Wednesday, February 12, 2020

WW4M: redshift Sports ShockStop Stems

The Redshift Sports ShockStop Stem
This is another "WW4M" post. That means "What Works For Me" and it may not work for you. So, take that with the following words into consideration.....

Many of you that have frequented the blog may know that I reviewed a Redshift Sports ShockStop stem for in 2017.  Actually, if you want all the lowdown on this stem, read this review. It was the one where I talked about all the techy stuff.

So, I've had that stem, which Redshift let me keep, by the way, in continuous use since then. I'm pretty convinced that the construction, design, and durability of this stem is very good. People ask me about the elastomeric springs, if they get softer with time, or are they affected by weather, or if they get stiffer with age, and on and on. The answer is that this stem feels as good now as it did nearly three years ago. Only one problem with it on the main bike I use it on......

It was a tic too short.

I've been using it on the Black Mountain Cycles MCD over the second half of the time I've had this stem and the fit needs to be tweaked a hair. I did some pretty detailed calculations when I set that bike up, and for a while, I was good, but the longer, lower Noble Bikes GX5 has altered my feelings about my fit and now I'm transferring a bit of what I've learned there over to the MCD. This stem is a 100mm one vs the 90mm one I had.

Now for a bit of transparency: Redshift provided me with this stem and did not charge me for it. That said I am not being paid, nor bribed here. In fact, I would have gladly paid for it. I even asked for a price from them, so now you know.

Everything that matters is hidden inside.
Here's why I'd buy one of these stems: They do what they claim to, are durable, and most importantly, they look normal. In fact, most people that see my bike have no clue I am using a shock absorbing stem. Add to that the fact that I can transfer the component from bike to bike, and well, you can easily understand how different and elegant this solution is. I don't have a funky weird looking fork, I don't have a proprietary spring system, and I don't have the weight and complexity of a suspension fork.

Also, the thing with this is that it sucks up the stuff you need to have dealt with- higher frequency vibrations. Gravel can cause a lot of the sort of rattling that this stem can damp out. Oh, and did I mention that the stem comes with five different durometer elastomers to fine tune the ride with? Yep. Want it soft and compliant, or stiffer and have it give only over really harsh stuff? Well, you can get both and in between too. You can set it up to account for a handlebar bag, or you can have 'sag" or no sag, or whatever. It is easy to tune with the provided elastomeric springs which are color-coded and marked with a numeral which coincides with a chart in the instructions. That shows you how to swap elastomers and how to install the stem as well.

And like I say, it's nearly invisible and seems to be a really long term part that needs little to no maintenance. I have to check the fasteners from time to time, like you would any stem, (or you should be if you aren't), so nothing special here to have to consider in terms of feeding and care. There is one downside, and of course, that is weight. Given that almost anything else you do will also add weight, complexity, and if it doesn't add those two, it will add cost. The ShockStop Stem costs $149.99 retail. So, it is a bargain in the vibration damping world that actually works.

If you didn't know, you'd be hard pressed to tell I have a suspension device on this bike.
On gravel this thing is working over the chunky rock the entire time. the ShockStop will even take the edge off potholes and soak up depressions in the surface. Essentially, I have become accustomed to this stem and it just has become something I don't want to ride without all the time. Some of the time? yeah, I still can ride a "direct" stem, but more and more I am riding the ShockStop. It works for me, and I get it, it may not work for you.

My initial misgivings about this thing were that it was going to do what every stem with a pivot does- they get sloppy and loose. But this stem shows zero inclinations of getting loose. It feels solid. You can get out of the saddle, rock the bars, and it feels completely natural. So, I'm sold on it. That's why I got another one, and teh one i took off I'll likely put on my Fargo, because it will fit there.

NOTE: Once again, I did not pay for this second ShockStop Stem and I was not sent the thing to write about it, so I am not being compensated for this. I just am passing along my experiences on a component I feel would be beneficial to many gravel riders.


graveldoc said...

