You might not consider your Mountain bike stems a relevant part of your bike. Because of this, buying this single part of your bike at a high cost would seem unnecessary.
However, this is an essential part of your bike, as it holds your handlebars and connects to other parts of your bike. Regardless, this article will discover why MTB stems have absurdly high prices.
Mountain bike stems are expensive because the manufacturers produce these stems with costly production materials. Other factors that cause its high price include quality control, research, design, and supply and demand. Unlike MTB stems, road bike stems have long lengths and do not require a high cost of production.
Why Are MTB Stems Expensive?
MTB stems are expensive mainly because of the high cost of their production materials.
Other factors that contribute to MTB stem high prices include quality control, high precision of stem production, and the rigor of making the stems by hand.
However, if your mountain bike is expensive, its stem would have a higher cost than cheaper mountain bikes.
Below are some reasons MTB stems are costly:
#1. High Cost of Materials
Getting high-quality materials is necessary for bike manufacturers, especially top bike companies.
A good stem design would require the best materials available to produce an almost perfect stem.
This is one of the main reasons manufacturers sell mountain bike stems at such high prices.
Most top bicycle brands use high-end carbon fiber to produce lighter stems. However, the higher the quality of the carbon material, the higher the price.
The cost of transporting these materials also plays a significant role in the high cost of production material.
In addition, carbon fiber is fragile and requires extra care during transportation. Also, using carbon fiber material for production requires precision.
Though high-quality aluminum is a suitable material, carbon fiber is a more effective and lighter material and is a good shock absorber.
Unlike carbon fiber, high-quality aluminum is less expensive but can wear quickly and is difficult to repair.
Unlike automobiles, bike companies produce bicycle components almost every year with innovations.
As manufacturers create innovations on the bike stems, the company increases its prices to match the cost of production. The rate of production and innovation contributes to the price spike.
Stem manufactured new designs of mountain bike stem every year, quite similar to phone production. With these designs comes heavy research conducted by stem designers.
This research helps the company improve the bike stem and reduce its flaws and weight.
However, the innovations come with a high cost to produce the best quality for users like you.
A lighter mountain bike stem would mean faster rides through mountain terrains, as the bike will be easy to handle and maneuver during rides.
If you are a competitive biker, this will reduce the weight of your bicycle and allow you to cycle through rough mountain terrains.
Therefore, if you want a high-quality mountain bike stem, you will have to spend more.
#3. Small Scale Production
Manufacturers of high-end mountain and road bike stem often produce on a small scale.
These small-scale bike components production means the price would increase due to the scarcity of the mountain bike stem.
The manufacturers use carbon fibers to handcraft the stems. Because of the time, it would take to craft these stems, production will be in small quantities.
#4. Supply and Demand
The lesser the number of products, the higher the demand for the product. This applies to the supply and demand of high-quality MTB stems.
For instance, if a bike stem company produces only ten thousand mountain bikes yearly, there will be a high demand for the product. This will lead to an increase in the price of the stems.
High-end stem brands mainly focus on making high quality and performance rather than producing a large number of stems, which affects the quantity and price of the mountain bike stems.
#5. Quality Control
Quality control differentiates top bike brands from smaller and generic brands.
Manufacturers of expensive mountain bike stem regularly assign quality control engineers to check their manufacturing processes and equipment to ensure precision and high quality of products.
The final products then come at costly prices.
Do MTB Stems Make a Difference?
Mountain bike stems make a difference on any bike you install. Using an MTB stem is not advisable if you ride a road bike.
Mountain bike stems are generally shorter than road bike stems and can be tough to maneuver on a paved road.
However, on a mountain bike, short stems allow your mountain bike to retain a fast response to steering on rough trails.
With the long frame geometry of mountain bikes, bike manufacturers are also making MTB stems shorter.
When going downhill with your mountain bike, the bike’s short stem will keep your body weight behind your front wheel. In addition, this will keep you stable on your bike while cycling.
Are Short Stems Better for MTB?
Short stems are better for mountain bikes because they are more stable and have a quick steering response.
In addition, due to the short length of your mountain bike stem, there will be a good balance between the angle of the front axle of your bicycle relative to the stem length.
Unlike short bike stems, longer stems push your weight too far from the axle and reduce steering input.
However, longer stems are more beneficial with road bikes as the steering inputs are infrequent.
Short stems correctly align your weight above the front axle. This is an advantage of mass-pressuring when you are riding downhill.
It also improves steering response and tire grip, especially on a muddy trail.
Short bike stems also have a better tensile strength on mountain bikes, particularly when applying lesser leverage to your bike’s mid-point.
With a shorter stem, you can perform high jumps and drops without faltering since the probability of failing is low.
A short bike stem is also better for aggressive cycling and responds more quickly to steering movements.
Best Mountain Bike Stems
Mountain bike stems manufacturers often engineer design high-quality bike stems, with particular detail to the stiffness-to-weight ratio.
Your choice of the stem also determines how well you will handle the bike comfortably. Therefore, select the ideal stem geometry for your bike.
The stem geometry has four major measurements: length, fork clamp diameter, rise, and handlebar clamp diameter.
The length of your stem is one of the relevant factors to consider because of the upper body position, the bike fit, and the handling capability on the road.
Selecting a long stem will unnecessarily stretch your body on the mountain bike. This will also reduce your control over your bike, especially when you are making tight turns at high speed.
However, if you feel uncomfortable with your bike stem, you might need to make an appointment with an expert bike fitter to determine the best mountain bike stem.
The stem rise is the 90-degree angle of the steering tube. It is often in a threadless stem, and you can flip it to give you a drop or a rise, depending on your preference.
You can use a zero drop or a drop angle, also known as a negative rise, to give you a more stretching, aerodynamic, and aggressive position on your bike.
If you do not have experience with competitive riding, a slight rise, ranging from 5 to 7 degrees, might be more comfortable for you. You can also use spacers to adjust your handlebar height to fit the stem.
#3. Fork clamp diameter
Ensure your bike fork steerer tubes have the current measurement. For example, old bikes have a one-inch fork steerer tube size, while current cycles have a length of 1⅛ inches.
#4. Handlebar clamp diameter
You should also measure your handlebar clamp diameter to determine the right stem for your bike.
Modern handlebars have a diameter of 31.8mm, while the older handlebars come in 25.4mm.
Some of the best mountain bike stems include:
- The Race Face Turbine R 35
- Funny Crossfire
- DMR Defy 35
- Deity Copperhead
- Burgtec Enduro MK3
The exorbitant price of mountain bike stems is mainly a result of the high cost of production materials used by the manufacturers to produce bike stems.
Other factors include quality control and the cost of regular innovation. However, it is not advisable to use road bike stems on mountain bikes because of their longer length.
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