My high interest in the Redshift suspension stem was based on one 6 hour gravel ride. To be specific, it was the inaugural Peter Sagan gravel fondo in the Sierra mountains of California — and my first ride on a new custom bamboo gravel bike from Craig Calfee.
To say that the terrain was varied would be a colossal understatement and physical insult. There was smooth road, dusty unpaved road, smooth and fast single track and then, long, miserable, brutal stretches of pure rock garden.
A bamboo frame is a beautiful material for soaking up bumps and giving you a smoother ride. In addition, I was running 35mm tires on HED Ardennes wheels. Event organizers Bike Money had suggested either a gravel bike or front suspension mountain bike so I thought I was as well-prepared as possible.
Sadly, I wasn’t.
The correct bike recommendation is probably my bamboo bike only with bigger 40mm tires on tubeless rims, running at lower pressure — and the addition of the Redshift ShockStop suspension stem. (I might even throw in their suspension seatpost.)
For most of the gravel fondo I was fine but once on the rockiest sections I was helpless, frustrated and pounded into submission and surrender. I walked the bike for at least an hour total on the rock trails — going up and going down. I cursed, I yelled, I remembered the terrible prehistoric days before suspension was invented. The ride turned into one of those personal torture experiences that you never forget — and you never want to repeat.
Again, that brings me back to the Redshift suspension stem. I’ve read a half dozen reviews in the major gear review websites. They all pretty much rave about the performance of the stem. That goes for Bikerumor, Roadbikerider, Peloton magazine, CXmagazine, Bike Radar, Red Kite Prayer and Road.cc. The highly respected technical editor James Huang of Cycletips did an in-depth review and came away impressed. Check the Redshift testimonial page for the ShockStop and there’s nothing but applause and teary-eyed thanks.
as a final note, I had a chance to drop by the Redshift booth at Interbike last week and get the full education from one of their engineers. Up close, this looks like a well thought-out and executed design. While I didn’t get a demo ride in, just pushing down on the drop bars of one of the bikes in the booth gave me a sense of how the elastomers work to dampen shocks and vibrations. (The effective suspension travel is up to 20mm for a drop bar road or gravel bike and up to 10mm if you’re going flat bar.)
The ShockStop stem comes in four lengths (90mm, 100mm, 110mm, 120mm) in the +/- 6 degree setup and one length (100mm) in a +/- 30 degree. Thanks to the five different elastomers of varying cushion strength, you can mix and match your way to 15 possible suspension levels from soft to stiff. At my weight of 200 pounds, I will be at the stiffest possible configuration.
In terms of handlebar fit, the ShockStop fits standard 1-1/8 inch steerer tubes and for $10 you can buy 25.4mm and 26.0mm shims for 31.8mm handlebars.
I hope to get a Shockstop in for review. In the interim, I’d highly recommend you check out their website and see what you think. The reviews and buyer comments are just too good to doubt.
I have a strong suspicion that at next year’s Peter Sagan gravel fondo I will have a Redshift suspension stem and I’ll feel a whole lot better when I tackle those super rocky sections. My arms, wrists, neck, shoulder and lower back won’t be screaming in pain. I’ll feel younger, faster and more confident — that’s worth the ride.