Elementary FAQ

We have now sold several thousand stems, so we thought it was probably time to create a FAQ to help out the very small number of owners who have had a problem figuring out how to get the most out of it. Product designs that challenge a long running standard can sometimes have a learning curve for some users, but with a little patience, a proper installation of the Elementary Stem should easily become like second nature to anyone who uses it.

Please remember that we stand behind this product one hundred percent. If YOU aren’t happy, then WE aren’t happy either. As usual, you are welcome to contact us at anytime if you have further questions.

Questions and Answers:

Q. When I disassemble my bike to transport it by car or plane, the stem falls apart and needs to be set-up again each time. Is there any way to avoid this?

A. YES, and it’s very simple. The stem comes supplied with a short cardboard tube in the fork hole. When taking the stem off during disassembly, you should loosen the bolt (as necessary) and place the cardboard part on top of the fork’s steerer tube. At this point you should then be able to slide the stem straight up off the fork and onto the waiting cardboard tube. You can then re-tighten the bolt slightly to keep everything together during transportation. These steps should be reversed during re-assembly. If you accidentally threw the tube away, you can use a bit of a broom handle, some plastic pipe, a passing snake, etc. It is also useful to make a mark on the bars and the stem so you can line everything up with the same angle again…

Q. Which parts do I grease, and which parts DON’T I grease?

A. As with any product, you should grease the parts that need to slide, and keep it off the pieces that you want to grip. With the Elementary, you should grease BOTH of the angled faces on the central wedges. Grease should also be applied to the threads and head of the bolt. Avoid getting grease on the clamping faces that are making direct contact with the handlebar and fork steerer tube.

Q. What is the best grease to use?

A. Any thick grease is fine. The best choice would be a specific anti-seize compound like the ones with a copper or aluminum base.

Q. I hear you need a minimum amount of steerer tube to run the stem. How much do I need?

A. The stem needs at least 36mm of exposed steerer tube to work properly (measured out of the top of the headset and spacers).

Q. The stem’s steerer tube bore seems to be way too tight for my fork. What can I do?

A. Fork steerer tube sizes can vary wildly in diameter. The stem will easily work with well over 99% of the forks currently on the market. If the fit is excessively tight, have a shop open the diameter slightly with something like emery paper. If there is still a difficult fit after this, please contact Odyssey directly and we will provide you with the necessary assistance on this matter.

Q. Can I run the stem upside down (with the logo on the bottom)?

A. The logo side should ALWAYS be facing up. Running the stem upside down will have a negative impact on the stem’s performance, and may damage the U-Frame. The handlebar height is at its lowest when the stem is in the proper “logo-side-up” position.

Q. Will this thing crush my bars?

A. The stem is certainly powerful enough to crush many bars, but you would almost need to be TRYING to crush them. It really isn’t something that will happen more easily than with a normal stem. If you stick with the wrench that is provided, then you will be fine. However, you should NEVER use a wrench with a long extension that’s intended to generate an excessive amount of torque.

Q. Can I get a rear wedge with/without gyro tabs to replace the original one?

A. Yes. All of the inner wedge pieces are readily available for sale.

Q. How tight should the bolt be? I’ve tightened it to show the threads like in the instructions and it slips…

A. Since bars and forks vary wildly in diameter, you cannot always judge the stems tightness by counting the exposed threads. This part in the instructions tends to be over cautious, but as the text states, it’s only intended as a VERY LOOSE POINT OF REFERENCE. The best gauge to go by is this; You should tighten the stem until the SUPPLIED ALLEN KEY feels hard to turn. “Traditional” stem bolts can go from lose to tight in just one or two turns. However, the Elementary works on a ten-to-one advantage, so it will take ten times as many turns to come fully tight. Just keep tightening and it will slowly clamp up. When the SUPPLIED ALLEN KEY is as hard to turn as it is on a normal stem bolt, then you know it’s tight.

Q. My bars kept slipping, and I tightened it up more, but now it still slips?

A. If you run ANY stem lose, then the handlebar’s knurling will chew tiny bits of aluminum off the stem. This isn’t a big deal, but those bits of aluminum can act like tiny ball bearings, causing the bars to still slip even when the bolt is fully tightened. In this case you should take it apart and thoroughly clean everything to remove all loose debris.

Q. I did all this stuff and it STILL slips!

A. Once you have eliminated the above issues there are two remaining possibilities. Either the bars have been crushed to a different shape by the previous stem (so when the Elementary clamps the bars, the diameter just slowly returns towards the correct shape, preventing the stem from gripping them right). OR, another possibility is that the knurling on the bars is unable to grip the stem properly due to excess paint – or because there isn’t any knurling at all. Paint can act as a lubricant, so even if you think you can make out the shape of the knurling through the finish, it can still prevent the stem from getting a good grip. Clean the paint off the knurling and try again. These problems can effect ANY “traditional” stem in the same way.

Q: Can I run the stem without my pre-load bolt?

A: As with any stem, this is not a good idea. The preload bolt is an important fail-safe and helps to keep the headset tight. It is also a good place to keep it so you don’t lose it.

Q: Isn’t the exposed steerer tube going to rust?

A: This tends to only occur when the bike is subjected to overly harsh environmental conditions. For those still concerned about it, you can put your worrying mind at ease by simply covering the exposed steerer tube with a sticker or an exceptionally thin film of grease AFTER the final assembly has been completed.

Q: The back looks too sharp. Won’t that hurt my knees?

A: The back of the stem is much more compact than most six bolt stems, so it’s likely to be further away from your knees to begin with. The rounded edges help make it more forgiving and far less likely to cut you too. We’ve considered offering aftermarket pieces to “fill the gap” in the back of the stem, but nearly all of our test riders have been against this, saying that it’s totally unnecessary. Some of these riders have been on the stem for three years now, so they’re more familiar with it than anyone.