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Softride Stem Archive |

Softride Stem Archive

		**Skoop's Softride Stem Archives**

Welcome to the Softride Stem Archives!  What follows is an archive of 

comments and opinions gleaned from the and newsgroups.  This file is constantly growing as I 

pull more stuff from the net.  Nothing here is in any particular 

order...sorry.  I *have* tried to trim down headers and .sig files 

somewhat, and made sure that credit to each author is present.  Additions, 

etc., can be emailed to me at --just be sure you tell me 

what it's for in the subject of your message.



This article was sent to me by Charles Manry ...

From: (Wayne Allen)

To: cmanry@nextasy2


I recently acquired an Allsop Softride stem, and now offer this initial




A year ago I took my first real off-road ride (off *paved* road, that

is) 26 miles through the desert/mountain country in Big Bend N.P.,

Texas. When I got to the end, the flesh of my arms felt like it had

been flayed from the bone, and my hands clutched spasmodically like

some B-movie zombie, but man, was I pumped! I wanted to do it again,

hold the pain, please.

Why an Allsop


Cost, simplicity, reliability, maintainability, adjustability, weight,

comfort, responsiveness, high-speed performance.

When I applied each of these more-or-less equally-weighted

considerations to most popular forks, the Allsop always won (in *my*

mind, at least, which some argue is a murky place, at best =8-). If

you skew priorities toward high-speed performance, one could argue for

forks being the better choice.

I also looked at the Girvin Flexstem but I felt that the Allsop would

be better because:

	- more travel (~3")

	- continuously (as opposed to descretely) adjustable on the trail

	- constant bar pitch (I thought most important)

So I Got One


Basic mechanics: the stem body is a pivoting parallelogram supported

by a coil spring.  One end of the spring pivots about the lower-rear

axle of the parallelogram, and the other is attached to the under-side

of the top bar of the parallelogram through a mount and threaded

screw. You can adjust the spring pre-load tension by turning the

screw. As you depress the handle bar, the spring compresses, and the

bar retains a constant pitch throughout the travel because of the

parallel geometry.

The first (!) stem I received from the All-terrain Suspension Shop

(see Sources below) was the 135mm aluminum. On this particular stem,

the pre-load adjustment screw wanted to simultaneously occupy the same

volumn of space as the fore lower pivot axle. I returned it and asked

for a 135 which had sufficient clearance, or, barring that, a 150mm.

I recieved a new 150mm stem (draw your own conclusions, but don't say

I didn't run up a flag!) and mounted it on my '90 GT K2. Replacing my

(somewhat obese) stock stem, the Allsop added 130 gm (4.6 oz) to the

total bike weight. The quality and ruggedness of construction seems

excellent. The experience illuminated a number of considerations..

1) The mounting requires that you use a cable hanger for the front

brake.  I got one of the Dia-comp hangers (nice little piece, $10).

However, the head tube on my GT was cut to fit my fork and Harra

headset with only a 3/64" washer to spare. So, since the hanger is

3/16, the headset lock nut does not really have enough threads to work

with. I plan to get the tube trimmed to fit, an estimated $10 to $20

at a local shop. One could get a smaller stack-height headset, I

suppose...  (NOT!)

2) The stems all have 1" quills, and fit oversized tubes with a shim.

The 1-1/8" shim mounted fine in my fork.

3) The stems come with several sizes of pivot-axle shims to adjust the

amount of bar rise; two rise hights for 135, three for the 150. This

requires some dis-and-re-assembly.  I did not adjust the height, so

cannot comment on the difficulty.

4) The stem design uses "friction" damping. That is, the four hollow

pivot axles are mounted with through-tube allen-head bolts and

non-slip nuts. (The nuts have a nylon insert so that they hold the

threads firmly.) This allows any amount of friction to be applied and

held constant by bolt torque. Higher damping also increases static

friction ("sticktion"). I left the damping as it came.

5) The stem allows for pre-loading of spring tension using the same

allen wrench size which adjusts damping (3mm).  I initially set mine

so that the stem depresses slightly (<0.25") when sitting in a neutral

position on the bike. I assume this is near the soft end of the


6) Maintenance entails relieving the spring tension with the pre-load

screw, un-screwing each of the four pivot axle bolts, and greasing the

eight bearings. Requires only the one allen wrench. Should probably be

done every (pick one): 100, 1000, 1000000 miles. (Your guess as good as


After mounting, I rode down a local hilly back-road, composed of

caliche, exposed limestone, and much loose rock. Having ridden this

bone-jarring road many times with my stock stem, I was able to make a

preliminary assessment:


*Subjective* Impressions and Random Blither


There was no detectable steering flex - the bar seemed as firmly

connected to the fork as ever.

There was a small amount of dive on braking. I did not adjust the

pre-load to test it's effect on dive.

Jumping or hopping the bike required a little anticipation, since the

stem rise stop is rubber, and compresses slightly when you jerk up on

the bar.

Subjectively, the front of the bike seems like it's "flowing" over the

ground.  At the low level of pre-load I used, the small bumps (high

frequency) were simply gone, and the large bumps were just a gentle

up-down. When you *watch* the stem work (a risky business at best,

similar to *thinking* about counter-steering while doing it ;-), it's

flexing constantly, and the front wheel and frame move up and down.

But the *bar* doesn't move. When riding normally, you're completely

un-aware of this activity. I suppose the constant bar pitch

contributes to this effect.  The fact that the frame still moves up

and down isn't noticable, since (I suppose) vertical movement at the

front does not translate into much movement at the saddle or pedals,

because they are so much closer to the point of rotation (rear axle).

