Supercross & Speedline Carbon Cockpit | Review

Carbon Carbon Everywhere … Supercross and Speedline conspire to produce a Carbon BMX Cockpit forged in BMX Nirvana …

5 Sept 2020

Supercross & Speedline Carbon Cockpit | Review

Carbon Carbon Everywhere … Supercross and Speedline conspire to produce a Carbon BMX Cockpit forged in BMX Nirvana …

5 Sept 2020

Supercross Speedline Carbon Cockpit

Carbon handlebars in the world of BMX Racing are not a new thing, they have been a common component sought out by the Factory Dad in the development of the next Elite Superstar, but a Carbon handle bar for the current Elite Superstar … well now, that’s a rare commodity! Even rarer though, is a stem crafted from the same material for the same target audience, but Speedline Parts, the sister company to Supercross BMX, are about to unleash the first BMX specific Carbon Stem, the ‘Matrix Carbon Fibre Pro Stem’, a 170 gram, solid mix of Torray T700S and Torray T800 Carbon! And we’ve gotten our hands on one of the few pre-production units to escape Speedline HQ … and the only one that has, thus far, left the USA!

The new 31.8mm oversized carbon stem, with no rider weight limit, will combine perfectly fine with any oversized handlebar out there but the true intention here is for you to marry this engineering first with the recently released, Supercross BLK Pro Carbon Bars. Now you potentially have a BMX cockpit forged in BMX Nirvana! Luckily, we managed to abscond from Apple Valley with the bars too!

Supercross Speedline Carbon Cockpit

We are not going to rehash all the spec’s for the BLK Carbon Bars here, you can jump over to the Supercross site for those numbers. The carbon stem, on the other hand, is a new proposition. It’s an evolution of the alloy Speedline Elite Stem which was designed in conjunction with one Maris Strombergs, the guy with all the medals, so it already has that going for it. While the stem has some nice features and attention to detail, like a recess for steer tube spacers on its top surface and the addition of longer bolts in the rear (because of the extra available depth), it’s really all about the weight saving and increased stiffness. And for the size of product, the weight saving is impressive … you’re looking at about half the weight of a more traditional alloy stem. We should point out that despite the significant weight saving, the stem does not feel in any way flimsy, it actually feels like it would survive an encounter with a tank.  Supercross will also point out that they weren’t overly enthusiastic about the possibility of sharp edges on an alloy stem cutting into their beautifully sculpted BLK Carbon Bars, potentially compromising the structural integrity of the clamping area … and that, ultimately, may be the main driving force behind the Matrix stem.

While individually the carbon stem and bars are an attractive proposition, the real beauty here is when you step into the aforementioned BMX Nirvana, and go full carbon in the cockpit. The weight saving now creeps up to around 1 pound … a whole pound off the front end of your BMX race machine is definitely not to be sniffed at! It may take some time to adjust to the new weight distribution of your newly dialled bike, but when you do … wow!

Supercross Speedline Carbon Cockpit

The pre-production stem we acquired is the 54mm version but there will be a 48mm and a longer 60mm option, as well as two mini versions, a 36mm and a 42mm which are bound to be sure fire hits. And yes, it will be available in some sexy finishes but as of yet we’ve not been able to pry that information from Speedline. The graphics too are yet to be disclosed … but we’d expect them to have the same high-end simplicity as those found on the Carbon BLK handlebars. Graphics aside, the BLK Bars are a beautifully refined carbon sculpture, matching perfectly with the aesthetic of the Supercross BLK frame and forks … the problem you now face is that no chromoly set of bars will ever look at home on your carbon frame again. It’s the same queasy feeling you get when you see skinny chromoly forks on a carbon frame …

