I think we're all pretty tired of new, so-called standards popping up every other year, especially when it comes to hub spacing and bottom bracket dimensions that seem to provide about 0.3-percent improvement that may or may not be noticeable. But mostly not. I get it - things do move forward and bikes (hopefully) get better - but I'd be pretty damn happy to stick to the same hub sizes for a few years if it meant we got some much more practical updates to our gear.
You know, like a clever way to ensure that our stems are bang-on straight.
If you're a Motocross or Supercross fan, or just like dirt bikes, you might have heard of Tag Metals. They've been in the moto biz for twenty years, and now they have a range of mountain bike goods that includes a long-stroke dropper post, platform pedals, handlebars, carbon fiber wheels, and a stem called... The Stem. Okay, boring name but this little guy might be my favorite thing I've seen at the Taipei Cycle Show thanks to its 'Speed Align System.'
Why didn't I think of this? Oh yeah, I'm not that clever.
This is about as straightforward as it gets. Two small vertical slots are machined into the back of the stem, one on each side of the steerer tube. The idea is to have Fox, RockShox, and maybe everyone else anodize two vertical white lines onto their steerer tubes that, you guessed it, align with the slots on the back of the stem. So if you see the white lines through the slots, you know that your stem is centered perfectly.
The Speed Align System isn't world-changing like Boost was* and I realize that we're all capable of getting our stems straight enough without two witness marks on the steerer tube to help us, but it is a nice touch that will make our lives easier. That's precisely what we need more of: Functional refinements. *Sarcasm, of course.
The Stem can be had in 33, 35, and 45mm lengths, and with either a 31.8mm or 35mm handlebar clamp.
Tag Metals are talking to the major fork brands about getting those white lines anodized onto steerer tubes, and they have no plans to patent or keep the idea for themselves. That means that anyone is free to incorporate it into their own products. So, do you think this simple yet clever idea has some legs, or is it not needed?