As Bob Dylan would say, “times, they are a changin.” A saying which is equally at home today as it was back in the 60’s regardless of subject matter. However, it could also be used when referring to the trend in mountain bike stem length, as the super long 140mm+ stems of the early days are steadily giving way to shorter stems and wider bars.
Obviously, downhill, freeride, DJ, and other MTB disciplines have run shorter stems for ages, but even those have gotten a bit shorter. Shorter stems aren’t just for extreme riding though, as many mountain bike coaches such as Gene Hamilton of the famous Better Ride Clinics, suggests XC riders use a shorter stem and wider bar to improve confidence and handling.
This need for a shorter stem that doesn’t need to withstand the rigors of extreme riding has given rise to a new crop of lightweight all mountain stems that would be would be optimized for both XC or AM bikes. To join the short stem party, Answer has put forth the Rove AM Stem, a 3D forged, post CNC’d beauty.
Jump past the break for weight, sizes, and prices!
In order to accommodate a wide range of riders, Answer offers the Rove AM in 5 sizes which increase in 10mm increments from 60 to 100mm in length all with an 8 degree rise. As you can see, the Rove is offered in 3 colorways including white, black, and Charcoal. All models of the Rove AM include stainless hardware (5mm for steerer clamp, and 4mm for the faceplate) with pre-applied LocTite.
In order to try and create a knee friendly clamp, the rear of the Rove is very slim and tapers towards the back. It’s so tapered though, that the bolts protrude from the side, so if you are the type that is constantly banging your knees on your stem you might need to shorten the bolt a bit to remove the sharp edge.
Both the inside and outside of the stem’s body are tapered to create a wide surface for the handlebar clamp. The inside of the stem is quite cavernous as lots of material is removed to decrease weight.
Personally, I’ve usually run around a 90mm stem on my 120mm travel Fuel EX and only recently tried out a 70mm stem with a wider 720 bar. The result? Improved comfort, better handling, and the ability to push my seat back giving me the feeling of more power over the tops of the pedals. I like is so much, when I tried a set up closer to what I used to ride, I was uncomfortable for the entire ride and longed for the shorter stem and wider bar.
Above, you see an 80mm Rove AM stem clamping a Protaper XC Trail bar. While this is a great set up product wise, when I went from the 70mm stem to the 80mm and the 720mm bar to the 690mm, I wasn’t happy. So for me it is back to the 70mm stem with the Answer Protaper AM 720mm bar, which is one of my favorite cockpit setups I’ve tried to date.
Answer made sure to include quite a few windows in the Rove’s faceplate to make lining up the bar underneath as easy as possible. Combined with the generous hash marks on the Protaper XC Trail bars, this proved to be extremely easy. Even for an 80mm stem, the Rove is initially proving to be an incredibly stiff stem, which is a good thing since it is not the lightest.
However, my 70mm Rove AM which comes in at 177g is replacing a 70mm Bontrager Rhythm Pro stem, which has the Rove beat by only about
40 18 grams (just re-weighed the Rhythm Pro, and it is actually 29g heavier than claimed). However, with a retail of around $70, the Rove is a bit cheaper than the $99.99 Rhythm Pro and is available in more colors.
As you can see, weights for the Rove AM very from 168g for a 60mm stem to 179g for the 80mm. This seems to reinforce a reoccurring theme for Answer, being that while they aren’t the lightest, they do represent one of the best values on the market. One interesting note, is that while I mentioned that the Manitou Circus that I reviewed did not include a starnut, not only does every Rove AM stem include a starnut, but it also includes a compression bolt, Answer top cap, and a 2.5 and 5mm Answer spacer. This is an especially nice touch considering the Rove has a relatively short 40mm stack height which may require an additional spacer or two if your are replacing an older stem.