What is it?
The PDent is a bar and stem system that is purpose-built to allow shorter stems. The bar is indented to meet the steer tube beyond the normal meeting point of a round bar and steer tube. A normal bar limits the stem length to 30mm but the Pacenti system can go down to 25mm in current production. With this design, stem lengths shorter than 25mm are possible.
Why bother? One of the greatest trends in mountain biking is the progression towards shorter stems. As the discipline derived from road biking, we’ve been shackled with road bike relics for the last few decades and it’s taken us years to come up with the right components and geometry for how we ride our mountain bikes.
50mm and 35 mm stems are fine for most folks and most frame designs but it takes initiative and vision to explore what’s beyond that stem length. Top tubes can be lengthened to take advantage of shorter stems and open up some new bike geometries.
Mondraker is one such company who shook up the biking world a few years ago coming up with bikes with a zero length stem! Top tubes were lengthened accordingly and the upstart company launched into prominence in Europe. Now, most of their All Mountain and Downhill bikes are designed for 20-30mm stems. Even their Trail bikes all come with 30mm stems today.
- Safer and more fun in technical terrain
- Corners better
- More predictable handling
- Opens up possibilities for frame designers
- Light, reliable and attractive
- Stiff stem with damped bar with good sweep
- May not be enough of a difference to some
- Proprietary and not interchangeable with normal bars and stems
- Not appropriate with existing bikes that don’t have a long enough top tubes
We had a blast with this setup. We put it on a Santa Cruz Bronson and Nomad and went to town with it. As we challenged ourselves in Braille Trail of Demo Forest or Butcher Ranch of Downieville, the bikes kept us fast and safe.
The Bronson felt extremely capable and controllable in technical terrain. Coupled with a 150 or 170mm dropper post, it was a pretty radical boost in confidence and descending prowess for us. Cornering too was a delight. Steering was quicker and more responsive. Tire had grip and stability as well. With a shorter stem, our weight is not far forward over the bars by default but it gave us room to lean forward and work that front. With some familiarity we were able to feel that front end better, achieve better grip and utilize the leverage of those 800mm bars.
The bike was easier to manual and wheelie with the short stem. Climbing, the short cockpit made its presence known as we had to scoot forward on the saddle on the steepest segments. This won’t be as much of an issue on a bike purpose-built for a stem this short.
Quality and price
As far as the product quality is concerned, this one is a gem. Carbon bar is 220 grams for the 800mm width and the aluminum stem comes in at 140 grams. Finish is a beautiful flat black with tasteful graphics.
The stem front is very wide to make the structure and cradle for the bars better. This ensures that the strength and integrity of the bars is maintained even with the dented handlebar. For this reason, it’s not wise to use the handlebar with standard stems even though it will fit.
One interesting characteristic of the bar is it is always centered on the stem because of the dent. No side to side adjustment is allowed or required. There is some rotation allowed to adjust the height and sweep of the bars.
The price is high at the moment at $295 for the carbon bar and alloy stem. But as aluminum versions get introduced and higher volumes get produced, we expect the pricing options to improve.
Mondraker’s Forward Geometry
It’s worth talking about this Spanish Company’s bike geometry they call Forward Geometry. It is basically employing very long top tubes and short stems, working in unison to provide a ride that is better suited for descending and technical riding, the core of advanced mountain biking. It’s main advantage is increased confidence and safety riding steep, rocky trails and chutes. Handling is more precise and steering is quicker.
For the average rider, this translates into a ride that is safer and more fun. But for the advanced one, this can translate to faster speed with better control through corners and technical segments.
Most of Mondraker’s bikes come with a 30mm stem now to illustrate their belief in the concept. It’s 30mm because that is as short as they could go without a direct mount stem on a dual crown fork or stacking the bar on top of the stem which increase Stack Height.
This illustrates a key problem in their offering where the customer has NO option to shorten the stem in case there’s a fit or preference issue. Pacenti’s PDent offers a solution to this today.
Is it enough of a difference?
So that’s the real question here. Is it worth the trouble to go with the system? Can’t you make do with a 30mm stem? For many people today? Going as low as a 30mm stem is good enough. Take note that many 30mm stems today are actually 32mm in length.
But for those who want a shorter option, it’s good to have one. One can even size up on a frame today and go with this shorter stem to explore the new position.
Bear in mind that a 25mm stem compared to a 30mm one is is a big percentage difference unlike a 75mm to 80mm for example. Because the numbers are smaller, the 25mm stem represents a 17% difference over a t ‘true’ 30mm stem.
Overall, we believe this is an ingenious design manufactured with the highest quality to push the envelope of mountain biking geometry. It has positive effects that can be realized on some bikes today with long top tubes. But the real promise is what it opens up in the future in terms of bike design.
As far as the PDent is concerned, it’s vision that’s executed well. Stem is very stiff with a damped carbon bar, 8 Degree sweep and 15mm rise. Pacenti will be adding a 20mm stem in the near future.
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
More Info: pdent.pacenticycledesign.com.