Syntace | Canyon | Liteville




First Ride Review at the bottom of the page.

The following is a brief introduction to the Syntace Keep It Stable (K.I.S.) steering device.

At the heart of K.I.S. are three parts: The cam, the belt, the spring. Together, they add symmetrical torque into the steering axis of two-wheel (single track) vehicles. This creates torque balanced, stable steering with proportional feedback.

To compare the effects of this system under real life conditions to conventional, unstable steering, an easily attachable Demonstrator-Kit is available. This allows direct back-to-back evaluation by activation / deactivation of K.I.S. on the fly.

The main reason why the application of nonlinear symmetrical force improves vehicle stability and cornering handling, is rooted in the two-wheel vehicle’s native steering instability (as soon as they are built with a steering angle below 90°). This “wheel flop” lifts the steerer tube in straight position, and lowers the front (stack height) when turning into a corner.

Applying nonlinear force directly into the steering axis allows K.I.S. to counteract this native instability in the steering of two wheelers. By adding an accurate 0° position reference point and a relevant amount of centring force over the full range of steering improves control and precision (which has been known in most cars, trucks, tracked vehicles, airplanes, boats for decades.)

The Syntace K.I.S. is virtually friction and stiction free. It is not dependent on any user input, and it rides more intuitively and predictively than current (conventional) steering systems. K.I.S. also applies no additional damping forces, for fast, direct feedback / balance of grip, and full agility throughout the entire speed range.

In serial production the K.I.S. system can be almost invisibly integrated into the scooter, motorcycle, bicycle frame or its components.

The system weighs approx. 80 g on MTBs, around 220 g on motorcycles. Syntace K.I.S. is 100% mechanical, it exceeds 50 Mio. load cycles in fatigue testing. It is maintenance free over vehicle lifetime, including an additional failsafe mode.

First Ride and Release: K.I.S.

K.I.S. According to Canyon

Bicycle Steering Dynamics Have Turned A Corner


Bicycle steering dynamics have turned a corner. Invented by Jo Klieber at Syntace, and engineered by Canyon. K.I.S. is a steering-assist technology that raises the bike handling bar to the next level.

Bold claim? Absolutely. K.I.S. makes you smoother in the rough. Faster through every corner. More controlled on sketchy descents. It even helps climbing too. Welcome to the Evolution.

Recent years have seen only marginal gains (in mountain bike design) with few ground-breaking developments. We’ve hit a stage of fine-tuning and balancing relatively minor potential gains and losses. K.I.S., on the other hand, represents a much greater leap forward in performance and control.

Control, it’s worth noting, doesn’t mean ‘boring’. Many of us appreciate gently feathering powerful hydraulic brakes on the edge of traction in the steeps. Or knowing the bike’s suspension and kinematics will handle the incoming impact when we overshoot a jump. Not many riders would swap out to some old V-brakes or a rigid bike in those situations.

So, do you need K.I.S.? You can decide: Some horse riders didn’t want cars, some candlemakers didn’t want lights, some mountain bikers didn’t want disc brakes, but few would step back now …Canyon have worked with this all new concept from Syntace, carefully engineering it into Canyon’s debut K.I.S. equipped bike: the all-new Spectral CF 8 CLLCTV K.I.S. model*.

* K.I.S. will also be featured on select models from Liteville, a brand which sits within the Syntace family.

First Ride and Release: K.I.S.

K.I.S. aids stability from impacts and deflections from rolling rocks, wet roots, or loose surfaces. K.I.S. can improve handling in nearly all off-road riding scenarios. In fact, the only bikes in our range we do not think could benefit from K.I.S. are the dirt jumpers.

Dropping into a descent is where you’ll first notice the benefits of K.I.S. The higher the speeds or the wilder the conditions, the more the cam system increases control and precision. The combination of pre-tensioned springs, specifically shaped cam ring and the precise dimensions of the connecting bands create a steep initial torque curve and centring effect that keeps riders on line through the rough on the way down. This additional security and predictability of the forces riders feel through the bars not only increases confidence, but also helps reduce fatigue on long, epic descents.

K.I.S. keeps working on the way up as well as down, countering pesky wheel flop on steep climbs. Riders nowadays are tackling tougher and techier climbs than ever. The e-bike boom, in particular, has raised the bar on just how much climbing many of us want to do and how steep we’re willing to go.

