By Stefan Abram
Silca, a brand build on a reputation of exquisite engineering, has released an out-front stem mount retailing for the sum total of £175. That’s more expensive than a Garmin 130, and it won’t even tell you what your FTP is – let alone where you’re going.
To be fair, Silca’s Mensola does at least come with the auspicious claim of being “the world's smartest computer mount, designed by the wind and manufactured in 6Al/4V Titanium by lasers.”
3D printed, the Mensola is also claimed to be 10–15 per cent lighter and six to 12 times stronger than CNC’d aluminium mounts.
Aerodynamic design features are also included, although no information is provided on just how much these will lower your CdA by. Perhaps the most useful element of the mount is how the 3D printing process obviates the traditional manufacturing constraints which typically make it impractical to produce all the sizes necessary to work with all the various stem faceplate technologies.
Which does all sound very impressive. Although, after a moment’s reflection, I can’t say I know many people who have been dissatisfied with the strength of an aluminium out-front mount. Being 12 times as strong in this department can likely be filed under the same category as seatposts with improved heat dissipation or aerodynamically optimised freehub bearings.
Regarding the weight, a simple plastic stem mount and rubber O-ring comes in on my scales at 7g. As the claimed weights for the Menola mount range from 27g to 36g depending on the bolt spacing of the stem, that’s at least a 74 per cent saving or a whopping 81 per cent at most.
If you’re dead set on having your computer in front of your handlebars, Prime’s Direct Stem Computer Mount comes with a claimed weight of 27g, meaning that this CNC’d aluminium mount stands to be lighter than certain constructions of the Mensola. Essentially, Silca’s offering isn’t really one for the weight weenies.
But viewed side on, it’s fair to say that the Mensola mount roundly wins the battle for aesthetics – although with the caveat that those many nooks and crannies from the lattice structure will likely be a nightmare to keep clean.
Have we brought this on ourselves?
Although it is easy to deride items like this as a highly expensive follies, the fact they’re even brought to market does speak volumes about the broader buying habits of cyclists.
You rarely see this sort of thing in the world of distance running – where the shoes which carried Eliud Kipchoge to be the first person to run a marathon in under two hours can be bought for around £240. By the pricing hierarchies of many cycling shoe brands those would merely count as mid-range.
And more broadly, who can honestly say they haven’t bought an upgrade where the gain has been marginal? Whether that’s switching to some nice Ultegra or 105 pedals from the non-series PD-RS500 or replacing your performance wheelset with one that has a slightly lower spoke count or any other marginal gain – just how great a benefit do these really bring? Viewed in that light, a £175 computer mount might not look quite so exorbitant…
Of course, tinkering with your bike and performing incremental improvements is part of the fun of cycling – which you just don’t get with running. However, it is worth reflecting on the nature of this consumerism.
If parts are being binned or languishing unused after a latest purchase, it’s clear that this form of wastefulness is going to be unstainable. But, if a fancy 3D printed titanium computer mount does happen catch your eye, so long as your previous 12-times-weaker aluminium one finds a new home, everyone can be a winner.
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