I'll pull out my geometry book for the next report.

With the standard stem, the front of the bike would bounce wildly when

the going got rough at speed. The front wheel would actually bounce

off the ground from the springiness of the rigid fork and tire. This

is because my arms could not effectively dampen the blows *and*

maintain a grip on the bar (this is the *flayed flesh* effect =8-).

With the Allsop, the inertia of my body applied through the stem

spring acts as a damper so that the wheel stays on the ground rather

than bouncing.  So while the frame still moves, there is detectably

less high-frequency movement than with the stock stem. I assume this

translates into better steering traction, etc., but cannot objectively

verify it.

I have ridden a few fork-suspended bikes. The Trek 8000 with the DS2

fork, for example, feels rigid at low speeds (air shocks typically

have high sticktion). It's at high speeds on rough roads that the fork

action becomes effective. The effect of the Allsop is apparent at all

speeds. I'll speculate that the combined low sticktion and long travel

of the Allsop allows a wider dynamic response than most forks. There

are probably exceptions, like the AMP and Cannondale forks, which for

mechanical reasons have particularly low sticktion.



*Very* effective. I can't think of any other bucks I could have spent

which would make as big an impact on my riding enjoyment. In fact, I

wish I'd spent $50 less and gotten the slightly heavier cromo version.

If COMFORT is your bag, this stem is probably better than forks, since

it has such a wide dynamic range. If PERFORMANCE is your bag, this

stem *will* let you go faster, but I doubt it performs as well as a

good fork.

Next Report


The basic question I hope to answer next is how the stem compares with

forks in feel and function on a real side-by-side ride. I'll play with

the pre-load settings, and I'll also see if we can quantify some of

the differences in the fork vs. stem approaches. I don't expect the

stem to out-perform forks, but I'll try to put the differences in


Anyone out there in central Texas have a fork-sprung GT?  If so, give

me an e-buzz.



% Charles (skip) Manry  \ School of EECS \  WSU, Pullman WA, 99164-2752       %

%   \ My opinions are my own and no one else!             %

% WWW: http:/   \ Hang On! -- the home page           %


% The Maddness begins: 1995 MTB Racing:                                       %

% King of the CDA's June 17  \ Mt. Spokane NCS#1 May 18-22                   %

% Mt. Spokane Selkirk Challenge June 24-25 WIM#?                              %

% Second annual Clearwater Cup (80% singletrack) August 5-6 WIM#4/6           %



Newsgroups: rec.bicycles.marketplace

From: (C. Manry)

Subject: Softride stem service experience

Date: Tue, 5 Jul 1994 18:39:05 GMT

I would like to tell all of you the great experience I had with

Softride out of Bellingham Washington.  

First some history.  In early 1992 I bought a Aluminum Softride

suspension stem.  I did this to upgrade from my flex stem I had

on my bike.  I love my softride stem and I still love it today.

In the time from then to now I have never taken it apart to clean

and re-lube the pivot points.  Because of this the bushings or

pivot points wore down.  They were so bad I could not tighten it

enough so that there was no wobble in the handlebars without

adding sticktion to the stem.  I knew my bushings needed


In the 3rd week of June I was going to be in Seattle for a

conference at the University of Washington.  This was about 100

miles south of Bellingham.  I called Softride and they told me

that they could do the work for me and that it would take three

days due to back log.  They also told me that since I had a '92

stem that they would also replace some of the parts with a newer

design.  While in Seattle I was going to go out quite a bit with

some friends that I have not ridden with in two years.  The three

day delay was hard to take but I understood that I had to wait my

turn for the rebuild.

So I called Softride when I got into the Seattle area for

directions to their shop/headquarters.  Teri Mann, their

receptionist, gave me excellent directions to their place she

also told that their hours was 8-5 weekdays.  Since it was 100

miles away and the traffic was going to be bad on the trip up I

made plans to leave Seattle at 6am on Monday morning so that I

could be "knocking down the door at 8am".

The night before I went for a ride with my friend and told him

about my plans, he owns a stem as well.  Well after the ride he

showed me how to take apart the stem, it was really easy.  I felt

stupid for not doing it before!  Since we had the stem apart I

decided to clean all the goop out of it and to leave it taken

apart.  I put all the parts into my old box and went to bed to

get up damn early the next day to make the trip up.  

The next morning I drove up to Bellingham and thanks to Teri

Mann's directions I had no problem finding the place.  I was

early, 7:45 am.  However there were some people in the place so I

gathered up my parts and went in.  Teri was there and introduced

me to John Sheeham who would be overseeing my rebuild.  

I need to describe John so that you can get a feel for the man. 

John is a tall man.  Well at least taller than me and I am 5'8". 

He was also dressed in black leather pants and vest and a long

sleeve red shirt.  He looked like he was in really great shape

and he has a rugged-handsome look.  I would not want this man mad

at me.  

Any way I told him that here was my stem and showed him which

pivots were worn the worst.  I then told him that I would drive

back up on wednesday to pick it back up.  At this point his face

changed expression.  Before he had a polite, "I here to help you"

look on his face.  He now looked somewhat miffed and upset.  He

seemed quite upset that I was planing to drive another 200 miles

to pick it back up.  He briefly searched around his desk to see

if anyone was going down to Seattle so that they could drop my

stem off at a local shop.  

After about 2-3 minutes of this he seemed to reach a decision and

got on the phone to see if they had all the parts in stock.  He

asked me, with a pleading look on his face, how long I could

wait.  I told him that I had to get back to the conference at UW

but that I felt that I could spare 30 min.  He told me to wait

and that he would be right back.  He tossed some of my old parts

into the trash can near his desk and grabbed his gear.  He

grabbed my box of remaining parts, a motorcycle helmet and a coat

(Aha!  Now I know the reason for the leather get up!).  In no

time at all John was out the door and on his bike.  I heard him

giving it the gas as he roared out of the parking lot to go to

their manufacturing shop.  

