The second in our new series of stuff which didn't quite make it...
When you rattle and sift through the boxes of suspect products which never quite made it, you find that often the most offensive or potentially lethal to human life tend to have the word 'suspension' attached to them somehow.
In the early days of rigid mountain bikes, designers struggled to get to grips with suspension. Was it necessary and if it was, what was the most efficient/cost effective/lightweight/mass-appealling way to do it?!
Enter the suspension stem! There were numerous designs and the idea was simple - an elastomer suspension unit within the stem itself.
So whilst travelling over rough terrain quickly, the bars, those things you hold on to to control the bike, would move up and down.
They achieved relative success too with riders in the throws of desperation to quel the abuse their battered wrists were getting. Ultimatetly though, they failed for a number of reasons;
- The aforementioned 'control' issue. When suspension forks took off they did so quickly and having the wheel track over an obstacle as opposed to your whole upper body was deemed preferable.
- Elastomer tended to be used as a dampener. On cold days, it didn't work and on especially hot days, it wasn't great either. When it did work, it bobbed up and down and plunged forward under braking. Any way you look at it, it was less than ideal.
This series isn't about simply ridiculing products though. Suspension is one of, if not the most important things to happen to the mountain bike. It was always going to have a difficult teething period so fair play to the suspension stem - pride of place in The Glue Factory!