Best Mountain Bike Stems for a Much Sharper Steering

Mountain bike stems come in various sizes and shapes. Technically speaking the type of stem that you should use would greatly depend on your riding style or the kind of mountain bike discipline that you do. 

To give a brief introduction, there are different disciplines in mountain biking, cross country, free ride, enduro, and downhill mountain biking. Each of these disciplines has certain needs in terms of its bike geometry. 

Many years back, people would use one type of mountain bike for each riding discipline. But nowadays, mountain bikes have evolved and have been optimized for each riding style. 

For each change in mountain bike geometry, the demand of having the right part on the bike to do the job increases as well. This concept holds for mountain bike stems as well. 

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Funn Crossfire

Funn is a well-known brand in mountain biking especially when you are referring to the enduro and downhill mountain biking crowd. And this is because they make good quality products using the best materials for your mountain bike. 

Pros

  • Clamping choice – Funn Crossfire comes in two different clamping choices. You can either go for a 31.8mm or a 35mm for your fat handlebars. 
  • Riding discipline – This stem can be used for all riding disciplines if your bike’s geometry allows for it. Even cross country mountain biking geometry has been seeing some changes lately leaning on the aggressive side. 
  • Built to be tough – This product is CNC’d from aluminum 6061 which is of high quality thus making the product very tough without sacrificing weight.
  • Comes in different colors – Funn Crossfire comes in 6 different colors that you can perfectly match to your bike in style. 

Cons

  • Available only in zero rise – There are no rise choices for this product since its design leans more onto aggressive riding. 

Wake LiteOne

Looking for quality but on a more affordable scale? Then the LiteOne mountain bike stem from Wake is for you. This stem can clamp to any 28.6 mm steerer tube and is available in 31.8 mm handlebar diameter only. 

Stem length comes in at 40 mm with a 3-degree rise. This budget mountain bike stem can be used on any mountain bike if it fits your bike fit needs. 

Pros

  • Lightweight and built to last – This stem is CNC’d from T6 aluminum 6061 and only weighs 112g. This is perfect especially for cross country riders who do not want to compromise their weight savings. 
  • Budget-friendly – This mountain bike stem falls below the 20 USD range and is widely available everywhere.
  • Compatibility – Since it comes in standard length and size, Wake’s LiteOne is compatible with any type of bike.

Cons

  • Limited length and clamping options – This stem can only accommodate 31.8 mm handlebars and only comes in 40 mm. Rise is very minimal as well and would not make a big difference in terms of the bike’s geometry.

Spank Spike Race

Spank is one of the popular bike part component brands when it comes to quality high-performance parts for mountain biking. It is especially popular in the world of enduro and downhill racing. 

This is because short stems are very popular in aggressive riding because of how it complements one’s aggressive riding style. The Spank Spike is one of the best mountain bike stems for enduro and trail that you can get in the market. 

It can be perfect for aggressive bikes with a longer reach, with fat and wider bars which is the perfect setup for aggressive riding. 

Pros

  • Improved stability and strength – Having zero rise and very short length can to the stability and overall strength of your cockpit setup. This is where the Spank Spike Race fits perfectly. If your bike has a longer reach with slacker travel, then this 35 mm stem is perfect for you. It also ensures positive engagement with your steerer tube which will greatly increase your confidence while out on the trails. This mountain bike stem is also built from an alloy that is micro-grain refined. It has also undergone forging and CNC, which means it is stronger and hard when compared to its counterparts. 
  • Clamping choices – This mountain bike stem comes in at 31.8 mm and 35 mm depending on the diameter of your handlebar. 

Cons

  • Higher price point – Given that it is made from a very high-quality alloy, the price is higher than the average stem as well. This though is a very good tradeoff when you take a look at the overall quality of the stem. 

RaceFace Atlas

When it comes to premium quality stems, the RaceFace Atlas is one of those at the top of the list. Weighing in at 155 grams with a length of 50 mm, the Atlast is highly compatible with many riding disciplines, making this also one of the best mountain bike stems. 

The steer tube diameter of this mountain bike stem measures 1 and ⅛ mm with a stack of 40 mm. 