While I was waiting in the entrance lobby I looked over their

bikes and the promo posters.  Teri Mann, remember the

receptionist, was in back getting phone messages of their machine

from over the weekend.  By this time it is just before 8am on a

monday morning, keep this in mind as you read on.  The remaining

workers were coming in the door.  *EVERY ONE* of 'em asked me,

with smiles on their faces, if I had been helped.  I told that I

was being taken care of.  For me, every monday morning at work I

am not the person you want to be around.  This impressed the hell

out of me.

While enjoying the friendliness of the staff 20 min. goes by and

I hear John on his bike come roaring back in.  He comes in and

hands me my new stem (well, rebuilt but with some drastic new

changes in parts).  I of course thanked him for the prompt

service and that this was beyond what I was expecting.  I then

asked who I ay for the new parts and service.  He then looked at

me as if I had injured him and then smiled and said I owed nothing.  

It was all free!  

I am very glad to see such excellent support of a product and

outstanding customer service.  Softride gets a big thumbs up

from me!  The stem is a great product and a great company!

My thanks again to John and Teri and everyone at Softride for a

Monday morning that I really enjoyed.



% Charles (skip) Manry  / School of EECS / WSU, Pullman WA, 99164-2752        %

%   / My opinions are my own and no one else!             %


% CAC#4 Clearwater Amateur Cup August 21         Goal: Top 1/2 finish in my   %

% WIM#9 IEMBA MB FESTIVAL, 49 Degrees North            class by end of summer %

%                    Ski Mountain Aug 27/28                                   %


Newsgroups: rec.bicycles.misc

From: (C. Manry)

Subject: Re: >Experience with SOFTride stems?<

In article <> (Todd Ourston) writes:

>I think you can get more shock dampening from some of the better forks, 

Maybe, depends on the set up of the fork and stem.   However your results

will depend upon style, local trail condtions, etc.  Ride both, ignore 

other's *thoughts* and buy what you like.

>but the Softrides make a very postive difference.  They seem to need more 

>maintenance than some forks, but as of the 1993 models, they can be 

>serviced at the bike shops that sell them by simply replacing parts.

I love my stem!  It does make a 'very postive difference.'  

I do disagree with the maintenance.  I plan to service mine about four times

a year.  I don't know what maintenance with bumper forks but I do know 

that air/oil can be extensive.  You also need special hubs and other 

stiffening (rotational flex) toys.  More weight and $$'s

The pre '93 Al models look similar to the cro-mo versions.  They have 

had some problems with the welds (sic) on the Al versions.  If you send

you pre '93 Al into the factory they will change out the offending parts and 

make it look like a '93 and up version.  All free of charge.

>From what I gather, Softride has stopped making the aluminum models 

>because they were having problems with lateral flex (i.e., the handlebars 

>rocked from side to side).  There are rumors that they will be coming out 

>with (a) carbon fiber, (b) titanium, or (c) a better aluminum model, but 

>for right now, the steel stems are the only safe bet.  Hey, they're still 

>lighter than suspension forks!

I was at softride about 2 weeks ago (see post on service in .marketplace)

and from what they told me lateral flex is due to the bolts not being tight

egnough.  You do need to check this every so-often and tighten when needed.

When you can not tighten any more without added sticktion it's time to 

replace the pivots or bushings.  A very easy task to do.  Beter yet take

it apart more often and clean an relube with teflon or lithium (sic) based

grease to save your bushings.

It is not the material that gives rise to the flex it is the design.

The lower half of the Al stem can move independantly because it is two parts.

The cro-mo has a single plastic piece, thus no flex.

I can't comment on rumors but a better design would eliminate this problem.

If you don't care about weight (I agree with Todd here) and want to save

$100 go/try the Steel version.  Team Richey is using 'em on their X-C

race bikes.  Or call Softride (call 1-800-555-1212 and ask for the number)

and ask 'em about new future designs and if you buy an Al model if there

is going to be a new design soon.

Enjoy and good luck out there.



% Charles (skip) Manry  / School of EECS / WSU, Pullman WA, 99164-2752        %

%   / My opinions are my own and no one else!             %


% CAC#4 Clearwater Amateur Cup August 21         Goal: Top 1/2 finish in my   %

% WIM#9 IEMBA MB FESTIVAL, 49 Degrees North            class by end of summer %

%                    Ski Mountain Aug 27/28                                   %


Newsgroups: rec.bicycles.misc

Subject: Re: >Experience with SOFTride stems?<

From: Peter Thorsness 

In article <> Todd Ourston, writes:

>From what I gather, Softride has stopped making the aluminum models 

>because they were having problems with lateral flex (i.e., the


>rocked from side to side).  There are rumors that they will be coming


>with (a) carbon fiber, (b) titanium, or (c) a better aluminum model, but 

>for right now, the steel stems are the only safe bet.  Hey, they're


>lighter than suspension forks!