There’s also a noticeable difference in climbing efficiency. On steep and slow climbs, riders have to work to keep balance with bursts of pow-er required to get the bike back on line. Testing with K.I.S. tells us that approximately 30 % less of these power surges are needed to hold lines and maintain balance on steep climbs. Leaving riders with more energy to rip through the trails.

First Ride and Release: K.I.S.


Thanks to the ingenious shaping of the K.I.S.’ cam, what you experience is more supportive and stable steering that never feels tight or restrictive, even when you are steering through particularly tight corners with your handlebars turned at extreme angles.

The tuned torque curve produced by the unique cam ring shape and ultra-strong synthetic fibre band design means that while the initial ‘ramp up’ in centring force is high – to help keep the bike on line, the force from the system feels almost the same as you turn from 15 degrees through to 50 degrees.


During our testing, it became apparent that K.I.S. helps to connect the front and rear wheels of the bike. Combined with the more predictable steering feel offered by K.I.S., the system works to make riding loose turns and terrain more manageable. Filtering out interference from braking or rough terrain K.I.S. evens out traction demands on front and rear tyres through the corners. Turn the bars and the bike will follow. Front wheel understeer? K.I.S. will work to keep both front and rear wheels inline. Rear wheel breaking loose? As you naturally steer into the slide, K.I.S. can help to bring the rear wheel back in line and keep you on the trail, offering a handy centre point reference ‘feeling’ to minimise over corrections.

No two riders are alike, which is why you can easily tune K.I.S. to compliment your own riding style and terrain. Are you looking for maximum stability and control on fast, wide-open trails? Then set K.I.S. to a strong setting.Want the utmost agility and re-sponsiveness on slower, tighter trails? Choose a lighter setting. Either way, achieving just the right steering feel is quick and simple with K.I.S.: Take a 4 mm Hex key and wind up the tension, set, for-get, and shred. There’s no need to adjust K.I.S. once you have dialed it into your preference. An indica-tor graphic on the top tube shows the level of tension to which you’ve adjusted K.I.S..

First Ride and Release: K.I.S.


The K.I.S. system requires no maintenance. Cleverly and discreetly packaged inside the top tube of your new Spectral, there is no need for cleaning or lubricating K.I.S. The corrosion resistant hardware and coil springs and the ultra-strong synthetic fibre bands will just keep on working away, maintenance-free.

The components should last a life-time as the forces going through them are minimal compared to their maximum load capacity. No matter how hard or far you turn the bars you cannot overload and damage the system. There is also an integrated rotation stop to prevent the handlebars from turning past 90° in the event of a crash. There is a breakaway force on the cam ring clamp, meaning that in an extreme crash the fork or bars may turn beyond 90°, but the system simply cannot over rotate and become damaged.

Should you happen to crash hard, the system may need to be reset. Simply pop off the headtube cover to reach the cam ring clamp bolt. Loosen, re-align, re-tighten, and you are good to go. For maintenance or bike assembly this is also the access point to the cam / steerer connection for fitting or removing the fork.


K.I.S. will debut on our bestseller, the Spectral CF 8. It’s a bike that can handle any kind of riding, loaded with an uber-reliable parts kit that suits most budgets. Why didn’t we kick this project off by equipping our top-tier model with K.I.S.? We truly believe that K.I.S. can benefit all riders and we wanted to allow as many riders to experience K.I.S. as soon as possible.

The 160 mm / 150 mm travel Spec-tral all-rounder boasts modern geometry that allows it to climb and descend any trail. From all-mountain tours to enduro and freeriding, the Spectral is our most capable machine.

First Ride and Release: K.I.S.


If it’s so good, why not prove it on a DH race bike, EWS race machine, eMTB, or the top-of-the-line Spectral?

The Spectral CF 8 is just the starting point. Again we wanted to make this technology available to as many riders as quickly as possible. We plan to roll out K.I.S. across many other models in the future.

K.I.S. has a huge future ahead of it. Trail and Gravity MTB are the clear starters, but we see a future where road, gravel, commute, and cargo bikes could all potentially benefit from the increased control delivered by K.I.S.

First Ride and Release: K.I.S.


K.I.S. – The Future?

