In this thread we will discuss the different specs & features of most modern BMX Stems so that you will be ready to pick out your own new Stem!
Topload(TL) vs. Frontload(FL)
These terms are used to describe the positioning of the face-plate on the stem.
A Topload will have the face-plate on the top of the stem, and a Frontload will have it on the front. Toploads also generally have substantially more Rise than frontloads, which makes your handlebars feel taller.
The Rise of the Stem is the vertical distance between the bottom surface of the stem to the center of the handlebar clamp measured in millimeters(mm.) They will typically range from 5mm-16mm for frontloads, & 20-36mm for toploads (& now even up to 45mm.) The rise determines how high your handlebars are positioned which can make a huge difference in comfortability. If your handlebars feel too tall, you can lower them with a shorter stem & vice versa.
Neither one is better than the other by any means.
Choosing which style is right for you is solely a matter of preference.
The Reach of the Stem is the horizontal distance between the center of the steerer-tube clamp to the center of the handlebar clamp & is measured in millimeters. They range in length from 0mm-60mm+.
The more Reach a stem has, the more leverage you will have over the front end, making nose manual tricks much easier to get into. They also provide a more stable feel. A stem with less Reach will make the steering a bit more snappy & generally makes barspin & x-up tricks easier to do.
Flatland - 0mm-40mm
Street/Park - 45mm-53mm
Trails/Racing - 53mm-68mm
(We don't recommend getting a longer stem to compensate for a shorter frame.)
Stack Height is the vertical thickness of the steerer-tube clamp section of the Stem. The stack height determines how much space the stem takes up on the Fork's steerer-tube.
A good way to eliminate unwanted spacers is to get a stem with more stack height.
6061 vs. 7075 Aluminum
These are the two most commonly used materials for BMX Stems. Generally speaking, 7075 Aluminum is a stiffer and stronger alloy than 6061. However, as far as stems go, 6061 Aluminum has proven to be the more reliable material due to it being softer, thus gripping the handlebars & forks much better. Very few stems are still made from 7000 series Aluminum.
CNC, Forged, & Cast
There is a total of three ways that BMX Stems are manufactured; CNC Machining, Forging, & Casting.
Generally speaking, CNC'd & Forged stems are far more durable than Cast stems. Cast Stems are usually very cheap & are made from molten Aluminum that is poured into a mold.
Forged Stems are made from solid Aluminum & are hammered, rolled, pressed, etc. into their desired shape.
CNC'd Stems are stems that are machined out of a solid block of Aluminum.
This is where Stems get their uniqueness, weight, & durability from.
After the overall shape of the stem is produced using one of the three methods mentioned above, they are put in to a CNC where they are machined for weight savings & aesthetics.
Often times, companies will machine away any unnecessary material to offer a strong & lightweight stem. You can get a general idea of a stem's durability by checking out its weight.
With all of this information taken into consideration, you should be ready to pick out your own new BMX Stem!
Questions? E-mail them to firstname.lastname@example.org