Beautiful steel: Tomboy stem and CrMo Bars.
That steel as a material for stems and handlebars is still a valid spec today is confirmed by the fact that we still see SimWorks’ Tomboy Stem and Mowmow CrMo Bar, like the one pictured, being shipped daily from our warehouse to the world.
In this entry, in honor of the re-release of the Tomboy Stem, I’m going to discuss a few steel items.
Ores are refined into materials, materials are processed into products, and products are used, recycled, and returned to raw materials. Steel is a material with relatively high energy efficiency and low environmental impact. CrMo steel, or chromium-molybdenum steel, is a material to which small amounts of chromium and molybdenum are added to further improve the strength-to-weight ratio.
The bicycle’s prime quality and greatest appeal is its efficiency, which allows it to cover a wide range of activities as if it had wings, even if it is powered by an underpowered source like a human being. At the same time, the fact that the tools are made of materials that are familiar and reasonable is a real convenience and rational for consumer behavior. The secret of their continued popularity seems to lie in this area.
There was a time when the bike industry followed the evolution of materials, from aluminum to titanium to carbon, and of course, evolution is still being explored in the area of what is called the high-end, but the time for landing on the moon has passed, and it seems to me that the current interest of cyclists is rather to devise ways to keep their feet on the earth.
Some argue that in every aspect except weight, CrMo steel has properties that make it superior to all others. For example, it is not only manufacturers who enjoy the advantage of “ease of fabrication,” such as low cost and ease of processing at the point of material. The choice of a rational means (material) for a required result (product) also maximizes cost performance for the entity that enjoys that convenience, i.e., the user.
What is interesting is that the charm of the work seems to lie in its unique texture. Although welding marks are sometimes avoided from an esthetic point of view, they are proof of a very minimal and lean process of cutting and joining steel pipes, and the craftsman’s skill can even be glimpsed and enjoyed in the uniformly wavy beads.
“Chromoly is heavy” is a phrase that we sometimes hear as a physical fact, but the reason why cyclists nowadays even feel affection for its solid feel is because of its intensely modern aesthetic aspect of “rational, lean, and smart,” and it is not simply a sense of nostalgia. It is also a tasteful way of saying that we live in an age in which ordinary things are more attractive than special things.