First Ride by Robert Johnston | Images By Boris Beyer and Rupert Fowler

A short Science-based introduction

A lucky group of the mountain bike media were invited down to the South of France, where Canyon had put on an event to showcase the K.I.S. technology, with Syntace and Liteville attending to help us to learn all about it. During this event, Jo Klieber – founder of Syntace and visionary bicycle engineer – gave us a lengthy presentation that delved deep into the science of the K.I.S. system in action, delivered in a quirky manner that kept things interesting but ultimately answered as many questions as it created. What became clear really quickly in this presentation was that although the system is relatively simple, it’s difficult to convey its usefulness or the details of how it works in a concise and easy to understand manner. It turns out bicycle steering dynamics are really quite complicated when you get down to the science of what’s occurring. I made some notes of my main take-aways from the presentation, which led me to understand the system better when it came to hitting the trails on the K.I.S.-equipped Canyon Spectral and Liteville 301CE bikes.

The original idea for the K.I.S. system came from trying to solve a problem with the front wheel turning during storage/transport in tight places. Jo had already created a 90degree easy-to-turn stem for such occasions, but was frustrated about the wheel still turning, and so conceived K.I.S. Upon fitting this to a bike, the benefits it could have in a dynamic setting were realized, and the goals of the system shifted from simply improving convenience to adding performance. The development time of the K.I.S. system was remarkably short, with its initial concept coming just 18 months prior to the launch, and Canyon not getting on board until 11 months ago. That said, in this short time there have been over 100 versions produced during development, to get the performance to the level desired by all involved.

The first performance benefit targeted by K.I.S. stems from the natural weight distribution of a bicycle – light up front, with just the fork and front wheel plus the (small) percentage of your weight; and much heavier in the rear. This gives the front end a much lower Moment of Inertia, making it more sensitive to impulse forces and therefore easier to unsettle. The benefit of the K.I.S. system here is that the “connection” that is created effectively adds weight to the front of the bike when a force tries to knock it off line, adding stability, especially through rough terrain.

The second phenomenon they’re aiming to solve, and one that was harder for me to wrap my head around initially, is the effects of wheel flop. When you turn the bars, you create a relative angle between the tire and ground, causing the tire contact patch to lift up. This creates wheel flop, and the weight of the rider creates a force on the steering system which makes it fall over. When you turn, you effectively lift a component of the bike-and-rider weight up by 10-12mm to get back to center, although it’s distributed between the full turn so doesn’t feel like such an effort. Over the course of a ride, this fatigues the rider slightly, and so KIS aims to reduce this fatigue by storing the energy from the initial turn, and giving it back to the rider when they are returning to center. The effects of wheel flop are perhaps the most detrimental on a climb, where it causes the rider to input more energy to pedal and push the steering back to center, and so the K.I.S. system may reduce the likelihood of stalling out, or simply save energy to be used in propelling the rider forwards.

Another proposed benefit of the system is the feeling of the natural center position of steering that it produces, thanks to the counter-force it adds to the steering that lets your hands feel where the midpoint is. This is only likely to be felt when riding on ultra-loose terrain, but when there’s no traction on the front wheel, being able to feel the position where the wheel is pointing straight ahead could theoretically lead to less likelihood of crashing. In the same vein, Fabien Barel was keen to point out his biggest stand-out phenomenon – the connection between the front and rear wheels. He likened the system to allowing the rider to be able to turn the bike “like a ski”, with the bars helping to keep the rear wheel in-line. In loose terrain this could lead to less chance of the rear wheel oversteering, and potentially give a competitive edge when carving hard.

Certainly, there’s a lot going on with this relatively simple system, so I was very keen to get it out onto the trails and feel it for myself.

First Ride and Release: K.I.S.

The Dirt

Getting the bike set up was no different to usual, aside from the slightly easier balancing of the bike thanks to the system keeping the front wheel straight. On the Canyon Spectral, which was equipped with the production version that’s very neatly hidden away in the top tube, there was little to suggest the system was present aside from the little black unit on the top tube. That was until I got on to the bike, where the effects were felt immediately. The steering felt “heavy” initially, but aside from that there was no other influence – no noise, clicking, notching. It felt natural, but as if the bike has an ultra-slack head angle, or you’ve just hit a huge arms day at the gym.

On the first section of the first trail, which had fairly limited terrain that benefited from the K.I.S. system, I found myself being pushed wide in the turns. I wasn’t comfortable with pushing the bars hard enough to turn at the relatively tight radius required to get around these corners. However, after a short time to adjust to the dynamics of steering the K.I.S.-equipped bike, it became second nature and I ceased to have any issues. Syntace recommends that riders experiencing the system for the first time take at least 40 minutes of riding before disabling it, and it certainly took a portion of this time for me to change my input to the bike. With the adjustment period over, it was time to attack the trail and feel the effects.

