Silverback is a dynamic, fast-growing brand that got a good jump ahead of most other bike brands into the 650b (27.5-inch) wheel category. We got to test Silverback’s top-of-the-range carbon hardtail, the Syncra 1.
The Syncra 1 is quite possibly the most beautiful hardtail mountain bike we’ve ever seen. It’s sleek and strong and black. The paintwork is Midnight Black with Quatro Red accents. But the black isn’t just black, it’s a blend of gloss black and matt black giving it multiple textures, which really enhance the classiness of the finish. It’s a full carbon fibre frame. The curved line of the top tube continues into the seatstays, which are super slender (from the side), but wide from the top, designed to offer lateral stiffness and vertical compliance, while the oversized headtube, downtube and bottom bracket, bring a sturdiness to the areas that require it. We found it a little unusual that the fork is a Rock Shox Revelation RL. This model is from the Rock Shox trail range, not the XC range. Raoul de Villiers, Head of Innovations at Silverback says that the Syncra 1 was actually designed for a longer fork to make it more versatile as both a XC/Marathon race bike and a fun trail tamer. The 69.5-degree headtube angle and long toptube (603mm on Medium frame) confirm this. The wheelset is Stan’s Crest with Maxxis Crossmark 2.1 tyres front and rear. The brakes are Shimano XT hydraulic disc with a 180mm front disc and 160mm rear disc. The gearing comprises Shimano XTR levers and rear derailleur with an XT front derailleur. There’s an XTR double crankset and bottom bracket too. The seatpost and stem are Truvativ Style alloy with a FSA carbon bar and headset and a Silverback saddle. It’s an impressive parts spec and totals a weight of just on 11kg (with pedals). It’s quite rare to see XTR on a R30 000 bike.
Thanks to the slack head angle, descents never felt too formidable, even the steep, rocky downs at Thaba Trails, where we raced this bike in a provincial series XC race. You always felt like you had control, whether at low or high speed. This kind of confidence on a lightweight racing hardtail is important. Despite being set to offer 100mm of travel (it’s made to go up to 130mm), the Revelation RL fork was never found to be lacking, even without a through-axle, the front of the bike always felt firm, while the PushLoc remote lockout worked very well. On climbs, the Syncra was snappy when standing and steady when seated. It’s not an aggressively angled headtube, but it never felt too relaxed, even on really steep, technical climbs. Our test rig had tubes, so we couldn’t run the tyre pressures too soft. We felt it on longer rides. We reckon a wider tubeless tyre would go some way to adding a touch of comfort. Singletrack, especially twisty singletrack, is where the 650b wheel size really shows its benefits. The Syncra 1 accelerated quickly out of tight turns through dips and over jumps, allowing us to hold our speed really well in the tight stuff. The Shimano XTR gears and XT brakes were reliably on point. Any bike that comes with this spec is already at an advantage in our opinion.
Let’s face it; carbon hardtails aren’t designed for all-day comfort. They’re all about performance. The Syncra 1 though impressed us with its versatility in being able to whizz through a XC race course and deliver a fun longer trail riding experience – a work-hard, play-hard ethic if you like. The quality and geometry of the frame, the high-level, high-quality parts spec and the high-performance yet playful personality, make the Syncra 1 one of the best all-round hardtails we’ve ridden in a long time.
*Silverback Syncra 1
SIZES: S; M (tested); L
TOP TUBE LENGTH: 603mm
SEAT TUBE LENGTH: 455mm
HEAD TUBE ANGLE: 69.5 degrees
SEAT TUBE ANGLE: 73.5 degrees
CHAINSTAY LENGTH: 428mm
PRICE: R30 000
FRAME: Carbon fibre
COLOURS: Gloss/matt black with red/white graphics
WEIGHT: 11.02kg with pedals
FORK: Rock Shox Revelation RL with 100mm travel and PushLoc remote lockout
SHIFTERS: Shimano XTR 10-speed
FRONT DERAILLER: Shimano XT
REAR DERAILLER: Shimano XTR Shadow plus
CRANKSET: Shimano XTR 2×10 40/28
BRAKESET: Shimano XT hydraulic disc with 180mm (front) 160mm (rear) rotors
WHEELS: Stan’s Crest 650b
TYRES: Maxxis Crossmark 2.1 front and rear
OTHERS: Truvativ Stylo alloy seatpost, Truvativ Stylo alloy stem, FSA SL-K carbon handlebars, FSA Carbon headset, Silverback saddle.
CONTACT: www.silverbacklab.com; 021 386 7777
TREAD Magazine is sold throughout South Africa and can be found in: Spar, CNA, Exclusive Books, Discerning bike shops and on Zinio
*Originally published in TREAD Issue 24, 2013 – All rights reserved