I've ridden a cromoly version of the Softride stem and found it far

superior to the shocked forks I've ridden (admittedly, they were low-end

versions).  I've ordered two of the aluminum Softride stems for myself

and my wife (to keep the same reach and 'cause we've were given a good

price).  After reading the reports on the net concerning the recall and

redesign, I called Softride and asked what the story was.  They said the

two piece "dog-bone" on the top of the stem has been replaced with a

single piece, making the stem stiffer.  I did not find out if they are

retro-fitting older versions of the stem (as mine is still to be

shipped).  I have spoken with a number of bike shop mechanics and they

tell me I should be checking out the Manitou 3 or the RoxShox Mag 21

'cause the stem is only for low key, non-competitive riding.  I ask 'em

why and they give me a very weak argument about suspended versus

unsuspended weight (have any of these guys ever taken even high school

physics?).  Then I ask them if they've ridden a bike with a Softride Stem

and they never have.  Then  I ask them if they think the Ritchey team is

non-competitive (last two Rainbow jerseys in the X-C) and why they would

be willing to give up anything (like inferior performance) to Tomac and

the rest.  They usually hem and haw.  Get a bike with a stem and find out

for yourself.  I'm not saying it's the best, but it works for a lot of

cyclists -- and some of them (the Ritchey team) are pretty damn good.


Peter Thorsness                              __o      

Dept. of Molecular Biology                 _ \<._   

University of Wyoming                     ( )/ ( )

Laramie, WY  82071-3944

Tel. (307) 766-2038  Fax. (307) 766-5098  Email:


From: (Mike DeMicco)

Newsgroups: rec.bicycles.misc

Subject: Re: >Experience with SOFTride stems?<

I have the steel stem and have used it for a couple of years.  My first

one broke (at the handlebar clamp, on the underside) through normal

riding.  The new version that was sent looked to be a beefed up a

little. They replaced it no problem, but I'm still a little worried

because the clamp area still does not look beefy enough to me.  It also

has what appears to be aluminum vs. brass/bronze bushings and a

cylinder of rubber inside the spring (to keep the stem from bottoming).

I am a little confused about the supposed lack of stiffness of the

aluminum version.  The bottom link on the steel version is plastic (2

piece), which has very little stiffness, whereas the aluminum version

has a two piece aluminum bottom link and the same bearings as the top

dogbone (the steel has roll pins and what kind of bearing, I don't

know).  The bottom link has been a source of creaks, that go away when

oiled (I used Tetrabike teflon lubricant -- worked well).

In my opinion that the aluminum version is better.  It also cost ~$90



Opinions expressed here are my own and not my employer's.

Mike De Micco   

Newsgroups: rec.bicycles.misc

From: (C. Manry)

Subject: Re: >Experience with SOFTride stems?<

In article <2vcsub$> (Todd Ourston) writes:

>C. Manry ( wrote:

Stuff removed...

>How tight does Softride suggest these bolts should be tightened?  

Just untill there is not *alot* of handlebar wobble.  Softride says there

should be none.  This keeps the pivots (bolts) from wearing faster. 

However you can have 'em loose as you desire.  

> How long, in your experience, does it take before the bolts need replacing?

It depends on how often you take it apart and clean and relube it.  

Mine, without cleaning and relubing lasted two years with dusty riding

almost every day!

>Is that easy to do, or is the thing built to explode in your hand when 

>you disassemble the stem?


1)  Take the stem off the bike (the hardest part of this opperation).

2)  Remove any preload from the spring!  With preload on it my fly apart

    once step 4 is done.  Otherwise it fall gently apart.

2)  Remove the bolt and nuts.  (on the plastic you can't do this)

3)  Look inside and you will see the inside faces of the bushings/pivots.

4)  With a light hamer and a center punch tap on the inside faces of the 

    bushings.  They will pop out.  Repeat with all of em.

5)  Clean the surfaces where the pivots rotate on.

6)  Relube with Teflon based grease (Softride recommends this) or others

    have used Lithium (sic) based grease.  DO NOT USE oil based or sprays.

    You will get alot of black goo.... YUK!

7)  Put it back together and place back on the bike and go!

I felt truely (sic) stoopid for not doing my before.  It is really easy.




% Charles (skip) Manry  / School of EECS / WSU, Pullman WA, 99164-2752        %

%   / My opinions are my own and no one else!             %


% CAC#4 Clearwater Amateur Cup August 21         Goal: Top 1/2 finish in my   %

% WIM#9 IEMBA MB FESTIVAL, 49 Degrees North            class by end of summer %

%                    Ski Mountain Aug 27/28                                   %


Article 16785 of rec.bicycles.marketplace:

From: (C. Manry)

Subject: Softride Speaks!  Answers to your questions.

With some of the conjecture/rumors about the changes in the Softride sus.

stems I decied to give Softride a call (1-800-557-6387).

Question 1:  Why is the Pre 1992 models of the Al stem being refited with

             a CNC machined part for the "Dogbone" on top?

Softride:  There was some problems with strength in the welds in the top

           part or "Dogbone" on the Al stems.  Any stem with the dogbone 

           can be shiped to us and we'll replace the part free.  The CNC

           machined part is one whole piece of Al.

           (Note:  I did not ask about a recall.  Opps.  However I can say

            that I have had my stem with dogbone for over 2 years before I

            took mine in for a refit.  The change does seem to make it more

            stiffer in handelbar wiggle.)

Question 2:  Are you still making Al modles?  There is some rumors about 

             you not making new Al models.

Softride:  Yes we are still making Al models in 135 and 150mm lenghts.  We

           just shipped some out today.

Question 3:  What are the lenghts in the Cro-mo version?

Softride:  They are: 140, 150, and 160mm lenghts.

Question 4:  There are some rumors about new designs and materials such as

             carbon-fiber.  What's up?

Softride:  To my knowledge there is nothing new in the works. 

           (Note: I am talking to Customer Service, not engineering...)

That's it....

There was a comment that the richey team is using the cro-mo versions.

