Full Speed Ahead (FSA) is renown for producing all manner of components for all genres of cycling, including gravel bikes. It seems every other week, a new product related to gravel bikes is launched or spotted in the wild under development.

Judging by this proof of concept prototype stem I spotted in plain sight at last weekend’s Dirty Kanza expo, FSA haven’t been sitting idle.

Thus far, I have ascertained this stem is tentatively named “VAS”, aka Vibration Absorbing Stem, designed for gravel and drop-bar off-road riding.

At the heart of VAS is a polymer bushing and hinged center clamp that isolates the handlebar from the stem, whilst preventing rotation and slippage at the same time.

Isolation lessens the vibrations and impacts from a rider’s hands, arms and joints which in the long run, makes for a more comfortable ride. Over a 200-mile course such as Dirty Kanza, saving energy no matter how small the amount, adds up at the end of the day.

Weight and other specifications are unknown at this time, but the stem is compatible with the usual 31.8mm handlebar size. Whilst the stem was not race-tested at the 2019 Dirty Kanza, one of FSA’s representatives did record some test miles at various parts of the course.

Full Speed Ahead

Article first appeared on Gravel Cyclist. Jayson O’Mahoney is the Gravel Cyclist: A website about the Gravel Cycling Experience.


  1. Glen Brimmer on

    Girvin Flexstem? I don’t gravel grind and have no intention of ever getting one, but honest question here, not trying to be a dumbass or smartass. It appears to me that gravel bikes are very similar to 90’s mtb. Other than dropbars and gearing ratio, how are 90’s hardtails and gravel bike different? When Tomac ran a dropbar, would that be considered gravel grinding?

    • Space Raccoon on

      The geometry and position are still way closer to a road bike, so even though some elements are similar to MTB, the overall ride is very different and more like a road bike.

    • Troy on

      I am with you on this Glen – if you have been around long enough you see the progress.
      Its like 29ers and 700c wheels – if Tomac had have run those on his drop-bar “mountain bike” too…..
      I think we are all better off for the progress in materials, but the real bike category thing is much less scientific

    • James on

      The aspirations for the ride and the bike are the difference imo. In the late 80s / early 90s we wanted to race XC and ride wild trails and the technical element was always part of it. Gravel/All-Road has more of a distance or speed aspiration and the bikes are simply adapting to the inevitable, that being on light, tight drop-bar bikes off-road holds you back on anything fast and rough or technical. Anything that helps you cope there is good, so long a the bike remains good on the fast open and smoother stuff where drops make sense.


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