While the race-friendly Zipp SL Sprint stem is bonkers-stiff for the most demanding sprinters in the world, its ±12 degree rise limited its appeal. Enter the new Zipp SL Speed stem that’s beautiful, light, stiff and with a ±6 degree rise, it’s perfect for the rest of us.

Zipp SL Speed Stem Features:

  • Lightweight, stiff unidirectional carbon
  • ±6° rise
  • Available in 70, 80, 90, 100, 110, 120mm (tested)
  • Weight: 123 grams
  • MSRP: $265
The stout Zipp SL Speed stem offers excellent handling.

The stout Zipp SL Speed stem offers excellent handling.

SL Speed stem is one solid stem

Your stem may seem unsexy, but it plays a critical role in bike fit and handling. Of course, the primary deciding factor in a stem purchase should be the proper length and rise. With the SL Speed stem, you get a traditional ±6° rise with typical lengths that most riders need. In my case, the 54cm Pinarello Dogma F8 was outfitted with a set of Zipp Service Course SL-70 Ergo bars that feature a short 70mm reach. As such, I had the 120mm SL Speed stem, which proved stiff and compliant over a summer’s worth of testing.

The funny thing about stems is people don’t think of them much as a vibration-absorbing device. Going from an alloy stem to a carbon one is certainly a significant expense, but the added lateral stiffness and surprising vibration absorption is noticeable every time. That has certainly been the case with the new SL Speed as my alloy bars have delivered a sublime road feel with reduced road chatter.

Try as I may, I couldn’t seem to flex this stem one bit. Standing climbs and sprints were stiff and flex-free. But, at the same time, chipseal roads were subdued by this stem.

The SL Speed Stem is stiff under pressure.

The SL Speed Stem is stiff under pressure.

While the SL Speed does seem large and chunky at first, it has grown on me and now makes regular-diameter stems seem wimpy. All that size still remains lightweight at 123 grams, so you can get a stout stem without any weight penalty.

Zipp has opted for T-25 Torx bolts throughout for a more consistent bolt interface. Yeah, some may gripe that they went away from hex bolts, but Torx drivers are commonplace and ensure a sound bolt for years to come.

About the only negative I found was getting long enough rubber bands to secure my Lezyne Mini GPS. I had to get creative and join two bands together to get enough length. This is all solved if you have a forward mount. And, be sure you have a torque wrench available to tighten the bolts correctly.

The Good

  • Lateral stiffness for responsive handling
  • Chatter reduction that can be felt
  • Still impressively light

The Bad

  • Might require longer bands for stem-mounted GPS units

The Bottom Line: Zipp SL Speed Stem

With chunky looks and excellent performance, the SL Speed will easily win you over. Throw it on and you’ll enjoy solid handling with noticeable chatter reduction.

More Info: Visit Zipp.com

About Author

A native of the Pacific Northwest, Jason quickly developed a love for the outdoors and a thing for mountains. That infatuation continues as he founded this site in 1999 -- sharing his love of road biking, mountain biking, trail running and skiing. That passion is channeled into every article or gear review he writes. Utah's Wasatch Mountains are his playground.

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