WHAT: Seven Custom Ti Stem
HOW MUCH: $350
While most of us can't afford to shell-out more than $2,000 for one of Seven's meticulously crafted frames, we can reach for a more attainable goal—the company's new Custom Ti Stem. I know, 350 bucks is a boatload of money, but it's the closest thing to perfection available. Best of all, each one is completely custom. Seven won't start your stem until you choose the length, rise and stiffness. Plus, the bolts thread-in from the back, which prevents premature fatigue and keeps them tight.
I spent six months thrashing a 115-mm stem with 5-degrees of rise. Since I weigh 160 pounds and am fairly aggressive, Seven recommended the medium stiffness version. The stem followed me on several test bikes and tackled everything from all-day epics to light-duty freeriding. Only when I installed it on through-axle forks did I feel a hint of unwanted flex. However, I can't say I noticed the wanted flex either. Titanium's main selling point is its damping characteristics; but with the medium stiffness version, I didn't feel significant damping. But the beauty of these stems is that Seven can custom build one for a more forgiving ride—all you have to do is ask.
Just be sure to order the right size, because the stem will probably outlive your bike. The stick-on decals will surely wear off and the brilliant shine will tarnish with time, but the stem will likely outlast its owners' affinity for riding. It's constructed of seamless 3-2.5 titanium, the binders are rugged 6-4 Ti, and over-tightening the handlebar bolts will only damage the replaceable aluminum faceplate. And in the unlikely event that something does break, Seven offers a lifetime warranty.
There are lighter stems on the market than the 167-gram Seven, and Lord knows there are less expensive options. But the Custom Ti could make your bike fit and look better than ever and continue doing so for a lifetime.