Redshift Sports has made some clever designs in the past to allow riders to modify their road bikes for multiple disciplines. They’re at it again with….. you better sit down. It’s a new suspension stem. Though many may have just had Girvin and Softride flashbacks, (man, I miss the 90’s), this takes a whole new approach in not only design, but who this stem is meant for.

Flex on through to reconsider the suspension stem…

 

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Before you let your assumptions get the best of you, take in consideration how much effort has gone into making road bikes more comfortable in just the last 5 years. Add to that, Gravel bikes and the conditions those riders endure over a long period of time. It’s no secret that in addition to the physical exertion from pedaling, a lot of fatigue is produced by the body constantly compensating for road vibration. For instance: taking a 4 hour trip in an old bumpy Jeep vs a luxury car will wear you out, and you’re just sitting there the whole time. The current batch of damped frames and forks are a huge improvement over what was available just a few years ago, however these systems are designed to only isolate and smooth out light to medium vibrations. Riders who may suffer from hand or upper joint pains during long rides have tried to add padding to their bars, buy special gloves, or worse…. installing a super high rise stem that takes pressure off of their upper extremities only to transfer it to another area.

Shockstop Gif

The crew at Redshift put some thought and consideration into this project with a focus on keeping it simple, effective, and make it look like a normal stem. The Shockstop is a single-pivot shock-absorbing suspension stem made of forged aluminum that uses the same sealed cartridge bearings that are used in high-end mountain bike suspension pivots to increase small bump compliance while remaining torsionally stiff. Shock absorption is achieved by using varying, easy to switch out elastomers that let you fine tune the ride.

Unlike even the most shock absorbing carbon forks available, the Shockstop can deliver a full 1 to 2 centimeters of travel, (around 6°), which is enough to provide cushioning against most road impacts, without affecting the geometry or handling of your bike.  Consider this in the now ever popular “Gravel” category and how much fatigue could be reduced over a 2 to 4 hour time period.

Shockstop Specs

The Shockstop will come with variable elastomer inserts to tune to your liking and will retail for $99.

Shockstop Kickstarter

RedShiftSports.com

40 COMMENTS

  1. This looks WAY better than that other recently showed suspension stem. It has a bit less travel but at least you can keep a normal bike fit and not have your bars raised more than 2″. Kudos…hoping you guys go a bit longer than 120 in the future though but I could add this to a touring bike or cross bike

  2. Josh – they are not really comparable.
    True the Oliver does reduce fatigue like any suspension, but it also increases front tire traction and control.
    This does not and is geared at fatigue only. I could see a situation in which both were run. The stem being tune for high frequency damping to prevent hand numbing, the Oliver (or similar) to provide bump compliance and increased control.

    Now if you ride relatively smoother gravel, this alone seem great. But the Oliver wasn’t designed for smoother gravel anyway.

  3. JBikes…if you’re doing a fast descent and hitting smaller holes in the road that make your tires skip off the ground, even 1cm of travel can help you. Hell 3mm of fork deflection can help you more than ZERO. Its better than nothing yet still not insanely heavy. Even if your wheel still chatters on the ground, this will help you keep it down just a tad bit longer

  4. Vegan – unless you ride straight armed and super rigid, this won’t increase traction noticeably over the normal compliance already provided via your frame/fork/body. It will help you maintain control of your bars better though, and that is most likely all that is needed.
    Not really apples to apples, but it would be like mounting a sprung bus seat to your rally car and expecting it to increase tire contact with the ground.

    This is a good product. I don’t think its a replacement for actual function of an Oliver or short travel fork, although I know many use such products purely for what this stem can accomplish since there was previously no real solution.

  5. Every bike in their video was a road racing bike with skinny tires. You know what smooths out the road more effectively than a suspension stem? Wider tires at lower pressures.

    The thinking here is that a rider needs a bike designed for racing with a little band-aid applied to it. What a rider really needs is a bike well suited to the task. That means more compliant frames and forks, more comfortable geometries, and wider tires that still roll well. A stem like this offers nothing on a bike designed properly in the first place.

  6. @Corky – you are correct that temperature does typically affect elastomer stiffness (as temperature drops stiffness increases). We are actually using a special formulation of urethane for our elastomers that stays very flexible well past -80 deg F and slight stiffening only begins to occur well below 0 deg F. So, while you would see some stiffening at very cold temperatures we expect it to be minor and only slightly reduce the magnitude of shock absorption.

  7. I would buy this, actually I will buy this. I ride a fully rigid MTB and just a bit of vibration absorption is all I want. Plus for my wide on her touring bike she would love this.

    Ideal for the Streets of Philadelphia!

  8. and if you’re on the hoods, then they’re rotating forward during compression.

    the old Alsop stem was a parallelogram, so the bars maintained their position and moved vertically only. was it ugly? yes. did it work better, hell yes.

  9. @Fan Boy – its important to keep in mind that the Softride (designed for mountain biking) had up to 3-inches (75mm) of vertical travel! This meant that even though the handlebar did not rotate, the effective geometry of the bike changed radically as the stem compressed. The ShockStop has a practical travel of 1-1.5 cm so even as it rotates it is so small that you do not get a geometry change or an impact on fit – instead you get absorption of the kind of impacts you might encounter on an “all-road” road bike.

