The obvious difference between stems is the point at which the bars are connected. The two main types (excluding some variations over the years) are respectively top-loading, where the bar is loaded from the top of the stem and the plate is clamped down on the base of the stem. On the other hand, front-load stems are loaded from the front edge of the stem and the bolts screwed into the front of the stem body. While both types of stems promote strength and durability the look is a big consideration when buying a new stem. Top load or front load, if the stem is working correctly and has been fitted correctly by your local bike shop both types should clamp the bar with even pressure and therefore neither one holds the bar better then another.
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