These days making a bike to use a threaded steering tube and a quill stem is no easy task. Threaded steering tubes are getting more difficult to find. I have a pretty big stock of them and can still get a few sizes from Nova Cycles.
Stems and headsets have made a comeback and there are some choices. You can definitely have a quill stem made in Japan or Taiwan/China if you have the funds to buy them in bulk. The imported ones I can purchase often don’t meet my aesthetic or handlebar clamp needs [25.4mm]. Most have a 26.0mm bar clamp, so you have to use a shim, which is a real pain to use and adapt to fit. The shim often scratches your bars and the the shim has to be ground down to be hidden into the stem area. Often the stems I want are out of stock and can be months until they are back in.
Some of the stems I use and like are:
- Velo Orange quill stem $80.00
- DiaComp $60.00
- Nitto Technomic [often too tall though] $50.00
- Origin 8 [but has a bad finish and name stuck to the side] $20.00
- Nitto lugged $225.00
- Nitto Deluxe $65.00
- Shim needed $10.00
Now that I make this list, I see that options have improved in the last years. I like the Velo Orange chrome steel one the best…but I do like to make my own stems and prefer that on my bikes.
To make your own quill stem you need to have a few parts made [or make them yourself if you have a tooled up lathe]. I use a few machine shops here in Holliston MA to make or grind a few of my parts. The biggest hurdle is making the quill. You start with a 7/8″ x .065″ tube and have the outside surface centerless ground. Material needs to be removed, so when you powder coat [or plate] your stem it will fit into the steering tube. Luckily for me Holliston is a hotbed of centerless grinding 🙂
I also hired Holliston machinist Hugh Cockrill Machining to make my tapered bar clamp and binder. I used to make these on my lathe, but a shop like this can make them better and much faster. I just have to buy in some quantity. Hugh is very nice to deal with a little shop like me that only orders 200 of something custom.
Luckily I can still purchase Nitto stem bolts and wedges. I could have these made too, but then we would really have charge even more. I make the stem cap on my lathe out of solid brass rod. This adds a nice touch and matches the brass bell, that threads onto the welded on mount.
While the stem is TIG welded, I still like to file the welds smooth, so the finish is more seamless.
In case you are wondering…I am not in the parts making business and only sell the parts I make with my bicycles and do not sell stem kits to other builders. Sorry 😦