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  1. #1
    RoadBikeReview Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2014

    Question Cannondale Synapse Hi-Mod Carbon conversion to a gravel grinder

    I have a stock 2014 Synapse which I'm looking to make into a gravel bike. Besides the obvious wider tires with a different tread pattern. Is there anything else should I consider modifying? Thanks

  2. #2
    RoadBikeReview Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2014
    Not knowing what wheels, tires, and components your bike came came with, and what kind of tire clearance you have, is pretty hard to say.

    Depending on the type of gravel/off road surfaces you plan to ride, you really don't need much tread (unless mud is a primary feature of your gravel roads).

    What to do want is as much tire volume as you can squeeze into the frame. On rough surfaces tire volume is everything.

    I've become a big fan of the Compass line of tubeless gravel tires. I run the 38mm Barlow Pass on my Norco Search and I love them.

    I've also used Clement X'Plor USH Tubeless with good success. There is a non tubeless version that is 35mm if it will fit in your frame.

    Continental 4 seasons are available in 28mm and 32mm and make a good all around tire as well.

    If your bike has 2014 era rim brakes (105/Ultegra/Dura-Ace), you are probably going to be limited to 28mm tires, which is going to limit your tire options pretty significantly.

  3. #3
    RoadBikeReview Member
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Potentially the gearing. Going up, say, 20% on gravel that's not hard packed is nothing like 20% on asphalt.
    Without knowing what the gravel roads are like that you plan to ride who knows though. There are a lot of gravel roads where a road set up is fine as is.
    Others, like the one's that say Dead End but that only applies to cars or "Road No Longer Maintained pass at own risk" could use 33mm tires at least and that probably is no dice for your frame and brakes.

    Just go ride the roads and decided for yourself what you need to change.

    Also, not sure what I'm talking about here but I don't think a lightweight hi-mod carbon frame is a good candidate for a gravel bike. Plenty strong or road riding but getting dinged with flying rocks is a different story for thin walled carbon.

  4. #4
    RoadBikeReview Member
    Reputation: Lombard's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2014
    I have a 2014 Synapse Carbon as well. I can tell you that the max tire width you will be able to fit in between your chain stays will be 28mm. If you go with rims wider than around 17-18mm internal, 28mm tires will be too wide. It's the frame clearance that will be the show stopper, not the brake clearance.

    Right now, I am running 28mm wide Maxxis Re-Fuse tires with 18mm internal width DT460 rims and even that is a close shave of 3mm on each side. I can ride on hard pack roads with care at no greater than 15mph, however, it's a rough ride and not advised for more than a mile or so at a time as it will beat you up. On looser gravel, I will be walking. On a hill pitch greater than around 15%, rear tire will spin and I will be off the bike.

    I don't recommend this for any gravel bike riding of longer distances. For an occasional mile or so of hard pack, it will be OK.
    "With bicycles in particular, you need to separate between what's merely true and what's important."-- DCGriz, RBR.

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