Redshift Shockstop stem is a product of a small start-up from the USA. But it gained a lot of coverage worldwide as it should be. There is no much competition in terms of providing more comfort at the front of the bike apart from adding a suspension fork. The only comparable solution is a Specialized FutureShock but it comes with the bike so you either go with Diverge or use Shockstop stem on your current bike.
Redshift’s stem is using elastomers that allow up to 20 mm of handlebar movement. The softer the elastomer combination the more flex you will get. Redshift suggests different combinations depending on rider weight and type of the handlebar but I strongly recommend experimenting to find the best solution for you. For me, it is the softest combination designed for drop bar handlebar. It gives you a noticeable flex also in a situation like climbing out of the saddle which can be a problem for some but not for me (as you may already know I value comfort a lot!).
Before we go to the test results I must confess that for a long time I was thinking, as the majority of road bike cyclists, that it is enough to ease the arms and put more weight on the back to mitigate the impact of bigger hits. And of course it works but it is not the best long term solution because it makes you work more and eventually slows you down. Redshift shockstop stem works for you so you can enjoy gravel riding more and for longer periods of time. Just focus on the ride. Of course, the best effects are when riding on hoods or drops and not on the tops (because then you put less weight on the bar and thus shockstop stem has less force to work with).
When we compare results at 40 psi tire pressure between a standard FSA stem (with an identical length of 90 mm and 6-degree rise) and Redshift stem we can see that suspension stem is over 20% more comfortable both in the forest and on fast gravel. But what is even more astonishing, lowering the tire pressure to 20 psi made an even bigger difference between a suspension and rigid stem on forest road. When you think about it this makes perfect sense. Both 700c 43mm tire and Shockstop stem offer approximately 20 mm of suspension movement each. When they both work together they can provide up to 40 mm of suspension and ride on a bumpy forest road makes them work to the fullest of its abilities hence the biggest difference. This holds true also on fast gravel but their improvement over 40 psi was less substantial.
Leaving aside the tire pressure the Redshift Shockstop stem works wonders and really makes your ride more comfortable and more enjoyable. Both subjectively and in objective measurements. So if you are about comfort this is a truly great solution. But is this the best solution? We will find out when I will have a possibility to test a Lauf Grit suspension fork…