This is true.  However Richey is a steel only guy.  He/they do not like

Al.  It may also be that the cro-mo comes in longer lengths.  IMHO the

richey team runs cro-mo due to marketing or length.  Not because the Al

models are "bad".




% Charles (skip) Manry  / School of EECS / WSU, Pullman WA, 99164-2752        %

%   / My opinions are my own and no one else!             %


% CAC#4 Clearwater Amateur Cup August 21         Goal: Top 1/2 finish in my   %

% WIM#9 IEMBA MB FESTIVAL, 49 Degrees North            class by end of summer %

%                    Ski Mountain Aug 27/28                                   %


Article 17021 of rec.bicycles.marketplace:

From: (Jay Wenner)

Subject: Re: Softride Speaks!  Answers to your questions.

C. Manry ( wrote:

: With some of the conjecture/rumors about the changes in the Softride sus.

: stems I decied to give Softride a call (1-800-557-6387).


: Question 1:  Why is the Pre 1992 models of the Al stem being refited with

:              a CNC machined part for the "Dogbone" on top?


: Softride:  There was some problems with strength in the welds in the top

:            part or "Dogbone" on the Al stems.  Any stem with the dogbone 

:            can be shiped to us and we'll replace the part free.  The CNC

:            machined part is one whole piece of Al.


:            (Note:  I did not ask about a recall.  Opps.  However I can say

:             that I have had my stem with dogbone for over 2 years before I

:             took mine in for a refit.  The change does seem to make it more

:             stiffer in handelbar wiggle.)



I asked Softride about this, and they said that anyone with 1992 models

(black stem) can upgrade to a new Al for $100, or CrMolly for $40.  It's

the '93 models that are being retro'ed with a new "dogbone." 

I like the sounds of a retrofit rather than a 100 dollar bill.  If the

'93's (or just one or two here and there) had problems with the weld,

it makes me nervous that the '92's wouldn't be any different.

I guess I'll ride it 'til it breaks (or I break).


From: godogs@dogpower.Corp.Sun.COM (Rick Brusuelas)

Newsgroups: rec.bicycles.marketplace

Subject: Re: Softride Speaks!  Answers to your ques

In article, (Jay Wenner) writes:

> C. Manry ( wrote:

> : With some of the conjecture/rumors about the changes in the Softride sus.

> : stems I decied to give Softride a call (1-800-557-6387).

> : 

> : Question 1:  Why is the Pre 1992 models of the Al stem being refited with

> :              a CNC machined part for the "Dogbone" on top?

> : 

> : Softride:  There was some problems with strength in the welds in the top

> :            part or "Dogbone" on the Al stems.  Any stem with the dogbone 

> :            can be shiped to us and we'll replace the part free.  The CNC

> :            machined part is one whole piece of Al.

> : 

> :            (Note:  I did not ask about a recall.  Opps.  However I can say

> :             that I have had my stem with dogbone for over 2 years before I

> :             took mine in for a refit.  The change does seem to make it more

I just called my Softride stem dealer (Fresh Air on Divisidero in San 

Francisco), and they said they would replace the "dogbone" on my 

1993 AL 135mm Softride Stem for free.  They said that a few 

stems had the problems with the welds and that Allsop (Softride) 

had sent out replacement parts that were CNC machined.

They look better than the old piece, and they should be lighter, to boot!

Rick Brusuelas

Sun Library

Newsgroups: rec.bicycles.misc

Subject: Re: >Experience with SOFTride stems.<

From: Peter Thorsness 

In article <> , writes:

>OK , my brother just bought an Allsop stiff bike fully suspended with


>components.  The elastomeric carbon fiber rear suspension rides


>nice when gotten used to, but the stem hasn't lived up to his high

>expectations.   As for the

>stem idea, I'd skip it and make a real improvement.

I've just acquired the new aluminum Softride stem.  I must say that it

has more then met my high expectations.  We don't have _any_ smooth

trails in Laramie and I'm very impressed with the way the stem takes the

edge off on even the roughest downhills.  Granted, I don't have much

experience with RS Mag21's, Manitou III's or Halson Inversions, but the

lower-end shocks I've ridden for a distance weren't good for anything. 

The stem is plenty stiff, takes nothing away from the quick handling

characteristics of my Bridgestone MB1, is comparatively light, and is

comparatively inexpensive.  I tested the shock's I could get my hands on

and the stem out performed (for me) anything else.  I still find it

amazing the number of people who write off suspension stems without

having experienced it.  The bottom line is that the stem is a viable

option and should be sampled along with other suspension systems.  It may

work for you, it may not.

From: (eric c. anderson)


Subject: Re: Does softride work?

In article <>,

(Hinton Ashley Morris) wrote:


> Does the softride stem really work?  I imagine it would be kind to your

> wrists, but it isn't helping your frame absorb anything.  And is the

> Girvin version of the flexi-stem worthwhile?


i suppose that this should be on the FAQ, but i don't think that it is.  so

i will give you a very biased opinion of the softride.  the answer to your

first question is a resounding _YES_.  you are correct in that the frame

doesn't do the absorbing, but big deal.  the shock is absorbed, and

contrary to what those who ride susp. forks and denigrate the softride

think, your wheel does in fact stay in contact with the ground.  the things

i like most about the softride are that it is easily activated, yet soaks

up bumps up to about 2 1/2-3" at least on the 150mm version which has a

longer pivot range at the bar.  there's no stiction, and bottoming out is

tough to do, unless you're putting a lot of your weight right on the bar. 

maintenance is easy (a little tri-flow on the spring and bushings is all

i've done in the 2 yrs. i've had mine), and setting it up and dialing it in

can be done _on trail_ with a 4mm allen wrench (only one adjustment bolt). 

