There are components on your bike that, as long as they're strong enough and in the ballpark when it comes to weight, have essentially no effect on how your bike performs. Tires and wheels, suspension, and your drivetrain are all big factors, but your stem? Not so much. Besides getting the right length and clamp diameter, most of us only have to decide if we want a black stem or a black stem. I usually choose the black one. But if your tastes are more cultured than mine (hard to believe, I know), you might go for something a little more high-class. Enter Intend's range of freshly redesigned Grace stems.
Intend is a small, one-man operation out of Germany better known for its lineup of inverted suspension forks
, as well as the wild-looking Hover shock
that we showed you last year. That man is Cornelius Kapfinger, an engineer who's dead-set on doing his own thing his way.
The Grace stem is a one-piece design that forgoes a removable faceplate and the four bolts that would require. Instead, two bolts hold the handlebar that must be slid through the clamp, thereby losing the weight of those two extra bolts and the material that a faceplate requires. This isn't a new idea, of course, but Kapfinger says that it wasn't ideal in the past because many of us were using high-rise handlebars with bends that wouldn't fit through the stem's clamp. "In times of thick handlebar diameters and lower handlebars due to the large 29" wheels, this design is becoming increasingly interesting again,
'' he explains.
Handlebars with up to 20 to 25mm of rise will slide through the clamp, although he does concede that thicker bars, like those from Renthal and Hope, will only work with up to 10mm of rise.
A non-removable faceplate saves some grams, as does only needing two bolts instead of four, and it also makes for a super clean appearance. Other details include a chamfer on the edge of the handlebar clamp so that it plays nice with carbon fiber, and fancy grade-5 titanium bolts all around. There are six different versions, including a direct-mount DH stem with an odd-sounding 60mm length that's designed to compensate for the added rise. Oh, and it weighs just 113-grams.
Kapfinger has designed models for downhill, freeride, enduro, cross-country, trail, and there's even cyclo-cross version.
Weights start as low as just 79-grams for the 77mm long XC stem with a 31.8mm clamp, while the 35mm FR and 50mm EN versions come in at a hardly believable 80-grams and 88-grams. The stems are manufactured in Germany, as is their titanium hardware, and prices go from €149 to €189. Color options include blue, raw, and black.