review

Redshift Sports ShockStop Suspension Stem

8
£149.99

VERDICT:

8
10
A great option for transforming a harsh ride into a smooth, fatigue-reduced cruise, while looking discreet
Weight: 
297g

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The Redshift Sports Shockstop stem does exactly what it says on the tin: it stops shocks. Suspension stems have never had a good reputation, but that's about to change. In the Shockstop, Redshift has engineered something that arguably should be on the list for any rider dealing with rough surfaces, natural or man-made.

  • Pros: Reduces road buzz and hand and arm fatigue, looks like a normal stem, 10 options of rise/length
  • Cons: Weight, only 10 options of rise/length

If you're riding long distances over rough surfaces (that would be 'roads' here in austerity Britain) you will likely have experienced sore wrists, hands or arms because of the constant vibration. The Shockstop alleviates this by having a large sealed bearing at one end, damped by adjustable elastomers internally, which then allow the whole stem to pivot and afford up to 20mm of vertical movement in the handlebar.

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The Shockstop fits standard 1 1/8in steerers, with an adapter available if you have a quill stem and shims needed for smaller diameters. The handlebar diameter is a stock 31.8mm.

I replaced a 117g 100mm ITM Ergal stem with the 286g 110mm Shockstop, and it's fair to say didn't notice the extra weight – that 169g being exactly 1.9% of my bike's weight, or a few decent slurps from a bottle.

The five swappable colour-coded elastomers are fitted two at a time, a handy table giving you starter-for-ten suggested combos depending on your weight, from sub-52 up to over 98kg. The clear instructions are easy to follow but there is a hefty bolded warning not to try playing with the elastomers when uninstalled from the bike, lest ye permanently knacker the threaded preload wedge gubbins.

The elastomers go in the front of the stem, and the trial-and-error elastomer swap process is one I'd have been happy to do out on the road with a handy 5Nm torque wrench in my pocket. As it was I found the recommended elastomer settings for my weight to be spot on over the long term, so I never tried to go up or down.

During much of the test period I was riding 50mm carbon aero wheels with 25mm tubeless tyres – a rather radical departure from my usual 24mm alloy rims and 28mm tubeless.

How does it feel?

When on the tops, you can't sense movement pressing down – perhaps due to the lack of weight leverageable through your bent forearms. Handlebar movement is only really noticeable with your arms locked and weight much more forward.

In the drops, with more weight forward, under hard pedalling efforts you can feel the bar give forwards, but it's a small movement and doesn't detract or distract from getting on with the effort.

Under hard, dry cornering, switching back and forth, I couldn't sense any degradation in the bike's handling – at least none that was anywhere close to the limit of tyre traction/an NHS visit. Likewise under hard braking I couldn't feel the handlebar 'dive' – the suspension effect seemed to remain active, which is handy as you'd assume that's assisting traction under braking.

Does it work?

With your hands in any position, the ShockStop does an admirable job of removing road buzz and smaller hits from pock-marked and fractured tarmac surfaces. The state of chip-sealed roads when they are due another surface dressing can get pretty bad, and the Shockstop does a sterling job smoothing out that noise.

Off-road on large gravel (yes, on 25mm tyres/50mm carbon rims) handling and vibration both felt 'improved'; it's hard to tell if the extra give translates into improved traction, with the front tyre less likely to depart contact with the ground, but you'd assume that if the bike wasn't bouncing you about as much, the front wheel must be tracking the surface better than with a rigid stem.

> 9 ways to make your bike more comfortable

Going properly off-road, off-road.cc guru Pat commented: "I put it on and after two normally unpleasantly jarring gravel rides on the rutted towpath in and out of Bath, I was sold. I had to change the elastomers which was a 10-minute job, but after that I've been impressed on every surface I've used it on. It's just a shame it was a couple of days late for the Gritfest Event in Wales.

"My only slightly negative comment is that the first time or two you get out of the saddle and haul on the bars it feels a little like a fork on lockout with some give on the 'system', but you soon get used to it and I don't even think about it at all.

"I reckon the price is excellent, too, considering the cost of a Fox AX or MRP Baxter or Lauf Fork: around £700."

While I don't own one, so can't comment, there are internet reports of happy users fitting Shockstops to time trial bikes to ease the impact of riding over rough surfaces in aggressive, unforgiving positions.

