Fall is my favourite time of year to ride. It’s nice and cool as the leaves turn and then disappear, improving sightlines in the valley’s fast, hard-packed singletrack trails. Having the pleasure of testing a totally new to North America, 2011 Italian-made Sintesi 609 Race Disc XC bike doesn’t hurt either.
I’ve ridden some nice bikes in my time, and this Sintesi 609 ranks right up there. It’s a beautifully designed full-carbon, full-suspension bike – maybe the nicest looking bike I’ve ever seen with my own eyes, with aesthetically pleasing lines, hidden cable routing and a racy, but not over-the-top paint job.
Enough about how much I like the way this bike looks, and let’s get into how this 2011 Euro offering performs. I took it out 4 times over the last two weeks, all for extended rides. It was good being able to stretch the testing out because I had the opportunity to get used to the bike and ride it in some varied terrain and conditions. Sintesi spared little expense, offering full XX components, and when I say this is a full-carbon bike, I really mean it, including the seat post, stem, and even the hubs. I weighed the bike (19” frame), with pedals (Shimano XT) and it came in at just over 22 lbs. Needless to say, I found it extremely agile, light as hell and yes, very, very fast!
Here’s the breakdown:
Frame: Carbon monocoque front and rear triangle, with a 4 point linkage rear-suspension system design, which I liked once I got it dialed in. I found it to have a super responsive, and racy feel.
The angle of the seat tube is set back a bit more than I’m used to, at 73 degrees, which at first threw off my climbing a bit. But, after a couple hours I got used to it and found that it climbed well.
Fork: Rock Shock SID XX. What can I say – nice! Again, providing a very ‘racy’ feel. By this I mean, it absorbs the big bumps well enough, but there is nothing soft about it over the chatter. I found you needed to stay light on the bars with this fork, which isn’t a bad thing, as long as you’re not tired and sagging on the bike like I tend to do toward the end of a ride. The SID XX also comes equipped with a bar-mounted, hydraulic shock lock-out.
Rear Shock: Rock Shock Ario RLR, which lends further to the overall stiff and responsive feel of this bike. It could have offered a little more softness in the bumps for my taste, but the trade-off is next to NO power suck when you’re pedaling hard. I didn’t really sense any bob at all on this bike. And, even if there might be, Sintesi hooked this bike up with a bar-mounted, cable-driven shock lock-out. Nice touch!
Drivetrain: This gets top marks, with full Sram XX. As far as I’m concerned the performance here was par for the course for Sram, shifting with nothing more than a clean, crisp ‘chink’ every time. I really like Sram for this.
I’ll add here that one other nice bit of attention to detail is the ‘’ bar mounting for brake levers & shifters. This cleans the bar up nicely, even including the fork shock lock-out. The rear shock lock-out is clamped to the bar on its own.
Gearing on this bike is a 2X10 set-up with a 42/28 up front. Though I liked the simplicity of having only 2 rings up front, I will reluctantly admit, I’m not really a strong enough rider to make this my full time set-up – I just find myself wishing for more gears on the climbs. Well, that, or more powerful legs.
I also have to mention the X-Glide rear cassette because it is essentially silent, offering an almost stealth-like mode when you’re just coasting along. I thought this was pretty cool. I had to think of Ken when I noticed this, because the sound of some cassettes drive him to drink.
Brakes: Again, Sram XX, and not surprisingly there is nothing to complain about at all, offering lots of grab and predictable modulation. I had tons of confidence with them.
Wheels: Fulcrum Red Metal, (tubeless ready) are light and strong. If I were to highlight anything about them it would be the hubs. The Fulcrum oversized axel carbon hubs are not only hot, but offer an incredibly low level of roll resistance. I had the bike upside-down, and gave the rear wheel a spin with my hand and watched it for a bit. It just rolled and rolled and rolled… Pretty sure my Mavic Cross Max wheels don’t roll that well.
Seat Post: Yes, this might be an odd thing to list on its own, but I have good reason. The bike is fitted out with a Ritchey carbon bar, stem and seat post, which is cool, BUT the seat clamp that comes with the seat post is a total dud. Maybe it was just this one bike, but I literally had to tighten it once before each ride, and then again mid-ride. That part needs to be swapped out.
Tires: Geox Metzcal TNT, I found to be an okay tire on anything dry and hard-packed. That said, being that they are only, 26X1.9, the tight tread pattern packs up quickly if it’s damp out, giving little traction. But this is hardly a knock against the bike as a whole as I was once told, that the tires that come with most bikes are usually really good – for protecting the wheels during shipping… Toss a set of 2.0 Racing Ralphs, or Kenda Karmas on this bike, and you’ll be set.
Like I said, this is probably the nicest looking bike I’ve ever ridden. It is also, for sure, the highest-end bike I’ve ever ridden. As a package, there is no denying it’s an incredible XC racer. It’s light for a full-suspension XC model and simply feels really fast, instilling lots of confidence and making it exciting to ride. Its stiff feel provides impressive power transfer, and though I have to admit that I don’t quite have the legs and lungs to really make this bike fly, retailing at a little over $9,000 CDN, it’s a top-end bike, ready rock for the serious racer looking for their next upgrade.
Sintesi is brand new to North America for 2011, so if you’re interested in getting a closer look at one or taking one for a rip, contact Sri Importing for information on dealers near you.