The Riding Gravel Forum
Register Calendar Latest Topics Chat
 
 
 


Reply
  Author   Comment  
RoverAl

Avatar / Picture

Senior Member
Registered:
Posts: 469
Reply with quote  #1 
I discovered this product while searching for information about the TRANZX stem which came stock on my 2016 Raleigh Willard 1. Redshift sports is the company that makes the ShockStop stem. At the time I discovered this stem there was a kickstart campaign in progress which I decided to become a part of and pre-ordered a stem back in early 2016 Fast forward to delivery in Dec 16 and I have a remarkable product which actually works as advertised. 

IMG_0087.JPG 
I average about 2 thousand miles annually on my bike, purely recreational, roving around, exploring, regular old stuff. I live in Florida so the gravel here isn't like the real gravel in the Midwest. Mostly crushed shell and hard pack dirt where I ride with some easy off road trails.The Willard is already a comfortable smooth riding bike with it's carbon fork and overall terrific frame design. This new stem just makes it more comfy. The stock Tranzx is a good stem which does actually work to absorb some vibrations by having a rubber sleeve between the stem collar. The ShockStop stem has a bearing and elastomers working together to cushion the vibrations and impacts.

The issue I had with the TranzX was when I flipped the stem the cushioning effect was diminished and there was an occasional clunk. So I was thrilled when When I discovered the ShockStop stem because it would allow me to flip and flop the stem. Installation is straightforward just like any other stem. Aesthetically it looks ok kind of blocky but not bad. Slightly heavier than the TranzX.

DSC08433-2.jpg     IMG_0088-2.jpg 


For the technical specs and inner workings details, I will link to the site to explain. I am only posting about ride quality for this user report.

During installation it is obvious that this is a quality part, fit and finish look excellent.
Throughout the kickstarter the company provided updates about the materials, and process which was interesting and seeing the outcome is pretty cool.

IMG_20161218_080910 (1).jpg 

Moving on to the first ride impressions. I took it out to Flatwoods park in Tampa which I have been riding at for many years. There is a nice mix of pavement and some off road gravel not much but enough to wet your whistle for a routine place to exercise.
Starting out on the paved road it was hard to tell a difference at first but when I veered off to the dirt crushed shell road you could tell right away this thing is working. I left the stock combo of elastomers inside the stem to start with which are rated for 205 lbs rider weight. There are other combinations you can use softer or stiffer depending on your ride preferences.

This ride was about 22 miles and conditions were windy, head and side wind most of the time. On pavement you can feel an improved smoothness, the sections of gravelly trail with bumps,ruts, holes and grass you can feel a noticeable difference and I was able to go noticeably faster on these sections than I usually would. The front end handled better with a more stable feeling.
On a small section of trail with roots you can feel the stem in action, but roots are never any fun and I go slow just to get thru them. Grassy sections are mellowed out as well.

To Summarize:
The ride feel is noticeable and the best way I can think of to describe it is like riding with ~10psi less air in your tires without actually lowering them. There is a rubbery,cushy feel to the ride which I like quite a lot. Braking seems to be improved as well. I had no hand numbness or tingly sensation on this ride which I usually get midway.

This is a well designed stem at a reasonable price. I' think this will be a hit for some looking to tame the rough stuff. I recommend it. I give it 5 out of 5 stars.

A carbon version is also available. http://www.redshiftsports.com/ShockStop-suspension-stems/

 
Here is a reply from the makers when I asked about braking:

"Hi Alan,
 
Thanks so much for your interest. I totally understand your concern with hard braking and will try to give you a sense of how it will behave. Bottom line, the ShockStop has travel but it is very limited so you will not ever feel like your geometry or body position is changing (even if you set it up for max motion).
 
Unlike the TranzX, the ShockStop has available travel and can be setup such that some small motion is perceivable - the stem can move between 1-2 cm meaning that when using a drop bar (normal road bike handlebar) you can set it up in such a way that you feel some slight motion at the hoods. It all comes down to how you want it to feel - stiff with no motion, soft with a feeling off motion, or somewhere in between. The actual amount of travel you will get depends on which set of elastomer you put in the stem. If you select the stiffest pair even under really aggressive braking with lots of weight on the handlebar you probably won't be able to perceive any motion and the hoods might only move a tiny tiny amount. This is due to the fact that the ShockStop is pre-loaded such that you must reach a certain load on the handlebar before anything starts to flex and then when it does the load required to keep flexing increases as it moves. Under this setup, the Shockstop is absorbing small shocks and vibrations but not absorbing bigger bumps. If on the other hand, you were to set up the stem with the lightest set of elastomers you might be able to feel some motion when going over bumps and during braking - the motion is still very slight but would likely be perceptible (the pre-load is less and more normal loading will cause motion). So, if you like the way the TranzX feels and want to replicate something similar if you load the ShockStop with the stiffest elastomers you likely won't be able to tell it is even moving - so it all comes down the the feel that you want.
 
