Since the mid-1990s, rider preference for handlebar height has been creeping higher, but the larger wheel standards and ever taller suspension forks often exclude the possibility of running a lower handlebar height whatever an individual might choose. This is especially true for shorter XC riders. Even with a steep stem turned upside-down, the generally short length of stems on today’s mountainbike geometry limits how much vertical change can be affected. Syntace’s FlatForce stem lowers the handlebar more than other stems because 1) it has a -17deg angle from the steerer tube 2) the bar clamp is vertically offset so that the bar center sits below the the median of the extension and 3) the steerer clamp is a remarkably short 27mm stack (most stems are at least 40mm stack). All these features are combined in a lightweight, sleek design that would not bring shame to the aesthetics of even the best high end frames.
The FlatForce stem weighs a respectable 138gr (77mm length), while its stout clamps and broad extension make the FlatForce resolutely stiff. Another unusual characteristic, the FlatForce stem uses M6 titanium bolts tightened by a 5mm Allen wrench, when most comparable quality stems have gone to M5 bolts, often with the fashionable Torx-25 heads. I suspect many riders and mechanics will appreciate the conveniently sized bolts on the Syntace. The FlatForce is available for around $110-140 and in lengths 44-111mm.
I installed the FlatForce on my 2014 Giant XTC Advanced 27.5, from Woodinville Bicycle. It has been a long time since I last had a real mtb, but my handlebar height is about the same even though I have gone from 26” to 27.5” (650B) wheels with almost twice the suspension fork travel (63mm to 100mm).
In next month’s volume of our downloadable magazine, you can read about my leaping into 100mile mtb race with a pocketful of pancakes and no training.