Crankbrothers bring their compliance-tuned Synthesis wheel tech to gravel

Crankbrothers Synthesis Gravel wheels fitted to a 3t Exploro
(Image credit: Crankbrothers / 3t)

Crankbrothers have made a return to gravel with two new wheelsets that were quietly announced in the aftermath of Sea Otter. The new Synthesis Gravel wheels focus on long-distance rides and rugged adventures and are available in two material options; carbon or alloy.

To compete with the best gravel bike wheels, the Crankbrothers have taken inspiration from their mountain bike wheels, featuring compliant tuned front and rear wheels which are said to improve handling and maximize grip and control in turns.

The idea behind the concept is that the front and rear wheels have specific demands put upon them while riding. Crankbrothers make the front wheel more compliant to improve handling by allowing the wheel to deform more and maintain a better connection to the ground. The rear wheel has increased stiffness to support pedaling loads and enhance stability.

Crankbrothers says that the wheel tuning also allows the low profile rim to absorb and dissipate trail feedback, helping the riders fresher for longer on long gravel rides.

Crankbrothers Synthesis Gravel wheels

Crankbrothers compliant tuned design features on both the carbon and alloy version (Image credit: Crankbrothers)

Both carbon and alloy rims are available in 700c or 650b sizes and feature a very wide 26.5mm inner rim width. This should give a good tire profile across a broad range of gravel tire sizes and better stability for properly big tires. Crankbrothers officially recommends tires from 30-55mm which should easily cover most gravel riding needs.

The wheelsets feature Crankbrothers new ratchet-style drive system which has 10 degrees of engagement and is available in either HG or XDR freehub options. Finally, both front and rear wheels are built up using 28 Sapim D-Light spokes.

The Synthesis Gravel Carbon wheelset comes in at a very competitive 1544g (700c) although the alloy versions are significantly heavier at 1917g (700c).

Crankbrothers only sells the wheels individually so you will need to purchase the front and rear separately. Crankbrothers give the carbon rims a lifetime warranty while the alloy rims have warranty coverage for two years.

The wheels can be purchased from although only US and Euro pricing is currently available.

We will have a set in as soon as we can, so stay tuned for a full review.

Crankbrothers Synthesis Gravel wheel pricing

  • Crankbrothers Synthesis Gravel Carbon front: $599.99 / €599,99
  • Crankbrothers Synthesis Gravel Carbon rear: $899.99 / €899.99
  • Crankbrothers Synthesis Gravel Carbon front: $239.99 / €239.99
  • Crankbrothers Synthesis Gravel Carbon rear: $359.99 / €359.99
Graham Cottingham
Senior reviews writer, Bike Perfect

Graham is all about riding bikes off-road. With almost 20 years of riding experience, he has dabbled in downhill, enduro, and gravel racing. Not afraid of a challenge, Graham has embraced bikepacking over the last few years and likes nothing more than strapping some bags to his bike and covering big miles to explore Scotland's wildernesses. When he isn’t shredding the gnar in the Tweed Valley, sleeping in bushes, or tinkering with bikes, he is writing tech reviews for Bike Perfect.

Rides: Cotic SolarisMax, Stooge MK4, 24 Bicycles Le Toy 3, Surly Steamroller

Height: 177cm

Weight: 71kg