As we had been given a presentation of sorts to help understand the background theories about what the K.I.S was attempting to improve, I think it’s safe to say that everyone had formed some form of preconception as to what this system would feel like on the trail, and what it might enable in our riding. For me, Fabien Barel’s suggestions of “ski-like turning” because of the increased connection between the front and rear wheel had left the biggest impression, and it was the sensation I had been most excited to experience. I sought to feel this connection on our rides, and unfortunately was never quite able to find it. This was undoubtedly affected by my sheer terror on the loose surfaces where this sensation was most likely to present itself, but even on mellower sections where I was able to actively force the kind of movement that should have produced that result, it was nowhere to be found. It’s possible this is something that takes some time to feel, but the more likely conclusion I settled on quite early on at the camp was that my riding style and heavier-than-average mass demanded a stiffer K.I.S. system to produce the desired results. Unfortunately it wasn’t possible to test this theory out at the camp, but when asked about the possibility for the consumer to tailor the stiffness of the system out with the standard adjustment range, Canyon said it would likely be possible as the system develops further.

One performance benefit I was able to notice when I was actively thinking about it was the increased stability when charging rough terrain. Turning the system on and off on similar sections of trail, having the K.I.S enabled added some composure to the steering when charging hard in a straight line that meant I was fighting the bars a little less. I’d liken it to the bike feeling as if the head tube angle had slackened out by a degree or two when K.I.S. was active. This feeling may be further improved if the system was stiffer, and it does present some real possibilities to make the hardest charging less scary or more safe. There were a couple of moments during the riding on unfamiliar and ultra-loose trails where the rear wheel broke traction. The effects of the system in these kinds of situations wasn’t particularly profound for my setup, but with a more appropriate spring rate it’s easy to imagine the system making a positive impact to this.

First Ride and Release: K.I.S.

The help in counteracting wheel flop was only notable on steeper climbing sections – the kind where you really have to tug on the bars to keep control of the bike. It didn’t help so much when the front wheel was caught strongly, as the force it provided was not strong enough to fully resist these high torques, but it did feel to self-right a touch easier. The counter to this was the more effort required to get the bike to tip over, which is sometimes a necessity to make each of those crank movements happen – think of those times when you’re sprinting and the bike is flopping side to side by choice. It doesn’t technically increase the effort required to pedal in these situations, but you do feel the resistance a touch.

The one major area of concern for me was the effects on jumping. Though certainly not an essential part of most people’s riding, I use a turn-bar as a method of feeling comfortable in the air, so even when I’m not trying to show off it would be problematic to have that ability removed. Much to my pleasure, the bar-turning lived on without issue. Again, this may be due to my weight and style demanding a stiffer K.I.S. setup than was equipped to my bike as standard, and perhaps if I was to have the stiffer system that I think I wanted, it would be a different story.  But from what I’ve felt so far, serial bar-turners like myself need not worry. K.I.S. could stand for “Keep It Steezy” and I wouldn’t be able to disagree thus far. That said, there were few opportunities to properly whip the bike out, so there’s still some opinions left to form. It’s safe to say that it’s the dream for suicide no handers though, not that you’ll find me busting them out.

I didn’t have the chance to fully dismantle the system, but adjusting an already installed unit was easy – both to re-center the system on the steerer (which is very important) and to adjust the tension. Everything is relatively simple and seemingly durable in construction, so I can’t foresee any serious issues. The rotation stop inbuilt to the head tube will prevent any damage to the spring or rope from crashing, so unless the cam is overtightened on the steerer tube there shouldn’t be any issues.

The Wolf’s First Impression

What did I take away from my first experience on one of the potential milestones of mountain bike design? Well, the potential benefits of K.I.S are there to be seen, but unfortunately the effect on my riding wasn’t really there to be felt, for the most part. The stability on climbs was notable but not groundbreaking, and on the way down it was unfortunately not quite influential enough to produce a significant difference to the handling for me. Lighter riders, or a stiffer system, will likely experience more of the claimed benefits, but with that increased influence may come some drawbacks – I simply can’t say without some time on a stiffer system. With the power of Canyon and the engineering of Syntace working together It’s only going to get better as time goes on though, that’s for sure.

Though I’m not blown away by its performance for now, I’m sure excited to see how it goes.


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