EMTB-Specific Wheels From Crankbrothers

A high-end carbon upgrade for electric mountain bikes.

EMTB-Specific Wheels From Crankbrothers
Crankbrothers’ Synthesis Ebike wheels will be available in late September for $1,699.Crankbrothers

Southern California component and accessory brand Crankbrothers introduced its Synthesis carbon mountain bike wheelsets last October. The wheels are “tuned” for front and rear use, with different carbon layups, spoke counts, and spoke selection—among other considerations—to make for a stiff rear wheel that would shoot out of corners and a more compliant front wheel to tone down trail chatter and big hits and improve overall control.

Now Crankbrothers is applying the concept to its first carbon wheelset designed specifically for electric mountain bikes—to withstand the surges of power and greater load exacted by eMTB drive systems and their riders. The company is unveiling the new Synthesis E-bike wheels today, September 4, at the Eurobike trade show in Friedrichshafen, Germany.

“Part of the opportunity of this is to demonstrate to riders that there’s an upgrade option for eMTB wheels. On traditional bikes, wheels are one of the first things you upgrade, and there aren’t a lot of high-end carbon options out there for eMTBs, so it’s giving that discerning eMTB rider the same level of upgrade option,” said Megan Tompkins, Crankbrothers’ global marketing director.

Arriving at distributors and bike shops at the end of September, the wheelsets will come in 29er, 27.5-inch, and 27.5-plus varieties—as well as a mixed 27.5-plus rear/29er front set to address that growing trend in the overall mountain bike market. Rims will also be available separately for custom wheel builds.

The 29er and 27.5-inch wheels have an internal rim width of 31.5 millimeters both front and rear, while the 27.5-plus rims measure 35.5 millimeters. This breaks from the standard 2-mil-wider front rims on the Synthesis cross-country and enduro MTB wheels introduced last year. (Synthesis DH wheels, on the other hand, have the same 31.5-millimeter internal width front and rear.)

“Like DH, most ebike riders are using same front and rear tire sizes, whereas with enduro we were seeing many riders using 2.5 front and 2.4 rear. Many ebikes are using plus tires as well. We felt the same front and rear on this discipline made sense for the specific usage,” said Andy Hilliard, product line director for Crankbrothers.

The rims’ carbon layup is similar to that of the Synthesis DH wheels, and overall wheelset weights range from 2,034 grams (27.5-inch) to 2,142 grams (29er version).

Spoke counts are 28 front/32 rear, and the wheels are laced with ebike-specific Sapim E-Lite (front) and Sapim Strong (rear) spokes to help achieve their mix of compliance and stiffness.

Like all the wheels in the Synthesis line, the eMTB wheels will be available in Boost hub spacing only (148-millimeter rear, 110-millimeter front). Owners of ebikes predating the Boost boom will have to look elsewhere.

The rear hub driver is made from steel rather than aluminum and is equipped with an extra bearing to withstand higher ebike loads. The wheels come in only one hub option—Crankbrothers’ house-branded Synthesis Standard—and are not available with the higher-end Industry Nine Hydra hubs currently offered on the other Synthesis MTB wheels. The wheels are also tubeless-ready out of the box, with tape and valves installed.

MSRP is $1,699 for all the Synthesis Ebike wheelsets.

Cycle Volta hopes to get a test set of the new Synthesis Ebike wheels in soon, and we look forward to putting them through their paces on our local eMTB-legal trails. Be sure to come back for our review.