Reading this review, I got to wondering if the Shock Stop Stem might have been helpful when you were riding the "post holed" trail recently.

Guitar Ted said...

@graveldoc - Good observation. You are right, it would have helped cut down on a lot of the jarring impacts of the trail that day, especially since I was going at slower speeds.

baric said...

Being an older retired coot with really bad wrists and knees from the work I used to do, and living on the mean and nasty streets and gravel in and around Sioux City, Ia., I installed a Redshift stem on my Fargo a couple of years ago. Best thing I ever did for my wrists. I even modified the elastomers down one from what they came with. It's really solid, not mushy, looks pretty good and really does the job as intended. Highly recommended. Still dodge the potholes though. And I bought a spare set of elastomers to keep around just in case but probably will never need them. As for my knees I bought a new older closeout half priced Raceface Atlas crank 165 mm arms. Could'nt take the 175's anymore. This helped a lot also. Have to thrash a bit more but it suits my normal cadence pretty well. When weather permits, looking forward to the final verdict on the Redshift seatpost too. Thank You.


Guitar Ted said...

@baric - Yeah, I have not used the recommended settings for myself either. In fact, according to their chart I was running a set up for a 135lb guy for quite a while. I've bumped up the stiffness more with the new one. we'll see how it goes.

hank said...

G-Ted, Howdy;

I used to work on H-60 helicopters and their main rotor blades have elastomeric bearings in the blade hubs. Now I may be wrong, but I think those might flex a bit more then the stem
onna bike. Never seen a rotor blade fail due to the elastomeric bering but they, like humans have a shelf-life. Expiration date "Unknown". Just thought ya might like to know ...


Guitar Ted said...

@ hank - That's interesting, thanks! I do know that initially I had deep misgivings when I heard about the use of elastomeric springs in the Redshift stem based upon experiences with those early suspension bits from the 90's on MTB's. Redshift told me then that the chemistry and physics of elastomeric materials had advanced quite a bit in the ensuing years and that they were confident the little chunks of the stuff would be good in their stem. As I have found so far- that has been the case, they are not a problem at all.

DT said...

You don't come across many cycling components that get consistently positive reviews very often, but the ShockStop stem seems to be one of them. Reviewers and the general public agree, Redshift knocked it out of the park with this product! It's what made me so quick to pull the trigger when the Kickstarter came out for their seatpost. Can't wait to give that a try!

Unknown said...

Hi again,
Curious about the Noble vs MCD fit differences you mention. I see the MCD is inherently a little taller and shorter than the Noble. In addition did you already have a 100mm on the Noble? I'm comparing those sort of details for an impending new build and would be grateful if you can elaborate on this (your experience/feelings/how the set ups differed).
Thanks, Tom

Guitar Ted said...

@DT - If the durability is anything like the stem, they have another hit on their hands. That's my short take on the post.

Guitar Ted said...

@Unknown (Tom) - You've pretty much got it. The Noble is longer/lower in the reach department. I've found that this imparts more power and as a side effect, I actually find it more comfortable. The Raleigh Tamland is similar in this regard. Lower front end (Stack height, I guess is what they call it now)

I found I had really good experiences on the Noble and when I rolled the bike into the shop one day I just happened to notice how radically different the set up was compared to my other bikes. (Fargo, BMC MCD in particular) I won't be changing the Fargo. Something about those 29"er wheels, but I am going to gravitate towards the GX5 set up with the BMC and see how I feel about that.

Unfortunately I don't have a power meter of any kind, otherwise I'd spit out some data to compare here.

Unknown said...

Thanks for the reply, I look forward to hearing more about this after you make the adjustments to the MCD. I'm not a power meter guy but bike feel is of interest (for/aft balance, pressure, weight etc). The geo of that 53cm MCD is incredibly similar to the 57cm Vaya, a bike I've really liked when I had a chance to try one for very short distance but I'd hate to find out that for loooong rides I preferred the Wolverine and Cannondales I've ridden for years.