Kinekt Suspension Stem 90mm
475g Long Term Test (14 months) £169.99
The Kinekt Suspension Stem is a very plush spring/elastomer model which has impressed us with its progressive action and welcome comfort. It’s a little heavier, dare I say more active than models such as Redshift sports Shockstop Suspension Stem. Minor moans aside, the Kinekt is very solidly made, easy to adjust and service. The introduction of a stiffer spring improved my experience and may further broaden its appeal.
Pros: Well made, Rugged, Simple to Maintain, Parallelogram movement.
Cons: Weight, Stock springs could be too active for some.
Steve tested the 105mm 7-degree version back in February 2021. There is also a 100mm and 120mm version and a 100mm 30-degree model for riders wanting a more upright stance. The stem itself is nicely executed from CNC machined, shot peened 6061 aluminium alloy It’s a sprung/elastomer unit with a parallelogram movement intended to offer a progressive action, with most benefit mid stroke-where you want it. The other advantage over elastomer designs is minimal sensitivity to cold. Elastomers can turn hard and less effective when the temperatures tumble. ours has seen regular service in foul, wintry weather and still looks (almost) packet fresh-not so much as a blemish in the stainless-steel fasteners.
Same goes for the anodising and indeed powder coated springs, which are hidden away inside.15-20mm of travel should cater for most tastes but I found the stock springs to reactive for mine-more about that later. Swapping these is straightforward. Bargain on five minutes, although not something I’d want to do by the road, or trailside, given the risk of losing the 2.5mm screw.
Undo the rear Allen screw, push the pivot pin out and the stem will pivot downward, revealing the spring and guides. From here, you can just switch but I’d take this opportunity to lubricate the spring and elastomers with a rubber friendly grease (or silicone spray). When closing, be mindful the guides are correctly aligned.
Refit, replace the pivot pin (a shot of silicone spray helps here, too) and lock everything snug with that 2.5mm screw. Test by pushing down on the bars a couple of times and you’re ready to go.
Ours has been sat on my fixed gear winter/trainer. It had been running the redshift Sports Suspension Stem long term, so an obvious comparator. Another potentially relevant factor being the relatively steep drop from saddle to bars and the fact being fixed, it is sometimes necessary to get out of the saddle and charge more intense, or longer climbs.
Contexts which would betray a suspension stem’s po-go tendencies-if there were any. The first few months, I’d gone with the Soma Condor 2 Riser Drop Bars , later switching to the Genetic D-Riser 4 . At 70 kilos, I’m not overly heavy, either, but I do experience minor nagging discomfort in my left shoulder following a few race day tumbles and a more serious motorcycle accident, over twenty years ago. Being a taller stem than the Redshift Sports Shockstop Suspension Stem, I needed to lose a 5mm Ahead spacer too, but that’s as complex as matters got.
Performance Stock: 3.25/5 Upgraded 3.75/5
Defaulting to the stock, medium spring, (which Kinekt suggest is the sweet spot for most riders. I'm guessing if you’re taking an overly broad sweep of rider weights, genre of machines and riding styles, maybe.) the stem felt very responsive. Overly so, for my tastes. Small ripples, washboard tarmac and similar surface imperfections weren’t an issue but accelerate hard at the lights, out of the saddle on a steep climb and it would bob around and bottom out.
I persevered for another two hundred miles but though smooth, found it way too responsive. This degree of travel also confirmed I had pruned the front brake cable a little too keenly, which resulted in some cable rub around the Kinesis fork leg (thankfully it only marked the clear coat), prompting cable replacement.
The knocking as it bottomed out was similarly unnerving. Wintry conditions had also induced a rather unsettling squeaky, creaky symphony. I originally tried a quick blast of silicone spray to the spring and rubberised components (without opening the stem). Seemed to do the trick, although a couple of weeks’ later, it returned with a vengeance. Opening the stem revealed the boingy bits were all in excellent condition. No corrosion or similar deterioration.
I took this opportunity to switch to the stiffest of the stock springs. Doing so brought a marked improvement- lots of progressive, predictable travel, greatly reducing shoulder and hand fatigue on longer, wintry rides. The stem would still bottom out with an audible knock, especially when I was accelerating hard with my weight on the bars, or hustling down a winding, slightly lumpy descent.
During another bitterly cold, salty, snowy wintry spell, the creaking piped up again. As before, lazy blast of silicone spray to the spring and linkages restored silence, but this was short-lived. One week, 150 miles later and it was bolder than ever! The neighbour’s Bengali cat was very vocal in his protest, so I vowed to sort it.
Opening the stem, lightly coating the spring and elastomer components in some Green Oil Eco Grease proved a durable cure. Aside from the occasional, annoying knock, the Kinekt was refined, compliant and reduced discomfort. Shod with cross tyres, I traversed dirt roads with better control and greatly reduced fatigue around my neck, shoulders and wrists.
Factors such as bar tape and tyre pressures play their part- The Condor 2 were dressed in the T One Mr Fantastic Handlebar Tape which being a thick silicone, provides excellent damping, adding to the comfort and refinement. June came and I switched to the Genetic D-riser 4 bars, which are a very subtle riser design, which also extended the saddle to bar distance. This had less influence upon travel and bottom out than I was expecting, although remained consistent in the contexts discussed.
I then learned that Kinekt had introduced a new Performance Damper Kit . ($18.95- £16.48 at time of writing) and I was graciously sent one. This has greatly improved my generally positive experience of the stem.
A much firmer, sharper handling front end, enabling me to power along with welcome and palpable damping, which I find more to my taste, whether on a shorter 25mile blast, or day rides. Several hundred miles down the line, it stays. It hasn’t completely eradicated rebound when climbing and pulling on the bars but otherwise goes unnoticed. This is particularly true,
when hunkered low on the drops, so I’d recommend investing at the time of purchase, for more aggressive road biased riding.
The Kinekt Suspension stem is well engineered and easy to maintain. Periodic greasing (only use synthetics- Aside from Green Oil Eco Grease, White Lightning Crystal is another good bet and Rock Shox Judy Butter will also do the trick. However, swerve Lithium and PTFE infused blends since these will simply destroy rubberised components) and the odd shot of synthetic maintenance spray, such as Green Oil are all that’s required to keep it happy. Fourteen months hard service and basic care hence, the finish and components are in great shape, right down to the stainless-steel fasteners.
£169.99 is dearer than its closest rival, the Redshift Sports Shockstop Suspension Stem . However, there are pricier alternatives. Vecnum Frequence Suspension Stem is another model using parallelogram design and elastomers. It’s reckoned to offer 30mm of travel, available in 3 lengths (90, 105 and 120mm), tuneable to suit riders between 50 and 120kilos and 40% lighter than the Kinekt.
However, at £299, it’s a sizeable investment. Redshift Sports has released a Pro version of their stem, which is CNC machined and employs titanium hardware to save a few grams. The Elastomer technology stays unchanged. If you weren’t set on a parallelogram design, Cane Creek ee Silk Stem offers 20mm of travel and is available in 80, 90, and 100mm extensions for £219.99.
The Kinekt Suspension Stem is a very solid, well-engineered and low-maintenance stem. One that caters for different riders and genres of machine. The new Performance damper KIt has improved my riding experience considerably. Aside from gravel and rough stuff touring bikes, it could be a practical choice for older cross country mountain bike, should the heft and complication of a suspension fork not appeal. For all its charms, I’d opt for Redshift Sports Shockstop Suspension Stem, or the Cane Creek ee Silk on a cyclo cross bike, or other machines on calorie-controlled diets, though.