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(Sorry for the sniffle, it was windy and a bit cold in Pacifica.)
Review: Point One Split-Second 50mm Stem $119
Point One, a small start up component company out of NorCal, has decided to go straight after, and frankly out do, the top product manufacturer in the stem market, Thomson.
I had never heard of this company until Sea Otter. A friend showed me two stems that he was going to be using that year. FYI – this friend won semi-pro DH 2008. No slouch of a rider, but he is a lighter guy. Can’t quite put the force down on the stem for testing. That’s where I come in. I was especially interested in testing this stem when he told me it was 50gram lighter than a Thomson Elite X4. You had to think for a minute, where did they cut weight? Thomson makes one of the lightest DH stems out there. These guys are lighter, and they are just as strong? Let me try that!
When I got the stem in the mail, held it in my hand, comparing the Thomson Elite X4 in my other hand, I could tell right away the Split-Second was noticeably lighter. On the scale is came out at 137grams w/o top cap bolt. Adding the bolt adds 5.5grams. The Thomson 50mm Elite X4, w/o top cap and bolt 178grams, add a Chris King top cap and it comes out to 188grams. This Split-Second stem is a full 40-50grams lighter. I am well aware that this fact doesn’t rock everyones boat, but for those wanting to make the lightest race bike you can, and especially take some weight off the front end, this is the stem for you. Point One shaved a ton of weight by hollowing out the inside of the stem as much as possible. To make the stem strong enough its design is noticeably tall. Five or so millimeters taller then my Thomson. Which at first irked me, but after a week, I could not have cared less. And bar height, rise, is not effected.
(click on images for bigger versions)
One quickly notices that this stem is a bit different, there is no place for the steerer tube to come through. No top cap? It is all supposed to fit neatly inside the stem. I was a little distraught at first over having to cut my steerer tube shorter. If this turns you away right off the bat, well, Point One isn’t try to sell it to you then. This is race oriented, lightweight, cut your steerer tube! We’re shaving grams off here people! So, the no way to keep your steerer tube length long didn’t really bother me too much after I got everything cut and set up. I did have some question as to how short to cut the steerer tube. It would be nice if Point One put a little marking line on the outside of the stem so one knew what the correct length should be from the top of the last spacer. If it is too long, the stem can’t clamp down and you’ll have a loose headset.
I have run this stem now for a couple weeks on both a single crown and a double fork. I noticed no flex or bend in the stem when switching from the one to the other. The steering feels just as responsive as when the Thomson was on. The stem’s pinch bolts are also very well thought out. It uses a number 4 for all bolts, which are very beefy, well done bolts. Not the cheap kind that can accidentally be stripped out. The back is super narrow and on my single crown there was no need to worry about hitting my knees on it. A stem not only for DH but for dirt jumping too. My only concern at this point is durability. There is nothing evident that piqued this concern, it is just a new product, so, it hasn’t had any prolonged testing. I will follow up with this review in 6 months to let you’ll know if anything has gone wrong.
So, any bad news, or is it all sunshine and glory? Well, the only problem I had with stem, which is really just a problem with me, is that I lost the flanged bolt that comes with the stem. I used a regular bolt in its place, and the regular bolt sliced out the tapered hole when it was being tightened, several times over. So, as long as you are not an idiot like me, you wont have this problem. My fix, a small washer. Problem solved, and it is still super light. Just not as clean looking.
On a side note. I will get the right bolt and re-take photos. My work around pretty much screws up the slick lines of the stem.
Overall, this stem is absolutely great. Very light weight, very stiff and strong. You’ll find this on my rides from hence forth.
4 out of 5 Stars
I give it 4 stars for value because $119 is pretty darn expensive. Hopefully price will come down after it catches on.
4.5 out of 5 Stars
4.5 stars for overall, because this stem rocks! Light, stiff, strong. What more do you need? Though .5 point off because I am still somewhat undecided if cutting the steerer tube all the way down is good or not. This I think really will make or break peoples opinion of the stem. Though if you want to watch the weight, you’ve got the trim the fat.
|A word from Po1nt:Utilizing fully CNC machined aluminum and advanced manufacturing techniques, the Split-Second Stem cannot be matched. Our uniquely designed stem not only offers superior strength, but is extremely light weight, thus creating the highest stiffness-to-weight ratio of any stem we have tested. Such impressive torsional rigidity is due to its oversized 55mm clamp width and unique split-clamp design. Proudly made in the USA.
Buy it here: www.pointoneracing.com
Point One also makes a direct mount Split-Second Stem, and some sick headset spacers.