Syncros FL Series Review

by Brian Mullin on September 4, 2010

Syncros started out as a small, high end component company based out of Vancouver’s North Shore, and was purchased by Ritchey Design in 2003, but it’s still managed as a separate brand, catering more towards the gravity crowd. The Syncros Freakin’ Light (FL) series, is their cross country oriented product suite, and covers their stems, handlebars, seatposts, saddle, rims, wheelsets and headsets. Of course, you can also replace call F###in’ Light if you wish, but I will remain PC in cyber space. I tested their FL stem, bar, saddle and seatpost, and I’m happy to report they all worked and functioned quite well.

FL Saddle
The Syncros FL saddle is my new favorite saddle, mostly because it’s a climber’s dream, allowing you to punch out steep terrain, giving you maximum leverage, with comfort, stability and maneuverability. The cross country oriented saddle, is slim, has a composite shell, titanium alloy rails, superlight foam, a leather cover and aramid rear and nose panels. It has a groove that runs down the top center for pressure relief, and is available in white (tested) or black.

The saddle is firm, and offers plenty of support for those hammering sessions, but it has enough padding to be comfortable for long rides, greatly aided by the shell flex and the titanium allow rails (CrN/Ti). Where the FL really shines, is in steep and ugly climbs, in which the nose section is predominantly used. The nose of the saddle has just the proper padding and shape, to be an excellent place to sit your butt to crank your way uphill or through technical terrain, whether it’s mild or wild. It’s like having a pry bar or lever arm, to push power down into the bike’s drivetrain, while still maintaining a neutral balance. You can maneuver up and down the snout of the nose, depending upon the requirements, pressing your legs together to hold the nose or sitting up on the tip for maximum advantage. It’s not the lightest saddle on the market at 266 grams, but its climbing prowess sure helps with that deficit. The aramid rear and nose panels, have really helped the durability of the saddle, and my multiple crashes have caused no signs of distress, and outside of a few subdued wrinkles in the leather it still looks good.

I give high marks to the Syncros SL saddle and highly recommend it, it’s comfortable, durable, with the best nose section I have used, and is my current undisputed climbing King!

Measured Specs
Weight – 265.8 grams
Size – 137mm wide x 280mm long
Nose width – 47mm

MSRP: $80

Overall Rating: 4.5 Flamin’ Chili Peppers

Syncros SL Saddle Company Specs
Intended use: XC / Marathon
New to the syncros saddle lineup, the FL saddle is built on a slim but comfortable composite shell, Ti rails, and superlight foam
Lighter, sleeker version of the AM saddle.
Leather cover with aramid rear panels to withstand abuse from crashes
Contoured foam in center section to relief sit bone pressure zones
CrN/Ti alloy rails
Available in white or black
Weight: 236g

Syncros Saddle URL

FL Carbon Riser Bars
The Syncros FL Carbon riser handlebars are the stiffest bars I have ever used, and I never felt any flex from these bad boys, no matter what terrain I was on, or how hard I pulled on them. I think these suckers could be used in a tractor pulling contest.

The FL Carbon bars are made from their Gain carbon fiber composite, use a 31.8mm clamp, are 645mm/25.4″ wide, with a 9 degree sweep and 25mm/1″ rise and are available in a Matte or grunge finish. They weighed in at 170 grams, which were 10 grams under spec! I tested the Matte finish, which I liked a lot, since I am a big fan of the carbon fiber weave. It took me a few tries to get the bars positioned where they felt comfortable for my hands, but once set, the sweep and rise felt just right. Their width worked quite well in the tight woods, but they were slightly narrow (645mm) for some terrain, and I would have liked to have some additional width options. Although I liked the instant power that their uber stiffness provided, I found the total rigidity fatiguing to my hands and arms sometimes, and I would have preferred a hint of give. A quick glance at the ends of the bar, shows the thickness of their rigid tubing, as these aren’t thin walled, which also made it difficult to find end caps that will fit the small opening. The stiffness is a matter of taste, and some may prefer the rigidity, while I wanted a tad of forgiveness? The stem clamp section of the bar provides a nice anti-slip section (glued on gritty tape?), which helps with slippage and durability.

The Syncros SL Carbon riser bars are sickeningly stiff, tough, with decent rise and sweep, and though slightly narrow, they offer an extreme amount of pulling power, and look good with the matte finish.

