Review: FSA’s Stout SL-K Stem

FSA SL-K StemCatch up on all of our Project 1.2 posts here!

Stems aren’t the most glamorous of components.  For the most part, they all work- and those that don’t don’t tend to survive on the market long.  While the Reasonably Priced in our Reasonably Priced Carbon Project 1.2 singlespeed build theme ruled out every full-carbon stem on the market, FSA’s SL-K stem does have a carbon fiber face plate and happens to match not only our build’s white fork but also its unidirectional carbon SL-K seatpost and Gravity Light handlebar.  Is its dash of carbon just for show, or is it a key piece of the puzzle?  Hit the jump to find out…

SONY DSCFSA claim that their Carbon Structural Integration process, which combines carbon fiber outer layers with aluminum inners, adds strength and stiffness to alloy components without the expense of full-carbon construction.  While we can already hear commenters’ cries of window dressing, the approach is not unusual: Ritchey claim that their similar construction adds 16% to their Carbon Matrix C260 stem’s stiffness.  In this case, we’d be surprised if a CSI face plate adds that much to a stem’s stiffness- but limiting the carbon used does keep the stem’s price from getting too far out of control.

Our 90mm stem weighs in at 150g with white paint- no flyweight, but not anchor material either.  The unidirectional carbon fiber matches FSA’s SL-K and Gravity Light handlebars nicely- tying everything together both physically and aesthetically.  More importantly, the stem is stiffer than most, easily handling all of the anger a pair of DH-strong 740mm bars can transmit.  It’s not as stiff as Syntace’s steroidal Megaforce- but is much closer to that stem than lighter XC and road alternatives.  SONY DSCThroughout our time together, the FSA has been quiet and creak-free and its rounded clamp hardware is more than welcome for when things go wrong.

While its carbon/alloy face plate probably can’t be directly credited with any major benefit, it does pull the finishing kit together nicely.  More importantly, it has served as a solid connection between our bar and fork.  While lighter riders may be just as happy with a lighter alternative, bigger XC, road, and trail riders will appreciate the SL-K’s solidity.  $90 in black, $100 in white.

marc

fullspeedahead.com

Comments

Seraph - 05/12/13 - 7:52pm

[deleted for violation of Bikerumor’s Comments Policy]

Yetiman - 05/12/13 - 10:29pm

Buy Thomson, the best stem in the cycling universe.

FrictionShifter - 05/12/13 - 11:45pm

Freaking
Stout
Always
!

greg - 05/13/13 - 1:52am

im pretty sure the face plate on that is full carbon, the CSI designation does not apply to this.

Slow Joe Crow - 05/13/13 - 12:25pm

Carbon wrapped components do get a vibration damping benefit, which is why I like my FSA Carbon Pro seatpost but the carbon actually add weight. The lightest stem FSA makes is the OS-99 which is plain 7050 Aluminum with Ti bolts and weighs 113g in the 100mm size.

vectorbug - 05/13/13 - 12:54pm

I think its important to consider weight in grams with context. 150grams is not very heavy (thats a quarter pounder with cheese before being cooked!), and 200 grams is not that much heavier! But by all means, make up anagrams of the company name as if it has anything to do with the quality. The folks at FSA bust their asses to design and built top notch stuff at the most affordable prices they can live with.

Further (man, I’m really thinking way too much about this) Yes, Thomson makes great stuff, but lets face it, if you’re the type of rider who shaves their legs, then you probably also care a bit about how your ride looks and Thomson doesn’t really tie any bike together. If you absolutely need a top notch tool, then there you go, but they’re not in a league of their own.

But if you want to get pedantic, the X4 is 10 grams heavier. On the other hand, The X4 is made in America, so you know the people who operate the machinery are treated with dignity.

Marc Basiliere - 05/13/13 - 9:32pm

Greg,

We double-checked with FSA before release and in this case the face plate is CSA (carbon over aluminum). Either way, the package works well.

marc

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