Ritchey Reinvents the Stem – 100g Alloy Stem Testing 4x Stronger

2012 Ritchey Logic C260 alloy stem at just 100g

Tom Ritchey was with us for Scottweek, riding all of us into the ground day after day. Turns out he wasn’t just on hand to embarrass us, he also had a new toy to show off.

In his words, his product design is born from either him or his sponsored riders needing a better product. His new C260 stem comes from market pressures, everyone saying “Tom, you need a carbon stem!”

“The problem is, no one’s truly doing a carbon fiber stem properly,” said Ritchey. “As people were trying to make carbon stems and not making any real improvements, people were making aluminum ones that were testing 3x and 4x stronger than anything made before.

“The old single-bolt stem is still the best because it holds the bar the best (by cradling the bar inside a single piece). The new ones with removable faceplates are great for swapping out your bar, but they’re never as good as the original single bolt design. As I was heading down the path of creating a carbon stem, I found that putting four bolts in the front of a carbon stem and you’re inviting disaster.”

UPDATED 7/15 @ 5:26EST – Installation info at bottom of post

Turns out, the “C” in C260 doesn’t actually stand for “Carbon” and the new stem is, in fact, alloy. Hit ‘more’ and get the scoop and tons of photos…

2012 Ritchey Logic C260 alloy stem at just 100g

“Now, with everyone moving to the larger 31.8 diameter bars, it’s allowed us to create a pseudo-single bolt design because we can do an overlapping mounting section and use only a 4mm bolt because so much of the pressure is taken off the bolts.”

The new C260 and is a 100g stem that’s testing 3x to 4x stronger than any previous Ritchey stem because they’re using a new generation Alcoa alloy and because of the new design. Not only is it stronger, it’s stiffer, giving you more control. The rear uses a three-bolt, radius slot clamp design, meaning the slit is crescent moon shaped.

2012 Ritchey Logic C260 alloy stem at just 100g

2012 Ritchey Logic C260 alloy stem at just 100g

Because the bar clamp area overlaps the bar more than 180º, you simply remove the faceplate and put the narrower part of the bar near the grips in first, then slide the handlebar into the center. Line things up and clamp down the faceplate and you’re all set.

The purpose of the crescent-shaped slit on the steerer tube clamp is that it distributes the stresses across a broader area rather than focusing all of it on one single section of the steerer tube, particularly important on carbon steerers.

The stem is approved for both road and mountain bike use. Presumably cyclocross, too.

Lastly, we just got some more numbers from the Ritchey team: Not only is it way stronger, it’s 30% stiffer than their 4-Axis stems that have been used for years on Tour-winning bikes and my own personal (non-Tour winning) bike.

Comments

stratosrally - 07/14/11 - 8:14pm

Any word on pricing? I would prefer it to a carbon stem myself, but hopefully it won’t be priced near the same level…

Danno - 07/14/11 - 9:55pm

OK, this one’s not too perdy, but I’ll take a strong alu stem over a frangible carbon one any day. Happy to see Tom saying (elsewhere) that he thinks carbon clinchers are not superior aluminum rims yet. Consumers want bling, glad to see Tom sticking to his principles and offering products he believes are safe, strong, and a better answer to fiber overload.

Wes - 07/14/11 - 9:56pm

That just the syncros fric stem but longer http://www.syncros.com/stems.htm

Vince - 07/14/11 - 10:30pm

Though it looks great and is lightweight to boot, do we really need a stem that’s 4X stronger than the current ones? Have there been any many stem failures? Hopefully the added strength wasn’t the main intention cause they’re just trying to reinvent the wheel…

Schooner - 07/14/11 - 10:34pm

How do you remove the bar? Have to unwrap half of it then feed it through? Seems likes hassle to me, no?

rob b - 07/14/11 - 11:10pm

Tom is #1. He does not get enough credit for his impacts on the industry and evolution of mtbing. Function before style, hurray!

h2ofuel - 07/14/11 - 11:56pm

@Schooner
It has a 4-bolt faceplate.

seitenryu - 07/15/11 - 12:18am

@Schooner
How often do you swap your bars? Really? Buy some cheap gel tape and re-use it until you find the right bar. That way it can look terrible, but you’ll plan on replacing it anyways.

Varaxis - 07/15/11 - 12:32am

I’ve heard for a long while, that going alloy with stems produces a lighter and stronger stem vs carbon.

Ritchey owns Syncros, I thought, so it makes sense that it takes some of the innovation from the FRIC stem. It’s 3D forged too, a superior manufacturer method that produces a stronger stem than billet CNC. Looks nice and smooth too.

