The Crank Brothers Synthesis wheels were launched in late 2018, with specific front and rear rims, a shallow and wide rim and to be honest, an eye-wateringly high price tag. We got riding on the wheels and after the initial few rides, we fired off a few questions to our home grown engineer Mello Bouwmeester regarding the Synthesis and its key differences to the humble wheel.

AMB: There are different rims front and rear, other than spoke count how else do they differ?

MB: A lot of little subtle things such as rim profile, spoke type, tensions and hole count make up the tuned wheels system. The front rim while wider internally depending on model is actually 15-20g lighter. Spoke selection with Sapim is also a big part of increasing compliance in the front wheel. For the Enduro we use CX-ray (D-light in standard series) in 28h using lighter spoke tensions, this is then complemented in the rear with a stiffer 32h setup with heavier CX-sprint and higher tensions (Race in the standard series).

AMB: Unlike the solid rim construction of the Bouwmeester Tammar, these look to have a internal void, what lead to this decision?

MB: Going to the super shallow profile enabled us to maintain a lot of radial compliance but make some lateral stiffness gains and also reduce some weight compared to using a 100% solid construction.

AMB: The Synthesis have bladed spokes, why? And do drive side and non-drive side spokes share the same length for front and rear wheels?

MB: Going to the premium Sapim bladed spokes for the Series 11 enabled us to save weight and maintain similar spoke properties to the standard Synthesis series. So whatever your level or budget you still have a similar riding experience as the rim is the same between both series. Spoke lengths are all different.

AMB: We love the low maintenance magnetic pawl action of Project 321 hubs, how did this partnership come about over CB hubs?

MB: Project 321 have a great reputation for precision and quality with their US made hubs. They were excited about the project outline and developing the new hub with us for our 11 Series wheelset. P321’s magnetic ratchet mechanism offers some unique features like variable sound pawl kits and super low drag. Being US made also gave us the ability to work really closely with them through the R&D process and in testing scenarios like on the World Cup scene with DH team Unno.

AMB: With more companies offering a lifetime warranty, can you explain the process for the end user if they do experience an issue?

MB: We offer a lifetime warranty on our rim and for other components within the wheel assembly will be handled by Crank Brothers as part of our customer service. These individual components such as, but not limited to, spokes, nipples and hubs will follow the original manufacturer’s warranty policy.

Regarding warranty process it's as simple as registering your product at time of purchase, submitting a warranty claim online with Crank Brothers and once approved we issue a UPS shipping label to expedite the return. Excluding receiving and return freight time as that is a variable, we aim to turn around any warranty rebuild within a week at our build centres.

You can find the complete review of the CB Synthesis wheels in Issue #175.