I posted your query in the Ritchey sub forum over at RBR. Ritchey Dave is sure to provide a good answer for you.http://forums.roadbikereview.com/ritche ... ost3804130
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And here's the answer:
"Good question. The 4-Axis 44 differs from our standard 4-Axis stem in stiffness and weight. It has a larger, more squared, body to increase the stiffness. This stiffness is at the expense of about 10 grams compared to the standard 4-Axis, but sprinters, track racers, and larger riders have found it worth it. Climbers and "weight weenies", however, have preferred the 4-Axis for the more obvious emphasis on weight. The 44s larger faceplate is a result of the larger body, rather than to combat bar slipping, however it does add to a larger contact patch for the handlebars, which does reduce the possibility of slipping. For a maximum stiffness to weight ratio our new C260 stem has surpassed both our 4-Axis and 4-Axis 44 in all departments. Hope this answers your question.
Ritchey Design Representative "