Recently, the cockpit has become the last mile of marginal gains. Integrated bar/stem systems or internally-routed cables are everywhere, but you don’t need that level of integration (and frustration) to get an aerodynamic and responsive stem. ENVE doesn’t do anything halfway and their SES Aero Road Stem is a great example of the ultimate in personalization without buying a variety of stems in the process.
ENVE SES Aero Road Stem Features:
- Carbon material with aluminum faceplate and titanium hardware
- Garmin and Wahoo mounts available from ENVE
- Adjustable rises of -12° fixed, -17°/-7° with angle shim (-7° tested)
- Available in 90, 100, 110, 120, 130, 140mm (+/-2.5mm with -12° shim)
- Weight: 175 grams (110mm length)
- MSRP: $300
Installation process takes time
Most stems are pretty forgiving in their stack height. Although it may not look as pro, it’s easy to put a spacer or two atop the stem to dial in the proper fit. But, with ENVE’s Aero Stem, that’s not an option because #aero and because the top lacks a flat surface for spacers to sit on. Because of that, ENVE includes detailed instructions on how to properly cut the steerer to achieve the most professional look and performance.
The Aero Stem was installed on a Factor O2 Disc. This process included removing the existing Black Inc Barstem and also installing Shimano’s bar end Di2 junction box (EW-RS910) for an integrated look. I had to cut a few mm off the steerer to allow the top cap to sit flush and properly tension the headset. While I was at it, I rewired the Di2 cables to change from the under stem junction box to the bar end unit. ENVE’s updated Compact Road Bars are now compatible with this junction box and provide internal routing options for Di2 cables.
I did have to cut the end off one side of the bars in the process, so I gave up one of ENVE’s awesome flip-style bar ends. After all was said and done, the combined bar, stem and Di2 routing process took about 90 minutes. I measured fifty times before cutting, so that’s what took the most time. Cutting the steerer with precision takes patience, so make sure you have the proper tools, or just let your mechanic do the work.
I went with the -7° shim to maintain my proper fit and it looks fantastic. I’ll leave -12° and -17° for the professionals. Because I run the Stages M50 Dash and a Stages dual-sided power meter, I had to order the Stages integrated mount ($44.99 from StagesCycling.com), but Wahoo and Garmin mounts are available from ENVE for $60.
Access to the two underside bolts is relatively straightforward and their angle doesn’t get too wonky when getting a torque wrench in there. The top bolt is, of course, easily-accessed. To set the bar position, I snugged up that top bolt to hold the bars in place for positioning. Not too tight, but just enough to keep the bars from flopping. I could then set everything and tighten all bolts to spec. Again, the overall install process is a bit involved, so take your time and you will be stoked with the results.
Adjustable, sleek and comfortable
Going from an integrated bar/stem unit to separate bar and stem was a big win for me. While integrated bar/stem units look sleek, they lack the adjustability that can be achieved with individual units. For me, I could rotate the bars just slightly and achieve a spot-on fit.
One of the main features of the Aero Stem is its aerodynamic benefits. Certainly, it’s there and a few watts can be saved. Can I measure them? Obviously not. And, I’m not so sure those savings are still as valid with a clunky head unit like the Stages M50 Dash sitting out front, but it looks superb and I’m sure it’s more slippery than a standard square-faced stem. If you have a more aerodynamic Wahoo ELEMNT Bolt, I’m sure the airflow will be more efficient.
Aerodynamics are a big part of the stem story, but I’ll vouch that it’s not the only story that matters for most of us. On that note, ride quality is excellent and stiffness is palpable. The combination of the ENVE Compact Road Bar and Aero Stem is a winner for me on all fronts. Steering is precise and responsive and everything just feels dialed. You’ll experience some chatter reduction for sure, but make no mistake — the ENVE Aero Stem stem is stiff enough for the most demanding sprinters.
I’ll add that this isn’t a stem for weight weenies. There are plenty of lighter carbon or alloy stems on the market, that’s for sure. But, the level of precision, aerodynamics and ride quality is as good as it gets. I’m not complaining about a few grams of extra weight. Nope, not one bit.
- Sleek look maintains a high-end appearance
- Optimized for aero efficiency
- Adjustable rise and length without switching stems
- Integrated out front computer mounts look fantastic
- Titanium hardware adds durability
- Stiff and responsive with a dose of chatter reduction
- Installation process isn’t for the inexperienced — make sure you have the right tools
- No way to hide the high price tag
The Bottom Line: ENVE SES Aero Road Stem
When every watt matters and you still want a fully-adjustable bar/stem combo, the ENVE SES Aero Stem is a fantastic choice. It looks amazing and delivers sublime ride qualities with the right dose of stiffness and chatter reduction at the same time.
Buy Now: Available from ENVE.com