You can generally rely on a CrankBrothers product being a little quirky. The Cobalt stem – available in three versions, of which the 3 is the middling-price one – is no exception.
The steerer clamp is mostly normal, except for the coloured nylon insert that fills the gap between the pinch bolts. Up front, there’s no removable faceplate – you have to feed the bar through from one end as we did in the olden days.
The narrow clamp bends to let the Cobalt accept fairly wiggly bars (unsurprisingly, CrankBrothers’ own low-rise bars slipped in easily) and the design certainly gives a clean look.
Arguably, it’s more faff to remove a lock-on grip, shifter and brake lever than it is to take a faceplate off, but it’s not that much more fiddly to fit.
Once it’s on it’s trouble-free in use, and at 125g it’s pretty light, too.