The growth in gravel and fast off-road cycling has driven better suspension tech to smooth out rough rides. We put Redshift’s suspension stem and seatpost onto a gravel bike to test the differences first hand.
Collision of Worlds
The gravel boom has led to more creativity and innovation in the bicycle world as a whole. One pathway to innovation has been the adoption and adaptation of mountain bike tech, including disk brakes, tubeless tires, single chainrings, and clutch derailleurs.
Shockstop Stem Specs
- 90-120 mm lengths (10 mm increments), with +/-6° orientation. There is also a 100 mm, +/-30° option. My 90 mm version is listed at 264 g.
- Fits 31.8 mm handlebars, with 25.4 and 26.0 mm shims available.
- Up to 20 mm of suspension is available, depending on the elastomers you use. 5 come with the system, and 1-2 are used depending on your weight and desired suspension.
Setup was quite simple. If adjusting suspension, remove the stem faceplate, use a 3 mm allen key to remove the preload wedge bolt, then use a needlenose plier to remove and swap elastomers. Make sure to orient them according to directions.
MSRP for the Shockstop stem is $149.99.
Shockstop Seatpost Specs
MSRP for the Shockstop seatpost is $229.99.
What’s My Gravel?
The Shockstops are not gravel-specific, and may be of interest to any road or flat bar setup because of their potential for taking away road buzz and making those long rides more comfortable and potentially faster. Remember, not only does the vibration cause fatigue, it usually means that your bike/body is bouncing up and down rather than absorbing those bumps and keeping the tires planted on the road laying down power.
I decided to put the Shockstops on my 2017 Devinci Hatchet gravel bike, which is currently set up with Schwalbe G-One 38 mm tubeless tires. My other off-road drop bar rig is my Four5 custom titanium cyclocross bike, with correspondingly steeper geometry and 33 mm tubeless tires.
- Grade 1. I can ride it fast with 28 mm tires with the conscious line picking.
- Grade 1+. Like 1 but with needing to watch for erosion and potholes.
- Grade 2. Freshly laid gravel makes for a bumpy ride and conscious choice to pick better/best lines.
Grade 2 Gravel
Where I think suspension like Redshift can be a good option is with Grade 2 gravel. This is the kind of terrain where a gravel bike shines over a race-ready cyclocross bike and CX tires. A prime example of Grade 2 and how it handles between my two bikes when used without suspension.
With the Devinci and 38 mm tires (28-30 psi), much more vibration damping was evident. The need to look for better lines was reduced but not eliminated. Some bouncing still occurred but nothing enough to detract from an overall fun experience.
With the Redshift stem/seatpost installed on the Devinci (same psi), the need for any line choosing was pretty much eliminated and I could go full speed. This was especially evident and appreciated on a fast downhill stretch supplemented with a tailwind.
Other ride notes about the Redshift stem and seatpost:
- Probably the biggest concern with any suspension is unnecessary bobbing. When riding no-handed, I did not feel anything from the seatpost in terms of appreciable bobble. It definitely doesn’t ride as a pogo stick.
- The stem’s bobbing, in contrast, was much more noticeable, especially on smoother roads and on the hoods. The feel is a gentle forward and downward rocking with each pedal stroke. It’s not disruptive and doesn’t affect handling or cornering, it disappears on gravel and is minimal on the drops or tops. It doesn’t dive downward. I’ve even taken the Devinci and Shockstop onto a local trail with lots of pump track features, and didn’t find the stem bucking me off.
- A concern with stems is often with their flexibility when standing or sprinting. There really was no noticeable twisting or flexing with the stem in my use.
- Both the stem and seatpost are not readily adjustable on the fly during a ride. I think this is a worthy tradeoff for the cleaner aesthetics and the lower risk of dirt infiltration than an “open” system.
Who Is It For?
Whether you favour the Redshift also depends on your weight focus. The system, especially the seatpost, definitely adds significant weight. However, in our modern age of wide-range gearing options, trading off weight for additional comfort is a much easier deal to make.
• See more and order them online at the Redshift website
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