Crankbrothers Synthesis are front- and rear-specific MTB wheels

Crankbrothers Synthesis wheelset
Crankbrothers has now broadened the choice of its front/rear specific mountain bike wheels (Image credit: Crankbrothers)

Crankbrothers is now offering a more affordable version of its Synthesis mountain bike wheelset.

Since its launch, the carbon Synthesis wheels have offered an interesting alternative to riders who obsesses about their bike’s performance.

What makes the Crankbrothers Synthesis wheels different from rivals, are that they feature a unique engineering and construction profile for front and rear.

The argument about wheel stiffness versus compliance has been raging ever since carbon fibre became a popular mountain bike rim material of choice. Wheels that are immensely stiff might accelerate faster and roll with superior efficiency on smooth trails but they can fatigue riders on singletrack littered with roots and small stones.

Crankbrothers believes it's solved this issue with the Synthesis wheelset, building a more compliant front wheel in combination with a stiffer rear one. That design philosophy is now available at a more accessible aluminium rim price point

To achieve the difference in ride quality and lateral flexibility between the front and rear elements of its latest Synthesis aluminium wheelset, Crankbrothers uses differences in rim profile and spoke count.

The Synthesis front wheel only has 28 spokes, whilst the rear is laced with 32. Internal rim widths differ too: they are wider at the front than the rear. Crankbrothers believes that a front wheel should be more forgiving, as it is responsible for turning the bike and severe terrain deflections could ruin steering feedback dynamics.

Crankbrothers will be offering three different alloy Synthesis wheelsets, with its front/rear specific build. The brand’s Synthesis XCT is a lightweight 29-inch option, featuring a 24.5mm internal diameter rear wheel, which weighs 998g and is priced at $359. The Synthesis XCT front wheel has a 26.5mm internal diameter, weighs 841g and costs $239.

The Synthesis Enduro alloy wheelset is available in either 27.5- or 29-inch, with both sizes featuring a 31.5mm internal width front rim and 29.5mm rear. Respective rear wheel weights are 1062g for the 27.5-inch and 1095g for the 29-inch, while the front wheels are 877g for the smaller wheel size and 902g for the 29er version.

Pricing for the Crankbrothers Synthesis Enduro alloy wheels are $359 rear and $239 front, irrespective of wheel size.

Lance Branquinho
Freelance writer

Lance Branquinho is a Namibian-born journalist who graduated to mountain biking after injuries curtailed his trail running. He has a weakness for British steel hardtails, especially those which only run a single gear. As well as Bike Perfect, Lance has written for, and Cycling News.