Flash back a few years and my eyes laid on the Terrible One Cyclops stem. Something about the design left me just drooling. I waited and waited and… well, I heard it’s almost ready now. However, about 9 months back, I caught my first look at Chase Hawk’s signature Odyssey Tomahawk stem. It had a similar look to the Cyclops and offered up some unique features that were similar to the Elementry stem that I was always pretty fond of. I figured it was definitely something I’d like to give a go. So, I ordered one up when it was released and have been giving it a go for about two months now. Let’s take a closer look and find out what I thought.
The Tomahawk stem is forged 6061-T6 aluminum front-load style stem that can be run either way. When installed, the Tomahawk features a 9.5mm rise or 22.5mm rise when flipped upside down, a reach of 53mm and a weight of 9.4 oz (266g). Looking at the stem you will notice features like the single bolt clamping that holds the stem to your fork. This is a similar system to how the Elementry stem works where you tighten the bolt and the plate on the inside compresses on the steerer tube. Up front you can find the traditional 4 bolts holding the bars in place. A unique system with plenty of style just how Chase Hawk likes it.
Looking at the Tomahawk stem, it’s clear that it has a very aesthetically pleasing look to it. Stems have definitely come a long way since some of the blocks that were available back in the day. Odyssey did a real good job of creating a smooth look with the round edges in the back to help protect the knees. They’ve done some extra machining on the top and bottom of the stem to help reduce some of the weight without sacrificing too much strength. They also avoided overly cutting out holes or making it more complex than it really needs to be, while still being a pretty complex stem.
Initially, I chose to run the stem “normal” with the 9.5mm of rise. As you can see, it looks pretty damn good attached to the bike. Installing it stem went as smooth as it should and I don’t think it’s one of those overly technical installs. Then again, it is BMX. It’s all pretty easy.
Shortly after running the stem for a few sessions, I landed fairly hard one time and noticed my headset was locking up. Thinking, oh great, I blew out yet another headset. I figured I’d loosen it up, see if that would allow the bearings to re-adjust and continue the session. Once I did that, things were smooth again and it left me wondering exactly what had happened. Sure enough, about twenty minutes later the same thing happened. This time instead of just loosening everything up, I took a closer look. Originally, installing the stem I thought I left enough room for the steerer tube to make contact on the back of the stem. Little did I know that I had barely a millimeter touching and after a bit of riding it wiggled just enough to wedge the top of my fork just below the lip. Which explained why the headset bearings were locking up. After a quick swap out of a smaller headset spacer, I had more of the top lip of the stem making contact with the fork and I haven’t had the issue happen since. That was clearly a user install issue versus flaw of the stem. I just figured I’d toss that out there to make sure you are allowing enough room for the stem to make contact with the fork if you happen to pick one of these up.
After a few weeks of running the stem regular, I decided I wanted to give a little more rise a shot. I decided to flip the stem like Odyssey had designed it to do. This took me from a 9.5mm rise to 22.5mm rise. Definitely a noticeable boost. Looking at the stem, this way looks what I like to call “different”. It’s definitely not a very traditional looking stem when it is inverted and to be honest, it almost doesn’t look right.
Once I flipped the stem, that’s when I started getting the most feedback from people taking notice of the stem as well. The general consensus was that it looked different, but in a good way. I think that’s the best way to describe it as well.
I liked that option of having some extra rise because I don’t plan on jumping on to that 9″ + rise trend going on these days and having a billion spacers really isn’t my style either. So having the clean option of flipping the stem over was definitely a huge benefit to having the Tomahawk.
After a few weeks, things with the stem being inverted have been going well. I still haven’t had any issues with the fork slipping under the lip and overall it’s a real solid stem. However, I did have the bars slip a few times. I’m not sure if it’s just that I tend to land front heavy a little too often, if the front plate wasn’t tightened down evenly or if my half assed paint job was the culprit. I want to say that they could have all been factors, but mostly the paint since there was a bit of it rubbing off on the stem when I took the front plate off yesterday.
Overall, minus the issue I had with the top lip and the mystery of my bars slipping, which both could most likely be pointed back to being my fault, I’m impressed and happy with the stem. I’m glad I decided to buy the stem since I had been looking to get another 53mm reach stem. Having two stack heigh options have been nice and I like the overall look of the Tomahawk stem on my bike. I can’t imagine Chase Hawk would put his name on something he wasn’t completely happy with, so that’s also a good indicator that it’s proper.
The stem is currently available in black and a raw silver and can be found everywhere Odyssey is sold (pretty much every single shop or mail order can get you this stem). If you live in the U.S, have your shop hit up Full Factory or QBP and get yourself one ordered.
So that wraps it up! If you are in the market for a new stem, I definitely advise you consider picking one of these up for yourself. If you have any questions, please leave them in the comments!