I-MTB

Test – FUNNduro Stem

A stem on most bikes, for normal riders is the least thought of item to which there might be a difference in bike performance if they change it. So in this sense when we had the chance to try a new Enduro stem from FUNN little was expected in performance.

It has to be said that the more time a rider spends on the bike the more the rider becomes sensitive to his needs and notices differences in how everything is performing. What should be noted is that  we get to spend a lot of time on the bike, testing various setups and comparing various products.

Up until recently we have tried a variety of stems and lengths and have finally arrived at the conclusion that around 50mm for a stem is about the right length for most enduro riders in most conditions.


The 35mm stem was an interesting setup that we ran for a while.

Arriving at this conclusion was made by first using the 70mm plus stems we had that came with the bike when we received it, then shortening to 35 mm then re-lengthening back to 50mm. In all of these trials it can be said all of the products we tried were great. All felt solid and well put together. A TRUATIV 70mm and STRAITLINE 35 mm were the first two stems we tried and the FUNNduro 45mm was the last. Each length has it’s advantages, but at 45mm it seems to be a length to which the steering is responsive and the reach acceptable to our needs.

In essence as the stem gets shorter the steering gets faster, if you don’t change anything else, also your body position changes as well slightly. The most noticeable being how upright and how on top of the steering we felt. The 35mm length stem could be considered extreme and with the Straitline 35mm stem attached the bike almost felt a bit short when doing tricky drops etc. It was easy to have an incorrect body position that throws the balance on the bike out slightly. However the steering was lightning fast and it was easy to manoeuvre in tricky single track conditions.


Blurry riding on the 45 mm stem.


The 45 mm FUNNduro stem.


The 45 mm stem installed.

FUNN have produced and excellent quality lightweight stem that seems to be strong and good looking at the same time. It is quite angular in appearance but fits nicely onto the bike and compliments the FUNN Fatboy bar we had installed. The finish is excellent quality and quite resistant to marking. The stem uses 4 mm bolts and has quite a low profile on the headtube sizing, so we had to add a spacer ring as we didn’t want to cut the fork steerer tube down. The rise is about 12 degrees which is barely noticeable. Once installed the stem felt solid and looked good. One part that was interesting is that due to the hollowed out nature of the stem it is actually very easy to line up the bars and forks compared to the other stems we have used, which is a bonus for those who have to constantly shift and aline their bars for transporting bikes.

Changing back up from a 35 mm stem to a 45 mm stem might be considered a step back in coolness and performance, but actually in essence it was the perfect move. Body position became  more comfortable and the steering responsiveness returned to a level where the bike felt less nervous in tricker parts on a trail.

Stem length is also used for correct sizing on a bike as well and with the medium frame size, 45 mm felt right, where as 35 mm made the bike feel small, there has often been much discussion about which  frame size to use, and by changing the length of the stem a rider can adjust how the bike feels size wise. It seems almost ridiculous to say that 10 mm changed how the bike felt, but it did. On the trails the controls felt normal and under control without being slow compared to the 35 mm stem length. In the uphill trail sections the 45 mm stem also allowed a better body position when it was necessary to pedal.

Conclusion

Overall then there is not much more to say, apart from the fact that having a selection of stems of different lengths if possible is quite a good option as it allows a rider to fine tune the steering speed and body position according to trail conditions.

It should be noted that most 50 mm stems are essentially the enduro stem size to use. Anything longer and the steering slows down and the bike starts to take on a more XC feel to it, which depending on your trail conditions may not be great as you might find certain conditions where more reactive steering is better. On the other hand at 35 mm in our opinion for enduro use is a bit short. The rider needs to be a bit more precise with inputs and body positioning as the short stem makes the bike setup more nervous on tricky sections than is probably needed although lightning fast reactive steering is a pay back if you can handle it.

This conclusion has been reached many companies especially by Renthal as their only stem length that they produce is 50 mm. Enough said…

www.funnmtb.com

2 July 2012  ~  Written by

Posted under:  MTB Bike Test, Parts Test

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I-MTB is an online MTB magazine and trail areas operator based in Tuscany, Italy

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