Syntace is a German outfit that specializes in stems, bars and wheels as well as a few other innovative compontents. Apparently there are some bad ass mountains and riders over there, because they’re clearly dialed into the increasing demands riders are putting on their equipment with components that perform while being extremely light weight and durable.
For years the go-to stem for our bikes has been the Thomson X4. However, our former favorite has been replaced in the last year with a new love: the Megaforce 2 from Syntace. Although our 40mm test sample weighs in at a diminutive 113 grams, it’s extremely stiff, even paired with our current 29.5″ bars. According to Syntace, the stem has been tested with bars up to 800mm wide and is approved for all rider weights and applications, whether its XC, trail, or even DH. Syntace is so confident in their work that their components feature a 10 year warranty.
How do they do it? Exceptional engineering and rigorous testing in the lab and real world. Via Syntace:
Syntace Quality is guaranteed through thoughtful design, constantly challenged by rigorous testing using our VR-3 and Impact testing machines. We have examined all the load variables in normal and extreme use as indicated by, for example, real-world testing monitored and reported by strategically-placed strain guages. The loads are then converted into repeatable, consistent test protocols which are employed to simulate forecast normal and extreme use over the foreseeable life of the product.
Enough with the marketing drivel though. German engineering, blah, blah, blah. What’s interesting about the stem is that it’s wider than it is tall, with a 42mm clamp face. (the outside diameter is about 49.4mm. In comparison, my 50mm Thomson X4 measures about 44.5mm) Also contributing to the stiffness is the 200º head that wraps around the bar, bedding it and further reducing flex. (it’s especially noticeable when installing and removing your bars) It’s ridiculously light weight thanks to the 3d forging process, and ti bolts help keep the weight down. (it’s worth noting that Syntace makes an even lighter road/XC stem, the Force 109)
Plus they use a 5mm allen, a rarity these days. And with a warranty period that long, they’re clearly confident their stuff is going to hold up.
Inga and I have been running the stems on our trail bikes for months now, and the reality is that I haven’t given the stem a second thought —and that’s how I prefer it. I haven’t had to deal with creaking, (I’m looking at you, pretty gold Renthal Duo stem) flex, or stripped bolts and threads, just riding. Any of my riding buddies can attest to how nit picky I can be with I’m unhappy with the performance of a component. When it comes to stuff I do like, it often doesn’t even come up.
I’m currently pairing it with a Easton Havoc Carbon bar as I’m fond of the sweep on the Havoc series and it’s plenty stiff.
The best part of the Megaforce series is the available lengths and weights; the Megaforce 2 is available in lengths in 10mm intervals from 30mm to 80mm. It’s flip-flopable for a +/- 6º rise.
These days, an 80mm stem is considered long on an aggressive trail bike. (unless you’re extremely tall, and then the bets are off) With a stack height of only 36mm, the stem is a great option for riders having trouble getting their bars low enough. (If you’re running 29″ wheels, this could be you. Also worth noting, Syntace also makes a stem specifically for riders looking to dramatically lower the bars as well, the Flatforce if you need to lower your bars even more.)
It’s simple and light, the bike goes where I point it, and the quality of the unit is amazing. Since receiving our test sample, I’ve already gotten a second one for Inga’s bike, and plan to try the 30mm length next to shorten the reach on my size large Santa Cruz Bronson. With the trend of longer top tubes and longer reach comes the need for shorter stems to make up the difference. At the moment there aren’t a lot of options when looking for a stem at a 30mm length. With a listed weight of 107 grams for the 30mm version, it’s a no brainer for my first pick. I mean, I’ve had poops that weighed more.
Syntace stems are distributed in the states via QBP, BTI and Hawley USA as well as Syntace’s US agency and distributor Radsport USA, and are available at your local shop, or direct through Radsport, based here in the Bay Area.
The Megaforce2 Stem lists for $97.00.