Crankbrothers Synthesis E 11 Wheelset

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Crankbrothers Synthesis E 11 Wheels
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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

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.

Unno's World Cup team has been thrashing trails aboard Synthesis wheels since the rocky round in Lošinj, further proving out the system.

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 www.crankbrothers.com/synthesis 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.

Specifications

Product Crankbrothers Synthesis E 11 Wheelset
Riding Type Enduro / All-Mountain, Trail
Wheel Size 27.5" (650b), 29"
Rim Material Carbon
Rim Synthesis E 11 Carbon Rims // Compliant Front // Stiff Rear
Inner Rim Width
  • 31.5mm
  • 29.5mm
Hole Count 28 (Front) // 32 (Rear)
Tubeless Compatible Yes
Rear Hub Synthesis 11 Hub with Project 321 Internals // 2.5º Engagement (144 POE) Via Low-Drag Magnetic Pawls
Rear Axle 12mm x 148mm (Boost)
Front Hub Synthesis 11 Hub with Project 321 Internals
Front Axle 15mm x 110mm (Boost)
Disc Mount Type 6 Bolt
Spokes Sapim CX-Ray (Front) // Sapim CX-Sprint (Rear)
Nipples Sapim Polyax 14mm Brass
Colors Black
Weight
  • 3 lb 14.1 oz (1,760 g)
  • 4 lb 0.4 oz (1,825 g)
Miscellaneous Quiet (stock) or loud pawl options
Precision Japanese bearings
Rims covered by limited lifetime warranty for original owner
Price $2,399
More Info

​www.crankbrothers.com

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