  10. The video notes it is designed for road bikes, so it shouldn’t really compare to a low travel suspension fork or MTB styled stems with higher travel. I do a lot of long rides including randonneuring, so this would be a godsend if it works as advertised. My hands are never feeling top notch after 300km. May be nice on the aero bars as well. Based on my experience with the Redshift dual position seatpost, I have confidence this stem will perform well. If reviews come in positively, I will probably buy one.

  11. I take it back. I can see how this could increase traction, but don’t see it doing so to the degree of a suspension fork – but a road bike doesnt really need that does it.

  12. A suspension fork is overkill on a road bike 99% of the time….. gravel bikes might benefit more, but this stem may fill that gap just enough. I know a few folks that would benefit from less vibration on some of the raised gravel surface common on many roads that aren’t “pro” so this stem could fill in a large gray area.

  13. I dont know why they dont invest more time into headache suspension like Cannondale did. It doesn’t have to be much travel. I think that would work great!

  14. @Redshift- Could you tell us the weight and how many testing hours were involved?
    I’m curious because of the bearings.

    Either way like the looks of this stem it’s very clean. At first I thought someone finally made an adjustable stem that wasn’t ugly. I’m definitely interested.

  15. @Mike A – no sweat on the weight, glad you found it. Regarding testing, we have done quite a bit both on-bike and in the lab. We have done fatigue cycling as well as other structural tests on a setup we built that lets us qualify parts per the CEN standard. And with the bearings, we have selected one that is commonly used in full suspension mountain bike rear pivots.

  16. @Redshift Sports: Maybe a carbon/alu mix like Ritchey’s Carbon Matrix Stems would shave a few gram? More than 100gr additional weight at the steerer will be quite noticable…

  17. craigsj, yes. 100%. This is a bandage rather than a solution to the problem. I can get 10-20mm of cush from my tyres as it is, but a bandage has some appeal for those not wanting an entirely new bike.

    I used to use a flexstem, this sort of idea is better than many will give it crediot for, but the flexstem I had was also a fix for an overly harsh bike with bad geometry and too-small tyres. It was pretty normal the early 90s, in hindsight.

  18. @Charlie – we definitely have an all carbon or a carbon/aluminum mix in our plans and if the Kickstarter really catches fire we will offer it before the campaign ends. Also, 100 grams might sound like a lot but in reality that is about the same weight as an empty water bottle. So while some people who are really in tune with their bike might be able to notice it, a lot of us will only be able to perceive the functional aspects.

  19. I like the idea of extra buzz absorption, I’m just worried about vague feeling steering. My one experience with a suspension stem was a Girvin Flexstem on a Schwinn and it felt disconnected so I bought a Specialized with a Rockshox fork instead.

  20. Actually it’s the bike that rotates most of the time when the front wheel hits a bump… Your rear end being the pivot point.

    We know many people are happy with Trek’s IsoSpeed Decoupler on the rear. I see this as being similar.

    By the way, I put a Syntace P6 Carbon HiFlex Seatpost on my bike, but I could not notice any difference at all from an aluminum Zip Service Course seatpost. There’s lots of exposed seatpost, but it doesn’t flex at all, at least that I can detect.

  21. @Slow Joe Crow – I know where you are coming from and this is something that we focused on a lot during development. The major benefit that we have is short restricted travel and 25 years of improvements in joint design. The other thing to keep in mind is that you can adjust stiffness in our stem – so if you put it on a commuter you might want it pretty flexible to soak up messy city roads, but if you have it on road bike and you are doing more performance oriented riding then setting it really stiff will allow it to cut out road buzz but otherwise be almost transparent.

  22. The problem with single pivot stems and drop bars is that in the drops it’s possible for the line of force from one’s hands to go through the pivot. Result is no leverage over the elastomer, so no travel. The Softride design avoided this, plus the bar angle didn’t change annoyingly, or sometimes dangerously (on off-road descents).

  23. @Stephen, valid point, but then if the road gets rough enough to make me need/want compliance at the stem, I’m getting out of the drops for control reasons.

  24. @Velocirator – I went from a carbon FSA K-Force Light seatpost to a titanium Lynskey seatpost (with the Enve seat clamp), both setback versions, with about 7.25″ of seatpost exposed…and the difference in comfort is night and day. I will never go back to a CF seatpost again! The titanium soaks up not only road buzz, but small size bumps on rough road or light trails really well. Just placing one hand on my stem and one hand on my seat, I can push the seat back almost an inch…with moderate force. That Enve seat clamp is a pain though. Required carbon assembly paste to stop movement and it’s an effort to adjust! My new custom bike is getting an Eriksen Ti seat post and hopefully it’s just a shock absorbing but much easier to adjust.

    I’m actually looking forward to trying this stem (after some initial reviews of course) to take up some of the shock from the front end now. Geometrically, on a longest 110m stem, a 15mm drop produces less then 8 degrees drop in rotation of the bars…small enough that I don’t think I’ll notice much.

What do you think?

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