First Look: Renthal Apex Stem Range

Jul 7, 2014
by Matt Wragg  


bigquotesWe're not famous for being quick to release products.
- Ian Collins, Renthal

The Apex - Renthal's New Stem Range

Until now Renthal haven't offered a huge range of lengths in their stems. This has always seemed somewhat out of place for a company who offer their handlebars in four different rise heights, lock-on grips in four compounds and chainrings in 12 sizes. It turns out this has been something they have been looking to put right for some time now. When we visited their Manchester, UK, headquarters back in early 2012 we saw a prototype 70mm stem, but that development process is only now bringing new products to market. In the words of their marketing manager, Ian Collins, "We're not famous for being quick to release products."
Details

Intended use: XC/trail/all-mountain/enduro
CNC machined 2014 aluminium body and 7075 aluminium clamps
+/- 6 degree rise
40-90mm length in 10mm increments
Weight: 118g-158g, dependent on length
31.8mm clamp only
1 1/8 steerer only
MSRP: $99.95
Available: Late July


Renthal Apex stem range


With the Apex range they are upping their offering from just 40mm and 50mm lengths to 40mm all the way up to 90mm in 10mm increments. Ian explains, "In Europe, certainly in the Alps and in the UK, very few people run longer than a 70mm, with most at 50mm or less. However, we are a worldwide brand and elsewhere in the world there are a lot of people riding longer stems. We needed a design that could span all those different lengths."

We have been using their Duo stems for some time now and have nothing but good things to report about them, so the obvious question was: Why fix it, if it ain't broke? It turns out the problem is the extra length and the unique, two-piece split design of the Duo stem. Ian admits that the Duo stem "design doesn't lend itself to anything longer than 50mm. We made proto duo stems in longer lengths, but it became very heavy, because you had to add extra hardware to bolt the two pieces together, and it wasn't stiff enough. That's why we had to go for a one-piece body." At 50mm the weight of the Apex stem is 127g, versus the 143g for the Duo stem, there is very little in it. Yet once you extend the stem out to 70mm the Apex goes up to 140g, but the prototype Duo stems went up to around the 280g mark for an equally stiff stem. At 90mm these calculations are exaggerated even further.

Renthal Apex stem range

To extend the stem, they had to switch to a one-piece body, but then set about improving the design to remove every excess gram from the design. The most obvious thing people will notice is that missing material between the clamps, which they realised wasn't needed - in fact this style of design was taken over to the prototype DH stems you see many of the Renthal-sponsored World Cup racers running right now. Less obvious is the refinement to the clamp design. Ian says they saw big benefits with this design, "The clamp is very different from what other people do, it has 240 degrees wrap of the clamp. By making the clamp like that, you move the stem bolt outboard further, without adding an more material. By doing that you can also run a much bigger bore down the centre [to remove more unneeded material from the interior]. This means you can make the stem more over-sized with a bigger outside diameter, which means you can make it stiffer but keep the weight right down. The other reason is that you have pulled the stem body material backwards, and the stem body is the heaviest bit, the clamps are light, so more of the length is made up of the clamp which brings the weight down."

With the extended lengths, they had to reduce the rise of the stem, from 10 degrees to 6 degrees. At 50mm the difference is minimal, but with a 90mm stem, 4 extra degrees of rise make for an unwieldy cockpit. With the increasing popularity of big-wheeled bikes, the new stem also reverses to offer 6 degrees of drop, rather than rise. While you can flip any stem, the Renthal is designed to look good both way - you just need to flip the clamps over to keep the marked lower part of the clamp at the bottom.

Renthal Apex stem range
Renthal Apex stem range
  We have always been big fans of the quality of finishing you find on Renthal's products, but we'd say the Apex stem is a step beyond what we have seen from them so far. Basically we're massive suckers for that kind of machining detail. Looking inside you can see the boring Renthal talk about - while the stem itself looks burly, they have removed every excess gram from the centre to produce an exceptionally light stem. Looking at the clamp from the side, you can see the 240 degree clamp clearly, and how the zero gap at the bottom give a smoother surface for the bar to sit on, reducing stress at the point where the most force is passed through the clamp.

One thing that people have commented on with the Duo stem is that some people have problems with creaking as you do need to install them correctly - we never had a problem with this, but have seen several people report it in the comments. With the new system that issue is gone with a much simpler assembly process. The lower part of the clamp is tightened first to sit flush against the bar, which Renthal say is better for distributing force through your bars, then tighten the upper part to hold the bar in place.

