Trail bike stems have been shrinking down to sub-50mm lengths for a while but they haven’t been able to get much shorter than the diameter of the handlebars they have to hold (without sitting above the steerer, which limits bar height adjustment)… until now.
Perpetual innovator Kirk Pacenti – one of the pioneers of 650b wheels for mountain biking – has created a unique ‘dented’ bar and matching stem that give an effective stem length of 25mm. The result is an ultra-light steering feel that makes it incredibly easy to deliver precise and immediate front wheel tweaks when traction is sketchy.
It also lets you trip up the front of the bike with a flick of the wrist to provoke a rally car-style counter-steer that drops it into corners with maximum commitment. And the 800mm wide bar backs this up with maximum leverage, a great, rollable shape and an excellent stiffness/shock absorption balance. At 214g for the bar and 129g for the stem it’s an impressively light setup too.
With the fork arch clearly visible in front of the bar you’re going to need a long frame to stop your bike feeling cramped (we fitted it to a Whyte T-130 C) and it’s as pricey as you’d expect for a premium carbon fibre cockpit setup.
We’re absolutely loving its hyper-accurate yet totally assured handling though, so it won’t be coming off our test bike any time soon.