the other thing is that it doesn't change the frame geometry like a fork

does.  granted...this is something that you can adjust to fairly easily,

but if your frame doesn't have a lot of standover height to begin with and

you put a susp. fork on it, you lose about an inch of your standover height

and the bike suddenly doesn't fit so well.

there are a couple of bad things too about the softride.  there's no way to

control rebound, a complaint i've heard from a number of people at the shop

i go to.  a bunch of them ride them anyway though.  you also lose a bit of

lateral stability in the stem.  this loss of stability however is small and

predictable, unlike the stability lost with a fork which tends to be fairly

severe (in my experience, esp. with rock shox and the Mani3's) and can't

always be predicted.

as for the flexstem, it only pivots on one bushing at the stem, so the

relationship of the handlebars to the rest of the frame constantly changes,

i.e. the bar rotates forward when the stem is activated, unlike the

softride which pivots in 4 places and so goes straight up and down.  it

also has only about 1 inch of travel, making it not quite as plush as the

softride.  there are of course people who like it, but after test-riding a

bike equipped with it, i chose the softride.

hope this is of some help to you and answers your questions.






eric c. anderson

660 s. euclid box 8103

washington univ. school of medicine

dept of molecular biol. and pharmacology

st. loser, misery 63110

From: godogs@dogpower.Corp.Sun.COM (Rick Brusuelas)


Subject: Re: PLEASE HELP--Softride bar clamp problem!!!

In article, (James W Gourgoutis) 


> Last night, I stayed up late installing my newly-arrived Softride stem.

> After many minor aggravations (like dealing with a stubborn cable hanger

> that was too thick and thus took up too many threads on my steerer tube),

> I came across a BIG one.

Well, a neat solution to your first problem is to get a stem-mounted 

cable hanger.  Syncros makes a nice one called the "Hang Doggy" 

(love clever product names!).  It tightens down on the stem (assuming 

you have a "conventional" and not a knee shredding aheadset ;-) 

and frees you from dealing with the headset stack.  Costs about $10.

> I can't get my bars clamped tight enough in the stem!  

> Should I call Softride and complain?

Well, they are very helpful, so it sure couldn't hurt.  But how about 

going to your the place where you bought it and asking/"bitchin'"?

Uh oh... you bought it mail order, eh?  Call them (they may allow 

you to return it for replacement).  Oh, you bought it over the net???

Hopefully the seller has a good replacement policy ;-)


> Any words of advice would be great!  I've been waiting a LONG time to get

> a Softride stem on my bike, and now that I've got one, this problem stuff

> is getting VERY frustrating!!  PLEASE HELP!

Well, it is possible the stem clamp area is defective, but not very 

likely (I have never heard of or seen the described problem in the 

twenty some-odd users I know).  But certainly calling the company 

wouldn't hurt (they do have a great customer service attitude).

Good luck!

Rick Brusuelas

Sun Library

Article 24301 of rec.bicycles.marketplace:

From: (Brian Lee)

Subject: Review: Suspension Stems (long)

Summary: Pros&cons, review of suspension stems

Keywords: suspension,stem,allsop

Suspension Stems

by Brian Lee & Rick Brusuelas, 1994

ABSTRACT:  Discussion of the differences between suspension stems

and suspension forks, and a listing of the pros & cons of suspension



DESCRIPTION:  The suspension stem discussed here is the

Allsop-type, which employs a linkage parallelogram and a spring

mechanism to effect shock-absorption.  Two models on the market

using this mechanism are the Allsop Softride, and  a version

produced by J.P. Morgen, a machinist based in San Francisco.

There is also a version put out by J.D Components of Taiwan 

(advertised in Mountain Bike Action), however judging from 

illustrations, this unit does not employ the parallelogram design 

shared by Allsop & Morgen.  Other Taiwanese models may also exist.

The Girvin-type stem, which uses a simpler hinge and bumper, will

not be directly addressed here, although some of the comments

may also apply.

The Allsop-type suspension stem (suspension stem) works on a

different principal than a telescopic shock fork.  Instead of

only the front wheel moving to absorb shock, a stem allows the

entire front end of the bike to move with obstacles while the

rider's position does not change.

All suspension requires some form of "inertial backstop" to

operate.  A theoretical suspension (stem or fork) loaded with

zero mass will not function regardless of the size of obstacle

encountered.  This is because there is nothing to force the

compression of the spring mechanism.  It is essentially locked


In a fork system, the weight of the bike & rider both provide the

inertial backstop.  In a stem system, the rider's weight on the

handlebars provides the backstop.  Because of this, the two

systems "ride" differently.

Since most of the weight comes from the pressure of the rider's

hands, the stem system encourages a more weight-forward style of

riding.  Or perhaps placing the stem on a frame with a shorter

top tube so the rider's weight is distributed more on the front

end.  (Shortening the front end has also been applied by frame

builders on frames intended for use with suspension forks.  Ex:


What does this mean to you and me?  It means the suspension stem

requires a certain amount of the rider's weight to be on it at

all times in order to remain completely active.  For the majority

of riding, it's just fine.  The only difference is in extremely

steep descents, where you are forced to keep the weight back in

order to keep from going over the bars.

In this situation, much less weight is on the bars to activate

the stem.  Further, if one were to encounter a largish rock on

such a descent, what does one do?  The instinctive thing is to

pull back a bit to unweight the front and help the front wheel

over.  This removes all the weight from the stem area, and you

are now riding a rigid bike again.

