QR PR6: For Want of a Stem

You remember the proverb, don't you? For want of a nail the shoe was lost. For want of a shoe the horse was lost. In the end, a kingdom is lost.

I've always felt that way about Quintana Roo's flagship bike, the PR6. The way the PR series is now presented makes it as formidable a lineup as any in the world of tri bikes.

Okay, it didn't get its bike invited to the Slowtwitch Forum User Shootout. But it's already demonstrated it's right in the thick of it with a number of bikes that were featured. Which is all it needs to do: Be in the aero running. Because it's easy to work on, it's light, easy to ship, plenty stiff and strong, goes together with two Allen keys, has plenty of storage, handles well and is priced right.

There just is one problem with this bike: the stem on the flagship model. I never liked the stem, for two reasons. First, it just looked clunky. Second, it didn't adjust low enough or back enough (for my taste).

I spoke last week with QR's CEO, Peter Hurley, and told him I loved the PR3 and 5. "What about the 6?" he said. "I just don't like the stem. If I liked the stem I'd feel as great about the 6 as I do about the 3 and the 5."

"We have a new stem," he answered. "Pics or it didn't happen," I shot back, and 2 minutes later I had pics.

The difference is clear. The new stem is above, the old below. Besides the cosmetics of it, what I like are the geometrics of it. The original stem was tall. The lowest you could get that stem in the Y axis was 40mm head tube top (where stack is measured) to bar-center. That meant that a bike with a standard stem (like the PR5, next down the rung from the PR6) could give you a position the PR6 couldn't give you.

This new stem offers heights of 20, 30, and 40mm and I think you can see in the image how. There are shims in the stem that either sit above, below, or that straddle the pursuit bar. "Does it squeak? Is there any noise in the bar?" Nope said Peter. He's got pros on it, logging plenty of miles, so far no squeak.

The stem also allows for a shorter position. As I recall the very first version of the PR6 stem offered lengths of 100mm, 110mm, and 120mm. Too long! Then a shorter version offered 80mm, 90mm, 100mm. Better! But still too tall.

The new 2.0 stem is not an all-in-one stem, like the original. There are 3 stems, 3 lengths, and they are 75mm, 90mm, 115mm. Much better!

Now the PR6 is finally a complete superbike, in my opinion, not just in the way it functions but in how it looks and adjusts. You might complain that the spatial relationship between bottom bracket has simply been shifted rather than enlarged. I disagree. I've never much liked pedestaling up bars. I'd rather pedestal the rider. The armrests. One troubling element to certain superbikes (Giant Trinity Advanced Pro) is that there isn't much pad pedestal range. If you stick with Profile Design's J4 bracket and F35 armrests you have all kinds of height adjustment.

Here is what QR's Brad Devaney had to say about what QR calls the Gen2 stem for its PR6:

"The Gen2 stem remains compatible with all 31.mm bars and will come in three lengths: 75, 90, and 115mm. The stack adjustment doesn’t require disassembly. Loosen the front two clamp bolts and slide the stack spacers out to either side. Reposition the spacers above or below the bar to achieve whichever level of stack you want. No cable rerouting, no change of hardware or bolt lengths. All the same hardware is used and on-board, so nothing to order or lose. It integrates cleanly with our top tube storage system which is available in two sizes (260ml and 400ml). We’ll soon be updating our fit prescriber to reflect the use of either stem.

"The initial build has also been simplified with the Gen2. Headset adjustment and bar alignment are not lost should you need to remove the bars or un-tuck cabling in order to pack and ship. The initial build has also been simplified with the Gen2. Reassembly requires installing four M5x0.8mm bolts. Bottom two out, set bar tilt, torque the other two bolts and roll."

Pretty good month for QR, considering its double win at Ironman North America Championship in Texas (Matt Hanson and Jodie Robertson).