I’m liking this new stem, but their stems are just too expensive and didn’t have enough style for me to buy from them in the past. The wet paint look looked nice though, I have to admit.

@Schooner, only the clamp area on bars are 31.8mm. They narrow down quite a bit to normal diameter for grip and clamp-on components. You have to pull off the face like any other 4 bolt face stem, but add one step; you slide your bar a few inches and then pull it out from the narrow section. Might be a little trickier with some MTB riser bars and bars with tight cable loops.

Varaxis - 07/15/11 - 12:35am

I wanted to make a short comment, but I guess I wanted to reply to the other comments here. I was just gonna say, this looks like it’ll knock Syntace stems off of the top of many weight weenies’ lists.

JON - 07/15/11 - 7:34am

Got to be better than the current design. The flex is atrocious. Why the 3 rear bolts though? Seems somewhat redundant.

Anthony - 07/15/11 - 7:49am

“The problem is, no one’s truly doing a carbon fiber stem properly,” said Ritchey

Would their own WCS stem be counted on that list or does it not count since it’s just, for all practical purposes, a carbon wrap?

Fred Astaire - 07/15/11 - 9:24am

3 bolt redundant? Maybe. Stiff enough for Andre Greipel’s silver back strength? Sure. Just check photos of his new stem that is claimed to be made be Canyon.

Ritchey has and always will be the best bang for your buck, true performance and value, no frills kind of company. I think they are proving it with developments like this.

mike - 07/15/11 - 9:44am

please make in 140… please make in 140… please make in 140…

Schooner - 07/15/11 - 10:52am

@h2ofuel, yes it does, but it wraps more than 180* around the bar, so you can’t pull it straight out like any other stem.

@Varaxis, I understand that, but then you would presumably have your bar taped, and depending on thickness of the tape and the taper of the bar, it might be hard/impossible to get it out. On an MTB I don’t see this being an issue, but the majority of these stems will likely end up on road bikes, no?
Don’t get me wrong, I like this idea, but as someone who travels with their bike somewhat often, I couldn’t see replacing the 4-Axis stem I have on my bike currently with this, improved stiffness or not.

Slow Joe Crow - 07/15/11 - 11:22am

@ Fred Astaire I think the three bolts and wavy slot are to provide better stress distribution when clamping to a carbon fiber steerer tube. There was a series of incidents last year with Trek forks breaking because aftermarket stem clamps were creating stress raisers, interestingly Thomson’s clamp was cited as a very bad design for carbon because the large cutaways concentrated the clamping stress.

thedevelopmentengineer - 07/15/11 - 12:06pm

Not really a new generation alloy is it …Its been around for a long time but the bike industry is always slow to catch on.

Daniel - 07/15/11 - 2:44pm

Lame! It looks good, but why don’t they think of the tools used to install things. Say goodbye to using a 3 way tool to attach your bar. FSA did this on some new carbon stem – the bolts are backwards facing, and it’s nearly impossible to attach your bar, you need 12 hands just to hold everything in place in order to start the threads…

tripelt - 07/15/11 - 3:38pm

This is still a removable faceplate design, the lower two bolts are just facing down and back. I would imagine you would tighten them until they bottom out then clamp the bar with the upper two bolts. When you remove all 4 it will be like a traditional removable faceplate.

Gillis - 07/15/11 - 7:16pm

@ Daniel: You just sound lazy. Mutli tools are just for quick repairs/adjustments. Always use the proper tool for the job. A torque wrench should always be used on high-end/lightweight components – at least to check final adjustment.

@tripelt: Unless the manufacture explicitly says so you should never bottom out the faceplate top or bottom. And I doubt this is the case here. The faceplate should always be attached/spaced(?) evenly at all points. If attached unevenly it can be put undue stress on the bolt head causing it to shear off. A little uneven-ess is allowed through camber of the bolt head and the washer, but only a little.

marcus - 07/15/11 - 10:51pm

When can I buy one?

Chris - 07/17/11 - 7:29am

Is the wet black “heavier” than black steam?

Schooner - 07/18/11 - 2:45pm

@tripelt: Look again, the faceplat covers less than 50% of the front, ie it wraps around the bar, 260* is it? So unless you can squeeze the bar, it won’t fit through.

tripelt - 07/19/11 - 8:01am

@Schooner: I missed that initially but your right, I guess the larger space opened up by removing the faceplate would make it easier than a 1 bolt though.

@Gillis: I was thinking the stem was meant to simulate a 1 bolt and that’s why you would bottom out the bolts, like on a SUL Salsa stem.

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