A fork system is also affected by weight shifts, but not quite to

the extent that a stem is affected, because of the weight of bike

& rider coming through the head tube to be distributed into the

fork.  Even if you were to remove your hands from the bars on a

gnarly descent and hang with butt brushing the rear wheel, you

are still applying weight to the bike through the pedals.

All this, of course, is theoretical and YMMV.  I, for one, am not

always able to react to obstacles coming at me and leave the

front end weighted.  When that happens, I'm very glad I have


Now enough theory stuff, here's a summary of the advantages &

disadvantages of suspension stems:


1)  Lighter than a suspension fork.  This depends on the existing

stem/fork combination.  If the current stem and rigid fork are

heavy, then a suspension fork may be a better choice.  For

example, I've chosen the following items for comparison, as they

represent the lightest and heaviest of commercially available

stems & forks (weights for all stems are for conventional types -


Litespeed Titanium          211g

Ritchey Force Directional   375g

Allsop Stem                 625g

Fat Chance Big One Inch     680g

Tange Big Fork             1176g

Manitou 3                  1360g

Lawwill Leader             1588g

So say you have a Litespeed stem and a Fat Chance fork.  The

combined weight would be 891 g.  Switching to an Allsop would

change the combined weight to 1305 g, while a Manitou 3 would

bring it to 1571 g.  The Allsop has a weight advantage of 266 g

(9.4 oz).

OTOH, if you have a Ritchey stem & Tange Big Fork, the original

weight would be 1551 g.  Allsop stem => 1801 g.  Manitou 3 => 1735

g.  In this case, keeping the boat anchor of a fork and switching

to the Allsop would be a weight penalty of 66 g (2.3 oz.).

Of course, YMMV depending on your original equipment.

2)  Does not affect frame geometry.  A suspension fork

retrofitted to a frame, *not* designed for suspension, raises the

front end - sometimes as much as 1".  This reduces the effective

head angle and slackens the steering, slowing it down.  This is

especially true for smaller sized frames which, with their

shorter wheel base, are affected to a greater degree by the

raising of the head tube.  A suspension stem provides suspension

while preserving the handling of the bike.

3)  Torsionally rigid fork.  Telescopic forks all have a certain

amount of flex to them,  and the sliders are able to move up &

down independently.  This aspect of front  suspension forks has

spawned a new line of suspension enhancing products:  stiffer 

fork braces, and bigger, heavier suspension hubs.  All to stiffen

up the fork.  This is  one reason suspension stems are favored by

some riders who ride lots of tight, twisting single track.

4)  No stiction.  Stiction, or static friction, is friction that

exists as the fork sliders rub  against the stanchion tubes. 

This friction is an extra force that must be overcome  for a fork

system to activate.  Not a problem on large hits.  But more of a

problem  on small- and medium-size impacts.  Because the stem has

none, the stem responds  better to small, high-frequency bumps

(washboard) than many air-oil forks.

5)  More boing for the buck.  The Allsop stem provides up to 3"

of stiction-free travel,  at a cost of about $250, depending

where you go.  The majority of forks in this  price range only

offer 1" - 2" of travel, and are often heavy, flexy, and fraught

with  stiction.  The fork could be stiffened, but at the

additional cost of a stiffer fork  brace or perhaps a suspension

hub and a rebuilt wheel (e.g. fork brace - $90; hub -  $80;

rebuild - $100.  Plus the original $350 for the fork.  YMMV).

6)  Better "feel".  The stem allows you to have a rigid fork,

which transmits more "information" back to the rider.  This is a

benefit when riding through creeks where you cannot see where

your wheel is.

7)  Less exposed to the environment.  The stem is higher, more

out of the way than suspension forks.  Thus you can ride through

creeks and mud without having to worry about your fork seals, or

about contaminating the innards of the fork.  Even if mud

splashes on a suspension stem, the pivots are less sensitive to

grit than sliders and stanchion tubes.

8)  Ease of maintenance.  There are no seals to replace or

service, no oil to replace, no air pressure to adjust, and no

bumpers to wear out.  An occasional lube of the pivots is all

that is needed.  An extension of this is the ease of initial set

up.  For best results, you have to set suspension (fork or stem)

to react according to your weight and riding style.  With air/oil

forks you may have to change oil, adjust pressure or change

damping settings (if the fork has them).  With bumper forks you

may need to swap out bumper stacks and mix-n-match bumpers until

you get what works for you.  With the stem, the only adjustment

is to increase or decrease the spring tension with an allen



1)  No damping.  This is one of the main complaints from

proponents of suspension forks.  The suspension stem will give

way to absorb shock, but the return is not controlled and cannot

be adjusted.  JP Morgen currently makes a suspension stem which

employs oil-damping, but Allsop does not.

2)  Requires adjustment to riding style.  As mentioned above, the

stem requires weight to be applied to it to function.  This is

also one of the complaints applied to the Softride rear

suspension beam.  The flip-side to this, according to riders of

the Beam, is once the adjustment is made to "plant your butt on

the saddle" the ride is extremely comfortable and affords

excellent control by sticking the rear tire to the ground.

3)  Stem "clunks" on rebound.  The feeling is about the same as

suspension bottoming out, except it happens on the rebound.  This

is not as much a problem on the Allsop as on the Morgen stem,

which uses a hard plastic top-out bumper.  This is a subjective

complaint, as some riders claim not to notice it.

4)  Stem not torsionally rigid.  Another trade off.  The stem is

not proof to twisting forces and may be noticeable in hard,

out-of-the-saddle efforts.  Allsop has redesigned the top beam of

their aluminum stem for 1994 to address this problem.  Instead

of the aluminum "dog bone" structure for the top linkage member,

they've substituted a machined aluminum beam, reminiscent of a

cantilever bridge.

