Zipp SL145 Stem: Update

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When I reviewed the Zipp SL145 previously I noted its steller performance. It’s stiff like a belt of Scotch and light enough to keep weight weenies quiet. However, it was not without flaw. My one criticism of the stem was that the faceplate corroded. Living near the Pacific Ocean, any metal part with inadequate plating suffers an ignominious demise as its surface corrodes. I can only take flaking chrome or other plating for so long before I replace the part.

At Interbike my contact at Zipp informed me that the SL145 had a new faceplate that, hopefully, wouldn’t suffer the same corrosion the old one had. I haven’t gotten any technical details on the faceplate yet, but the surface appears to be shot peened with a polished center section.

The new faceplate will be standard with all SL145 stems. Zipp has not yet determined if the faceplate will be available aftermarket, something I encouraged them to offer for those who experienced the same issue I did. If you need a new faceplate, I encourage you to leave a comment to show the folks at Zipp the need.

I’ll report back next spring with the results of my experience with the new faceplate.

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6 comments

  1. Larry T.

    I have a tough time understanding the “live near the ocean” explanation for things corroding. I grew up near to where you live Padraig and after living in the Northeast, Southeast and Midwest, I don’t find much difference. If you don’t take care of your bike, it corrodes. If the parts have a cheapo finish on ‘em they corrode faster. As a certifiable “old-fart” this rant’s about why more people don’t WASH their bicycles. Heck, now they’re all titanium or carbon fiber so fears of internal rust (which were always flimsy anyway) are not valid. Every bicycle, no matter where it’s ridden is operated in a sort of marine environment anyway unless the rider never sweats on the thing! NOTHING will get rid of the corrosive salt left behind by the evaporation of sweat except flushing it away with clear water–just like the marine folks do when they pull their boats/motors out of the ocean. First, make sure there’s a drain hole in your BB shell (just like Campagnolo insists upon) so any water you get inside the frame can get out. After washing the bike with soap and water applied with various brushes (Muc Off showed a nice set at Interbike) You’re ready to rinse–NEVER squirt pressurized water at your bike–use a big sponge soaked in clear water, squeezing it out over the bike to rinse away the suds and grime, or if you must (and you’re careful) your garden hose set on low pressue with a fan spray tip or just your thumb over the end to break up the flow. If it’s a foggy day on the coast when you’re done you might have to blow dry the thing with compressed air or the wife’s hair dryer, otherwise set it in the warm sun to dry before you put it away. Our rental fleet in Italy (as well as our own personal bikes) get this treatment weekly if they’re in daily use and look pretty much as they did when new. I’ve worked on plenty of corroded machines in my years of wrenching and I’m always sad and amazed at how much damage results and how easily most of it can be avoided.


    1. Author
      Padraig

      Larry: As I know you, I can forgive your old-fart perspective on this, but on this matter you are quite wrong. There IS a big difference and all I can say is not all parts are plated equally. I’ve got Campy rings that are 10 years old that have barely corroded and my Record rings from last year began corroding within two months of riding them. This year’s Super Record rings don’t show a bit of corrosion. I’ve learned a little bit about how to wash a bike as well. Given that my bike is sized correctly, I can’t actually sweat onto the faceplate of the stem, so this isn’t an issue of evaporated sweat. Check the previous review and you’ll see I’m not the only person to experience this phenomenon either.

  2. Larry T.

    Padraig, as I wrote things with cheapo finishes corrode faster and it would seem this is the case with the stem faceplate. My climb onto the soapbox was to try to counter the BS of “I live near the ocean” as some sort of excuse for one’s bike to be a corroded mess. I was not accusing you of using the excuse, just legitimizing it. The point was bikes run in a saline environment pretty much everywhere if the rider sweats at all only proper washing techniques will counter the ill effects. I encounter two extremes, a)bike owners who are deathly afraid of their bicycles getting wet so they just smear the dirt around on ‘em and never flush the salt away and b)bozos who blast the hell out of ‘em at the car wash. As you well know, this can be worse than a. The proper way of washing seems to be a lost art and I just saw an opportunity to make other readers of your fine publication aware of how and more importantly, WHY to do it.

  3. Adam

    Larry, I’m with Padraig on this one. I take meticulous care of my bikes (still ride a steel 92 Merckx) but live on an island near the ocean and the effects are noticeable. I used to live in Canada and rode all winter through the salt caked roads it and still didn’t compare to the ocean. Poorly made products just do not last here.

    Furthermore, if it was just a matter of sweat and improper washing you’d see a consistent degradation of equipment across the bike, but as it is only certain parts from various manufactures are an issue while others continue to look new for many years.

  4. Larry T.

    There was no for/against here in my intent, sorry for starting this with what was taken as a chance to suggest people wash their machines regularly to counter the effects of salt contamination, no matter WHERE they live. No question that crappy painting, plating or whatever will corrode faster than better quality processes but ALL of it will corrode or rust if the salt is not flushed away regularly. I’ve lost count of the corroded bicycles that I’ve worked on during my 20+ years of turning a wrench. Somehow the message that “water is evil” keeps too many from taking proper care of their machines and a lot of perfectly good parts have been needlessly ruined as a result. I promise this is the last post about this, let me apologize again for stirring up a minor shit-storm where none was intended.

  5. Senior Corona

    To answer Padraig’s question…I have gone through a couple of those Zipp Stem faceplates with the chrome plating peeling right off. It is frustrating considering the cost of the stem to start with. Let’s hope they have an aftermarket solution.

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