Emory Rempel built his first stem because he wanted to try a shorter stem on his bike, and, well, he also didn't want to just buy one. Two years and "a crazy amount" of money later, he has his stem. Also, the one-off project has grown into a fledgling handmade Canadian parts company, Farside Components.
Emory works at Islander Precision Fishing Reels, a branch of the Canadian machining company JS Foster, and at the time, the shop had just started using a new design software. Emory figured he could dial in his machining and programming skills faster by learning the software at home after work, so he started drawing all manner of bike parts - frames, suspension linkage, bike racks, and more - but he needed a real-life project to see his drawings through to the end. Creating his own stem gave him the perfect project.
His first few stem prototypes starting receiving attention on Instagram, he said, which is how he met his now business partner, Grant Lestock-Kay.
Grant, for his part, had his own visions for what he wanted to see in bike products, and he also had been toying with the idea of making something himself. A bike shop owner in Duncan, BC, he believes that the reason for his shop's success is his endless fascination with bikes and the fact that biking is not just a hobby or a part of his job, but an essential part of who he is. He recognizes that Emory relates to machining in the same way. When he stumbled upon Emory's stem on Instagram, he wrote
, he was immediately enamored and was delighted to learn that Emory was based just an hour away in Victoria, BC. Partnering up was like throwing fuel on a fire, Emory said. It's clear that both Emory and Grant trust and respect each other immensely, and they both seem to feed off the other's belief in what they can create together.
Grant first reached out because he had a stem idea of his own and wanted to connect with someone like-minded, but the pair talked for hours about "bikes, manufacturing, companies, goals, everything." It was obvious, Emory said, that they should be working together, not developing competing products, especially since their skillsets - Emory as a machinist and Grant as a bike shop owner - were so complementary. The first order of business was to finish Emory's stem and bring it to market.
The Cyclic stem is named for the steering control in a helicopter, a nod to Emory's past stint as a helicopter pilot. It's bold and rugged, available in just the 45mm length and 35mm clamp. With titanium bolts, it weighs in at 167g without cutting any corners. The goal in creating the Cyclic stem was to create the best stem they could without trying to fit into a budget, look a preconceived way, or otherwise make compromises. The result, Grant wrote, was something that makes the duo proud.
One of the pair's biggest gripes about some products on the market is inconsistency. Measurements on products from even quite reputable brands can be imprecise, Grant wrote, and since Emory works with tolerances "within a fraction of a human hair" in his day job, the first way Farside Components plans to improve on the current market is in attention to detail and extreme precision. "Unfortunately, I have seen properly torqued stems from reputable brands slip far too easy," Grant wrote. "In our opinion, one slipped stem is one too many. Tight consistent tolerances are critical."
Now that Farside has achieved the product they wanted to first introduce, they're moving forward to other dreams. Up next, Emory and Grant plan to put Grant's stem concept into action. We don't know many details, but Emory said the new stem will be designed to be made in larger quantities, even though he said it will actually be quite a niche product. There's also a Farside chainring design in the prototyping stage. Although again, we don't have details, Emory said the chainring is designed to solve a problem that has emerged in recent years.
Lastly, Emory has been working on a crankset design that he's excited to bring into the physical world, and he said it's probably what he's most excited about right now. Since the machining shop where he works is set up with a lot of CNC lathe capacity, it's an ideal setup to eventually make hubs, Emory said, but he doesn't want to get too far ahead of himself. "Right now it's really easy to get distracted and chase the next shiny object," he said. "So we are being disciplined and trying to focus on one of two things and just move them forwards incrementally. We work at this after hours so focus is critical." That said, Farside does have a collaboration planned with a local bike company for a project in the near(ish) future, so it's worth keeping tabs.
Emory wants to be sure to acknowledge the help he has received from JS Foster and Islander Precision Fishing Reels. The fishing reel company began at JS Foster much like Farside is now, and much like so many other bike parts companies that have grown into something great simply thanks to a bit of help from the right people at the right time. We can't wait to see what Farside becomes in the coming years.
The Cyclic sells for $229 CAD and is available in-store at Cowichan Cycles, Beaufort Cycles, Marty's Mountain Cycle, and Fuca Cycles and at farsidecomponents.com