La Sportiva Synchro (Shadow) Review — Spectre Boot Reinvented

Post by blogger | December 4, 2017      
Synchro, a nice upgrade to Spectre.

Synchro, a nice upgrade to Spectre.

After skiing the boot a bit last winter while in Italy, I’ve been eagerly awaiting the retail version Synchro (Shadow in women’s version) so we could do an honest unboxing. This is essentially an upgrade of the now venerable Spectre, boasting a clever two piece tongue that flexes while touring and locks for downhill when buckled tight. Scaffo is still constructed with easily customized Grilamid, cuff latch is said to be improved. Overlap liner instead of the Synchro’s tongue liner. Check out a few photos.

(This post sponsored by our publishing partner Cripple Creek Backcountry. They’re a Sportiva dealer, contact.)

As before, tech fittings are present for classic tech bindings or Trab. The heel fittings can be removed and trimmed if you're not on Trab.

As before, multi-purpose tech fittings are present — functional with classic tech bindings or Trab. The Trab portion of the heel fittings can be removed and trimmed if you’re not on Trab.

Rear spoiler is asymmetric, as well as being removable.

Rear spoiler is asymmetric, as well as being removable. Same as original Spectre as well as Spectre 2. Useful during configuration for folks with large and lower located calf muscles, or wanting a bit less cuff lean. More, this is a boot that can be weight stripped like a drag car; remove spoiler, power strap, lower 4th buckle, and you get an interesting rendition of a beefy boot. Perhaps somewhat physiological in terms of what it really offers, Spoiler only rises one centimeter above cuff rear. Personally, if I’m using a spoiler I’d prefer it rose closer to two or three centimeters.

Interior view of lean lock, said to be greatly improved over original Spectre, which did have some problems.

Interior view of lean lock, said to be improved over early Spectre, which did have problems in this area. This rather complex machinery. I see the point of an internal lean lock, but one has to wonder if it would be better for Sportiva to cut bait on this and just mount a lock bar on the outside of the boot, as appears to be the industry trend. Tesla does hidden door latches, but do ski boot designers really have to worry about such things?

Two part tongue,  locking slot and hinge.

Two part tongue, locking slot and hinge. This the most distinctive improvement over Spectre, a significant gain in lessening forward resistance in uphill mode. Good example of effective design through simplicity. We’ve seen other brands trying this sort of thing, but so far Synchro appears to be the best execution of the concept. Downside is you’ve got to arrange your buckle tension just so in walk mode, or the tongues can sandwich together and catch.

Another view of two part tongue, showing the black 'nib' that inserts in main tongue when buckled, adding significant beef to the boot flex.

Another view of two part tongue, showing the black ‘nib’ that inserts in main tongue when buckled, adding significant forward strength to the boot flex.

Buckles remain as the interesting  'Pegasus Plus Buckle' that micro adjusts using something similar to a bicycle cable tension device.

Slightly changed buckles are an interesting version of what Sportiva has offered since Spectre 1, ‘Pegasus Plus Buckle’ micro adjusts using something similar to a bicycle cable tension device. Tolerances on these appear slightly better than the originals, which I trust will do a better job of resisting loosening when they’re lightly buckled for the uphill. Of more importance, note major redesign of the buckle fastener portion, it uses scalloped sides to attach to the boot anchor. See next photo.

Spectre 2 at left, note the buckle anchors as well as changed buckle shape.

Spectre 2 at left, note the buckle anchors as well as changed buckle shape. I like the Pegasus type buckle, but they do take some getting used to for those who’ve spent decades clipping standard ski boot buckles.

Sportiva likes lots of rocker, so do I, Synchro provides same sole rocker as Spectre.

Sportiva likes lots of rocker, Synchro has same as Spectre.

External portion of lean lock is unchanged, slight adjustment of forward cuff lean is possible.

External portion of lean lock is unchanged, slight adjustment of forward cuff lean is possible.

Drone view.

Drone view.

As with Spectre, shell tongue angle (left-right) is adjustable. Seems useful but probably something most people need not fiddle with.

As with Spectre, shell tongue angle is adjustable. Seems useful but probably something most need not fiddle with.

Big change is the stock overlap liner, thermoformable as before.

Big change (and the only real distinction from Spectre other than two peice tongue) is the stock overlap liner, thermoformable as you would expect. This won’t tour as well as Spectre, but does add solidity to your downhill ventures. Swapping in an aftermarket tongue type liner would improve Synchro for the uphill, an easy modification.

