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Syntace LiteForce stem review

Can Syntace’s LiteForce stem really deliver enduro strength and stiffness at XC race weight?

Syntace LiteForce stem fitted to mountain bike handlebar
(Image: © Guy Kesteven)

Our Verdict

Syntace’s Liteforce stem isn’t showy but rather a masterpiece of using the right materials in the right way to create a bombproof, precision-steering stem with minimal mass.

For

  • Exceptionally light
  • Seriously stiff
  • 10-year guarantee
  • Extensive length range
  • No sharp edges
  • Titanium bolts as standard
  • Flip-flop logos

Against

  • No 35mm bar option

Syntace is legendary in the European premium componentry scene but rarely seen in English-speaking countries. The exceptional performance of this stem - and other kit we’ve tested from the German brand - shows that its kit is well worth hunting down if you can. We've been using the Syntace LiteForce to establish where it sits in terms of the best mountain bikes stems. Here's what we think. 

Syntace LiteForce stem

The 3D-forged, single-piece body of the LiteForce feels just as stiff as its burlier DH rivals (Image credit: Guy Kesteven)

Performance and specification

The Liteforce is a further evolution of Syntace’s superlight F109 and Force99 series stems blended with the new wider clamp design of the MegaForce range. The result is a 15 per cent weight reduction of what were already frighteningly light stems, and the 50mm version only weighs 83g. Having ridden Syntace stems a lot on other bikes, we weren’t surprised that the ultra-precise, 3D-forged, single-piece body of the LiteForce felt just as stiff and tight as most pieces this side of 200g DH anvils. We couldn’t even get it to flex or twist noticeably when hanging off the end of 780mm bars with super grippy rubber and it’s never slipped, creaked or done anything else to worry us in several hundred km of hard work. There’s no rider weight limit either, and Syntace is happy to extend its usual 10-year workmanship warranty to this featherweight piece, too. 

It’s not just brilliant from a performance point of view either. The 200-degree wrap of the clamp means just enough ‘pop-in’ grip to hold the bar in place at the right angle as you do up the two separate bolt clamping bars. On the back, the stems are fully hidden in a rounded profile so there are no sharp edges to slice knees in a crash. 

Giving the stem a six-degree rise means you can flip it either side up, giving a lower race position or a higher rise without the extra weight of a longer steerer tube and spacers underneath. You get logos both ways up too, so there’s no right or wrong way to orient it. 

The aftermarket stem also comes with top-quality titanium screws to stop corrosion and tool damage over time. There’s also an option to get the stem with Syntace’s TwinFix clamping system which combines Lupine light, GPS computer or phone holder accessory mounts.

The only downside for fat bar fans is that 31.8mm bar clamps are the only option, and you’ll need to go for the slightly heavier MegaForce stem if you want 30- or 40mm lengths.

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Syntace LiteForce stem

The 200-degree wrap of the clamp means just enough ‘pop-in’ grip to hold the bar in place at the right angle (Image credit: Guy Kesteven)
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Syntace LiteForce stem

The 50mm version only weighs 83g (Image credit: Guy Kesteven)

Verdict

Syntace has done an amazing job of refining its stem design to a new ultralight-yet-totally-trustworthy benchmark standard that’s well in advance of anything else we’ve tried. It comes in all the lengths weight watchers are likely to want, and the 31.8mm bar-only sizing won’t bother most XC/Trail riders either. 

At $146 / £105 / €124 it’s not even a crazy price, considering its outstanding performance and meticulous manufacture. It's one of the best mountain bike stems on the market and gets our recommendation backed by a five-star rating.

Tech Specs: Syntace LiteForce stem

  • Price: $146 / £105 / €124 
  • Weight: 93g (75mm with Ti bolts)
  • Colors: Black
  • Sizes: 50, 60, 75, 90, 100, 110, 120 and 135mm lengths. 31.8 bar only.
Guy Kesteven

Guy Kesteven is Bike Perfect and Cyclingnews’ contributing tech editor. Hatched in Yorkshire he's been hardened by riding round it in all weathers since he was a kid. He got an archaeology degree out of Exeter University, spent a few years digging about in medieval cattle markets, working in bike shops and warehouses before starting writing and testing for bike mags in 1996. Since then he’s written several million words about several thousand test bikes and a ridiculous amount of riding gear. To make sure he rarely sleeps and to fund his custom tandem habit he’s also coughed out a handful of bike-related books and talks to a GoPro for YouTube, too. We trust Guy's opinion and think you should, too.


Rides: Pace RC295, Cotic FlareMax, Specialized Chisel Ltd MTBs, Vielo V+1 gravel bike, Cannondale Supersix Evo Dura-Ace Di2 Disc road bike, Nicolai FS Enduro, Landescape custom gravel tandem

Height: 180cm

Weight: 69kg