Ritchey WCS Trail Stem $99.95
We can't think of a person whose influence on mountain biking has been further reaching than that of Tom Ritchey. Undeniably, though, mountain bike technology has come a long way since Tom built the first production mountain bikes. However, this isn't to say that Ritchey hasn't played an integral role in this advancement. Case in point is the Ritchey WCS Trail Stem.
In the past five years, handlebar width has grown dramatically. Where 28-inch wide handlebars were once considered to be acceptable only for downhill use, it's now common to find bars wider than 30-inches on trail bikes. After all, the extra control that comes with wider bars is undeniable. However, that extra leverage has a tendency to exaggerate the flex of lightweight stems. That's why Ritchey designed its 220 degree handlebar clamp. As its name implies, the stem wraps 220 degrees of the diameter of the handlebar, as opposed to the standard 180 degrees found on most other stems.
This design feature highlights the WCS Trail stem's fundamental difference from others. Basically, most stems rely on the face plate to resist torsional loads. The downside to this is that the face plate is rarely as stiff as the stem body, which then leads to the stem flexing under load. But, Ritchey's 220 degree handlebar clamp allows twisting forces to be handled solely by the body of the stem, which boosts stiffness to levels rarely seen in lightweight stems -- let alone a stem that tips the scales around 115 grams. Furthering this theme of rigidity, the WCS Trail stem is 3D forged out of 2014 aluminum. And, as a result, the stem's resistance to twisting forces is thoroughly enhanced.
The Ritchey WCS Trail Stem fits is only compatible with 1-1/8in steerer tubes, including tapered versions. It's available in six sizes from 60 to 110mm and in the color Matte Black.