Every so often, someone in the bike industry comes up with something really unique… something truly revolutionary… something that’s just FRIC’n cool! Tom Ritchey and the folks at Syncros / Ritchey have had more than their fair share of these types of products and a little while back I got my hands on the new FRIC stem which I tossed on my bike right away.
The FRIC is intended for the FR/DH crowd. With a patented forged design, you’re getting a super strong stem that’s shockingly lightweight. How light? My stem weighed in at 123g according to my scale, which matches the claimed weight from Syncros. But how is this stem different from all the others on the market?
For one thing the steering tube clamp bolts are forward of the steering tube, adding precious space for the family jewels, just in case you find yourself in a bad situation. Sure, a few other brands have forward set bolts (or forward facing pinch wedges) but that’s not all. What really sets the FRIC apart is the revolutionary 260-degree 4-bolt wrap clamp. With this patented design [Intelligent Clamp (IC )] you thread the bar into the Fric and then use the small segments to fasten down the bar. This method applies more uniform force around the bar, reducing the chance of cracks and fatigue.
As far as fit goes, the FRIC is only offered with 45mm of extension, which is a pretty safe choice for most AM-DH bikes but may disappoint those looking for more options. The zero rise on this stem may require you to add spacers if you’re finding yourself a bit down and over the bars so if you’re installing this on a fresh fork, keep a bit of extra length for spacers until you find the perfect height (or bar rise).
Installing the FRIC did take a bit more patience than a standard stem as the clamp makes you thread the bar through rather than placing it in. A note to people with painted bars: due to the tight fitting clamp, lube up your bar with soap to allow it to slide in easier. The added layer of paint makes for a very tight fit, though carbon and anodized bars should be fine. I installed an Easton Havoc carbon bar with no issues or scratches. For those of you with full rise bars (40mm+), bring them to the store with you to make sure the FRIC can pass the bends (just in case). After you thread the bar it is a matter of following the installation instructions and warnings. Torque the stem clamp bolts first, followed by the handle bar clamp bolts. It may take two tries on this to get your bar position just right, but it’s well worth the added time taken.
Using the FRIC I have to say that I truly loved it and not just because the compact design makes for a very clean look. What I really appreciated was the silent operation of the stem with no slippage or creaking to be heard. Even on the roughest rockgardens I didn’t observe any signs of flex or twist. That’s pretty impressive considering the size and design of this stem.
Now for $79.99 MSRP you’re definitely getting your money’s worth. The only bad thing here is the fact that you only have one steering tube size so for those with the 1.5″ steering tubes you’re outta luck (for now). The Fric comes in either white or black and as I stated before, visit your LBS to make sure it fits your bars.
I would like to thank the folks at Syncros for sending up the FRIC for a review.