SUMMARY:  In my opinion, a suspension stem is an excellent choice

if one is retrofitting an existing bike, which has not been

designed around a suspension fork.  A suspension stem is also a

very good choice if one's primary riding is twisty singletrack,

where you need the sharp, precise steering of a rigid fork. 

There are undoubtedly situations for which a stem may not be

ideal, but stems should not be dismissed as a viable form of

suspension.  The best thing to do is to try both types of

suspension if you can, and see what you like better.


Brian Lee               | "Eschew Obfuscation"      | | Disclaimer      Datclaimer


I *think* that an email address for Allsop is

Snail mail is:

		Softride, Inc.

		4208 Meridian Street

		Unit 2

		Bellingham, WA  98226

Phone is:	1-800-557-6387


From: James W Gourgoutis 


Newsgroups: rec.bicycles.marketplace

Subject: Re: Need advice on suspension stems

In article  you write:


>1) What type of terrain are suspension stems meant for?

Anything but full-blown downhilling.

>2) Will my size affect the stems' ability to absorb or react significantly?

I doubt it.  If you purchase a Softride stem, you can order various 

springs of increasing stiffness direct from them.  I'm sure that the 

stiffest spring would be good for you.

>3) Does anyone have reccomendations,opinions or experience with various stems?

I own a 1989 Softride aluminum stem, with 150mm extension.  I purchased 

it used about 4 months ago, from rec.bikes.marketplace, for $140.  I really 

like it.  It's weird at first, but it grows on ya!  I've got mine mounted 

on a Cannondale 3.0 series MTB frame.

My theory on sus-stems vs. sus-forks is this:  If you find that you 

mostly ride out of the saddle while traversing the rough stuff, then a 

stem will work just fine.  If you sit on your butt during the bumps, then 

maybe you aughta get a sus-fork.  The ONLY problem with sus-stems is that 

front wheel jolts will travel through the frame and be felt at your butt.

Since I began riding rigid MTB's, I was used to riding very "light" on 

the bars/saddle over bumps.  Even now, I find that alot of times, my bars 

don't move as much as they probably should, since I don't put a lot of 

weight on them...of course, this changes when the going gets really nasty.

The BIG wins with the sus-stems are:  light weight, won't change your 

frame's geometry (some sus-forks, esp. the taller ones, raise the front 

end of the bike enough that the headtube angle is therefore slackened, 

which affects the handling of the bike), fairly cheap and work better 

than the cheap-o forks in that $$$ range, pretty low maintenance, no 

front-wheel flex.

I'll email you a copy of the susFAQ that I wrote last summer.  I've tried 

to include information on both stems and forks.

Email me if you've got more Q's!


Jim Gourgoutis


| james gourgoutis [] (bob#3068)  --  ,o  `why am I so late? 

| graduate school of mechanical engineering    --  -\<,   --couldn't decide

| university of pittsburgh / pittsburgh, pa  --  ( )/( )  which bike to ride!'

Article 49209 of


From: (Michael Fuhrer)


Subject: Re: Softride stem (minor) problem

Date: 15 May 1995 20:58:36 GMT

Organization: University of California, Berkeley

Lines: 26

Sender: mikef@

Distribution: world

Message-ID: <>

References: <>


X-Posted-From: InterNews 1.0.4@

X-Authenticated: mikef on POP host


In article <> (Mike Muronaka) writes:

> Running a 140mm stem sunk all the way into the headset puts my handlebar

> a little higher than I'd like it to be on my Bridgestone MB-3.  Any 

> creative ways of getting it lower, seeing that the Softrides aren't made 

> in 0 or negative degree rises?  I have a standard headset, the bars are 

> about saddle level, and my seatpost is as high as my short legs will let 

> it go.  (I bought the bike off a friend a couple years ago.  It gives me 

> only a couple inches of standover, but otherwise fits well.)  The only 

> thing I can think of is installing a downhill bar upside-down, making my 

> front resemble a yak.  (hey, if it works....)



> Mike

My Bridgestone MB-4 had an unusually high headset stack. You can probably

lower your stem maybe half a cm or more by cutting the fork down and removing

the spacers. A lower profile headset might help even more. 

I've seen people use the downhill bar upside down method. Seems to work fine,

even if it does look funny. This can also be used to get an effectively shorter

stem length for a Softride, since they only come in Long and Longer. (Since

it's a Softride, spring rate isn't affected.)

Michael Fuhrer

From Mon Feb 26 13:25:11 1996

Date: Mon, 26 Feb 1996 10:03:45 -0800

From: Mike DeMicco 

To: James W Gourgoutis 

Subject: Softride Stem

Hi James,

As a fellow Softride stem owner, I thought I'd let you know of a new

lubricant trick I just tried with the steel stem bushings.  Keep in mind

that I've only put one ride on the stem since I tried it, so it may not

work long term.

I've been plagued by creaks and squeaks in my stem for the years I've used

it.  It seems the bushings near the stem quill lose their lubricant after

a while and squeak badly.  My latest lube trick is to wrap the aluminum

bushings with teflon plumbers tape, put silicone vacuum grease over them,

and reinstall.

Vacuum grease is real thick and thus doesn't ooze out like normal grease

does.  It does, however, still go away after a period of time.

I tried Dupont teflon grease once, and my bushings wore out rather

quickly.  I don't recommend it for this purpose.

Did you get the retrofit damper for your stem?  If so, does it make a

noticable improvement?


Mike DeMicco  

**This file last updated on March 22, 1996**