OVERVIEW & FIRST RIDE
SYNCROS’S 2022 PRODUCT RANGE
Words by Robert Johnston
Photos Courtesy of Mirror Media / Mountain Bike Connection Winter
I (Robert, European Tech Editor) had the good fortune to make the journey to Massa Marittima in Tuscany, Italy, for the Bike Connection Agency Mountain Bike Connection 2022 event in February. During this time, I met with a bunch of cool and interesting European companies to learn more about their product ranges, and managed to get a small sample of trail time on board most of them to report back with my initial impressions.
First up was Syncros, who have recently updated their product ranges to include parts and accessories that span from road and gravel through to enduro mountain bikes. There are some highlight products in their range that not only were they the most stoked to present, but I was most interested in, as they break the mold a little with their design and manufacture.
Undoubtedly the most head-turning product in their 2022 range is the hyper light and stunning Silverton SL carbon fiber wheelset. The original Silverton SL 26 has been in their range for a little while, but they recently added in the Silverton SL30 model, with a 4mm wider (now 30mm) inner rim width that’s designed to improve the support for the larger tires that XC riders are tending towards. Thanks to some clever design, Syncros was able to keep the weight roughly the same regardless of the inner rim width, meaning these SL30’s come in at roughly 1280g. For a pair! They’re designed for XC racing at the highest level, which has been backed up with 2nd place in a World Cup for Nino Schurter and an Olympic gold for Tom Pidcock on both the SL30 and SL26 models.
There’s a load of complex and frankly awesome engineering to discuss when talking about the construction of these wheels, but the most obvious point is the fully in-molded carbon fiber spokes, rim and hub “flanges”. Making these in one piece means the best strength and stiffness to weight ratio, delivering the lightest wheel they could. The carbon fiber spokes have continuous fibers from one side of the rim to the other and are woven together when they cross to further bolster the strength. The construction ultimately allowed Syncros to minimize the inertia in the wheel, meaning it requires less energy to accelerate up to speed – important when giving every watt you can at the highest level. There are machined aluminum hub shells that are bonded into the carbon flanges after they are made, using a patented “Prestraining” process that pushes the flanges apart to effectively tension the spokes and create the optimally strong structure when it all works together. Within these hub shells, Syncros decided to play it safe and license DT Swiss internals to go inside and provide the reliable rolling and engagement characteristics they’re renowned for. In the SL26 you’ll find DT Swiss 180 internals, whereas the SL30 wheels get the more durable 240 internals.
They’re backed with a 2-year warranty and 3 year crash replacement program, though it’s unlikely they’ll honor this if you decided to take them out hucking in the bikepark. At $4,499, the pricing backs up the assumed performance gains, reserving these for the riders who demand nothing but the best for their XC rocket ships.
In addition to their flagship Silverton SL wheels, Syncros also sports some “regular” steel-spoked Silverton wheels with a lower price point, as well as more aggressive trail/all mountain wheels in both carbon and alloy with their Revelstoke series.
The close involvement with parent company Scott Sports means you’ll see a load of Syncros goodies on the Scott bike range. For 2022 Syncros has developed a heavily integrated cockpit system, complete with cleanly routed internal cables that can only be seen on the underside of the handlebars. These work with a special headset that allows cables to pass through the stem and around the steerer tube within the headtube, keeping everything shielded from damage and looking very clean. The most obvious component of this system is the $400 integrated bar-stem Fraser iC cockpit, which is available in a plethora of options to give the correct fit on an XC machine. This integrated cockpit DNA is maintained throughout the Syncros cockpit range, meaning riders who favor separate bars and stems can retain the clean cable routing into the headtube, and aggressive trail and enduro riders can run the system on compatible bikes with their Hixon all mountain integrated cockpit. The bars feature threaded inserts on the underside, designed to interface with the Syncros computer and accessory mounts to further boost the integrated aspect.
