A stem is vital for keeping your bars attached to your bike but they come in all shapes and sizes to suit different riders' needs. We've waded through the faffy and flexy to pick the best stems to fit to your bike.
[Updated 13th July 2020]
The best stems we've tested
Need to know: stems
While perhaps one of the most overlooked components on a mountain bike, stems can have a considerable effect on how your bike feels. Even the slightest change in a stems length can alter how sharp the bike steers and different faceplate widths can affect the stiffness or lack thereof of your handlebars.
Often a fit and forget component, this next tip might not be important for everyone but markings on a stem can be seriously helpful in handlebar alignment. If you're someone who likes to play with the bar roll or if you're just a perfectionist, indicators and windows on the stem's faceplate make installation and adjustment that bit easier.
Heavily-machined from aluminium to keep weight low and strength high, the RaceFace Turbine R is a quality all-mountain stem that looks great and is easy to fit. It's not cheap, but otherwise it's hard to fault.
This super shiny shot-peen anodized 35mm stem from Spank offers a short setup, with plenty of support on the bar clamp area and performs flawlessly. It's tough, moderately lightweight and offers good value, though it is only available in a 31.8mm diameter clamp.
This Grid stem is cold forged from 6061 aluminium before being CNC’d for a smoother, more detailed finish. What this means is the metal is crushed under massive hydraulic pressures to a form close to the finished product.
The Koryak stem from PRO combines low weight with useful stiffness and thoughtful design. The 35mm version we tested is very low profile, but the narrow clamp means it might not be as rigid as some for wide bars and wild riding, and it’s only available in the 31.8mm clamp diameter.
Funn's Crossfire stem is aimed at enduro riding, with a compact, forged design that offers a wider clamp area for increased steering accuracy. I found it to be a stem that is perfect all trail riding, striking a good balance between weight, strength, and offers a good clamp area.
The Horizon Stem from Nukeproof is a blingy, heavily-machined alloy number that’s light, thoughtfully designed, and fits either way up for a small rise or drop in bar height. It's a little expensive for what it is, but it's a tough stem with a lot of options, and ideal for completing your trail, enduro, or downhill rig.
Race Face offers two Aeffect stems, with this ‘R-for-Rally’ model costing £20 more and rated stronger than the cheaper version. One other benefit of the R model is that it’s available down to 40mm rather than 50mm length – useful if you have a new school bike with longer reach or want a really short stem to speed up the steering feel.
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