Turning bars and pushing pedals is what it’s all about, right? If you’re passionate about cycling, perhaps you’re keen to upgrade some of the bits on your bike to stand out and make it your own. Thomson is a longtime player in the cycling game and can assist you with making your bike classy and ride with confidence. Thomson started out in the mid-90s and have brought their history of aerospace machining into producing high-grade CNC components for your bikes. Seatposts and stems are their bread and butter and they like them light and strong.
Offering a wide variety and blanketing the market with products for almost any discipline, Thomson can provide components for your entire stable. While they are not cheap and never proclaim to be, they are worth their weight in gold. At first glance, it’s of little effort to observe the quality in machining and how good a product their stems are. I took a Thomson Elite X2 stem in black, with 100mm length and +/−10° rise and slapped it on my gravel bike for hundreds of miles (some more abusive than others).
The Elite X2 offers a lightweight stem suitable for road applications where weight can be a sensitive topic. The slender shape uses only what material is necessary to make it lighter weight, yet strong enough to handle almost anything that may come up in a ride/race. X2 uses a two-bolt, interlocking faceplate which claims to offer the same amount of torsional strength as it’s four-bolt, X4 model. X2 was designed to be more rigid with reduced flex to allow for a greater sensation of stiffer forks as supplied on most road bikes currently.
From my riding experience I mostly had no issues with the stem. Main complaint being the seemingly insufficient clamping force onto my stock handlebars. With enough downward force, I could rotate the bars down with the stem bolts torqued correctly. While this issue only occurred during a ride once when I hit a severe pothole out on a gravel ride, the stem proved worthy of regular road rides including some aggressive sprints with no issue. I was admittedly dissatisfied with the 3mm-head bolts used at the recommended 5Nm torque specification. I’m sure this isn’t a regular issue since these stems have been in production for so long, but perhaps my riding style and discipline calls for an X4 stem with a more secure bar/stem interface. In fact, Thomson recommends use of the X4 for more aggressive riders that often partake in cyclocross and gravel to avoid “bar slip”. The word “overkill” doesn’t exist for no reason.
All in all, while I did have some disappointment with some aspects of the stem’s performance, I was very happy with the quality and feel of the materials used. The ride from a stiffer stem translated through the bars nicely and gave me a sporty feel while on the road. I’d experience hesitation when recommending this stem to a friend, but definitely not the brand. I would encourage everyone to do research as one should do with any purchase, but consider the beefier Elite X4 offering if you’re more aggressive and keep your mind at ease for the lifetime of your bike. Learn more about the Thomson Elite X2 stem or buy one for yourself here.