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Crankbrothers Synthesis E11 Carbon Wheelset

Vital Rating: (Outstanding)
Crankbrothers Synthesis with Industry Nine Hubs
 Crankbrothers Synthesis E11 Carbon Wheelset  Crankbrothers Synthesis E11 Carbon Wheelset  Crankbrothers Synthesis E11 Carbon Wheelset  Crankbrothers Synthesis E11 Carbon Wheelset
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Crankbrothers Merges Stiff & Compliant with Synthesis Carbon Wheels

Combining worlds for an improved ride experience.

Rating: Vital Review

Ask anyone with lots of carbon wheel experience and they'll express a preference for stiffness or compliance. It's a surprisingly polarizing topic. What happens when you combine those two worlds into one wheelset, with a stiff rear and compliant front? Agreement across the board during blind testing. This revelation lead to the creation of the new Crankbrothers Synthesis wheels.

Recognizing the potential to improve their wheelsets, Crankbrothers invested in two forward-thinking individuals from varying schools of thought. Jason Schiers, one of the co-founders of ENVE, long held the belief that wheels should be stout and stiff. Mello Bouwmeester thought differently, bringing new ideas to the table with his unique single-wall carbon wheels and an emphasis on compliance. Today, they're working side by side, synthesizing ideas to create a carbon wheel system tuned for the specific needs of mountain biking.

All carbon is not created equal. Cutaways of the new Synthesis rims show great compaction and material consistency. Front on the left, rear on the right. Though the visual differences are minimal, millimeters and build specs make a big difference.

Compliant Front

Stiff Rear

  • Wider, lighter carbon rim
  • Fewer, lighter spokes
  • Lower spoke tension

Synthesis Wheelset Highlights

  • Available in XCT (29"), Enduro (27.5", 29"), and DH (27.5") models
  • Hookless carbon rims
  • 28/32 bladed Sapim CX-Ray and/or CX-Sprint spokes front and rear
  • Project 321 hub internals with 2.5º engagement (144 POE) via low-drag magnetic pawls
  • Quiet (stock) or loud pawl options
  • XD and standard freehub options
  • Precision Japanese bearings
  • Offered in Boost and DH hub sizes
  • MSRP: $2,399 per wheelset, $699 per rim
  • Price point XCT and E models with standard hub internals and spokes available at $1,699
  • Rims covered by limited lifetime warranty for original owner


Initial Impressions

Beginning with a seven day smash-fest during Crankworx Whistler, we've spent some quality time aboard the Synthesis E 11 wheelset. Crankbrothers has produced great-looking products for years, and the new Synthesis wheels definitely follow suit. The sleek, shallow rim profile, reinforced spoke holes, and muted accents tie a bike together well. Spinning the rear wheel in hand you're met with the quiet and fast purr of Project 321's magnetic pawl internals that allow the wheel to spin for what seems like forever.



On trail, as claimed, the more compliant front wheel and wider rim profile provide excellent grip, predictable cornering, and minimal deflections, calming the terrain as it comes at you.

Pushing hard into a turn, the rear of the bike feels stout with no perceivable flex, a snappy feel, and no instances of burping. Mashing on the pedals you're met with fast engagement and quick acceleration, giving a good impression of efficiency and responsiveness. Smashing through rocks, the rear rim's excellent impact resistance has shined through time and time again.


Following a quick re-tension of the rear wheel after Crankworx, we've racked up a few dozen rides on some truly demanding Durango, Bellingham, Squamish, and Pemberton trails with no major issues. The wheels are still solid and true, and we're happy to keep them mounted to our test sled for the foreseeable future.

What's The Bottom Line?

By thinking outside of the box and combining the best application for both ends of the stiffness spectrum, Crankbrothers has created an excellent wheelset for how mountain bikes react to rider input and communicate the trail. We feel confident in saying that Synthesis wheelsets offer improved handling that will encourage a wide variety of riders to push harder.

Enduro models are available online now and will be at select dealers worldwide this November. DH and XCT models will be available in late 2018, and Crankbrothers covers all rims with a lifetime warranty.

Cruise over to for more details.

Vital MTB First Ride Rating: 4.5 Stars - Outstanding

About The Tester

Brandon Turman - Age: 32 // Years Riding: 17 // Height: 5'10" (1.78m) // Weight: 175-pounds (79.4kg)

"I like to have fun, pop off the bonus lines on the sides of the trail, get aggressive when I feel in tune with a bike, and really mash on the pedals and open it up when pointed downhill." Formerly a mechanical engineer and Pro downhill racer, Brandon brings a unique perspective to the testing game as Vital MTB's resident product guy. He has on-trail familiarity with nearly every new innovation in our sport from the past several years and a really good feel for what’s what.


Product Crankbrothers Synthesis E11 Carbon Wheelset
Riding Type Enduro / All-Mountain, Trail
Wheel Size 27.5" (650b), 29"
Rim Material Carbon
Rim Front- and Rear-Specific Rims
Outer width: 37.5mm (front), 36.5mm (rear)
Height: 18mm
Inner Rim Width
  • 31.5mm
  • 29.5mm
Hole Count Front: 28 Hole
Rear: 32 Hole
Tubeless Compatible Yes
Rear Hub Synthesis 11/Industry Nine Hydra Collab (0.52º Quick Engagement, Six Pawls) or Synthesis 11/Project 321 Collab (2.5º Quiet Engagement, Six Magnetic Pawls)
XD, HG, and Micro Spline driver options available
Rear Axle 12mm x 148mm (Boost)
Front Hub Synthesis 11/Industry Nine Hydra Collab or Synthesis 11/Project 321 Collab
Front Axle 15mm x 110mm (Boost)
Disc Mount Type 6 Bolt
Spokes Front: Sapim CX-Ray
Rear: Sapim CX-Sprint
Nipples Sapim Polyax 14mm Brass
Colors Black
  • 4 lb 0.4 oz (1,825 g)
  • 3 lb 14.1 oz (1,760 g)
Miscellaneous Tuned Front and Rear Carbon Wheel System for enduro riding and racing

Front: compliant tuned front wheel improves handling and maximizes grip and control in turns. Wider inner rim width supports a wider tire profile in front, increased volume and contact patch, and rounds tire profile to enhance turning.

Rear: stiff tuned rear wheel supports peak loads and enhances stability and tracking at speed. Narrower inner rim width supports a narrower tire profile in the rear, improves rolling resistance, and sharpens tire edge for grip.

Limited Lifetime Warranty on Rims for Original Owner
Price $2,399
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