Behind the Scenes of the Crankbrothers Synthesis Wheelset on the Downtime Podcast

Oct 12, 2018
by Downtime Podcast  
Crankbrothers Photo

Words: Chris Hall // Photo: Crankbrothers/Manfred Stromberg

Jason Schiers, and Mello Bouwmeester, the guys behind the development of Crankbrothers new Synthesis wheelset, join me for an in-depth chat.

Jason (founder of ENVE) and Mello (founder of Bouwmeester Composites) are heavyweights of the mountain bike industry, and in their first collaborative effort have released the Crankbrothers Synthesis wheelset, mountain biking’s first front and rear tuned carbon wheelset.

You'll probably have seen the product and the reviews over the past week or so, but in this episode of the podcast we go deeper inside SR56, the research and development arm of the Selle Royal group that Crankbrothers belongs to. Join me in getting to know the characters involved, how they met, and what it really takes to develop a product as complex as this.

You can also listen by searching for ‘Downtime Podcast’ on iTunes, Spotify, or Google Podcasts, by asking Alexa, or over on our website and you can follow us on Instagram @downtimepodcast

MENTIONS: @downtimepodcast


  • 8 1
 Great interview. I think passionate experts are a good thing. Also, I think the interview was pretty open and honest and even if you don’t want to buy the crank brothers wheels the conversation opens up the idea of a compliant front, stiff rear being made using alloy rims and different spoke tensions, crosses etc and the history behind that.
  • 7 0
 Thanks for sharing this Pinkbike. I hope everyone enjoys a bit of weekend listening!
  • 18 15
 I don't feel like I got schooled on anything here. Just random faff about the history behind a few names that apparently should matter. Don't feel like I want an expensive wheelset, based on the reasoning that higher quality carbon has better failure mode or whatever vs the cheaper stuff. Just sounds like a couple guys who have been released from their shed, having spent years babysitting a pet project. Gonna go find someone who will answer that mixed wheel size question though. Sounds like it'll have a bigger impact on my riding for the money than pricey wheels. P.S. saying that we're just playing on toys is an attitude that hurts cycling advocacy. I'd like to ride on the road in the US, as a serious form of transportation, but I blame this attitude. I take off-road routes whenever I can fit them in.
  • 11 1
 I actually thought it was a pretty insightful look into their design process, nice to hear the reasoning behind their design spec.
  • 1 2
 @Tom-Ryde: did you not hear that same stuff about their design before? This isn't exactly first-of-its-kind innovation.
  • 5 2
 I haven't had a chance to listen to this podcast, but I'll add my 2 bits of personal experience in meeting Jason, Mello, and the rest of the Crank Brothers team. $2400usd is large coin by any one's measure to drop on a set of wheels for our 'toys', no doubt about it. But I hope this podcast will convey the inner workings of Crank Brothers today to help dispell the image of Crank Brothers from half a decade ago producing questionable product. From top to bottom I get the impression they are well aligned to target the high performance market with all of their products, and they are not afraid or shy about their past when I challenged several members of their team about that very topic. A small group of grounded, down to earth, passionate guys on the team beyond Jason and Mello.
  • 4 6
 The proof is what happens to customers on the trail not their offices. These guys haven't supported the customers from before they took over and that IS part of what you buy with a company. No support for previous purchases, no support for the new guys.

A friend calls up the other day. My cleat is jammed in my pedal. Crank Bros? Yup. No kidding. I didnt have to ask but I never pass up an opportunity to point out the shit this company has inflicts on consumers. I look forward to the next CB liquidation.
  • 3 0
 @davemud: fair enough point. If they continue down the path you claim they are, they will fail, just like any other company. Time will tell
Re your story: I suspect there is more to your story than what you are sharing though. By most accounts Crank Brothers have been pretty good about dealing with previous product warranty issues. And their recent products have had a good track record
  • 1 0
 @ronufoh: suspect whatever you want. Be their tester if you want. Simple and reliable, set it and forget it. As a mech I should be glad this stuff falls apart at the rate it does because its extra income, Dealing with the unhappy customers doesn't make it worth it.

As for this tuned wheel set believe what you want I doubt you'd notice any of it in a properly designed double blind test. I doubt you could pick this wheel set out from any other in its class in that test. These guys have to do and say something though. Time will tell if its hype, talking points or actually beneficial on the trail. I wont be one of the guys paying to be one their testers though.
  • 2 0
 i really like the podcasts and have followed up on a couple including coaching with Olly Morris and support with Bens Strength Factory. Both ace.... ive had carbon wheels and found the feedback too harsh for me. I like how they have taken time to get rider feedback on the wheels and made them more compliant on performance. Lifetime warranty is good. id love to try before digging very deep to buy some.
  • 2 0
 Jason/ Mello, would the Enduro Synthesis wheels maintain their engineered compliance if they were built with the newish Poly Berd spokes? Any plans to experiment with this option?

  • 4 0
 Didn't Jason Schiers, Dave Weagle and Hap Seliga just launch a new company last month?
  • 1 0
 @MisterChow: That's exciting news
  • 3 0
 Well, this bit of gossip helps put the other gossip in perspective. Schiers eyes what he sees as experienced talent in the industry and tries to monetize it.
  • 2 0
 Learned that was their debut. They said they had things brewing 5 years ago. Schiers FB page says pres of Trust Performance Oct 2014, and then GM of SR76 in Feb '15. Their first product almost ready to unveil apparently, and it's apparently supposed to be "different" to promote positive change.
  • 1 0
 yep. new things that go boing boing!
  • 3 0
 I own a pair of BC Tammar rims since two years now, absolute bulletproof engineering with the flexi-carbon technology. Thanks Mello, Oz, Oz!!!
  • 5 1
 The wheels are turning slowly in the comments section thus far.
  • 2 4
 Wheel nice to hear from you though @watchtower
  • 1 6
flag hvmatt (Oct 13, 2018 at 2:02) (Below Threshold)
 @downtimepodcast: The punmiesters have spoken.
  • 1 0
 @hvmatt: spoke too soon.
  • 2 0
 they look like motocross rims. wonder if they'll enter that market eventually.
  • 1 0
 Another great episode, though it doesn't make me more inclined to invest in a set of the wheels.
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