 
Let me know if I can provide a better explanation of how the ShockStop will feel or if you have any other questions.
 
Thanks,
Erik"
 

 



0
moe53

Member
Registered:
Posts: 37
Reply with quote  #2 
Thanks for the review, interesting product. Do you feel that it compromised steering input at all?
__________________
Enlightenment begins where the pavement ends. [idea]
0
RoverAl

Avatar / Picture

Senior Member
Registered:
Posts: 469
Reply with quote  #3 
No not at all, Where I ride it is flat so there is no downhill speedy descents to give it a good high speed test. I had it up to 22mph in one fast up and down section and steering was normal. It is very well designed imo. Always working in the background. After riding it for awhile it feels very normal but you feel the difference in the chatter.
I went over some mild drops where the pavement meets dirt and I only felt the harsh bump in the rear wheel. 
I'll follow up after some time with it changing out the elastomers. I am impressed with it so far.
0
ljsmith

Senior Member
Registered:
Posts: 192
Reply with quote  #4 
I am waiting on mine.  One thing I was wondering about is what it is like when out of the saddle.  Does it noticeably bob?
0
RoverAl

Avatar / Picture

Senior Member
Registered:
Posts: 469
Reply with quote  #5 
Thats the same question I asked the makers when I signed up for the kickstart. No there is zero sag, the feel is just like a standard stem.You have to lean on it pretty hard to get it to compress. They should start designing one for the seatpost too.
0
RoverAl

Avatar / Picture

Senior Member
Registered:
Posts: 469
Reply with quote  #6 
Here is a reply from the makers when I asked about braking:

"Hi Alan,
 
Thanks so much for your interest. I totally understand your concern with hard braking and will try to give you a sense of how it will behave. Bottom line, the ShockStop has travel but it is very limited so you will not ever feel like your geometry or body position is changing (even if you set it up for max motion).
 
Unlike the TranzX, the ShockStop has available travel and can be setup such that some small motion is perceivable - the stem can move between 1-2 cm meaning that when using a drop bar (normal road bike handlebar) you can set it up in such a way that you feel some slight motion at the hoods. It all comes down to how you want it to feel - stiff with no motion, soft with a feeling off motion, or somewhere in between. The actual amount of travel you will get depends on which set of elastomer you put in the stem. If you select the stiffest pair even under really aggressive braking with lots of weight on the handlebar you probably won't be able to perceive any motion and the hoods might only move a tiny tiny amount. This is due to the fact that the ShockStop is pre-loaded such that you must reach a certain load on the handlebar before anything starts to flex and then when it does the load required to keep flexing increases as it moves. Under this setup, the Shockstop is absorbing small shocks and vibrations but not absorbing bigger bumps. If on the other hand, you were to set up the stem with the lightest set of elastomers you might be able to feel some motion when going over bumps and during braking - the motion is still very slight but would likely be perceptible (the pre-load is less and more normal loading will cause motion). So, if you like the way the TranzX feels and want to replicate something similar if you load the ShockStop with the stiffest elastomers you likely won't be able to tell it is even moving - so it all comes down the the feel that you want.
 
 
Let me know if I can provide a better explanation of how the ShockStop will feel or if you have any other questions.
 
Thanks,
Erik"
0
ljsmith

Senior Member
Registered:
Posts: 192
Reply with quote  #7 
I got my stem today.  In hand the stem feels very heavy, its roughly double what most stems are.  The weight is not noticeable when on the bike.  I removed the elastomers that come installed and put in the correct ones for my weight.  With those elastomers installed and I press down on the bars and get about 1cm of "travel".  I was a little concerned about how that would feel when standing and climbing, but once I got out and tried it it felt great.  There was no bob or any undesired motion while climbing.  When hitting bumps the movement of the handlebar is noticeable, but not enough to be disruptive.  I suppose if you don't like the feeling of the movement you could go with stiffer elastomers.  I also was able to fit my garmin mount on it, which is good because I didn't want to shell out the $30 to get the redshift mount.  On my longer rides my legs always feel fine.  Its my hands neck and lower back that always get sore an tired.  Combined with the Thudbuster I just installed I now have an extremely comfortable gravel bike and I look forward to my next 100 miler knowing I won't get as beat up.  The Thudbsuter and Stem upped the weight of the bike by 0.8 lbs, but its still under 20 lbs, so plenty light.  