Ian did stress that the Duo stem is in no way obsolete and will be continued at the same price point as the Apex stem. He was reluctant to draw clear lines in the sand for where the crossover between the Duo and the lighter Apex stem is. The line seems to be that if you're racing the Enduro World Series you will probably want the Apex stem, but if you're going hucking at the Rampage site, the Duo stem is a better bet. We're not sure how much market there is for freeride-specific stems these days, so suspect most riders would opt for the new Apex design, but Renthal say that as long as there is demand for the Duo stem, they will keep making them.

www.renthal.com


107 Comments

  • 135 6
 Renthal... great machining and products. If only the colors would coordinate with anything else on the bike! lol
  • 55 1
 Oh well... You'll just have to buy some Renthal bars!
  • 19 9
 Short ones look awesome, long ones look turd. I like the look of this a lot better than the duo. I might invest when I see one in the shops.
  • 23 3
 165$ ?? damn i could buy some new bars and a new stem for that kind of money
  • 16 2
 The price shown on the feature is not correct. Actual US MSRP is $99.95.
  • 12 0
 Now changed to $99.95 in the feature spec.
  • 13 0
 They do co-ordinate... with most (non kachima) stantions.
  • 5 0
 Doctor Doctor, 50mm stat!
  • 1 4
 Was about to order the syntace mega force cuz it was lighter & offered in 40 and lower than 10deg. Think I'll hold up for the renthal.
  • 4 1
 I love the color, looks hot on any bike imo.
  • 13 0
 They should offer a flat pedal.
  • 9 14
flag dfiler (Jul 7, 2014 at 6:24) (Below Threshold)
 Looks a bit primitive to me. That's not an aesthetic criticism but rather noting how it uses thick vs thin material sub-optimally. Granted, most brands do the same thing, machine out material where it looks cool and is convenient. It still works fine and is relatively light. But in the long run we'll see less and less of this kind of machining.
  • 3 2
 I don't know that I agree, they machine to save weight, while retaining stiffness. It might as well look good.
  • 7 3
 Shouldn't they get cheaper as the size decrases as your getting less material?
  • 6 3
 No, because it takes more time to remove that material.
  • 4 7
 How about also selling the stem body only, for people who want to try different stem lengths? They could keep the face plates and bolts from the first one they bought.
  • 6 0
 Then you're stuck with a stem body you can't sell to anyone else and you have probably only saved $10 by skipping out on the hardware...
  • 2 1
 jrocksdh, machining is not like casting or forging in which you pour molten metal in something and it takes shape. With machining, you take one solid chunk and hack away at it until you have the part you want. You can see the tooling marks left in the recesses there.

LemonadeMoney, that'll never happen and there's no point to it happening. You really think you're saving a big chunk of change by not buying the faceplate and bolts? If you're wanting to try a new stem, sell your old one.
  • 6 7
 This article is stemming with useful information....
  • 10 4
 Yes, Renthal is raising the bar with this one
  • 1 0
 Dfiler.... Renthal products go through years of development by proper engineers. Like it suggests in the article, no decisions were made lightly (apart from the weight saving ones har har)
  • 3 1
 Jrocksdh.... You're paying for the thousands of hours of labour gone into the product, not the billet of aluminium they machine it from, that's negligible
  • 4 0
 same reason why a small frame costs the same as an XL
  • 3 11
flag THE-GUNT (Jul 7, 2014 at 14:11) (Below Threshold)
 Just buy Chromag
  • 2 2
 RaleighVoid: It wasn't suggested that there was bad engineering or poor decisions. Indeed, renthal makes high quality components.

But there was acknowledgement that there are more optimal ways to structure and manufacture components like stems. The squared shape alone is indicative of style or manufacturing considerations taking precedence over the optimal design for weight and strength. Also, it is possible to make lighter and stronger stems with forging or and/or more intricate milling to produce smooth transitions in wall thickness, etc. This drives costs up, especially for small production runs. Forging isn't cheap.

Again, not a criticism of Renthal gear. Most products fall into that same category.
  • 2 0
 You are knocking this stem because it isn't forged? Do you know what a forged stem would cost ?
  • 2 0
 Why don't you tell us how you would design it.... I'm being serious ... I'm curious
  • 6 0
 He would forge it in the depths of middle earth
  • 1 0
 haha
  • 1 0
 What's so damn expensive about them? My Thomson Elite X4 stem was about 50 EUR...
  • 1 0
 Darkstar63, sorry, not trying to knock them. Just discussing technology, manufacturing and design possibilities. Perhaps not the right venue for that.
  • 1 0
 It's ok man, no worries, I'm just not sure when you wont run into style and manufacturing considerations short of building a space shuttle.
  • 1 0
 @RaleighVoid: Is there really any ground breaking research that goes in this stem. It looks like any of a thousand online.
  • 7 1
 Goddamnit, just as I bought a Duo!
That said, I've "installed it incorrectly" (how on earth does one install a stem incorrectly?) and it creaks like a bastard.

