ultra short 35mm length. Aside from Mondraker's forward geometry stems and a few direct-mount options for dual crown forks, these are the shortest stems around. Take a close look at one and you'll see that the edges of the handlebar and steerer sit just a few millimetres from one and other. The 35mm stem has a large clamp area just like Hope's DH stem (below) but uses smaller 4mm bolts. The extensive CNC work makes for a stunning final product, and a light one too – ours weighed in at just 133g. It retails for £80.

  • Price: £80 / US$N/A
  • Length: 35mm
  • Weight: 133g
  • Bolts: 4mm
  • Rise: 0°

www.hopetech.com

Azonic Riot

Azonic riot 40mm stem:

Azonic's Riot stem is a more substantial option. At 204g it laughs in the face of weight weenie-ism, and its unusually large 6mm bolts don't look out of place. Considering the £54.99 / US$79.99 retail price, the finish could be better, but the laser etched logos look good and there are several different anodised colours to choose from. 

  • Price: £54.99 / US$79.99
  • Length: 40mm
  • Weight: 204g
  • Bolts: 6mm
  • Rise: 0°

www.shop.flidistribution.co.uk

Hope DH

Hope dh stem 50mm:

Hope's £85 DH stem puts the emphasis on serious strength. Installation requires the two top bolts at the stem face plate to be equally but fully tightened prior to the bottom two. The result is a flush fit at the top of the stem and an assembly gap below the handlebar – this helps to distribute loads evenly through the bar and decrease stress overall. There are three bolts positioned where the stem clamps to the steerer tube. It weighs 217g, exactly what Hope claims. The looks are charmingly industrial and the quality is exactly what you'd expect from Hope. Should you want Barnoldswick bling but don't necessarily need downhill strength then Hope also offers a 50mm version of its XC/FR stem which comes in at a claimed 144g.

  • Price: £85 / US$N/A
  • Length: 50mm
  • Weight: 217g
  • Bolts: 5mm
  • Rise: 0°

www.hopetech.com

Keep your eyes out for individual reviews of these stems in the near future. Take a look below for more options that we've already tested.

Truvativ Hussefelt and Holzfeller

Truvatic hussefelt (l) and holzfeller (r) stems :

Truvativ stems are proven parts and are also massively popular as OE items.

Hussefelt

One of the cheapest ways to a short and strong cockpit is with Truvativ's no-frills Hussefelt stem, which retails at £29.99 / US$29. It's available in 40mm and 60mm lengths. There's also a white version but it costs a £10 premium over the regular black part. Here's a full review of the Hussefelt stem.

  • Price: £29.99 / US$29
  • Length: 40 and 60mm
  • Weight: 213g (40mm)
  • Bolts: 5mm
  • Rise: 0°

Holzfeller

The Holzfeller is a step up from the Hussefelt. Like the Hussefelt, it's built for the big hits but has a slightly more premium look and more of an effort has been made to reduce weight. The retail price is steep – £59.99 / US$60 – especially when you consider the 40mm version only saves 19g over the equivalent length Hussefelt. A quick glance at a few of the popular online retailers and you'll usually find the Holzfeller offered at a more reasonable price though. Here's our full review of the Holzfeller stem.

  • Price: £59.99 / US$60
  • Length: 40/50/60mm
  • Weight: 194g (40mm)
  • Bolts: 5mm
  • Rise: 0°

www.fisheroutdoor.co.uk

Nukeproof Zero and Warhead

Nukeproof warhead (l) and zero (r) stems:

Zero

For £59.99 / US$85.49, Nukeproof offers the Zero stem, a 50mm option that is designed to handle the toughest of riding. Nukeproof has also done a good job of reducing the weight of this tough little number – it tipped our scales at a competitive 177g. Here's a full review of the Nukeproof Zero stem

  • Price: £59.99 / US$85.49
  • Length: 50mm
  • Weight: 177g
  • Bolts: 5mm
  • Rise: 0°

Warhead

If you want something a little less hefty then Nukeproof also offers a 50mm version of its proven Warhead stem. Click here for a full review of the Nukeproof Warhead stem.

  • Price: £59.99 / US$85.49
  • Length: 50/60/70mm
  • Weight: 177g (70mm)
  • Bolts: 5mm
  • Rise: 5°

www.hotlines-uk.com

Renthal Duo 

Renthal duo 50mm stem:

The Duo from Renthal (formerly the Strata Duo) uses a unique two-piece, horizontal split design. This means it takes a little longer to fit than most but you're rewarded with a very impressive stiffness to weight ratio. The newer 40mm option has a claimed weight of just 124g and our 50mm test sample was just 13g over that. The £79.99 / $99.95 price isn't bad consider the fact it's made in the UK and offers unparalleled moto bling. Click here for a full review of the Renthal Duo stem

  • Price: £79.99 / $99.95
  • Length: 40 and 50mm
  • Weight: 137g (50mm)
  • Bolts: 4mm
  • Rise: 10°

www.renthal.com

Oli Woodman

Senior Writer, UK
With more than 10 years of experience riding mountain bikes, Oli knows the good from the bad when it comes to gear. He's a total bike nerd and loves few things more than fettling with spangly riding bits. Also, he seems to have a talent for crashing hard but emerging unscathed.
  • Discipline: Mountain
  • Preferred Terrain: Loamy singletrack
  • Beer of Choice: Corona
  • Location: Bristol, UK
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