After a few years of never quite hitting the nail on the head with wheels, Crankbrothers have gone back to the drawing board with their approach to wheels. Dubbed Synthesis, the project goes back to a traditionally laced wheels and scraps the Laguna Beach brand’s unconventional system of the past. With that in mind, the new wheels actually do bring about a wealth of very smart, new features. Offered at XC, Enduro and DH platforms, Crankbrothers designed the wheels around the idea that the front wheel “turns” and the back wheel “tracks”. With this in mind, the spoke count and inner rim diameters are different front and back throughout the line. Front and rear specific rims aren’t all that are new though – “Project 321” hubs are a high end option for the XC and Enduro wheelsets and the only option on DH wheels. The hubs are US made in Bend, Oregon and use 6 magnetic (read: low drag) pawls on 144 points for a 2.5º engagement. The standard hubs come in at a lower price point and have 3 pawls and 21 points for 17º engagement.
We’re currently testing a set of the Synthesis E11 and will follow up in the coming months with our long term findings. Our first impressions are that this is an excellent new direction for Crankbrothers. Check out more of the details and pricing below…
An interesting point regarding the carbon rims is that the varying inner diameter makes sense in two ways. First, having a slightly wider I.D. up front provides a slightly wider tire footprint, which is ideal. Second, the decreased ID out back comes from the fact that Crankbrothers add material to the sides on the rear wheel, which will make for a slightly stiffer, stronger rim. This makes sense as the back wheel tends to take more abuse.
Front and rear inner diameters and heights for Synthesis DH, E, and XCT rims, which are all available separately.
Rim profile – note the dimpled nipple bed and re-enforced, tire valve opening with flat surface.
The Project 321 hubs are stunning – the Enduro bearings that they roll on are silky smooth and the drag is almost non-existent.
Synthesis E 11
Synthesis XCT 11