Might sell it and get one of these in stead.
  • 7 0
 Maybe renthal need to do a 'how to install it correctly' as mine also creeks more than bed springs on a honeymoon! Especially after swapping to the carbon fatbars
  • 1 0
 The Duo is pretty sensitive - you need to torque it correctly, grease the bolts, and it also creaks if the bars or steerer are out of tolerance.
  • 1 7
flag deadtime (Jul 7, 2014 at 4:54) (Below Threshold)
 I recently bought the 50 Duo, replacing my 90. Can anyone tell me why I don't get full travel from my fork anymore? The bike handles/climbs better than ever, but I'm perplexed by that lack of travel.
  • 2 1
 Mine didn't creak once in at least a year of use
  • 10 1
 Can't tell if you're trolling or not?
By shorting the stem your moving your weight further towards the back of the bike, hence less weight over forks causing them to compress less.
  • 5 0
 I had the creaking problem, drove me mad, gave Renthal a call and so happy I did, I love the Duo Stem. I will get the Apex stem to adjust my CX bike. Here's what I did to fix the creak: barimtb.blogspot.co.uk
  • 1 0
 Should have mentioned that - Renthal were super helpful - obviously a small company, 'cos Ian who's quoted above was the one who emailed me, but super service from them.
  • 7 0
 zero gap (lower clamping area) is like easton's top-lock...
  • 4 1
 colours are like easton's too lol
  • 1 0
 Hope's DH stem has zero gap too
  • 1 0
 as does blackspre's DH stem
  • 3 0
 Stem looks sic, face plates and how they hook over bit strange, but Im all about function first and love Renthal products so id give it a whirl but no 30mm darn it, would been sic on the Dune with the new carbon DH bar, though the Stoic looks better actually! Win win!
  • 8 0
 32mm is coming later on.
  • 1 1
 What I'm wondering about the face plates: I'm guessing you will have to slide them on sidewards before mounting the bars? Will that not ruin the paint/logos/looks of the bars?
  • 2 0
 Road cyclists have been sliding bars through stems for decades. MTB bars are very straight in comparison. Just need to be careful.
  • 3 0
 Removing it completely will help.
  • 1 0
 Lolz
  • 2 4
 you wrap road bars with tape... who cares if you scratch them?
  • 3 0
 I wonder what Ritchey would say in regards to their 240d faceplate wrap-around? I can see it working in either regard, but what were the design decisions that had Ritchey go for the 260d stem wrap-around?
  • 2 0
 You could buy one from some factory in Taiwan, same as buying carbon rims from China on Ebay right, they're the same as ENVE aren't they? With Renthal you get British engineering and manufacturing excellence. Deal with the colour.
  • 1 0
 I believe the articale states, with these bars you are getting Taiwanese engineering and manufacturing excellence.
  • 1 0
 My comment was in relation to gold alloy bars. Theres not enough gold on the carbon bars to worry about...
  • 5 0
 When CNC machining meets art...
  • 3 0
 I really like it, but the "old" ones look better, but with a rental bar it looks probably even better
  • 5 0
 Like it a lot
  • 3 2
 3rd from last pic seems like you can assemble the stem so the steerer will go instead of the handlebar and vice versa... Stupid proof BUYA!
  • 3 0
 Well....it looks like a stem
  • 2 1
 I think they look amazing. Truly a machining masterpiece. Much prettier and aggressive looking than the old duo. Not we only need a 780mm carbon fatbar.
  • 2 1
 Good design with the 240degree clamp and + beam profile is a cool change, but not a fan of the unfinished machining lines on the side of stem.
  • 1 0
 Definitely going to be looking at one of these stems when I change the forks on my Enduro from dual to single crown Fox Float 36s.
  • 2 0
 hmmm... you need to get used to the look of this one.
  • 2 0
 Prefer the duo... Still a nice design though Smile
  • 2 1
 not correct clamp size shown in the Details: "31.6mm clamp only"
should be changed to 31.8mm
  • 5 1
 Damn, I got excited that the typo was supposed to be 33.6 (the perfect size between 31.8 and 35mm bars.....)
  • 5 0
 33.6 has better roll over abilities. it's truely the best of both worlds. hashtag... be a dick about it.
  • 1 0
 If these match the quality of the duo and integra, renthal has another best seller.
  • 1 0
