17/04/2013 | 13 comments
You might not have heard of Syntace but the German company has actually been making exceptionally high quality components for years now. I think ‘understated German engineering’ probably sums up what they do best. Their products have always been developed and tested to the highest level, yet they’re not ones to shout about what they’re doing. Maybe that’s why you hadn’t heard of them? Anyway, their new range of wheels look very interesting indeed…
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We’ll start at the beginning…the reason why we, and so many others, love Stans’s Flow rims isn’t just because they offer an incredible strength to weight ratio, it’s also because of their weight to width ratio. Before those rims came along it was very hard to find a decent light rim which also gave you plenty of width. Why don’t you want a skinny rim? Well a wider rim brings about a whole number of benefits. You can run lower pressures without so much risk of pinch flatting, which of course increases grip. Studies have also shown that they can decrease rolling resistance. And another benefit is that it increases the volume of a given tyre and you get increased sidewall stability, which in turn both mean that for a certain level of performance you can run a lighter weight tyre.
Back in the day a 2.1″ tyre was considered pretty extreme for trial use, and lightweight trail rims were designed to be used with tyres up to that kind of width, but these days it’s about as skinny as any of us would choose to run. The problem was though that many rim manufacturers carried on making their lightweight rims the same kind of width even though we were all starting to use bigger tyres. Thankfully a good handfull of companies are now offering more ‘modern’ alternatives, just like the Stan’s Flow, and Syntace are the latest to join the movement.
The unique thing about these Syntace wheels though is that they’re offering them with a choice of four different width rims, all of which are aimed roughly at the same kind of usage (think predominately trail/all mountain), but just optimised for different width tyres. Obviously the wider you go then the heavier and stronger the rims get, but the difference is far smaller than you’d normally find. So, essentially what Syntace are saying is that you should base your rim choice more around the size of tyre that you like to run rather than the kind of riding that you do. I reckon it makes sense. Even the heaviest of options is still very light when you consider the width.
You get a choice of 25, 30, 35 or 40mm external width and all of them are laced up upon some equally stealthy, and high quality Syntace hubs. These of course run on cartridge bearings and the rear hub features a ‘spur gear’ freehub mechanism similar to the one found in a DT hub. This has 36 teeth to provide fast engagement and unlike a more conventional design once one one of these teeth is engaged every tooth is engaged. This means that the hubs can deal with extreme levels of torque. It’s worth noting that the freehub certainly isn’t quiet, and the hubs are also available with an XX1 style freehub body.
Options really lie at the heart of these wheels as apart form the choice in rim widths you can also get each of them in a 26″, 650b or 29″ diameter, and get the hubs to fit any axle size (which can be easily converted at a later date if need be). Unlike any other company that I can think of Syntace have also decided to simplify things by offering all these many options at exactly the same price. So, no matter what rim and hubs you go for the overall price will be the same (front wheels are obviously cheaper than rears though).
The final thing that we really like about these wheels is that Syntace made a conscious decision not to do anything to whacky when it came to the spokes. With riders at the heart of the company they were all too aware of the problems that can be had when trying to track down a replacement spoke for some ‘fancy’ wheels and so they wanted to avoid that by using regular spokes, and a regular number of them too. I say regular, but that’s actually doing them a diservice in this case as each wheel is built using Sapim CX-Ray spokes which are truly incredible spokes (and very expensive). In the unlikely case that one should break though then you can easily swap it out for just a simple plain gauge spoke, even if it’s only temporarily. You also won’t need any fancy spoke keys to do it either.
Overall then we like the approach that Syntace have taken, and we also really like the refreshing understated looks. We can’t wait to get them fitted to a bike, but if they’re anywhere near the quality that we’ve come to expect from Syntace then these could be pretty special wheels…
Price: Front £367.50, Rear £536.50
30mm x 26″ rim on 15mm Front Hub: 730g
30mm x 26″ rim on 142x12mm Rear Hub: 805g
35mm x 26″ rim on 15mm Front Hub: 805g
35mm x 26″ rim on 142x12mm Rear Hub: 875g
40mm x 26″ rim on 20mm Front Hub: 885g
40mm x 26″ rim on 157x12mm Rear Hub: 955g
Photos: Ben Winder