Headstems

Von Sothen Racing 1″ Micro/Mini Stem Review

While in the hunt for short stems to fit a bike build for a 4 year old I stumbled across the Von Sothen Racing 1″ Micro/Mini Stem. It’s a trick looking stem and super light weight. CNC’d from 7075-T6 Alloy and featuring titanium bolts.

The VSR stem was the shortest stem I could find that wasn’t a zero offset stem, like the Crupi I-Beam and the LDC Zero reach stems. The concept of zero reach is great, to shorten the rider cockpit area, but it also meant the steering would be very direct and twitchy with the bars being straight over the top of the fork steerer. Most other stems are at least 30-35mm long. So VSR’s 24.5mm stem was a great compromise when it came to length.

Von Sothen Racing operate out of Santa Cruz, CA, founded by Michael Von Sothen, they specialise in the design and manufacture of CNC machined aluminum BMX parts. In the past Von Sothen Racing has manufactured parts for the likes of Tangent, Bullseye, JAD, Throdwn and others.

Bar clamping

The VSR Mini/Micro stem is a little different to your standard stem, but different is something we’ve learned to expect from VSR. While most stems have 4 bolts to clamp the bars and 2 bolts to clamp the fork steerer the VSR Mini/Micro stem only has 4 bolts for the face plate, they clamp the bars, but two of them serve a dual purpose and also clamp the steerer. And after several months of use I can assure you the stem clamps just as well as any other stem I have used.

Fitting the stem

Once you get your head around the stem, and how it works, fitting it is easy and not too different to any other stem, but with less work.

You will see on the main body of the stem there is a slit on one side, this is for clamping the stem to the fork steerer, this is the key to a simple installation. When you put the bars on use the two short bolts on the non slit side of the stem and lock the bars into position. I do this with the stem on the steerer so you can get the angle right. Space out your start nut/compression nut/stem lock and tighten it down as you would any other stem (remember not too tight). Then insert the longer bolts and make sure that your bars are on straight and the stem is in alignment with the front wheel and tighten them down too.

I should also mention the stem comes with the torx key. I found it much easier to use than standard allen keys, I’m surprised we don’t see more of them in BMX.

Weight

When I started my hunt for a stem the weight wasn’t a high priority, it was more about a short reach than anything. The VSR Mini/Micro stem worked out to not only be the shortest (without being a zero offset) but also the lightest, weighing in at just 90 grams. A nice little bonus.

Comparison to other popular 1″ stems

Speedline Mini Elite 36mm120 grams
Profile Mini Acoustic 35mm163 grams
LDC 1″ Stem 35mm127 grams
Crupi I-Beam 27mm115 grams

While there isn’t a fair comparison with the VSR being as short as it is and using Ti bolts Vs cromo bolts the others use. It was as good a comparison I could come up with. The VSR Mini/Micro stem is really in a class of it’s own.

To be fair to the others, their rider weight limit is higher and their stems would be suited to slightly taller/bigger riders.

Manufacturer’s Description

  • 24.5mm & 30mm reach stems
  • 1″ Steer tube
  • 7075-t6 aluminum body and cap
  • Custom grade 5 Titanium torx head bolts
  • 90 grams total weight
  • Carbon Fiber Steerer Tube and Handlebar Compatible
  • Rider weight limit 80 LBS
  • Colours
    • Black
    • Red
    • Purple
    • Pink
    • Blue

Gallery

Rating 20/20

Value for money:5/5
Weight:5/5
Functionality:5/5
Looks/Finish:5/5

Comments

  • Light, strong, short and looks great well worth the extra few dollars you would pay for alternatives.
  • The VSR Mini/Micro stem is the lightest 1″ stem I could find.
  • The clamping power of the VSR Mini/Micro stem is easily equal to any other stem. I didn’t have any problems with it coming loose or slipping.
  • The VSR Mini/Micro stem looks great, in fact the minute my daughter saw it her eyes lit up and I was asked nicely to put it on the bike immediately!

If you are in the market for a short 1″ stem for the smaller BMXer in your family I highly recommend the VSR Mini/Micro Stem.

Want to know more? Go check them out on Facebook at www.facebook.com/vonsothenracing

review by Shane Jenkins/9 September 2019

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