Lynskey 1.JPG    

Lynskey 3.jpg 

0
bnystrom

Member
Registered:
Posts: 32
Reply with quote  #8 
Has anyone tried one of these in cold weather? Elastomers are notorious for getting hard as a rock in cold weather and soft and squishy when it gets hot.
0
RoverAl

Avatar / Picture

Senior Member
Registered:
Posts: 469
Reply with quote  #9 
Quote:
Originally Posted by bnystrom
 Has anyone tried one of these in cold weather? Elastomers are notorious for getting hard as a rock in cold weather and soft and squishy when it gets hot.


I have around 1300 miles on my Shock Stop stem. My miles are all in the Sub tropical climate of Florida including several weeks of cold weather with temps in the 30's all above freezing and in the 90's which it has been the last few months on and off.  I rode during those temp ranges and did not experience any different effect from the stem, in fact after the newness wore off, I completely forgot I was using a ride enhancing stem. I am riding with the blue green combination and have not tried other combos to date.  I am completely happy with my purchase. 
Contact the company with any questions regarding the coefficient of expansion. They answered my pre-purchase questions promptly.
0
ljsmith

Senior Member
Registered:
Posts: 192
Reply with quote  #10 
Quote:
Originally Posted by bnystrom
Has anyone tried one of these in cold weather? Elastomers are notorious for getting hard as a rock in cold weather and soft and squishy when it gets hot.


I have used mine in Maryland winter (20-30F) and experienced no issues with it stiffening up.
0
tacobellbiker

Starter
Registered:
Posts: 18
Reply with quote  #11 
I ordered one of these today. Will report on my experience when I receive it next week.
0
tacobellbiker

Starter
Registered:
Posts: 18
Reply with quote  #12 
Got the stem today in a 90mm size with 6 degrees of rise. Installation took about 20 minutes (was having some OCD aligning the handlebar to the wheel) and was straightforward, although I would recommend carefully reading the directions.

At 135 lbs, I am right between two recommended elastomer settings. Decided to go with the softer setting with more travel. This involved using the 70a and 50a elastomers (the yellow and the blue one).

Went out for a 90 minute ride on a route I've ridden over a hundred times so I'm familiar with every bump. 

First impression: wow. The best way to explain how it feels is like a 15-20mm highly progressive suspension that doesn't kick in until a certain amount of force is applied, so it kind of has a dead zone where light forces from riding on smoother roads don't seem to cause any deflection at all. But once you hit a bump that goes over the threshold of the dead zone, the suspension kicks in. Because it works as a pivot near the steerer tube, the effect is greater out on the hoods and drops versus on the bars.

It's surprisingly effective at absorbing the big bump, more than I expected given that it only isolates the handlebar and not the whole frame from the wheel. If anything, it's better at taking the big hit than at smoothing out buzz. Over rocky areas where I would normally unweight the handlebar, I found myself actually putting more weight on the front and the bike feeling more under control as a result. Especially on rough inclines and descents, I felt like the front tire was making more contact with the ground.

When I got back, I was curious to try out what a firmer set of elastomers would do, and put in the default 70/80 (blue/green) combo. The 70/80 didn't really do it for me. Still felt smoother than the stock stem, but the effect wasn't nearly as noticeable as 70/50.

@RoverAl, I'm not sure how much you weigh, but I remember reading something from Specialized about riders of varying weights having surprising similar amounts of weight placed on the handlebar. The 70/80 felt so much harder to me that I wonder if you might benefit from a lower setting as well.

Overall, I'm smitten. They're heavier than a regular stem but my bike weighs 28lbs so a few grams is not going to make much difference.

20170717_211258.jpg  20170717_211309.jpg  

0
RoverAl

Avatar / Picture

Senior Member
Registered:
Posts: 469
Reply with quote  #13 
Quote:
@RoverAl, I'm not sure how much you weigh

I'm in the ~215 +- category. 
I am still on the stock preset that it arrived with and am pleased overall to this day. 

The next rainy day(re: stuck inside with nothing to do) I think I will try a softer setting.
Glad you like it.What is that blue thing on top?
0
tacobellbiker

Starter
Registered:
Posts: 18
Reply with quote  #14 
That's a Quad Lock phone mount. I've been using it for a year now and my phone hasn't fallen off, so no complaints from me.
0
cmcalpin

Member
Registered:
Posts: 43
Reply with quote  #15 
 I myself know that my hand numbness goes hand in hand with road vibrations transferring from the wheels up through the fork, through the stem, and into the bars. For example I can be riding along at a normal pace and hit a long downhill. During the long downhill as I build up speed, oftentimes my hands go numb during the descent. I figured that out some time ago. Different road surfaces, tire tread patterns, PSI, and speeds affect the vibration "frequencies" and it seems in my case that "higher frequencies" seem to make my hands go numb quicker, sometimes within seconds.

