A35 Stem & MatchStix Axle
Words & Photos by Chili Dog
Normally we don’t review things like axles or stems. They’re not typically glamorous and don’t do much besides hold vital parts of your bike together. While you definitely don’t want one to fail, most people don’t get excited about an axle. This review is about exactly those two things though, so what gives? Although they’re not always exciting, the stem has a massive impact on the handling and steering feel of your bike, and the MatchStix axle is anything but a boring axle. We’ll show you why.
The A35 stem begins its life when Industry Nine machines a solid chunk of 7075-aluminum into a beautifully rugged unit with a bit of industrial flare. The stem is offered in 32-, 40-, 50- and 60-millimeter lengths. We’ve put the 32mm stem on several of our test bikes and love the feel. With many frames adopting longer reach numbers, shorter stems are becoming prevalent for more than just DH riders. The short stem keeps handling quick and precise while maintaining a comfortable reach with the longer frames that are popular today.
The A35 stem is domestically sourced, machined and anodized here in the USA. In typical Industry Nine fashion, there are eleven colors to choose from. If you truly like customizing your bike you can even mix and match the stem body and faceplate colors. The 32mm model weighs a scant 128 grams while the 60mm weights 165 grams.
Even though the new stem is pretty sweet, the Axle is even better. Available for 15mm RockShox and Fox forks, the MatchSitx replaces the standard axle with a multi-tool equipped one. Inside is a chain screw, 5mm press-fit tool, 3mm hex, 4mm hex, t25 bit, 6mm hex, valve core remover, spoke tool and a quick release chain link holder. The axle itself turns into a handled driver for the various bits and tools.
The MatchStix axle is a brilliant blend of simplicity and complex thinking. It’s a part that’s as practical as it is beautifully machined. At 102 grams for the 15×100 model, it’s a negligible weight increase given the benefits. Rubber seals keep everything clean and debris free so you can easily pull out the tools and get to work. Once again, it wouldn’t be an Industry Nine component if it wasn’t available in a full spectrum of colors to match or accent your ride.