Head angles are going slack, stems are getting ever shorter, so why not take it to the extreme? The dirt road riding & touring aficionados of Analog Cycles have been preaching the gospel of slowing down to enjoy the ride for years. Now their new 0 & 30mm offset w(Right) stems take inspiration from century-old bike design to give riders a more comfortable grip on the bars and a stable ride.
Analog w(Right) 0 & 30mm offset quill road & tour stems
Analog Cycles has a motto of ‘subvert the paradigm’. And that’s pretty well the M.O. of building a (pseudo) modern zero offset quill stem, based on bikes made by the Wright brothers in 1890s Ohio.
The idea essentially boils down to the fact that those turn-of-the-century bikes used large volume tires, slack headtubes, and a good bit of trail to deliver a ride that was both stable and predictable on rough road surfaces. And of course those bikes used super short or even 0-offset stems paired with swept back or drop bars to give cyclists (especially smaller ones) a comfortable, upright position on the bike without any toe-overlap.
Why bring back a century old 0mm stem concept? Well, now more cyclists are rediscovering the pleasure of riding back roads, dirt roads & gravel. Fast moving off-road bikepacking is exploding, but so too is the idea of casual touring & cruising on quiet roads.
Mountain bikes are getting ever shorter stems and slacker angles, and the time may be ripe for gravel touring riders to reap the same handling benefits on the road as well. With back swept alt-bars (like a Jones H-bar), riders’ hands were often already behind the steerer tube. And with most road drop bars stretching the rider even further forward, a no-offset stem could bring hands back to a comfortable reach. You don’t even need really slack geometry.
So Analog took the idea, prototyped some no-offset stems and spent months riding each iteration on road & trail to see if the handling really worked like anticipated. And it did, so they decided to start producing the stems to help more riders dial in proper, comfortable fits.
It really help riders looking to shorten the reach to their current bar setup, or who feel their bar is too low. The biggest to benefit could be riders with longer legs/shorter upper bodies, who can size up a frame with the no-offset stem to lessen toe overlap (which any small rider will testify is a real problem, especially with larger volume tires and/or fenders) and avoid some of the geometry compromises that plague smaller bikes.
Tech Details of the w(Right) stem
The w(Right) is a made-in-the-USA chromo steel stem, a mix of TIG welding and fillet brazing by the California bike builder crafting the American made Crust Bikes (more about those coming soon.)
It uses a two-bolt removable faceplate for easy install, and has 0mm and 30mm offset version. The stems are available to clamp 26.0mm classic road or 31.6mm modern road bars. For now the wRight is only available with a 225mm long quill to fit 1″ threaded headset/forks.
That means that this is a retrofit solution for the most part, although a number of retro-grouch friendly steel bike companies – like Crust, Rivendell, Soma to name a few – still build 1″ headtube touring bikes. The stems are designed to work with typical road & touring geometry, and have been tested on bike with average to long fork trail. (It could help turn your old 1″ mountain bike from the 90s into a fun off-road drop bar ride, while keeping your hand position in check.)
A version to work on a 1 1/8″ threadless bike is in the works too. Fabricator Darren Larkin already builds some similar items for Crust, and is working on the Analog removable faceplate versions as we type, that will retail starting under $180 when they get announced this spring.
The quill stems are in production now. You can pre-order direct from Analog now with a $80 deposit. A raw (completely unfinished stem, paint it if you want, or let it corrode) wRight stem sells for $140. For $185, Analog will treat & then clearcoat it for you, so you get to see how great it looks with less rust over time. Lead time is about a month as of now.