Mythos Elix 3D-printed stem review - technology in search of a component?
The world's first commercially available 3D-printed stem is a real statement, but what does it offer beyond its radical looks?
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Although the Mythos Elix seems to offer a glimpse of the future with its 3D-printed, Terminator-like skeletal appearance, its performance is only marginally better than a standard aluminium stem from the present day - it's a claimed 15 per cent stiffer - and it doesn’t offer any weight-saving at all. In fact it was slightly heavier than the fairly low-end Deda stem it replaced. If you like the look of it, you want to stand out from the crowd and you don’t mind paying £500, the Mythos stem could be for you, but 3D printing is arguably better employed elsewhere.
Claimed 15 per cent stiffer than a regular alu stem
No weight saving
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The Mythos Elix stem comes with a pedigree almost as formidable as its appearance.
It's made by Dimitris Katsanis’s company Metron in Britain. Katsanis was the man behind the UKSI track bike (opens in new tab), he’s also worked with Team Sky and his additive manufactured (3D printed) equipment has been used at the highest level. Bradley Wiggins used 3D-printed titanium custom bars made by Katsanis to break the world Hour Record in 2015 and most recently Metron worked with Pinarello to 3D-print the frame, fork and bars that Filippo Ganna rode to raise the Hour Record bar (opens in new tab) to new heights last month.
We covered the story of the Mythos Elix's launch (opens in new tab) back in May if you want more background.
And if you want to buy one they cost £500 directly from Mythos's website (opens in new tab). Scroll down to the bottom for details of worldwide availability and shipping costs.
Mythos Elix 3D-printed stem: construction
Like Ganna’s bike, the Mythos Elix is made from Scalmalloy, a metal alloy made with scandium, aluminium and magnesium that was developed for 3D printing by Airbus. Scalmalloy has a high strength that makes it ideal for aerospace and professional cycling applications.
The 3D printing process allows components to be stripped back to bare bones - which is why the Mythos Elix has an appearance that recalls the endoskeleton version of Terminator in Judgement Day. This is because, according to Metron, areas of high stress can be eliminated with small local reinforcements, while weight can be reduced around other areas by removing any non-essential material.
Metron says the Mythos stem is 15 per cent torsionally stiffer than an equivalent alloy stem. However, at 170g for the 120mm version (they are available in 100-130mm lengths) including Ti hardware it was 3g heavier than the alloy Deda stem with steel bolts that it replaced.
Mythos Elix 3D-printed stem: the ride
When you can see daylight through your stem, the first thing you’re going to be wondering is, will it snap? It has passed the ISO 4210 test standard for all sizes, so the answer is no.
Next, will it feel any different from my old stem? The extra 15 per cent of stiffness is hard to discern simply by riding it and we don’t have our own equipment to independently test it, but the Mythos Elix felt very rigid and certainly no less stiff than the Deda stem it replaced.
In fact, it felt just like any other stem - almost a surprise since it looks so different. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, as they say, so I’m not going to tell you what to think of its looks, except to say that I struggled to decide which of my bikes to fit it to. In the end I chose my steel Independent Fabrication (opens in new tab), the rationale being that an exotic-looking stem might suit a custom handmade steel bike - but in the end for me the aesthetics didn’t work at all. If anything it jarred with the non-nonsense, classic look of the Indy Fab.
The Mythos Elix is a fascinating thing to examine close up, but with cycling so often being about things matching each other, I preferred looking at its mesmerising multiple surfaces, edges, curves and textures before it was fitted to my bike.
Mythos Elix 3D-printed stem: value and conclusion
So, of the five Ws and one H that journalists traditionally cover there’s just one glaring W I haven’t dealt with: and that’s ‘why?’.
The most obvious answer, to paraphrase Mallory, has to be 'because it’s there'. The technology, that is. Arguably the Mythos Elix stem doesn’t have any performance advantage over a standard forged or CNC’d item, but it’s saying loud and clear ‘look what 3D printing can do’.
And it's true 3D printing can create complicated shapes and structures that neither CNC machining nor existing carbon-fibre manufacturing techniques can - as Metron demonstrated with the AirNodes on the seat tube of Ganna's Hour Record bike that were designed to reduce airflow separation.
However, a stem has a much simpler job to do - one that seems to be served perfectly well by current manufacturing techniques. Perhaps all the Mythos Elix does is prove that stems don't need to be 3D printed.
Ultimately if you like the unique look of it, you’re happy to be a rolling advert for 3D printing, are prepared to answer all the questions and don’t mind being the butt of a lot of jokes that you will probably hear many times over (difficult to clean, whistles in a crosswind, etc.) then the Mythos Elix could be the stem for you.
Otherwise £500 will seem like a lot of money to spend on a stem that only claims a small torsional stiffness advantage, doesn’t make your bike any lighter and doesn’t feel detectably different from your old stem.
Mythos Elix 3D-printed stem: availability
The Elix is available via Mythos's website (opens in new tab) to customers in the United States, Japan, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Mexico, Singapore, Switzerland, the EU, and the United Kingdom.
Customers from other countries can also purchase stems but will need to contact Mythos to arrange this on a case-by-case basis.
The ex-VAT price is the same for all customers at £416.67, which with the addition of 20% VAT for our UK customers comes to £500.
Shipping is charged at a flat rate of £50 per order for international customers within Mythos's current shipping area, and duties and taxes will be charged to the customer on arrival in the destination country.
According to Mythos, so far, the international market has been its biggest with customers in Australia, Singapore, the US, and more.
Mythos Elix 3D-printed stem: Specifications
- Material: Scalmalloy®
- Length: 100-130mm
- Rise: +/- 8 degrees
- Clamp Diameter: 31.8 mm
- Hardware: Titanium M5 x 16 mm
- Stack Height: 45mm
- Weight: 170g (120mm size)
- Compatible with FSA ACR Integrated Cockpit System
- Internal cable routing compatible
- Price: £500
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Simon Smythe is Cycling Weekly's senior tech writer and has been in various roles at CW since 2003. His first job was as a sub editor following an MA in online journalism. In his cycling career Simon has mostly focused on time trialling with a national medal, a few open wins and his club's 30-mile record in his palmares. These days he spends most of his time testing road bikes, or on a tandem doing the school run with his younger son.
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