Cirrus Cycles Kinekt suspension stem review

Just floating above the road…

There is much more comfort improving solutions for the back than for the front of the gravel bike. That is why I am always very eager to test something new that promises improved comfort at the handlebar. Kinekt suspension stem from Cirrus Cycles does just that. And it is quite good at it…

It looks massive. And feels massive. Heavy, well build.

More than a year ago I tested Shockstop suspension stem from Redshift and since then it is almost always on my bike helping me to feel more comfortable on bumpy roads. First I was using soft sets of elastomers because I wanted as much comfort as possible from it. Then I realized that this comfort comes at a hefty price of big handlebar movements (up and down) so I switched to a much harsher set of elastomers. Now I really enjoy using this stem because it offers a nice balance between comfort and ride feel. But it is not perfect. For me, the biggest flaw of Redshift’s stem is lack of real cushioning when you ride on tops (because this stem works the better the more weight you put on the handlebar, so it naturally excels when riding on hoods or, even better, on drops). Specialized Future Shock made this very clear to me because this spring based solution offers a great level of comfort regardless of the hand position. And this brings me nicely to the Kinekt suspension stem from Cirrus Cycles…

It, just like Future Shock 1.0, uses springs to improve the front end comfort. I like to call this kind of design a “floating” suspension because (and this is also true for spring-based suspension seatpost like Redshift’s one), when you set it right, you are constantly in between the available suspension travel and you simply are hovering above the road imperfections. And you don’t need to put much weight onto the handlebar to feel this effect so it works not only with every handlebar contact point but also with light riders or the ones that do not want to have a very aggressive, front forward position on the bike. With Kinekt you can feel great comfort improvement when riding on tops, which I really appreciate. But this comes at a price…

When you ride you constantly see the mechanism moving up and down to generate the great, floating suspension effect.

Future Shock 1.0 was great at improving comfort but the overall ride feel was not so great. There was only a spring there and even when you were using the harshest one, you can still occasionally experience the bottoming out sensation. It was also not a great solution for climbing because this time you were feeling the hits at the end of upward movement. Future Shock 2.0 solved those issues by having additional damping added to the whole system. Kinekt stem does not have any additional damping so it can bottom out. But for me, a much more irritating thing is the topping out when climbing or accelerating hard. In normal riding, this movement is not that noticeable but when climbing it is all you are thinking about. Redshift stem is much better in that scenario but also not perfect. And what is more, when I compared those solutions back to back I noticed another interesting thing. Kinekt stem despite the free movement up and down does not move side to side even slightly which is good for a good steering while Redshift stem, when you put a lot of weight onto the handlebar, for example when climbing out of the saddle, is making the handlebar move side to side quite significantly. As I said, there are no perfect solutions out there…

Let’s talk about comfort now…

Cirrus Cycles provides it’s a stem with 3 different springs that you use according to your weight. But, just like with their suspension seatpost, I quickly noticed that soft or medium springs are not good because they introduce too much movement, too much of bounciness. So I quickly swapped them for the harshest one (which in my opinion still was not great and this stem could benefit from even a harsher one, and for the record, my weight is 83 KG). Of course, I am talking about gravel usage and for a city or hybrid bike with a much more upright position, softer springs can indeed be more desired. With the harshest spring setup, I started my testing and quickly find out that on tops I felt much more comfortable on Kinekt than on Shockstop stem from Redshift. When I moved my hands to the hoods, subjectively Kinekt also felt superior to the Redshift’s stem (but when I compared the vibration level between 105 mm Kinekt and 100 mm Shockstop stem with green and blue elastomers the difference was not that huge at my usual 30 PSI tire air pressure). But then I pumped things up to 40 PSI, and in that scenario, the difference in favor of Kinekt was much more apparent. So with higher air pressure you really feel the floating sensation and enjoy all the benefits of this kind of suspension.

The ride feel

I have already talked a little bit about those bottoming out issues but for me even more important is the subjective disconnectedness with the bike. Because your handlebar is like hanging in the air and constantly moving in the 20 mm of suspension range that Kinekt is providing, you don’t feel the bike that well. As I said, there is no side to side handlebar movement, but still, it took me a while to feel secure when changing direction fast while riding hard on my bike with Kinekt stem. Redshift suspension stem provides much more connectedness with the bike and thanks to this, it suits a sporty riding style much more. This is the case also because Kinekt does not provide a negative stem angle variants which means that your handlebar will be much higher (it is +7 degrees) and if you don’t have the option to remove any more spacers (like I have) you simply will have to say goodbye to your sporty riding position.

The only +7 degree option (no negative angle variants) makes your handlebar move up quite significantly (especially when you normally use a negative stem angle like I do).


Then there is the pivot mechanism of the Kinekt suspension stem. The main advantage of Kinekt compared to Redshift stem is the fact that the suspension movement does not change the handlebar angle so it is always parallel to the ground (while Shockstop makes your handlebar dive under the load). Yes, this is true and can be felt as an advantage but it comes at the cost of constant changes in the effective stack and reach. My Kinekt is 105 mm long and in reality, when you put some weight onto the handlebar, it gets longer and becomes something like a 110 mm stem but also it goes down for at least 10 mm so effectively your handlebar is much lower and further away from you. Is this a deal-breaker? For sure not, but this is something to keep in mind when deciding on the proper stem length and maybe this is also the reason why Cirrus Cycles decided not to go with negative stem angle because, in reality, +7 degree can become something like 0 degrees when you put enough weight onto the handlebar.

The look and weight

When I was riding the suspension seatpost from Cirrus Cycles, I got mixed opinions about the way it looked. It was certainly not as sleek as a suspension seastpost from Redshift. But it was not bad either, at least for me. This is exactly the same case with the Kinekt suspension stem. It looks massive and weighs almost 500 g so there is some price to pay for the added extra comfort that you gain from using it. But the stem looks and feels extremely solid. And that is a good thing.

Great comfort, but not a great solution for gravel riders who like the sporty, agile handling.

Can I recommend it?

When I was testing a Future Shock from Specialized I was saying that it is the best front suspension solution that I have tested and I wished that we could get something similar without the need of buying the whole Diverge gravel bike. Now, we have just that. A floating front suspension solution that works in a similar way to Future Shock but can be used on any bike out there. Of course, it is not perfect and, if I am being honest, less effective than Future Shock 2.0 (mostly because of the lack of additional damping but also because of the difference in construction: Future Shock is working in line with the head tube while Kinekt is a mix of downward and forward movement) but it is still a significant improvement over any rigid stem (or even a ShockStop suspension stem) in terms of riding comfort. Especially, when you ride with something like 40 PSI air pressure. Or any pressure because Kinekt is much less dependable on tire pressure than ShockStop stem or a rigid stem. The only question you have to ask yourself is about your riding style and the most common riding scenario. If you, like me, like a sporty, aggressive position and can sacrifice some comfort (especially on tops) to get more engaging handling, then probably Redshift suspension stem will be a better choice for you. But for a more leisure riding or gravel touring I really think, that you will be better off with Kinekt. Just go with the harshest springs to make it a little more engaging…