Syncros has a range of road and mountain bike saddles that continue to develop into 2022, tailored to the flexibility of the rider and with various cut out and channel options to fit their unique body geometry. At the highest end is the Tofino SL saddle, which uses an impressive one-piece rail and base combination that ensures that fiber continuity is retained and leads to the total saddle tipping the scales at just 140g including the EVA foam padding that sits on top. As with the integrated cockpits, the Tofino SL saddle is equipped with threaded inserts to integrate a fender or accessory mount for a rear light with the saddle.
Syncros offers a range of accessories and tools that promote integration and convenience to keep you rolling on the trail without spoiling the clean looks of your machine. They presented their new IS Cache Cage 2.0HV bottle cage, which comes complete with a high-volume tire pump and neatly hidden Cache 8-function multi tool and chain tool that sit below the bottle. This cage and accessories should be enough to keep any mid-ride mishaps from spoiling the day, with a retail price that sounds quite reasonable at $64.99 all-in.
There’s a whole load more on offer from Syncros, from track pumps and workshop quality tools through to grips and tubeless kits, so it’s probably best to hit the Syncros website to have a browse yourself.
THE WOLF’S FIRST IMPRESSION
I got on board a Scott Spark set up with a pair of Silverton SL30 wheels, a Fraser iC cockpit with their XC lock on grips, and their Tofino SL saddle for a single lap of the trails around Massa Marittima. Wearing baggies and knee pads I stuck out like a sore thumb, and to make it all the sketchier the brakes were set up the wrong way, so I can’t say I absolutely crushed it on the Spark neither up or down the hill, but I clearly rode too quickly for any photographers to snap a shot of me on board. Probably best you don’t see the mismatch of bike and rider and look of fear on my face, anyway.
Set up with the 36T ratchet in the 240 hub internals that Syncros use, the engagement in the Silverton SL 30 wheels had that typical DT Swiss lag that means you hit the engagement with a bit of momentum in the drivetrain. However, contrary to the typical heavy, slow rolling rubber and burly rims I would usually have to accelerate, the Silverton SL’s produced an addictive amount of forward motion for the same resistance through the pedals. I’m certainly not best placed to compare these to a competitor’s XC wheels, but acceleration was definitely not lacking. The Saddle was more comfortable than I expected too, with a long winding climb up the hill producing no pain or pressure spots.
On the way down, the take-away notions were very interesting to say the least. With everything pointing towards unrelenting stiffness, and tire pressures on the flimsy xc-spec casings climbing above the 30psi mark for the first time on my mountain bike in a long time, I was expecting a thoroughly uncomfortable time. However, much to my surprise, the Silverton SL wheels were far from unrideable. Hitting the corners hard (ish…it was an unfamiliar bike with the brakes the wrong way round after all), the stiffness levels for my 95kg mass didn’t seem out of the ordinary. Though that may have been partly down to the “give” of the lightweight spec elsewhere on the bike. Though Syncros certainly doesn’t recommend the Silverton SL wheels for anything above an XC race machine, they feel reassuringly sturdy to the point that I’d be tempted to run them on a trail bike. That said, you’d be risking a whole lot of cash by running the irreparable carbon fiber stunners on a bike that sees more aggressive descending, so it’s probably best to listen to the experts.
The XC grips were a little on the slick side for my sweaty palms in the Italian heat (at 60F, it was a shock to the system coming out of the 35F conditions in Scotland), but they were fresh out the box so things may improve after a bed in period. This combined with the heavily forward-pitched, XC race position, narrow bars and wrong-way brakes meant my hands did feel a bit of fatigue after the first couple minutes descending, but there was so much going on that it’s hard to pin down the root cause. The integrated cockpit, although sporting an extremely alien position for me, felt like a reasonable geometry and didn’t create any rattles or show undue flex.
I’d suggest if you’re in the XC space then I’m not the person you should listen to for product advice, but as an assessment of the offerings presented by Syncros at the BCA event, I’d suggest their products to be of suitably high quality with some well thought out design features and neatly executed integration. I’m looking forward to getting some trail time on their more aggressive ride options and their accessories in the near future.