Do 0mm stems have a place on drop bar bikes? Discord thinks so

Discord thinks your stem is (possibly) too long

0mm Discord stem

“Long stems are going the way of the Dodo” claimed then-Maryland-based Analog Cycles back in 2018, with the release of its handmade 0mm and 30mm w(Right) stem for road, adventure and touring bikes.

Advertisement

Since then, Analog has relocated to Vermont and split into three distinct sub-brands: Discord for components, Tanglefoot Cycles for its upcoming line of framesets, and Fifth Season Canvas for bike bags.

Following the success of its original line of stems, Discord has gone on to design and release a threadless US-made CNC-machined version of its absurd looking 0mm stem called the Creemee.

Why make such a short stem for a road bike?

40mm, 50mm and shorter stems have become the norm on mountain bikes in recent years, and with good reason: a shorter stem (when paired with a longer reach) makes for far more confident handling, particularly on steep terrain.

On a road bike – where stems 100mm and longer are the norm – the advantages aren’t totally dissimilar: a short stem mellows-out your fit without making a bike feel sluggish.

If a bike is designed specifically around a shorter stem, it also allows you to lengthen your front-centre, which is useful if you need to improve clearance for mudguards or wide tyres.

It can allow shorter riders to size up to avoid using a small frame – and thus the design compromises that often come with more diminutive bikes – while keeping reach sensible.

The w(Right) and Creemee stems are Discord’s take on the concept.

Discord w(Right) stem key specs

Discord w(Right) stem on Rivendell
The aesthetics of a super-short reach stem on a drop bar bike are… unique?
Discord

The w(Right) is a fillet brazed chromoly quill stem, and is available with a 30mm or 0mm offset, and a 31.8mm diameter clamp. It is handmade in Massachusetts by Alex Meade Bikeworks and is available in either a raw or clear coated finish.

The stem is only available for 1in steerers, but is said to have new custom-ground quill tubes for improved tolerances compared to the outgoing model.

Discord Creemee stem key specs

Discord Creemee stem
The Creemee is the brand’s new threadless stem.
Discord

The new Creemee – named after a popular soft-serve ice cream in Vermont – is a typical threadless/A-head style stem with 80mm stack, 0mm offset and a 31.8mm bar clamp.

The stem is machined in New Jersey by Swift Design Works. Keeping things MUSA, it is also anodised in the good ol’ USA.

Discord says the stem is good for light off-road adventuring but cautions that it is not designed to handle the rigours of full-on enduro riding.

The listing for both stems on the Analog site goes into much more (at times amusing and rambling) detail and I highly recommend you read through this if you’re keen to learn more about the brand’s rationale for creating such a wildly niche stem.

Why would I actually want a 0mm stem?

The stem is a great – albeit relatively expensive – way to experiment with the change in handling that a short stem provides.

The stem also opens up doors for those with very short torsos that may struggle to get a touring/pootling-friendly upright position using a conventional stem.

Both stems will of course primarily only be of interest to those with touring/adventure bikes, but the concepts could just as easily be applied to go-fast bikes.

On that note, Discord was keen to highlight that its concept is nothing new and that “drop bars and 0mm stems were first used in the late 1800s, and worked well”, adding that, “contrary to popular belief they don’t make the bike twitchy”.

(This Wright Brothers bike – which is, incidentally, the quill stem’s namesake – illustrates the common use of 0mm stems and drop bars on bikes of that era.)

Hands-on experience has proven this, but, driving the point home, Discord points out that “we all ride 0mm stems, essentially, when we ride a 90mm stem and put our hands near the ends of the drop bar”. The same is true of any bike with wildly swept-back Jones-style bars paired with a normal stem.

While this is obviously a fairly extreme example, it’s exciting to see more people experimenting with road bike geometry, and let’s hope that future developments bring much more of this sort of stuff.

Advertisement

Note that this article was first published in March 2018 and has since been updated. The comments below include some interesting insight into the design of the stem from Analog Cycles and I recommend you have a look through these if you would like to learn more.