I like this little gadget, band of lycra that helps close the overlap.

I like this little gadget, band of lycra that helps close the liner overlap correctly, thus avoiding liner damage caused by crunching it together during boot buckling.

Preemptive question and answer: “Lou, can the two piece tongue be swapped to the Spectre?” “Yes, though I have no idea of availability.”

Beautiful shoes. Two piece shell tongue is the significant difference from Spectre. Overlap liner differentiates as well, but is easily swapped for a tongue liner if you’ve got the need and the cash. Works with Trab binding. Grilamid scaffo is easily heat punched. I did ski a pair of these last winter in Italy. They tour better than you’d expect from a tongue shell combined with overlap cuff, meaning with buckles adjusted properly they’re ok but not exceptional. Swap in a tongue liner and the lack of tongue resistance would cross over more to the exceptional category. Rearward cuff travel is good, but actual rearward ankle freedom is limited by the stiff liner. Synchro is plenty stiff on the downhill, progressive feel of flex was what I’d call average for a tongue shell.

Weights, 27.5 Synchro, BSL 304
Shell, 1244 grams
Liner, 246 grams
Boot complete, 52.6 ounces, 1,490 grams (1550 grams catalog weight)
Compare to Spectre at 51.8 ounces, 1470 (1445 grams catalog weight)

Previous Spectre coverage.

La Sportiva Synchro ski touring boot 2017 2018

La Sportiva Synchro ski touring boot 2017 2018


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11 Responses to “La Sportiva Synchro (Shadow) Review — Spectre Boot Reinvented”

  1. etto December 4th, 2017 8:52 am

    But how does it ski? 🙂

  2. Lou2 December 4th, 2017 9:14 am

    I’ll add a few words, thanks for reminder. Lou

  3. Sledger December 4th, 2017 12:17 pm

    Thanks for the review, could I ask a couple of follow up questions? I have the black /yellow spectre, is the fit similar, I guess it is? Is there much difference performance wise to the yellow spectre? Would it be worth handing a pair to young Louie with instructions to let rip to see how they perform. I’m sure you could do this yourself but good to keep him involved!

  4. Lou Dawson 2 December 4th, 2017 12:32 pm

    Appears that shell mold is the same for all Spectre and Synchro, in terms of shell fit. The liner will vary, of course. On the down I’d call yello Spectre and Synchro to be quite similar. Synchro will certainly feel a bit more solid due to overlap liner, and it might be slightly stiffer. But I wouldn’t buy the Synchro with the idea you’re going from a fairly stiff boot to an alpine beef boot. It’s a touring boot. We’ll all ski them more and do a longer term review but yes I was planning on Louie getting in them quite a bit as I think he’d like the way they tour up and ski down. Lou

  5. Patrik Lind December 8th, 2017 2:51 pm

    Do you think the fillers would fit the Sideral 2.0’s Trab cut outs? I’m fully aware that the Sideral has no screw inserts/thread holes.
    Would be nice to be able to use them with my Kingpins.

  6. swissiphic January 1st, 2018 12:42 pm

    Regarding the two piece tongue design: You mention that in ‘walk’ mode the buckles must be carefully set to avoid the two pieces of the tongue from locking together. Judging by the pics, to mitigate that risk, one could simply use a plug for the female side of the slot to prevent the male side from unwanted ‘latching’. Kind of like your guard for preventing the ultralock knob from engaging the cuff lock in the dynafit boots if a skier walks to close the cuff but not engage ski mode. Easy peezee.

  7. Lou Dawson 2 January 1st, 2018 1:02 pm

    Good idea, and happy New Year Mr. Swiss!

  8. Erik Erikson January 2nd, 2018 3:00 am

    Hi Lou,

    could you say a word about the width of the boot? I am always searching for the narrowest boot possible – even the TLT 5 (narrowest ever) only fits me adding a thick liner and two pair of socks…

  9. Courtney January 12th, 2018 10:50 am

    Erik Erikson,

    This is a wider boot. It’s about 102mm and that is almost wide enough for my very wide forefoot. You’re not going to be happy with this if you have very narrow feet.

  10. Erik Erikson January 12th, 2018 10:55 am


    thanks a lot for the reply! Too bad, but way too wide for my feet.. As said, even the TLT 5 is without serious modding..

  11. Kirk January 30th, 2018 8:39 pm

    La Sportiva have told me they’ll have the Synchro tongue for sale (as a separate item) on their website shop ‘late in January’, once they receive a shipment from Italy.

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