Best Mountain Bike Stems: Achieve Optimum Control and Riding Position
Make sure you’re comfortable and in full control on the trails with these top mountain bike stems
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PUBLISHED ON November 5, 2019
It’s not just serious riders who should be looking at their stems. This part of your bike, where you attach your handlebars, affects everything from your reach, riding position, and general comfort to the amount of control you have over the bike and how responsive it is when handling. You can go shorter, longer, or more angled than your current stem, and there are a range of styles and options to suit all budgets. These are our top picks and tips on buying the best mountain bike stem for you.
- Best OverallFIFTY-FIFTY Mountain Bike StemSummarySummary
A lightweight, aluminum alloy bike stem weighing 132 grams and designed to fit a 1-⅛-inch steerer tube. Available in different heights (35mm or 50mm) and different colors for maximum style and personalization.ProsPros
The stem holds firm and won’t come loose on even the most demanding trails. The Close Gap faceplate enables easier installation and adjustment.ConsCons
This is a heavier bike stem than you would generally expect for the price point. Twisting into position causes unavoidable scratches on bars.
- Best ValueWAKE Bicycle StemSummarySummaryA 45mm bike stem constructed from aluminum alloy and weighing 130 grams. The hollow, universal design features a four-bolt clamp to fit 1-⅛-inch diameter steerer tube and 1-¼-inch handlebars.ProsPros
Available in a range of different bright colors to suit the look of any bike. Installation is easy and straightforward.ConsCons
This stem may not be suitable for particularly hard trail riding due to the amount of flex experienced. Riders conscious of extra weight may find this a little heavy.
- Honorable MentionRaceFace Respond Mountain Bike StemSummarySummary
This 10-degree stem is available in two heights (45mm and 60mm) and will fit a 1-⅛-inch steerer tube with 215 grams of extra weight. All black in design, it includes a four-bolt clamp and is made from forged and blasted 6061 aluminum for maximum strength.ProsProsU-shaped Handlebar Clamp Geometry ensures weight is transferred through the stem and not bolts. An additional faceplate improves durability by reducing the risk of stress fractures.ConsConsIt only comes in black and no alternative colors are available. Noticeably heavier than most other items on the market.
Why Trust Us
All of our reviews are based on market research, expert input, and practical experience with each product we include. This way, we offer genuine, accurate guides to help you find the best picks.
- Bike stems are either top load or front load. This refers to where the handlebar will be affixed onto the stem: top load stems result in higher bars, and front load stems result in lower bars.
- Try out different stem angles and heights before making your decision, particularly if you’re looking to increase comfort and reduce strain on your joints and muscles.
- Don’t just copy the pros. Chances are, you don’t have the level of conditioning necessary to spend anywhere near as long in the saddle in the optimal, aerodynamic position as they do.
Q: What type of stem is best for mountain biking?
A: The shorter the stem, the quicker the steering response. Very short stems (40–50mm) are a good choice for downhill riding, while moderate height (60–80mm) and rise will deliver the upright position and responsiveness needed on the trails.
Q: What is the difference between stem length and stem rise?
A: Stem length is the height of the bike stem; it’s important for comfort and handling. Stem rise is the angle in relation to the fork steerer tube. The degree of stem rise impacts your reach and bike positioning.
Q: Which is better: aluminum or carbon fiber stems?
A: Most mountain bike stems are aluminum, with higher prices reflecting stronger graded metal. Carbon fiber stems are relatively rare and expensive. They’re super lightweight and relatively strong, but it’s difficult to tell when they’ve sustained damage, and that makes them risky.
The FIFTY-FIFTY Mountain Bike Stem is available in a range of colors and two different heights to suit any rider, and we really struggled to find any negative points, which is why it’s our overall top pick.
With a similar weight and choice of colors but a much lower price point, the WAKE Bicycle Stem is our best value pick.