Traditional stems on downhill bikes make no sense to me. Really, why are we still bolting these silly "necks" onto our state of the art machines? A direct mount system can offer up lighter weight, lower bar height and maybe even a little extra steering precision. So there I was building up my new sled for this season when I realized I still needed something to hold my bars where my bars are supposed to be. Since I use a Boxxer upper crown (with my Boxxer, duh) I had a few choices of direct mount stems to use. Funn, Syncros, Chromag, DangerBoy, BETD and e.13 all make direct mount stems that bolt right onto your Boxxer top crown. While all of the above are pretty slick looking, I decided to buy the e.13 Ali stem. It is the lightest at 202 grams (175 is claimed...maybe with no bolts) and as lame as it sounds, every gram counts. I also really like the two piece design and to be honest, the fact the the distributor up here in Canada could get it to me the next day didn't hurt.
The Ali stem is a pretty slick little unit. Like I mentioned above there is actually a left and a right to this stem. This gives it a very moto look that really suits a DH bike. Shims are included if you run a 25.4 bar. Interestingly, while the "face plates" obviously come off for easy instillation of the bar, the shims themselves are one piece dealies with a single slot in them. This means you'll need to slide your grips, brakes and shifter off your bars to install them. This isn't the biggest deal as you'll only have to do it once and it keeps the shims from bunching up all uneven like and causing damage to carbon bars or keeping you from getting proper torque on them. For what its worth, the Ali stem comes with "12.8 grade Dacromet " bolts. Not sure what that means but its got to be good! You also get to choose from 45mm or 55mm reach mounting holes.
Check out those 12.8 Dacromet bolts
I installed my Ali stem in the 55mm position as the 45 felt a little cramped. I run a 31.8mm Chromag flat Fubar so I didn't need to fiddle with the down sizer shims. I gotta say, this thing looks sweet. After figuring out where I wanted things set at, which was low, I cut my steerer tube to forever keep me from mounting a traditional stem (and make re-sale really hard).
The purple barends are just out of the shot
I've got a couple months on the Ali stem now and I really think its a quality piece of work. Unlike some other direct mount stems it hasn't twisted during any hard offs yet. I'm quessing this is due to the tight bolt tolerances on the stem mounting holes. On the other hand, I've heard of some riders twisting forks instead of just ending up with a crooked stem after a crash. I've had a few big ones lately and both the stem and fork have come out perfectly straight....Or maybe I just need to try hitting the ground even harder! No matter if you twist your traditional stem or fork up, you'll need to bust out the allen keys regardless anyway.
I really only have only one criticism of the Ali stem. A small amount of the stem actually hangs over the back of the crown. Granted, I haven't caught my knee on it yet, but the day I'm not wearing pads and my chain skips I will be leaving a large quantity of skin on the underside of the Ali stem. For such a well though out little gadget the extra material seems a little out of place.
After a few months on the Ali stem I'm still impressed with it. Its light, looks super trick, adjustable, and still has not twisted up on me. What more could you ask from a stem? If you run a Boxxer that uses a Direct Mount top crown and are looking for a new stem put this one at the top of your list.
Hey, I like your face......plates
Check out the e.13 site
for details and much better pictures then I took.