The ControlTech Ti Mania stem claims to be the world's first monocoque constructed titanium stem, and it's a performance component that's well worth considering if you're looking for the finishing touch to your Ti pride and joy.
Control Tech are well known for alloy and carbon fibre components mostly stems and seatposts, though the Ti Mania range heralds a new move into the magic metal. I've been using this 90mm (lengths from 90-120mm in 10mm increments), 123g Ti Mania stem for about a year and it's proven itself in battle.
At the same time it has blown away all the criticisms we normally have about titanium stems – in that they're not that light, or very stiff, or offer much in the way of ride softening titanium feel.
Control Tech opted for the greater strength to weight ratio of 6Al/4V titanium over 3Al/2.5V to allow them to make a stem which can attain the kind of weight and stiffness metrics that you'd get from a good alloy stem, but with the vibration dissipation benefits of titanium. The downsides of using 6/4 titanium (over 3/2.5Ti) are greater material costs as well as being harder to weld and machine.
A careful study of the Ti Mania stem shows Control Tech have all the skills to work with 6/4 with a degree of skill we normally see from the best custom titanium frame builders. The first thing you'll notice is that there are no visible welds on the stem, not because Control tech do any clever post weld finishing, but because the Ti Mania stem doesn't have any welds. That's right this is a monocoque 6/4 titanium structure. Control Tech cold forge the stem as one piece (less the separate 6/4Ti faceplate). All that's done post forging is to give it a polish.
Control Tech are also able to reap some extra benefits from a one piece monocoque structure; firstly the forging process helps align material grain adding stiffness and strength but the process allows control of the precise location of every gram of material, removing it from places where it's not needed, like the side of the steerer tube and portions of the four-bolt faceplate, and add it to where it is needed like the forward extension. The stiffness and light weight are designed-in results of intelligent material choice and manipulation. It's not marketing BS either; this is a properly stiff stem, not just a stiff titanium stem. Even on a mountain bike with 70cm wide bars it's stiff, with 42cm road bars you'll be more than satisfied. Think Thompson for a guideline.
OK, so it's stiff, but this Ti Mania can benefit any rider looking to change the feel of their ride by letting the titanium material subtly add to the comfort of the front end of the bike too. Ti just has an ability to eat up the small amplitude hi frequency buzz like nothing else.
So that I could (as far as possible) determine this as fact, I painstakingly back to back tested the stem in place of my regular alloy stem (and then other alloy stems, then another Ti stem). By only changing one components in a known set up I'm convinced I was able to positively identify the ride nuances.
The classic Ti grey colour of the stem mates well with any colour frame so it'll fit right onto your bike (whatever its material) without messing with the look. Of course many of the fans of this stem will be owners of Titanium bikes, looking to complete the Titanium look. Unless you're the owner of a full dark grey Moots-esque shade frame, the Ti Mania stem will look the biz.
Not cheap, but that's not the point. Stiff, and the perfect accompaniment to your Ti frame for the titanium completist.
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Make and model: ControlTech Ti Mania stem
Size tested: 90mm
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?
Control Tech say, "The world's first monocoque constructed titanium stem is designed to offer the performance modern riders want from this material"
It's the stiffest and best feeling titanium stem we've ever used. Not cheap, but you're getting what you pay for.
Control Tech have a solid reputation for duruability in their metal products. We've no reason to doubt this stem will be good for many years.
About spot on for the length and the intended use
Titanium stems, such as this one, help soften vibratons to the rider. While on some this can mean added flexibility, here that isn't the case.
Not cheap, but Titanium, especially well worked good quality Ti is worth the spend.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
The stem adds a new dimension to the world of titanium stems finally one which hard riding normally ti-averse riders can use without issues.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
It's light, stiff, helps with front end comfort and it looks great on any bike, but is the cherry on the cake for titanium frame owners.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Naturally we'd like it to be cheaper, but given the expense and quality of manufacture we can't complain too much.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes.
Would you consider buying the product? It's probably a stem you migrate to after a few years of boiling down the rest of the ride, but yes.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes.
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