Pros

  • Made from high-grade alloy – The Atlas is made out of a CNC machined 6061 T6 Aluminum which boasts extreme durability and hardness. 
  • Better geometry – The Atlas is built with a U-shaped clamp geometry that is bolted with four bolts. This also features a faceplate that functions to eliminate stress risers on the handlebar which causes them to either bend or break. 
  • Compatibility – This RaceFace mountain bike stem comes in 50 to 65 mm depending on your riding style. Even enduro and downhill riders who prefer a longer mountain bike stem use this as well on their bikes due to its durability and four-bolt bar clamp. A four-bolt bar clamp is ideal because of its security. This is a great choice if you want a new mountain bike stem

Cons

  • Price point – RaceFace has always been a premium brand when it comes to bike components. Their stems range on the higher echelon of stem prices along with other premium brands. 

Sanzhi Bike Stem

What separates Sanzhi from other mountain bike stems is their adjustable stem technology. They are compatible with 28.6 mm diameter steerer tubes and can clamp to 31.8 mm handlebars. 

This type of mountain bike stem is not fit for aggressive riding. It is more inclined with non-aggressive cross country riding mountain biking, gravel, and road biking. What’s great about this stem is that you can adjust its rise based on your needs. 

This cross-country race stem is perfect if you are just starting with this sport and would want to experiment. Sometimes when we engage in mountain biking, we are not sure what riding style we would want to stick to. 

We could be gravel cruising one day, and doing downhill on another. Now, these are two completely different riding disciplines. But once you get the hang of your ideal riding position, you can swap this stem with a solid stem with the correct rise setting for you. 

Stems with adjustable knobs are not advisable when it comes to mountain biking that is why this is the perfect beginner stem for you. 

Pros

  • Adjustable rise – The mountain bike stem rise can be adjusted from 0 to 60 degrees using a tuning knob on the side which you can tighten to lock it in place. This mountain bike handlebar stem is very convenient for leisure mountain biking wherein having a more upright position is advantageous and less stressful on the body. 
  • Built from high-quality alloy – This stem is built from T6 6061 Alloy making it durable enough for mountain biking use. 

Cons

  • Adjustment lock might break – In mountain biking, we try to avoid movable parts as much as possible because these might give way while we are out riding on trails. That is why more aggressive riders opt for very short stems with good construction geometry for better sturdiness. 

Redshift ShockStop

The REDSHIFT ShockStop is another stem that you can use for leisure mountain biking. It is most suitable when paired with your e-mountain bike. It can very well fit a standard steerer tube with 31.8 mm clamping. 

The main feature of the ShockStop is that it can dampen bumps and vibrations by up to 70% making it perfect for leisure mountain bikers. This stem has a rise of 6 degrees and you can flip it around if you opt for a negative rise off your stem. 

Pros

  • Damping ability – This mountain bike stem has about 20 mm of effective damping and does not allow lateral movement therefore it does not compromise the steering and maneuverability of your mountain bike. You can also dial in its damping which will allow you to choose the perfect feel that you would feel for your preferred ride experience. 
  • Compatibility – This stem offers a stem length of 80 mm to 120 mm depending on your riding style. Stems that are 100 mm in length and above also offer up to 30 degrees of positive rise. 
  • Guarantees to minimize ride fatigue – This kind of mountain bike stem aims to minimize the fatigue that you feel while riding. Having a more positive rise that also has damping would ensure that your riding posture is more upright and bumps on the road would be dampened by the stem and your suspension system. 

Cons

  • Not suitable for aggressive mountain biking – Aggressive riders would always opt to have their bike’s damping done by their suspension system. Stems like these are more suitable for leisure mountain bikers. 

Wake 35’s

Although Wake dwells on the more budget-friendly side of mountain biking, it does not also mean that they do not produce high-performance parts. So if you are out on the lookout for an effective budget enduro and downhill stem, then this short stem is for you. 

Pros

  • Comes with its handlebar adaptor – When it comes to clamping, stems usually have 2 different layouts. You can not have both in the same stem. But for Wake 35, it is possible. It comes with an adaptor that makes you adjust the handlebar clamp from 31.8 mm to 35 mm and vice versa. This mountain bike stem is also compatible with 28.6 mm steerer tubes and comes in different lengths from 35 mm to 50 mm on your mountain bike. 
  • Highly durable – This budget stem does not rate low when it comes to durability. This product is made from highly durable CNC machined 7005-grade aluminum alloy. And despite the material that is used, it only comes in at 132 grams thus you do not need to compromise on weight gain for your mountain bike. 
  • Highly compatible with all-mountain bikes – If you are looking for a budget-friendly upgrade, then this stem is for you regardless of the diameter of your handlebar. 

