Syncros launched a production carbon wheelset today that are molded almost entirely in one piece. It's called the Silverton SL and the pair reportedly weighs only 1250 grams. The concept of molding carbon spokes to a hub and rim was pioneered by Lighweight, a German boutique wheelmaker that closely guarded its constructed methods. Syncros, however, wanted to bring a similar wheel design to full production, which was no small task.
Head engineer Benoit Grelier explained that Syncros threw out their preconceptions about carbon wheels. Beginning with computer models, the design team set a goal to exceed the stiffness and strength of the top three carbon wheel makers' XC/trail hoops. In the end, Syncros decided that a hybrid between the classic five-spoke molded wheel and the classic multi-spoke build was the most efficient way to use carbon.
They settled on a 26-millimeter inner-width rim (31mm outer width) with a 35 millimeter deep profile. The hub flanges are molded to ovalized carbon spokes that are bonded to the outer sides of the rim. To keep the carbon filaments as straight as possible, the left-side "spokes" cross to the right side of the
rim, and vice-versa, which reportedly boosts lateral strength. A similar X-cross lacing pattern was used in spoked racing car wheels, where lateral stiffness is of paramount importance.
After molding, the hub flanges and spokes are pulled outwards and the carbon hub is inserted between the flanges, which tensions the spokes. The hub and wheel assembly are bonded in a final step and after the bearings, axles and DT Swiss freehub are installed, the wheels are true and need no further tension adjustments for the rest of their lives.
So far, Syncros only plans to make the Silverton SL Wheels for XC racing, but, when pressed, they said that there is no reason that the system could not be adapted for trail, enduro, or even downhill use. The issue was not whether it was possible or practical, it was the lead time required to vet the system's key components to work together in a more hostile environment.
So, how much will a pair of one-piece carbon racing wheels cost? Syncros says $3500 for the pair. Silverton SL wheels will start shipping to dealers this fall, and Scott plans on spec'ing them on its upper-end Spark and Scale models for 2019. Do you need a pair? Well, that's up to you and your wallet. Scott says that the boost in control and steering precision was what convinced them to make the Herculean effort to produce Silvertons in their Taiwan factory. It's a safe bet we'll be riding them soon, so keep an eye out for the full review.