We all get new bike envy, but the reality is money isn’t bottomless and our current bikes are actually quite capable. With that in mind, Redshift Sports has your back (and your neck and arms) with the ShockStop Stem.
Redshift Sports ShockStop Stem Features:
- Available in +/- 6 degrees (90-120mm) or 30 degrees (100mm)
- Up to 20mm travel on drop bar bikes or 10mm on flat bar bikes
- Swappable elastomers for proper travel based on rider weight
- Weight: 295 grams
- MSRP: $139.99
Added comfort in a jiffy
With all eyes on the latest crop of endurance bikes — from the Trek Domane SLR to the Specialized Roubaix — we all want added comfort without compromising performance. Even though most of us won’t really be sacrificing a KOM because of a loss of efficiency, we innately feel the need to have a race bike.
As we age, not only do we live in denial, but our bodies remind us that we aren’t made out of rubber like we were in our earlier years. And, we start to realize that added comfort isn’t a bad thing. First off, let me remind everyone reading this that the first stop in on-bike comfort is a good, professional fitting (I personally trust Jeff Sherrod at Precision Bike Fit here in Salt Lake City). Do yourself a favor and start there, if you haven’t already.
Once you have a good fit, you’ll know the proper stem length and rise to select when selecting a new stem, like the Redshift ShockStop.
Setting up the ShockStop
A handy guide is included with the stem that provides the proper elastomer selection for your weight. For me, it was 80 and 50. Keep in mind that the stem arrives ready for a positive rise install (+6 degrees). While you’re in there changing the elastomers, you’ll have to swap the location of the elastomers to achieve a -6 degree setup, which is what I did.
Whichever direction you go, the elastomers will always be inserted on the upper two slots because the stem will need shock absorption in the downward direction. Again, with a -6 degree setup, I had to choose the right elastomers and re-position them on the opposite side of the stem’s internal slots. It’s all very easily-done, but I will say that until the elastomers are properly-tensioned, it sure doesn’t look like a -6 degree stem. As I tensioned them properly, the stem did settle in at the proper negative rise.
Easy change, noticeable difference
My test bike has been the new Cannondale Synapse Disc and the install was straightforward. Clearly, the Synapse is a comfortable bike, but the ShockStop added even more comfort. Lateral stem stiffness is important for proper handling and I didn’t notice much difference from the standard stem when applying torsional pressure in the drops or hoods. After checking everything out, I went out for a ride.
Around here, many of the roads feature rough chip-seal, which is basically gravel that’s tarred in place. It’s a chattery affair, but the ShockStop muted it noticeably. “Pretty impressive,” I thought to myself. The ride continued and I found myself steering into potholes and ruts just to test it out. Again and again, the ShockStop took the edge off them all.
What’s cool about the suspension movement is that it’s subtle. Honestly, you don’t even notice it other than the fact that everything is smoother. Us old timers remember the elastomer suspension designs of yesteryear, but this stem feels so much more natural and does its without hindering the ride experience.
Later on, I did a head-to-head lap with the ShockStop going up against a FSA SL-K stem for comparison. These back-to-back 9-mile loops included a long descent on terrible asphalt followed by some smooth, rolling terrain. It also features about a half mile of of gravel followed by a short, punchy climb.
The first lap was done with the ShockStop stem and the second lap with the FSA SL-K. Under this back-to-back scenario, I noticed a few interesting things: 1) The ShockStop stem definitely takes the edge off road chatter and bigger bumps and 2) Handling feels only a smidge less precise when cornering (but it may be more of a perception in my mind).
On the gravel sector, the chop-reduction was even more pronounced, thus bringing up a great use-case for the stem — gravel riding. If you’re highly-considering shelling out thousands for a more comfortable bike, I’d give this one a try. If you suffer from numb hands or have discomfort in your arms, upper-body or neck, it’s also worth a try. And, if you ride gravel, the ShockStop is another way to reduce chatter and add a bit of extra control.
Hard braking didn’t seem to phase it either. Earlier designs back in the day dove during stops, thus causing some terrible side-effects. I honestly didn’t notice any brake dive whatsoever and never felt like it reduced my control.
- Adds a noticeable dose of comfort
- Excels at canceling out regular road chatter
- Takes the edge off square-edged bumps
- Pretty inexpensive way to combat hand or other upper-body fatigue issues
- Unobtrusive styling
- No worries about brake dive whatsoever
- Smoother is faster
- Easily double the weight of a traditional stem
- Handling is just a touch less responsive (It may just be perception)
The Bottom Line: Redshift ShockStop Stem
With several endurance bikes featuring built-in suspension designs, it’s no longer laughable to have a suspended road bike. And, Redshift has taken elastomer stems to a whole new level. The ShockStop stem looks like a regular stem, but provides a notable dose of comfort on the road or gravel.
Buy Now: Available at Amazon.com