Cons

  • Adaptor might cause slippage – Although this is highly unlikely, it is indeed a possibility. But this is only true if you are using a 31.8 mm handlebar. If a 35 mm fat bar is installed, then you do not have anything to worry about the clamping. 

Fomtor Riser Stem

As the name implies, this is a solid riser stem that you can use for your mountain bike. This stem offers a 35-degree rise relative to its mounting point and has a length of 70 mm. 

This stem is perfect for cross-country mountain bikers, and if you prefer a more aggressive pedaling position for your mountain bike for better climbing, you can always install the stem upside down to have a negative rise on your setup. 

Pros

  • Solid build and durable – This stem is a perfect choice once you have determined the correct rise that fits your style. It is a good replacement if you are using an adjustable stem. Since this is built solid, you can ride on more aggressive cross-country trails and do not worry about the adjuster breaking. This stem is also built from a CNC machined 6061 T6 aluminum and comes in at 140 grams. 

Cons

  • Only suitable for cross country bikes and gravel bikes – The stem, which is 70 mm in length, is only suitable for cross-country rides. It might not also be included in the list of best mountain bike stems, but you can save loads of money on these. If you would want to set up your mountain bike to be more capable when going downhill, you would need to replace this with a shorter stem with no rise.

Osagie Bike Stem

The OSAGIE stem is one of the budget options out on the market. What is good about this stem is that it features a 30-degree rise with a length of only 50 mm. Now, this is a great option if you want to squeeze in a bit more rise from your short stem which in turn would make it more comfortable on trails. 

Pros

  • Short stem with a rise – Most short stems have zero rise. That is because it adds to the strength of the overall construction of the stem. But if you want to squeeze in a bit more rise for your handlebars, then 30 degrees is more than enough for you. 

Cons

  • Comes with metal bolts – The only downside for budget stems is that they come with metal bolts that rust over time. But this can be replaced though as alloy bolts are widely available on the market.

Types of Mountain Bike Stem

To help you better understand what kind of stem you should need for your riding style, we opted to make this short guide on the different types of mountain bike stems. Your bike’s stem’s only purpose is to keep the handlebars attached to the steerer tube. 

Stems are also available in different designs, lengths, and rise options. They are also manufactured using different materials depending on the process. 

So basically, there are a lot of options for you to choose from and use to dial in your bike fit to complement the characteristics of your riding style. 

Length of Stem

Stem length is one of the very first things you should consider when choosing the correct stem for your bike. Not only does this affect how you will fit your bike, but it also plays a big factor in how your bike handles. 

Shorter stems allow for quick and agile handling. It also provides a more responsive feel for the rider. 

Having a longer stem would shift the weight balance of the bike towards the front and places the rider in an optimum pedaling position which is quite important when you engage on steep climbs. 

Rise Characteristic of Stems

This refers to how the handlebars are positioned about the stem. This is also measured in degrees. Stem choices range from negative to positive rise. But do take note that you can also use spacers to give your handlebars a positive rise as well. 

Stem Clamping

Stem clamping could either be 31.8 or 35 mm. This depends on how fat your handlebar is. Although they both have certain tradeoffs, this choice depends more on the preference of the rider. 

Types of Stems for Different Riding Disciplines

Cross-country bikes

A typical cross country stem would range from 80-120mm and has dropped up to 30 degrees. 

Trail and enduro bikes

Trail and enduro bikes tend to have stems that are 50-70mm in length. It also has from zero to a 6-degree rise. More aggressive bikes tend to lean on better bike fit rather than a better pedaling position. 

Downhill bikes

Modern downhill bikes range from 30 to 50mm in stem length and most have a zero rise. 

Conclusion

What we have provided are the best stems for each riding discipline that you would encounter.

With the correct knowledge, it would be easier for you as a rider to determine what kind of stem would fit perfectly for your mountain bike.

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AUTHOR
Jomar Teves
A writer by day, a tech enthusiast by night, and a mountain biker at the weekends. After four years in business school and working for multinational clients, Jomar believes he can improve the world through his writings. Jomar has six years of experience as a writer and has a degree in entrepreneurial marketing. Some of his works have been published on Blokt, Clutch Points, and iTech.