Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Velo Orange Cigne Stem Review

My 2003 Karate Monkey with the Velo Orange Cigne Stem.
About two months ago now I bought a Velo Orange Cigne stem and stuck that on my 2003 Karate Monkey. The introductory post can be found HERE, so I won't go over a lot of that previously covered ground. Do hit that link to find out more about why this stem is important and what it does.

Right now I just want to give my overall impressions on this stem and whether or not I think it is something that should work for me in the long run. I have had plenty of time to tweak out the set up and I feel that now I have a pretty good idea of how this stem will work out for folks looking to convert a mountain bike to a drop bar set up.

First things first- I did end up swapping out the Origin 8 Gary Sweep Ergo OD Bars for the tried and true On One Midge Bars. At some point, I'll get to why that happened, but for now I am sticking to the stem. The saddle and seat post were also swapped out. With these significant changes the set up worked 100 times better. I bring this up because, as I have always thought, a bicycle is a "system" and one part change can often affect how a rider perceives other parts. The stem seems even better now than it did at first.

As far as how it works, the Cigne stem seems solid and I do not see any slippage or flex issues with the design at all. Actually, I find that somewhat amazing, given the leverage you can exert on handle bars when pushing out of the saddle, or when you are popping the front wheel up and over obstacles. The biggest benefit of this bar is how it positions the handle bar on a bike meant for a flat bar and "normal" stem. The bars end up being high enough by a long shot and definitely not too far out in terms of reach.

Conclusions: This stem is perfect for many retrofits of drop bars to mountain bikes. However; there is one type of hard tail I think this stem won't help, and that is any modern day, long front/center, slack angled hard tail. Any bike designed with this "modern trail geometry" and is meant for a stubby stem will be a difficult fit for a drop bar since even with a brilliant stem like the Cigne, the combination of reach with the stem and any drop bar will likely end up being too great for the best performance and intended handling traits.

If, however, you are working on something that was equipped with a 100mm or longer stem anyway, the Cigne Stem will benefit your drop bar conversion greatly. The rise will account for a shorter head tube and the minimal reach will allow for the reach on a drop bar to combine to be something usable and complimentary to the intended design. If you have an El Mariachi, as a for instance, you could get your Fargo type set up using this Cigne Stem. In my case, the Karate Monkey works well with this stem and handle bar conversion. Better than any other drop bar set up I have tried on this bike, and I've tried a lot of different set ups with this bike.

The stem seems to be stout enough and I don't find that it flexes in a way that is a detriment to the bike or the handling off road. So, I think it will be a keeper for my intentions and uses. Most folks should find it to be sturdy, but I probably wouldn't be putting it on a modern day hard tail or full suspension rig meant for a stubby stem. Wrong application, wrong fit. In my opinion, that isn't what this stem is for. It may also be a great choice for those with road or gravel bikes that want a tall handlebar set up without going to a stem extension.

NOTE- I bought the Velo Orange Cigne stem with my own damn money and was not paid nor bribed for this review. All statements are my own and may not reflect the opinions of Grant Petersen, Velo Orange, or anybody else on this planet. So there.

4 comments:

hank h said...

Ted, Howdy;

Thanks for the follow-up. Have been debating a conversion with a '95 Stumpjumper as the host.I have already replaced the front fork with a suspension corrected ridged fork for a Surley "Troll". Is this a good match for the Velo Orange Cigne Stem. Being new to the customizing and modifying of bicycles I feel the need to ask as the "bike-speak" is still new and some of your terminology is still new to my brain (such as it is), and so I ask a question or few.
Thanks for your thoughts'

hank

Guitar Ted said...

@hank h- Yeah, actually any 90's era hard tail would make a good candidate for a drop bar conversion. Reason being is that front/center measurements, (or effective top tube measurements, if that is what you understand better), are shorter than modern hard tail bikes. This allows for that reach of the bars + stem to be a reasonable one.

So, to simplify things- You don't want to end up with a hand position that is too far away from you as you sit on the saddle of the bike. (This is "reach" which is determined by the length of the top tube, stem, and handle bar added togetehr) Modern bikes start out with really long top tubes which are meant to be paired with 50mm length stems. (really short) Adding a drop bar, which has built in extension due to the forward nature of the hook part, to a modern hard tail makes the bars too far away from where you sit, (probably), so that's why older hard tails work better for this.

Hope that helps.

hank h said...

Ted, Howdy;

Ok, understand that mine is "of an age" to be a good candidate. That was my primary concern. Thanks for the assist in info processing ... are you going to add this to the compendium of "Drop-Bar" knowledge, be handy to keep it all in one place.

Thanks again;

hank

Robert Jones said...

I've been looking for a way to raise the H-bar on my 2011 Mukluk for stand up beach riding and this might just be the ticket. Thanks, GT!