Anyways now that I have explained all that, and being an ex bowhunter, I have long wondered what would happen if you wrapped a silicone device around your stem of some sort to absorb the vibrations and dissipate them before they reached your hands on the bars. Look in the archery market. They have hundreds of gizmos that attach all over the modern bows at various locations such as limb forks, risers, strings, bus cables to name a few. Wouldn't that be simpler than "redesigning" the stem? Just curious.......

__________________
SWIG Tour
SW Iowa's premier gravel ride
0
ljsmith

Senior Member
Registered:
Posts: 192
Reply with quote  #16 
Quote:
Originally Posted by cmcalpin
 They have hundreds of gizmos that attach all over the modern bows at various locations such as limb forks, risers, strings, bus cables to name a few. Wouldn't that be simpler than "redesigning" the stem? Just curious.......


It certainly would be simpler, but no where near as effective.  Trek and Specialized have both tried things like this with Zertz and Buzz kill, but these turned out to be more gimmicky than functional.
0
bobknh

Senior Member
Registered:
Posts: 558
Reply with quote  #17 
Hi Al - thanks for spending the time to write a thorough review. The more unpaved roads I ride- the more something like this appeals to me. 







0
bnystrom

Member
Registered:
Posts: 32
Reply with quote  #18 
I agree that this review is definitely helpful. If I could convince them to make the stem in a 130mm size, I'd definitely try one.

The review also points out that the purpose of the stem is bump absorption rather than vibration damping. They're two related, but distinct issues. I find that they tend to be more difficult to deal with at the front of the bike than the rear, since the fork/stem/bars must be stiff enough to provide firm control and resist braking forces, so compliance is often in short supply. This is particularly true of carbon bikes with disk brakes.

My personal experience is that bump absorption requires some form of suspension, whether it's just fat, low-pressure tires, flex built into the frame, seatpost and/or handlebars, or actual active suspension like the stem or other mechanical system. The point is to absorb the larger, harder hits and at least take the edge off them so they don''t beat up the rider.

Vibration damping can be accomplished by several means. Tires can do a good job of damping vibration, but many people simply run too much pressure in their tires, which prevents them from doing the job. Fortunately, the trend is toward lower pressures. I weigh 170 pounds and run the following pressures:
  • Road - 25mm clincher tires on 20mm road rims at 70/80 front/rear
  • Gravel/'cross - 40mm tubeless tires on 24mm rims at 32/34 front/rear
  • MTB (hardtail 29er) - 2.25" tubeless tires on 24mm rims at 26/28 psi front/rear
These pressures provide a comfortable ride, but I don't have to worry about bottoming out.

Handlebar tape can make a huge difference. My preference for road and gravel is double wrapping, with a layer of cork tape as the base (whatever brand I find on sale) with Cannondale Synapse tape as the outer layer. The Synapse tape is made from EVA, which is more rubbery than cork, providing much better vibration damping and better grip as well. It also turns out to be very durable; the tape on my road bike is at least 4 years old and is still in good shape.

While we're on the topic of bars, there are a couple of consideration for the bars themselves. While carbon bars are highly touted for their vibration damping ability, they're most effective at frequencies that are much higher than what we experience on the road or trail. They also tend to be extremely rigid, which prevents them from absorbing bumps to any useful degree. The end result is front end that is just plain harsh. For these reasons, I prefer aluminum bars, as they typically have a degree of flex that helps with bump absorption. The aforementioned tape system takes care of vibration damping.

Another key item in front-end vibration damping is gloves. Padding here definitely helps.

At the back end, there are several types of seatposts that are designed to aid in bump absorption and vibration damping. They all work to varying degrees. Saddle choice makes a huge difference, too. While I like my road saddles to be narrow with thin padding, for gravel and MTB I use TT/Tri saddles that have a wider, padded nose, a deep relief groove (or cutout) and a bit more generous padding. That takes much of the sting out of a stiff frame on bumps, absorbs vibration well and the Lycra cover on the nose of the saddles I use makes it easier to slide on and off.

Hopefully these ideas will work for some of you, too.
0
cmcalpin

Member
Registered:
Posts: 43
Reply with quote  #19 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ljsmith
It certainly would be simpler, but no where near as effective.  Trek and Specialized have both tried things like this with Zertz and Buzz kill, but these turned out to be more gimmicky than functional.


Interesting. I never knew that but thanks for informing me.

__________________
SWIG Tour
SW Iowa's premier gravel ride
0
Previous Topic | Next Topic
Print
Reply

Quick Navigation:

Easily create a Forum Website with Website Toolbox.