Reduced fatigue

Over several months I noticed a distinct reduction in tricep fatigue past the three-hour ride mark, which was not attributable to anything other than the Shockstop and its fatigue-reducing properties. This was quite a feat given I was mostly riding the stiffer, less-cushioning carbon wheelset at the time.

If I had to make a comparison, I'd say the overall effect of the Shockstop is like going from a 23mm tyre at 100psi to a 38mm at 50psi or less – although it's for the front wheel only obviously. If you've never made that leap, take it from me – it feels loads better.

It's not cheap, and it's not overly light, but it actually works and doesn't detract from handling. If you need a bump/buzz-taming bike but can't manage fatter rubber, a new fork or a new frame, the Redshift Sports Shockstop could be a reasonably priced option for you.

Verdict

A great option for transforming a harsh ride into a smooth, fatigue-reduced cruise, while looking discreet

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road.cc test report

Make and model: Redshift Sports ShockStop Suspension Stem

Size tested: +/-6 deg,110mm

Tell us what the product is for and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?

It's for people wanting more comfort/less hand and arm vibration from the roads, without going to wider tyres.

Redshift Sports says: "An adjustable-stiffness suspension stem that smooths out your ride that's perfect for performance cyclists, recreational riders, and commuters.

"The patent-pending ShockStop Suspension Stem smooths out road imperfections, reducing fatigue and strain. Whether you're on a local group ride, or exploring gravel back roads, the ShockStop will make your ride smoother, faster, and more comfortable. The minimal, subtle design blends seamlessly with the aesthetic of modern road bikes."

Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?

Redshift Sports:

Available in +/-6 degree or +30 degree high-rise versions

+/-6 degree available in 90, 100, 110, and 120mm lengths.

+30 degree available in 100mm length.

Includes 5 swappable elastomers (2 pre-installed, 3 additional) to customize the ride feel for your bike, weight, and riding style.

Effective suspension travel - Up to 20mm (drop bar road bike), up to 10mm (flat bar road bike).

Minimal design blends with modern road bikes.

Fits standard 1-1/8 inch steerer tubes

Fits 31.8mm handlebars (25.4mm and 26.0mm shims available)

The ShockStop Stem package contains the following:

1 x ShockStop Stem

5 x swappable elastomers (2 pre-installed, 3 additional in box)

All required hardware

Weight

264 g +/-6 deg, 90mm

274 g +/-6 deg, 100mm

286 g +/-6 deg, 110mm

298 g +/-6 deg, 120mm

274 g +30 deg, 100mm

Steerer Clamp Diameter (A)

1-1/8 inch (28.6 mm)

Handlebar Clamp Diameter (B)

31.8 mm

Effective Travel

Up to 20mm on drop-bar road bike.

Up to 10mm on flat-bar road bike.

Material

6061 T6 aluminum

Rider Weight Limit

135 kg (300 lb)

Steerer Tube Clamp Stack Height

40mm

Rate the product for quality of construction:
 
9/10

Very well done indeed – high quality throughout.

Rate the product for performance:
 
8/10

It really adds to the ride, in a good way.

Rate the product for durability:
 
10/10

It's forged form alloy and looks like it will outlast you/your bike.

Rate the product for weight (if applicable)
 
8/10

Acceptable for what it is/needs to do.

Rate the product for comfort (if applicable)
 
9/10

It's well comfy!

Rate the product for value:
 
8/10

Is it less, more or about the same price as other similar products? There's nothing really comparable this side of the year 2000. I'd say if it reduces fatigue and lets you ride further, that's got to be a huge win.

Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose

Very decently.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the product

It works.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product

Maybe the chunky looks.

Did you enjoy using the product? Yes

Would you consider buying the product? Yes

Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes

Use this box to explain your overall score

It works, very well, and is of acceptable cost and weight.

Overall rating: 8/10

About the tester

Age: 45  Height: 183cm  Weight: 72kg

I usually ride: Merida Ride 5000 Disc  My best bike is: Velocite Selene

I've been riding for: Over 20 years  I ride: A few times a week  I would class myself as: Expert

I regularly do the following types of riding: cyclo-cross, club rides, general fitness riding, mountain biking, Dutch bike pootling.