Race Face Atlas 35 Ø 50 mm Stem Long-Term Review

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Gemini Xera light_0609

The stem is quite big and probably is be quite strong.

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Map of Whistler bike park on the sides.

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Cons:

  • I had issues with the bolts loosening, and the Loctite 243 disappearing, I’m not sure why, but maybe I am pushing the stem to extremes with the temperature changes, and the Loctite gets worn off, most of the traces were gone. I had to check before, during and after the ride to make sure it was secure, other wise I would risk the bars spinning, which happen several times, and when getting the bike out from room stem home to outdoors in -10C this was not the case with Renthal apex 35 stem as long as I used Loctite 243, the only times I made it loosen was without Loctite or not cured with big temperature change, I have tested this on the Apex stem I Intentionally Did not put Loctite 243 with the Apex them the stem spun on the steerer, at a day with rapid temp change, it got to 25C, but it did not other places where it had Loctite on. I also experienced this in the winter when I just installed it and Loctite did not cure. But with The Atlas Stem it would happen even with Loctite cured, It did not handle this well even with Loctite 243.

I can’t know if it’s a combination of the materials used in bolts,stem, or and the clamp design, but the difference was huge.

The Atlas Stem is made of 6061-T6 aluminum.

I haven’t tried changing the bolts yet, So I haven’t tried Titanium bolts, I don’t know how much it will effect the issues I experienced. I know many are satisfied with this stem, But they might not be using it to the extremes I am, with the temp changes.

  • The bolts don’t have good tolerances in the head, so there will be some play between the hex key, I had the same experience with all other Race Face Bolts, on Turbine Dropper, Atlas Cranks.
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Not for ”weight wienies”, 9 grams heavier than the Renthal Apex, it’s quite a noticeable difference, when I hold them, but not a a huge difference, but it all adds up.

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If any one has tested this stem with aftermarket bolts, Titanium bolts, or have any knownlage to share about it, feel free to comment on this.

I have of course not tested it in a lab, or special tools so can’t have precise findings.

https://www.raceface.com/products/details/atlas-35-stems

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Renthal Apex 35 stem 5 months review

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Pros:

  • The stem held the bars well, there were no issues with losing bolts or any other issues.

So far I haven’t had a Stem that held on to the handlebar as well as the Apex 35 stem, I went for many months from the middle of the winter to the spring without ever needing to do anything. It outperformed the Race Face Atlas Stem.
It might be the smart clamp design, maybe the materials used helped too, The stem is made of 2014 & 7075 alloy. it’s not only the bar that’s held on securely, but also the stem to the steerer-tube, so I have had I haven’t had issue with play in the headset, because the stem holds on so securely, the bolts don’t loosen fast like most stems I have used in the past, for example Race Face Atlas, I have experienced play in the headset & handle bars slipping, due to bolts getting loose, but never with Renthal Apex.

I of course thread locker, I use Loctite 243, which I have used on all of the stems I used.

The only times I made it loosen was without Loctite or not cured with big temperature change.

Renthal Apex 35 stem
  • The rental stems have great design, which allows low weight, But I did not notice any difference in stiffness & ride feels, from the Race Face Atlas Stem, which is heavily overbuilt.
  • The stem is well machined, very smooth, no rough surfaces, but the edges are not rounded off to the section between steerer and handlebar are quite pointy, but this does not matter much, unless you slam your hand there, which is unlikely.
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Exposure Lights Six Pack MK9

Cons:

  • The bolts showed signs of wear after the first installation, the tolerances between the tool and the bolts are quite loose, the diameter measurements are between 4.15 up to 4.24mm The park tools measurements are 3.99mm, the after few times of tightening the headset, I managed to damage the bolts, the bots became more damaged after tightening headset. The caliper might have not been very accurate, but I know the tool is not as snug fitting as I think they should be. I later used Teng tools bits, which fit better than Park Tool, but still there is a lot of play.
Renthal Apex 35 bolts wear_0748

It might be that the bolts I got are just a manufacturing fluke for this batch, but there is no way for me to know for sure, but if all bolts are like this, this is a disappointment and should be addressed ASAP, but the Hex key only slipped once, I haven’t had issue since then.

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A rider had issue with two stems cracking, he did enduro riding, but I haven’t had this happen yet.

read more about it here:

,https://www.vitalmtb.com/product/guide/Stems,39/Renthal/Apex,18140#product-reviews/3132/expand

Verdict:

I can recommend this stem, This stem seems like a great option if you want lightweight, durable, stiffness, This is one of the lightest stems the market now, and it’s robust, Apex35 Will go on my next bike(s).