Crankbrothers have just released three brand new wheelsets, they are all made from carbon and all have a lifetime warranty. Designed by people who have their roots in composite wheel design, the Synthesis wheels for downhill, enduro and cross-country are 'tuned' to ensure the right amount of stiffness versus compliance for mountain bikes.
In the design of the new wheelset Crankbrothers teamed up two industry specialists, Jason Schiers, a man responsible for the beginning of Enve and Mello Bouwmeester, of Bouwmeester Composites, with the pair working from the Selle Royale research HQ called SR56 in Ogden, Utah. Conversely, Schiers is known for producing a stiff wheelset whilst Bouwmeester in the past has designed and built single walled wheels with more compliance. Getting the two together with the ambition to create carbon wheels with both stiffness and the right amount of flex was the aim for Crankbrothers.
There are three different wheelsets available, Synthesis DH, Synthesis E and Synthesis XCT. As you can imagine the names denote the usage, DH for downhill, E for enduro or all mountain and XTC for cross country or light trail use.
Crankbrothers says the name, Synthesis, explains the intention with both front and rear wheels 'tuned' for the specific requirements and loads experienced during mountain biking. They say that the front wheel is tuned to offer more compliance to enhance the control and handling characteristics through increased damping whilst maintaining the wheels contact patch, so conforming to the floor somewhat to increase grip. The rear wheel is stiffer to offer stability and increase responsiveness at speed, tracking the front wheel.
To do this the rims and wheel builds are different for both front and rear wheels, for example the front wheel of the Synthesis E wheelset has a larger inner width diameter, 31.5mm compared to 29.5mm. The front has a reduced spoke count, 28 spokes compared to 32 at the rear and also a lower spoke tension up front using lighter weight spokes and an overall lighter rim too.
The rear rim, along with its 32 spokes uses a higher spoke tension and a tougher rim which is heavier and 0.5mm thicker at the bead too.
Crankbrothers says the front wheel is designed to increase tyre volume and contact patch, support a wider tyre profile and round the tyre profile to enhance turning when used with the recommended 2.35-2.5" tyres. The changes at the rear are made to improve rolling resistance, give a tyre profile edge conducive for good grip and support a narrower tyre in general.
The DH 11 wheelset have the same internal width as the front and rear wheels of the Synthesis E wheels but just feature a thicker carbon layup. They are available as just one build, the DH Level 11 at a price of £2,150, meaning you get the top dollar and super quiet Project 321 hubs with 2.5 degrees of engagement, (144 points), magnetic pawls and Sapim spokes (CX-Ray for the front and CX-Sprint at the rear). Crankbrothers says the use of the magnetic pawls as a pull spring reduces drag and lessens the noise produced.
- DH Level 11 wheelset 27.5" boost weight - 1945g
- DH Level 11 wheelset 29" boost weight - 1995g
- DH rim front / rear weight 27.5" - 515g / 555g
- DH rim front / rear weight 29" - 550g / 590g
The E wheels are available in either the Synthesis E Level 11 spec as above or in a cheaper Synthesis E Level 7 spec which uses Crankbrothers Synthesis Standard hubs and Sapim D-Light and Race spokes. The Level 11's come in at £2,150 and the Level 7's at £1,500 both using the same rims.
- E Level 11 wheelset 27.5" boost weight - 1760g
- E Level 11 wheelset 29" boost weight - 1825g
- E Level 7 wheelset 27.5" boost weight - 1845g
- E Level 7 wheelset 29" boost weight - 1905g
- E rim front / rear weight 27.5" - 460g / 475g
- E rim front / rear weight 29" - 480g / 495g
Its the same story for the Synthesis XCT wheels but these only come in 29er form. Two builds are available, the Level 11 using the Project 321 hubs and Sapim Race spokes front and rear, or the Level 7's using Sapim D-Light spokes and the Synthesis Standard hub. The XCT rims are narrower than the above, the internal width of the front rim is 26.5mm whilst the rear is 24.5mm. Prices match the E wheelset accordingly.
- XCT Level 11 wheelset 29" boost weight - 1490g
- XCT Level 7 wheelset 29" boost weight - 1575g
- XCT rim front / rear weight 29" - 365g / 375g
The goal of this new wheelset is intriguing, we have a Synthesis E Level 11 wheelset in for test, after riding various carbon rims previously it will be interesting to see how these wheels differ and if there is a discernable difference between wheels.
For more information head over to www.crankbrothers.com, full long-term test coming up in the future so check back for more!
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