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It takes a bit of getting used to, but spend time with the Kinekt Suspension Stem and it brings some welcome relief on rough roads and tracks, especially if the distances you like to ride are on the long side. Weight weenies may baulk at the weight, though.
While you can tame the ride comfort of your gravel bike by tweaking the tyre pressures, sometimes that's not enough, which is where the Kinekt comes in.
Its parallelogram, spring-damped design allows around 20mm of travel, and although it won't take the sting out of larger impacts it does a good job of taming high-frequency vibrations and smaller jolts.
The Kinekt comes with three different springs: soft, medium and firm. The medium is fitted as standard as this is the one Kinekt believes will correspond with the majority of people's weight and riding styles.
I found it a little on the spongy side, and it bottomed out easily which soon became annoying. A lot of this I put down to the fact that I have quite a large drop from my saddle to the handlebar, which puts extra weight on my wrists.
Installing the firmer spring (which was very simple thanks to the included instructions – all you need is a 2.5mm hex key) gave much smoother and progressive damping.
It can feel a little weird at first until you get used to the movement, but it soon becomes normal, and with the firmer spring rate there is minimal 'bob' when riding on smooth tarmac or when you are out of the saddle.
When braking hard on steep, rough descents the suspension effect lets you keep a firmer grip on the levers, which is a big bonus.
Overall, I did notice benefits to wrist and shoulder comfort – not so much on shorter rides of a couple of hours, more when I was out for four or five hours at a time. I think this is when I'd look to fit the Kinekt, for those longer jaunts – with all the frame bags mounted, the extra weight of the stem would be less noticeable too. For short, fast rides I'd just stick with the standard rigid one.
The Kinekt comes in 90mm, 100mm, 105mm and 120mm lengths, with an option of either a 7 degree or 13 degree angle, and has a stack height of 40mm.
It's well made from 6061 aluminium alloy with stainless steel fixings, and looks to be a solid unit that'll take plenty of abuse. Tolerance-wise, I had no issues with fitting various handlebars or when clamping it to the fork steerer.
The Kinekt is priced at £169.99 which is a bit more than the Redshift Sports ShockStop stem at £149.99. The Redshift offers the same 20mm of travel but is lighter and has a much more subtle look to it than the Kinekt.
On the whole, I do get the suspension stem thing, especially if you are into long-distance gravel riding or bikepacking. The fatigue reduction is noticeable in the wrists, with the only real trade-off being the overall weight it adds to your bike.
Effective bump-taming suspension stem as long as you don't mind the added weight
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Kinekt Suspension Stem
Size tested: 31.8 x 105mm
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?
Kinekt says, "Introducing the Revolutionary Stem that is designed to reduce arm, wrist, and shoulder discomfort. Adjustable, Compact, and built to last. The Ultimate Upgrade."
The technology is sound and it does a good job of isolating you from the rough terrain below.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
According to Kinekt:
15-20mm of travel for comfort and control.
Significantly reduces high-frequency vibration felt through the handlebars due to uneven terrain.
Your Kinekt Stem comes with 3 different springs to adjust to your riding style and terrain. Easy to change! Comes with Soft, Medium (Installed) and Firm.
Compatible with a wide range of handlebars (shims maybe required for some bars).
Balanced so extra weight is not noticed.
Control and steering are not compromised.
Significantly lighter than suspension fork.
Our new Stem is Vertically Compliant for more comfort and safety. The movement is up and down and does not change your riding position under hard braking. Your Kinekt Stem gives you confidence under any riding conditions.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
It does the job it's designed to; worth trying different spring rates out.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
It did reduce fatigue, especially at the wrists.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
It is much heavier than a standard stem.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
It's more expensive than the Redshift by around £20, and also heavier.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes, especially for longer rides.
Would you consider buying the product? Possibly
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
Overall, the Kinekt is a well made piece of kit that does seem to reduce pain and fatigue in your upper body and arms. It adds a fair amount of weight though and isn't as discreet as some other options.
About the tester
I usually ride: This month's test bike My best bike is: B'Twin Ultra CF draped in the latest bling test components
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, commuting, club rides, sportives, fixed/singlespeed,
As part of the tech team here at F-At Digital, senior product reviewer Stu spends the majority of his time writing in-depth reviews for road.cc, off-road.cc and ebiketips using the knowledge gained from testing over 1,500 pieces of kit (plus 100's of bikes) since starting out as a freelancer back in 2009. After first throwing his leg over a race bike back in 2000, Stu's ridden more than 170,000 miles on road, time-trial, track, and gravel bikes, and while he's put his racing days behind him, he still likes to smash the pedals rather than take things easy. With a background in design and engineering, he has an obsession with how things are developed and manufactured, has a borderline fetish for handbuilt metal frames and finds a rim braked road bike very aesthetically pleasing!