Syntace’s radical MX wheels promise downhill rim style tyre-fattening at a trail weight, but what’s the reality? The 35s come from a full range of new Syntace wheels, which also includes 25, 30 and 40mm external widths.
While wider rims aren’t a new idea, they’ve generally been heavy-duty freeride/downhill rims that feel super sluggish if you’re pedalling rather than plummeting. But at 500g each, Syntace’s custom 7075 hoops are as light as most 25mm trail rims, and the full wheelset is only 1,611g (746g front, 865g rear).
Overall rotating weight savings are potentially much higher though, because the much wider 28mm internal diameter of the Syntace’s creates a broader footing, squarer profile than skinny rims do.
As a result, lightweight high-volume tyres feel much more stable and cope with side loads far better when you’re pushing hard on rough rocky trail centre berms. The more we pushed them, the more our confidence grew, with definite similarities to the smoother rollover, increased grip feel of larger diameter 650b wheels.
The fatter shape seems more pinch flat resistant so far too, and we’ve happily had them down below 20psi for snow, ice and mud conditions. It’s compatible with most tubeless conversion tape setups too.
If you really want to shave weight then it’ll also stretch a 2.1 or 2.2in trail tyre to the footprint of about a 2.4in with the fast 10-degree freehub engagement giving a really responsive feel that technical climb fiends will love.
Alternatively, it lets you run a dual-ply downhill tyre comically soft for ultimate ground adhesion. More grip means more drag though and they’re noticeably slower on smooth surfaces especially if you’re using a sticky tyre. It’s not as obvious off-road though, and you can always run a faster tyre to compensate without compromising grip too much.
Unlike many fancy wheelsets, the MXs use a relatively conventional build with 28 or 32 ultra strong yet light Sapim CX-Ray bladed spokes in a three-cross pattern. This makes them accurate, damage resistant and easy to find spares for.
Cost is high and they won’t fit in restricted tyre clearance frames, but there’s a free warranty replacement in the first three years and then 50 percent replacement cost for the next seven years and all axle/hub specs (including XX1) and rim widths cost the same too.
This article was originally published in Mountain Biking UK magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.