And now for the rub, and there always is! With this level of carbon engineering innovation, you can’t just whack these parts on your bike and go jump stuff … you’ve got to employ some finesse here. We now own a bicycle specific torque wrench and a tube of ‘carbon grip paste’, common in the world of high-end road and mountain bikes but not something we’ve been overly concerned with in BMX. But that’s where Supercross and Speedline are now taking us … into the world of ultra-high-end race equipment, designed for serious racers. If you’re a novice rider, new to the sport, or are not fully invested into the racing scene, these carbon sculptures are probably not for you.  Then there is the cost … deep breath … $250 for the bars alone … and you can expect the stem to be in the same ballpark, we think you’ll be looking at a hair under $220. The front end alone of our test machine now costs more than a lot of the bikes on the gate at our local track. But, the time and effort that goes into producing products at this end of the spectrum, even for a company at the forefront of the carbon technology,  comes with a significant financial investment … we’re scaling a new frontier in BMX part development here, especially when it comes to the stem.

Speedline Matrix Carbon Stem
Supercross Speedline Carbon Cockpit

Assembly, like we said, requires finesse … and a bit of a learning curve. Printed right there on the bars in all CAPS is the whimsical, yet stern warning … ‘YOU MUST NOT EXCEED 6nm OF TORQUE. TRUST US, WE CAN TELL’ … we eventually went to 8 … and a bit. Do not tell Supercross!

After applying a liberal amount of the Park Tool SAC-2 ‘Supergrip’ paste to the clamping surface of the Matrix stem we set our new Torque Wrench to the specified 6nm and tightened everything down. We moved the bars. We tried 8nm. Do not tell Supercross! The bars felt good, the bike felt light … we got a little overzealous down the third straight rhythm section … we moved the bars, only a fraction but they moved … slightly. 8, and a bit newton-metres. I repeat, Do not tell Supercross! The bars where now rock solid. BMX Nirvana achieved!

Supercross Speedline Carbon Cockpit

Back at base we had a closer look at the post track assembly and noticed an excess of ‘liquified’ paste that had oozed out. A discussion with Supercross’s Bill Ryan revelled that he had already been investigating this ooze … it appears that while liberally applying the carbon grip paste in a very hot and dry California, where it dries almost instantly, may not work the same when used in a damp, humid, northern European climate. We disassembled the bars and started again, applying a very thin layer of the Park Tool SAC-2 ‘Supergrip’ paste … and then back to 8nm of force … and a bit. Do not tell Supercross.

In our, admittedly short, time with our new carbon toys we also found that setting the stem to the desired torque level and then leaving the bike be for a period of time will allow you to return with your wrench and get the bolts a little tighter using the exact same torque. Does the carbon relax a little over time? Either way, our assembly is now bullet proof. Knowledge, experience, and a little finesse … BMX Nirvana.

The riding experience, once you conquer the irrational fear of going 100% with a full carbon cockpit, is different, it’s obviously lighter, so much lighter and it’s definitely stiffer, so much stiffer, it’s more solid … and in a strangely unquantifiable way, it somehow it feels sharper, more responsive … better.

But are these cutting-edge carbon products for you? For your kid? Well that’s not for us to say … there are too many factors to individually weigh up … are you at that level, will you benefit, can you afford them? Unfortunately for us, we’ve tried them and now there is no going back … #bmxevolved

UPDATE 14th Sept. 2020

Following on from our review of the pre-production Speedline Matrix Carbon Stem, we have been lucky enough to get our hands on the graphic artwork for the production models … and in our view, unique is an understatement!

The production stem will be a combination of meticulously painted and unpainted sections leaving half the stem and half the graphics raw, except for a clearcoat we assume, to reveal the Carbon material in all its glory.

As well as the black version shown below, which will come in both gloss and matt, the Matrix stem will also initially be available in a white, a red and an orange version … all colour options will be half colour, half carbon. We would also expect other unique and limited colour options to sporadically become available, as is the nature of the guys in Apple Valley.  

Speedline Matrix Stem Graphics - Raw Carbon Black

If you have BMX product and you’re interested in a ‘Fifteen BMX’ fair and honest review please email us at info@15.ie … BMX since the 80’s with 25 years of real-world product design experience!

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