Monday, July 22, 2013

Stiff Is As Stiff Does – Shimano Pro Vibe 7S Stem Review

For those whom only think of Shimano products as nothing more than group sets, well, you would be missing out on their fine line of accessories.  Shimano is now into computers, bars, saddles, seatposts, stems, cages, bottles, lights, bags, headsets, pumps, tools and apparel.  Yes, it is not just about Dura-Ace Di2, anymore.  Taking a plunge into Shimano’s Pro Series of goodies will not leave one disappointed.

So, I dived into the Pro Series Accessory pool courtesy of the fine folks at Tweaked Sports in Glendora, California.  I was provided with a gorgeous 120mm alloy Vibe 7S stem to put through its paces.  The alloy, black colored stem has two (2) steer tube bolts, and two (2) faceplate bolts with an ingenious “Puzzle Lock” feature which basically locks the plate, and thus, the bar, in place tightly with the two 4mm bolts.  And, it works very, very well.  As for the steer tube, only two bolts are necessary with a cut-out to reduce stresses on the tube.  Brilliant simplicity!

This Is One Stiff Stem!

While I have sung the praises of Ritchey stems (I had been using the 4-Axis and C260), I had no idea what a stiff, tied-together front end felt like until I tried the Vibe 7S.  Wow!  First, there was the simplicity of mounting, with only two bolts front and rear.  They are a larger 4mm, versus the Ritchey C260’s seven 3mm, and you do not need to unwrap the bar to mount it up, either (as you do with the C260).  Plus, with no rear-facing bolts, mounting is a breeze.

Environmentally friendly packaging

Hands down, this is the simplest mounting system on the market

Easy, two-bolt mounting, and a cutout for reduced stress on the steer tube

As for the ergonomics, I thought the Ritchey’s -6 degree angle was enough for me, but the Shimano’s -10 degree’s felt a whole lot better.  This surprised me, as we are constantly being bombarded with advice that a higher stem angle will be more comfortable for daily riding.  Well, not in my case.  In addition, I have never felt a front end more stable and planted on my trusty Trek 2.3 until I tried the Vibe.  I have bounced this thing over all of the roughest pavement I know here in the greater Los Angeles area, and the front end has never felt more solid and secure.  

The Stats:

  • Alloy 7000 series construction
  • Puzzle Clamp mounting plate for optimum stiffness (And, they were right! Editor.)
  • Triangular body for superior stiffness to weight ratio
  • +10/-10 degrees
  • 31.8mm clamp
  • Fits 1 1/8 steer tubes
  • Weight: Approximately 115 grams
  • Available in Black or White 
  • Anti-slip mounting paste included
  • Looks sexy, too!
  • Retail $109.99 USD

Sorry, Tweaked Sports.  You are not getting this stem back.  Ever!

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