A little over a year ago, there were sample shots of the Tree Collet stem that surfaced on forums and other places. The design looked amazing, but was still in prototype stages. Today, the final version is being produced and should finally be available soon. It looked like a good time to hit up Tree and find out a little bit more about their unique new stem design. Take a peek…
Name: Nathan Parker
Role at Tree:
I am a Rider/Media Coordinator/TM for Tree, 5 years as a rider, A little over a year for everything else.
Around 15 or 16 or 24 depending on how you count.
All right, so this time around we are talking about the Tree Collet stem. The Collet has a design that’s unique in the BMX industry with the compression system it uses. When did you guys originally come up with the idea for the stem?
This stem began as a different design that used a single one way wedge system, about 2 years ago.
How long did it take to get the stem from idea to CAD drawings? Were there any ideas you guys had that just didn’t work with the design?
It took working on the drawing over the course of a week to get it in, but really it took longer because it had to be redrawn five times.
Once it was all drawn up and ready to get prototypes made, you started working with Phil Wasson at Super Rat Machine Shop, right?
Phil was making our sprockets at the time as well as working on things with FBM, T1 and some other companies so it took a little while to get a prototype but it wasn’t too long.
How does the stem work? It’s all based on compression, right? How did you make it work with only bolts up front?
The stem works using a collet piece, which is why it is called the Collet stem. There are three parts to the stem: a bottom plate, the collet, and an upper plate. The collet piece has two different tapers, a steep short one that rests inside the lower plate and a long gradual one that matches up inside of the upper plate. As the bolts are tightened near the steerer tube, the force compresses the collet applying 360 degree clamping force to the fork, keeping the stem secure. After the stem has been aligned and those two bolts tightend, the front two bolts apply the remainder of the necessary clamping force to your bars keeping them locked down tight.
Did you guys run into any problems during the prototype stages like bars slipping or anything like that?
Yeah, we ran into it quite a bit. The first version held the bars fine but wouldn’t stay tight enough on the fork, I actually rode it JB welded to my fork for the whole trip down south we took back in the Spring of 2010.
The second version had an improved collet piece that was a single piece instead of being two pieces like the original, and it had offset spaces machined out of it alternating from top to bottom to acts more like a spring, the stem and collet piece was hard anodized which made it the most expensive stem that I have ever run by a lot. The problem with this version was that it still didn’t hold the forks as good as we wanted it too, and it required a special headset cap to tighten the headset, and would sometimes loosen the headset when you tightened the bolts.
The third version we fixed the headset loosening problem, and we moved the bolts near the steerer tube closer to the steerer tube to increase clamping force, but it decreased bar clampage.
The next version used five bolts instead of four and that held fine but we didn’t want to have five bolts. We also changed the tapers a little which helped.
The final version was the same as the five bolt version but used a 7075 collet piece to reduce the clamping force we were losing using the softer 6061 and only four bolts and it holds the bars and forks perfect!
Are the stems in production and available now?
The stem is done and will be available very soon.
Care to take us through the specs of the stem?
The drop down version of the stem is that same dimensions as an S&M Redneck stem, it has a 35mm reach and 8.4mm drop. It ways 8.1 ounces and comes in black or Raw.
All three pieces are made out of 7075 aluminum which is twice as strong as 6061, and it uses 6mm hollow chromolly bolts.
It is 360 degree contour machined.
The stem is only designed to be run as a drop stem, we are making a top load version soon.
Do you guys have a patent on the design? Are there any other brands that you know of looking into creating a design similar to this?
We don’t have a patent on the design and we don’t know of any other stem that uses this design, but there was a stem in the early 90’s for mountain bikes that used a version of a collet design called an Ibis but it used a threaded piece with a giant weird nut on top of the stem and required a special wrench to install.
I’ve read a few places that the stem is similar to the T1 Cyclops that has been in the works for quite a few years now. Did you guys have any influence from that design, or was it completely coincidental?
That was completely coincidental, but when we tried the five bolt version the fifth bolt was on top and the other four were hidden and the first thing I said was that it looked like a Cyclops stem. That being said, the T1 stem is a good looking stem too and I hope that Joe can get things worked out so that they can make it available soon. We definitely support T1, and had some discussions at Interbike last year about the struggles we have both faced getting our stems made.
After a long time in the works, the stem is finally available. Where can somebody get their hands on the Collet stem? Approximately how much does the stem retail for?
The Collet stem will retail around $80 because its 7075 and of the special machining process that it goes through. You can pick one up from any shop that buys through Blackout distribution , or through mail order at Empire, Dan’s Comp, or from us direct.
Do you guys offer any sort of warranty on the stem?
If there are any problems with Tree products just give us a call and shoot us an email. We will check it out and if we think the problem was a design flaw, manufacturer defect in materials or workmanship we will replace it, or depending on the circumstance offer a replacement at a discounted price.
Who should shops and distributors contact to get the Tree Collet stem in their shops and warehouses?
Call Blackout Distribution, or give us a call.
What if people have general questions about the stem. Who should they contact?
Contact me at email@example.com
Is there anything we missed that you would like to add?
I think we covered it all