Many German companies enjoy a reputation for engineering precision and prestige, and none are more deserving of that reputation than Syntace. The parent company to Liteville, Syntace has always been an engineering brand first and foremost. You won’t get flashy marketing, and you won’t see their name slapped onto generic ‘catalogue’ parts. Nope, Syntace’s unwavering focus is on producing both the lightest and strongest components in class, without compromise.
In typical German fashion, Syntace boldly claims that the NumberNine is the “the best MTB pedal we have ever heard of”. Looking at the specs on paper however, it would appear that they might just have the numbers to prove it.
For a start, the NumberNine’s are superlight at 280 grams for the pair. To put that in perspective, that’s the same as a pair of Crank Brothers Eggbeater 3 pedals, or nearly 200 grams lighter than our benchmark flat pedals, the Shimano Saint MX80.
As for strength, the body is beautifully CNC machined out of 7075-T6 alloy, and features no cutouts or holes except for the two large windows in each pedal. The spindle employs a hollow Titanium axle, which is supported by 2 custom radial cartridge bearings in the middle, and an oversized bearing on the inside. These are sealed with one large red radial seal, which is sandwiched between the crankarm and the pedal body, reducing the chance of contamination.
According to Syntace’s own in-house VR-3 test rig, the NumberNine pedal will take up to a 500kg load before failure.
On The Trail
Easily one of the best aspects of the NumberNine pedal is the fact that they’re available in 3 different sizes: Small (95x93mm), Medium (100x100mm), and Large (110x105mm). We chose the Medium pedals for our size 44 shoes based on Syntace’s recommendation.
Out of the box, the NumberNine pedals come with 14 pins per side. Each 7075-T6 Alloy pin sits at 4.2mm high, though replacements are available in steel if you’re looking for more durability, and you can also get shorter 3.2mm pins too. Syntace even include a tool in the box for you to adjust the pin placement, so you can tweak the grip to your riding style.
We had no durability issues with the stock setup throughout testing though, and that’s largely because each pin uses a wide hex-shaped collar to support its base. This design makes so much sense, especially when compared to the skinny hollow steel pins that some other brands use, which can be impossible to remove if they even look at a rock.
The overall platform on the NumberNine pedals is solid, and grip was excellent throughout all conditions. With a short 15mm stack height, they’re also noticeably easier to push than thicker flat pedals.
The pedal body uses a smooth chamfer where the oversized inboard bearing is housed. When we were catapulting down a rock garden and desperately searching for the pedal platform, we could simply slam the shoe against the crankarm, push down, and the chamfer would guide our shoes back into the right spot.
During those moments when your feet are off the pedals, a small amount of built-in bearing resistance in the NumberNines means they don’t spin out of control on the trail.
We tested the NumberNine pedals with several different shoes, though it’s worth noting that our 5.10 Freerider VXi’s were a touch too wide for the pedal body. Syntace employ a ‘butterly’ shape with the NumberNines, though we’d like to see a more square profile in order to better support the shoe through the middle. Having spoken with Syntace about the fit however, it sounds like the extra 5mm width that we’d get with the Large size would answer our needs.
Without doubt, the Syntace NumberNine Titan pedals are the best flats we’ve come across. They’re incredibly well built, are beautifully machined, and their weight belies their generous size.
As you would expect from $400 pedals, we had zero issues with bearing play or degradation throughout testing, though its worth noting that they are completely re-buildable should you need to. The Anodized finish is durable, though a few encounters with some granite did leave the black pedals with some decent scratches.
As good as they are however, they still come in at 4 times the price of a set of Shimano Saint MX80 pedals. Are the Syntace pedals really 4 times as good?
Well the same question can really be asked about a Chris King headset or a set of DT Swiss 240 hubs. Like those products, the NumberNine pedals are likely to outlast most bikes they’re fitted to, so they’re more of a long-term investment than a short-term impulse buy.
If you’re the sort of rider looking for a no-compromise product that is both substantially lighter and stronger than the competition, we’d have no troubles recommending the NumberNines. Just ensure you follow the size guide on the Syntace website to get the right platform for your shoes. – ENDuromag