Measured Specs:
weight – 169.5 grams
width – 645mm
rise – 25mm

MSRP: $190

Overall Rating: 4 Flamin’ Chili Peppers

Syncros FL Carbon Bar Company Specs
Intended use: All Mtn / Hardcore XC
Material: carbon fiber composite
Rise: 25mm
Width: 660mm
Sweep: 9 degree
Clamp size: OS (31.8mm)
Finish: Matte UD carbon or UD carbon grunge
Weight: 180g

Syncros Bars URL

FL Seatpost
The Syncros FL Seatpost uses forged 7075 aluminum alloy, and comes in the usual sizes of 27.2, 30.9, 31.6mm and lengths of 350 and 400mm. It’s not a light seatpost, coming in at 223.2 grams in the tested 30.9×400 size, but it was plenty stiff, and I never felt any flex nor sloppiness from either the post or clamping system. It comes in HP Black, HP Black with Grunge (tested), Matte White and Matte White with Grunge. The Grunge graphics did seem to get scratched in places, but the height adjustment numbering on the rear of the post has been very durable.

The FL Seatpost design is a slight departure from its predecessor and most other double bolt systems, as the post has the convex surface, and the saddle rail cradle is concave. The design uses a pair of opposing bolts, which start on the post, and go up past the saddle rail cradle and into the upper clamp, where a set of threaded barrel nuts reside. The saddle rail cradle can be swapped forward or backward, allowing a subtle amount of layback offset. The system is relatively easy to use once the rails are in place, but it can be a slight fumble finger mess getting them into a stable position. Once the saddle is somewhat stabilized, you can make micro adjustments for the desired saddle angle and lateral positioning, although it can be tough squeezing in a hex key. One issue I had was that a lot of modern frames have some pretty slack seat tube angles, and you might not be able to level the saddle without using a longer bolt? A lot of these issues are common to this type of clamping systems, so the FL Seatpost is not in the minority.

Overall the FL Seatpost was a good post, it was stiff, durable, and looks nice (loved the HP Black Grunge), but I am not a fan of the two bolt clamping system any longer, and I had issues in a frame with slack seat tube angle. Their design of the clamping system is unique and does allow some offset tuning. I have had a Syncros Ti seatpost for almost 20 years (?), so they are long lived.

Measured Spec:
223.2 grams – 30.9×400

MSRP: $84-92

Overall Rating: 3.5 Flamin’ Chili Peppers

Syncros FL Seatpost Company Specs
3D Net forged 7075 alloy
Diameters: 27.2 / 30.9 / 31.6mm
Lengths: 350 / 400mm
Finishes: High polish black, HP black with grunge, matte white, matte white with grunge
Weight: 222g (30.9 x 400mm)

Syncros Seatpost URL

FL Stem
The Syncros FL Stem has smooth lines, without any sharp edges, a cutout at the back of the clamp area, and a lot of subtly removed surface material, all of which help reduce weight. The CNC stem is made with a bi-oval design, for maximum strength and weight savings, and is uses a 4-D cold forged 2014 aluminum alloy. The stem has a 6 degree rise, and can be flip flopped if desired, as the graphics are already designed for that function (only HP Black and Matte White). The simple four bolt front plate is a carbon bar friendly clamp, and the stem is available in 70, 80, 90, 100 and 110mm sizes, in the colors of HP Black, Matte White, and Black or White Grunge.

The stem was a snap to install, although I had to be careful, since the bolt heads seemed easy for the hex key to slip (might have been me)? I tested the 70mm, since it was the perfect accompaniment for my All Mountain rig. The stem has been durable, and has been taken on and off, and several bars swapped in and out during my testing period. The graphics on the HP Black are simple and subdued, and haven’t worn or scratched as yet.

The FL Stem looks good, with aesthetically pleasing lines, was stiff, light (113 grams) and blended into the background, and I never really thought about it much, since it did its job to perfection. I sign of a great component is when you forget it’s there.

Measured Spec:
Weight – 113.5 grams for 70mm size
Stack Height – 45mm
Length – 65mm

MSRP: $92

Overall Rating: 4 Flamin’ Chili Peppers

Syncros FL Stem Specs
Intended use: XC / Marathon
Forged and CNC machined out of 2014 alloy using a patented 4D net manufacturing process
Black taper-head stainless steel bolts
Bi-oval design maximizes strength and minimizes weight
Engineered to be compatible with carbon handlebars and steerers
Lengths: 70 / 80 / 90 / 100 / 110mm
+/- 6 degree rise/drop
Four finish options: Available in high polish black or matte white with flip flop logo, HP black grunge or matte white grunge
Weight: 113g (70mm)

Syncros Stem URL

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Anonymous November 26, 2011 at 4:17 am

Actually, the original Syncros was located in Vancouver…

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Brian Mullin - Gram and Pastajet November 27, 2011 at 5:26 pm

Thks for the clarification, I was just going by the info "syncros started out as a small, high end component company on Vancouver’s North Shore." on their website and catalog,.

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