 Does anyone know the stack height? looking at the photos my guess would be around 35mm.
  • 2 0
 Stack height is 40mm.
Full specs are listed here - cycling.renthal.com/shop/cycle-products/cycle-stems/cycle-apex-stem
  • 2 2
 Who still uses a long stem? Been on 50mm as a standard for nearly twenty years now, the occasional 35mm, now a 60mm feels long lol..
  • 3 0
 I do. My bike fits me better. Ran a 50mm stem for ages then thought I'd just revert to my 70mm to feel the difference and to my amazement it gave me what felt like the best part of an inch of extra cockpit space. It was almost like my bike had been designed for a 60-70mm stem in the first place. So anyway the point i was excitedly making is that there are gazillions of bikes out there which you cramp the cockpit on if you go to 50mm or less, cos they were sized with longer stems in mind. Not saying that short stems aren't great on the right bike, but as a retrofit, they can be a significant compromise.
  • 1 4
 I'm surprised there is still demand for the 80mm and 90mm lengths. Surely anything over 70mm feels too twitchy, even for xc.
  • 1 0
 You're probably right twebeast, I guess I just always felt steering response was more important than the extra reach. Guess it all depends on whether you ride with body position as a higher priority to bike handling, or vice versa.
  • 1 1
 twebeast short stems are really only ever intended to be fit to bike with adequate toptube length hence frame geo nowadays having longer toptube when the seat tube size stays the same. a short stem is def not a retrofit component if you currently running a 90mm stem. you dig?????
  • 1 1
 I have to say these look butt ugly and they are late of the mark since there are a lot products out there that look better than these and for less money.
  • 1 3
 Nice 240 degree clamp design. But what i cannot understand is why steerer bolts are not the two-way locking design. I have a stem like this, i often find it loosed under heavily hitting. Another thing is i could get a Taiwanese 7050 al stem at one 5th of this price, and the same weight. I cannot understand people would like to invest so much on stem , seatpost , and etcs
  • 1 0
 Seems well built. I'm not stoked on the color combo though... I'll need to see on in person
  • 2 0
 Some people like the feel of a longer stem.
  • 1 0
 Installed on my Spec Enduro Expert Evo (40mm) w/ Fatbar Carbon.
Still and (maybe) always use their products.
  • 1 3
 Same fugly colors as the duo yuk.Probably be cheaper for them to make one solid color stem anyways !!Stick to motocross renthal,your handlebar line rocks for atvs and dirtbikes tho!
  • 2 2
 Then the duo's price hopefully will go down..
  • 1 1
 looks sweet, hopefully the new downhill stem is out soon
  • 3 2
 what no 35mm...?
  • 4 0
 what no 110mm stem...?? get a 40 & tilt your bars back 0.34112 degrees back... VOILA!! 35mm stem!!!
  • 1 0
 35mm diameter yo!
  • 1 0
 ah yes maybe when 35mm becomes as popular as 31.8 they might.
  • 1 1
 AWESOME Well Done RENTHAL!!! ; )
  • 2 1
 Creak-tastic ;-)
  • 1 0
 I wonder if these NEW stems creak as much as their OLD stems??? Can't rely on online ride reports being objective... Oh and I am a fan of Renthal with bars on my KTM, just not the Renthal MTB stem...
  • 1 1
 Should do a dj/street stem
  • 2 1
 Where do I get one?
  • 2 2
 Ill stick with my chromag ranger.
  • 1 1
 I have dislocated my shoulder so badly reaching for my wallet
  • 1 0
 beautiful
  • 3 3
 sic i like the small one
  • 5 2
 Not what she said
  • 1 2
 I think i've found my new stem Smile This and the new fatbar carbons!!
  • 1 3
 "With the Apex range they are upping their offering from just 40mm and 50mm lengths to 40mm" Hahaha OK.
  • 1 2
 Shut up and take my money.
  • 3 4
 uh.. might just stick with my thomson elite. Smile
  • 3 0
 Totally agree and I have had my Thompson 50mm for 5 years now and not a creak or peep and still going strong. Got a 35mm Kore on my 29er and that is super light and as stiff as......and no creaks.
  • 2 0
 Kore 50 mm here and no creaks either!
  • 1 2
 Nice piece of craftsmanship. Gonna stick to Thomson though.
  • 1 3
 If you are a Renthal fan you will probably love these stems......But those are ugly!

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