So you have an old-school, rigid frame that takes its toll on your body over long or bumpy rides. You’d like to stop the sore hands, wrists, shoulders, and neck before they stop you from riding, but what options do you have…thicker bar tape, fatter tyres, new gloves? You may have tried any or all of these or find none of them a palatable solution either due to the lack of result or the accompanying aesthetic. That leaves buying a new bike. Or perhaps, just trying a new stem.
The Shockstop from Redshift is a ‘suspension’ stem that promises to provide some relief. It does away with the hokey looks of the unfortunately named Girvin Flexstem, or the boxy coil sprung parallelogram style of the old Softride unit. There’s very little to give away the fact that this is any different to a regular stem. The pivot is the only real hint that something may be going on, but it’s so tidy you scarcely give it a second glance. Inside the hollowed out body it’s a different story, but then again the mechanism is still quite simple. Initial installation of the stem itself is no different to a normal stem, and switching damping blocks is easy but will take 15 minutes or so.
The Shockstop houses its tuneable elastomer damped pivot discretely inside the body of the stem. Damping is tuneable by switching between the five elastomers that come with the stem. Each different coloured block has a different weight rating and you can pair up any to suit your body weight and achieve your own desired level of damping.
When it comes to road buzz and bump forces being transmitted up the fork, these would normally be met with an equal and opposite force transmitted down through your arms. This is where the suspension steps in. Depending on your selection of block colour, and the preload that you can dial in by loosening or tightening the wedge, road buzz is very much absorbed and bumps are significantly ameliorated.
The pivot bearings are heavy duty; similar to those used in MTB rear suspension linkages, and enable the bars to move smoothly through an arc of up to 20mm. Once installed it’s possible to engage the suspension while stationary and see the pivot in action; simply leaning heavily on the bars will show some decent movement.
Out on the road, the effects of the stem are immediately noticeable. While riding you can still provoke some movement in the bars by pushing down heavily, but this isn’t really a normal motion during riding. The stem is fabricated from forged and CNC machined 6061 aluminium billet, stout enough to ensure there is zero twisting or flex even when pushing the pace. However, stomping up a climb you might notice some vertical movement of the suspension but it’s not a concern. The stem works silently, continually, allowing the fork and frame to rise over smaller bumps and smoothing the buzz of blue metal. Larger hits don’t disappear by any stretch, but they are definitely softer, and over the course of a long ride the cumulative effect of less bumps and vibration is very welcome.
The stem can be flipped to run at +/- 6 degrees or you can opt for a different unit that provides 30 degrees rise.
The Shockstop may not be for everyone, but it does effectively take the sting out of rough roads.
RRP: $200 approx.