Have you ever found yourself having to choose between a stable (but heavy) All Mountain / Enduro bike and a lightweight (but sketchy) XC / Trailbike with old school geometry? If, like us, you live in areas with technical trails that require a lot of pedaling, you probably have been faced with this dilemma.
Bikes with modern, progressive geometry are now widely available on the market, however basically all of them are long travel Trail / Enduro bikes - often overkill for smooth, flowing trails. The very upright riding position these bikes put you is not very inspiring for fast riding on flats or climbs. On the other hand, there is a bunch of very fast XC bikes out there too, but you need amazing skills to ride them comfortably on technical downhill sections. Unless we missed something – there is really nothing on the market that is designed to specifically cater for riders who want both stability and light weight - and this is where the Synonym steps in.
HOW IT ALL STARTED
We spent a whole season experimenting with combining new-school geometry with an aggressive, low riding position on a short travel, lightweight platform. Everyone in our team was expecting that such radical geometry would result in a bike that is much more stable on the downhill sections than a traditional XC bike. This was true, but the big surprise for us was that these bikes also climbed better than any XC bike we have tested and were also super-fast on the flats. We realized that this is mainly due to the fact that the rider ends up sitting more in front of the rear wheel and the weight distribution is better when the trail points uphill. It is also possible to lower the cockpit and place the body in a more aggressive, aero position without the bike feeling sketchy on the downhills.
So, we knew we had a bike that was a great climber, but we were quite shocked to see that the Synonym prototypes were actually just as fast as our Enduro bikes on technical downhill trails! We realized that unless you are smashing huge roots and rock gardens, the limiting factor on most trails is not the suspension travel, but the geometry of the bike and the way it handles. This theory is backed up by lap times and measured segments.
When we started playing around with the prototypes, we ended up with values that were basically off the charts. A 475mm reach in M size is around 30-40mm more than the average number you will find in bikes classified as XC, or in fact in any bikes that fall into the “short travel category” (100-120mm travel). Such long reach was necessary to position the rider in a perfect stance for aggressive pedaling, whilst retaining a very steep seat tube angle. Of course, the combination of such long reach and a slack head angle resulted in a massive wheelbase – on average around 60mm longer than most XC bikes! At first, we were a little worried about the potential downsides of such a long bike– would itbe hard to navigate through tight switchbacks? Well, the first tests actually proved quite the opposite. Our test riders were able to ascend tight hairpin singletracks that were previously inaccessible to them!
Once we were confident that this concept was proven, we took to the drawing board and started to work out the details of the frame.
Synonym lines drawn by George Dabrowski designer of award winning Rondo bikes and co-funder of Antidote.
“It’s hard to write something sensible, my hands are still shaking. I just got back from my local trails… I KOM’ed every segment on my first ride on the Synonym. Honestly, what the hell just happened?!” Michal, Polish National XC Champion
The beautiful lines of the Synonym have been created by George Dabrowski, the same guy who created the award-winning Rondo bikes. Flex stays eliminate the need for an additional pivot, saving weight and adding lateral stiffness. We have used an ultralight combination of carbon fiber in the Synonym RC1 to achieve competitive weight (although weight is really not the factor that defines this bike!). On the other hand, the Synonym TR frames are built with a slightly different layering and are designed to withstand any proper trail bike beating.
The bikes are available in two configurations - 100mm front & rear, or 120mm front & rear travel. Both versions share the same custom tuned rear shock that we developed with Fox. It has a high threshold that results in very little pedal bob, even in the “open” position. However, we are still mounting a remote lock-out on the handlebars. We believe this feature to be part of the DNA of this concept even though we have heard quite a lot of feedback from riders that this is an unnecessary feature. But please just ask any XC Pro… if you REALLY want to go fast, you just have to have this option!
The RC line is designed for all-out XC racing and marathons. It comes with a flat bar, lightweight cross-country tires and 100mm of travel front and rear. Even though this may not look like a lot on paper, we persuade you to check out yourself how far you can actually push this bike on downhill trails. The radical geometry, never seen in this bike genre before, makes up for any “shortness” of travel. In fact, many guys in our team use the RC for everyday trail-blasting. Of course, the core purpose of this bikes is to destroy modern XC courses!
The Synonym TR comes with a riser bar, beefy tires and 120mm travel. The radical geometry paired with a stiff Fox 34 fork will keep you stable on the toughest trails. In general, the TR feels a little bit more like “normal” modern trail bike but there is a twist - it's superlight and responsive, very, very fast on the flats and climbs! One of the things we love about the Synonym TR is that we always end up hitting the technical sections of our favorite trails at much higher speeds than on fully-grown trail / Enduro bikes. Less travel, but more fun!
Geometry: Synonym RC vs Synonym TR
What’s in the package?
Both RC and TR come in two specification options and price points. The top tier TR1 and RC1 are equipped with Fox Factory suspension and X01 Eagle drivetrain from SRAM (including carbon cranksets). The RC1 has also got a lightweight 100mm carbon dropper post from Kind Shock, whereas the TR1 uses Fox Transfer. Both roll on our own lightweightEnigmaalloy wheelsetswith wide, tubeless ready rims (weighingjust1530g).They are incredibly tough, we have yet to destroy a rim.The “level two” versions use Fox Performance suspension, SRAM GX Eagle drivetrain, X-Fusion Manic dropper posts and wheels laced on WTB ST Light i25 rims and NS straight pull hubs.
Check the Synonym TR and Synonym RC bike specifications HERE
Finally check out a few words from a young polish racer - Michał Topór, who will be riding the Synonym RC1 in 2020.