Dynamic’s “Synergy” Road Bike — first look!

We’re really pleased to be able to unveil Dynamic Bicycle‘s newest performance-oriented machine, the Synergy road bike. The official release of the bike is scheduled for the Seattle Bike Expo in March, but the good people at Dynamic allowed the staff of Bikecommuters.com to be the very first testers outside of their own company. How do you like them apples?

Dynamic is known primarily for its shaft-drive bicycles (the Synergy is a bit of a departure for them), and they’re not afraid of trying new drivetrain options around their company. We here at Bikecommuters.com have talked about the concept behind this particular bike before, and were blown away when Dynamic told us they were going to go ahead with this machine.

Please bear in mind as we write about and show photos of this new bike that the version shown here is a pre-production model — a prototype, if you will. The production version will have a couple of minor differences in parts spec, paint scheme and frame characteristics, and we’ll show you a photo of that at the end of this first look.

synergy

Billed by Dynamic as “the world’s first production internally-geared road bike”, this bike is aimed at the performance enthusiast who likes to think outside the box. With a drivetrain based around a Shimano Alfine 8-speed internal hub, the other item that really makes this bike stand out (and excites the hell out of me!) is the STI-style shifter co-developed by Dynamic and a Taiwanese component manufacturer.

shifter

Up until this point, the only shift controllers for the Alfine and other Shimano internally-geared hubs were trigger pods or a twist-grip unit, neither of which was appropriate for a traditional road bike without some kludgy workarounds to get those shifters onto road drop bars. Not anymore — the Dynamic’s STI shifters are AWESOME and open up a world of tinkering opportunity for cyclists. I’d venture to say that if Dynamic offered these shifter units by themselves, they’d make a mint!!!

That’s a little bit beside the point for right now, though. This Synergy road bike blends the STI-style technology and an IGH into a sleek, road-worthy package that is capable of some real performance. Parts spec on this prototype is very nice and include a couple of house-branded parts (crankset and external-bearing bottom bracket), Tektro brakes (R720 and R538), Ritchey Pro and Comp seatpost, stem and ergo handlebars, Cane Creek IS-2 headset and Alex 32 hole rims wrapped in some of my favorite road rubber: Vittoria Rubinos in 700c X 25. And, of course, the sweet Shimano Alfine hub.

The heart of the beast, as it were:

alfine

The frame is TIG-welded aluminum in the common “compact geometry” configuration with sloping top tube. There’s nothing particularly wild about the frame — merely a well-executed oversized tubeset with some gracefully flared chainstays. The pre-production frame comes with mounting points at the seatstays for a rear rack, but no matching eyelets at the track-style rear facing forkends. Patrick Perugini, president of Dynamic, assures me that the production frame WILL have those crucial eyelets to mount a rear rack. The pre-production frame’s carbon fork comes with eyelets for fender mounting, but as we saw on the OSO a few weeks ago, there’s little chance a fender will fit into those narrow spaces between fork, tires and brakes. I’m not clear as to whether the production fork will have those eyelets.

Dynamic is loaning me this bike for testing purposes for only a few days — so I’ll get some actual reviews up pretty soon. I received it on Tuesday via UPS and have already put about 35 miles on it…and so far I can say that it is comfortable yet nimble, it performs very nicely from a functional standpoint and I’m really glad to see such a machine on the market.

I’ll leave you with a photo provided by Dynamic that shows the bike as close to actual production as possible. There may still be a couple of minor tweaks, but this at least will show the production color scheme:

production

Oh, and by the way — Mercutio Stencil: great guess…you nailed this one! Thanks to the rest of you for throwing your comments into the ring.


42 Comments

  1. Raiyn January 30, 2009 2:37 am 

    Points given when due. That shifter is something a number of folks have been waiting for.

  2. Ghost Rider January 30, 2009 4:06 am 

    Yeah…I can’t believe Shimano hasn’t developed an STI shifter for their IGH components. It just doesn’t make sense…

  3. The Punisher January 30, 2009 4:11 am 

    IGH? ABC? VIP? How about spelling out the acronyms for the “less intelligent” folks to learn. ;^)

  4. Mike Myers January 30, 2009 4:56 am 

    It is difficult to believe Shimano hasn’t marketed a shifter of their own yet. Sheldon Brown was putting Nexus hubs on Bianchi San Joses years ago, using a shifter on the right bar end.

    Nice looking bike. I think Dynamic would do well to realize the market for hub geared bikes is not racers. It’s commuters. Commuters want fenders and room for fat tires. A touring or ‘cross bike frame would be a better fit. A steel framed road bike with that shifter, fenders, rack mounts, room for fat tires AND a Nexus hub? I’d buy one in a heartbeat.

  5. Ghost Rider January 30, 2009 5:38 am 

    Punisher — “IGH” stands for “internally-geared hub”. Just like on the bike YOU ride to work every day! 😉

    “STI” stands for “Shimano Total Integration” — where the brake and shift levers are combined into an easy to use “brifter”.

  6. Ghost Rider January 30, 2009 5:40 am 

    Mike, I don’t think that commuters are necessarily the market for this new bike — I think it is performance enthusiasts…not hardcore racers, per se, but I’d strongly consider using this bike in a flat-course criterium. Think of all the sneaky shifts you could pull on your rivals; there is nothing to give away your shifts because the system is entirely quiet.

  7. Iron Man January 30, 2009 7:23 am 

    I can see this thing morphing into other forms based on how good this takes off. I’d bet a lot of R&D went into this bike (particularly the shifter) and to make multiple models would be too expensive at this point. They took a gamble on the performance/recreation crowd which is, let’s face it, where the bigger profits are. But I can see this tech leeching into other bike categories if it becomes popular.

  8. ban guzzi January 30, 2009 8:01 am 

    Nice! I really, really like this! Now add in belt drive…I kid! Kind of…Now the wheels are turning…
    Nice job, hope to see one soon-ish with a (fingers crossed) reasonable price tag…About 1200? I’m TOTALLY guessing?!

  9. Ghost Rider January 30, 2009 8:39 am 

    I forgot to add in the above that the price will be somewhere around $1400 — with perhaps an introductory price to get things going…all in all, I think a very reasonable price considering what this machine comes with.

    I agree that the “trickledown” possibilities really get my motor racing — a commuter-specific variant, a tourer, etc.

  10. Clancy January 30, 2009 9:17 am 

    This will be a cool bike. The name says it all, a perfect blend of all things good. It is amazing to me that Shimano has not had the insight to develop these shifters for the 8 speed hub. Barend shifters were also something that Shimano missed.

  11. Dman January 30, 2009 9:55 am 

    Cool bike indeed. They should have went ahead and put some disc brakes on it though. Or at least put the tabs so you could add your own.

  12. db January 30, 2009 9:56 am 

    I had no idea that no one had developed brifters for an IGH. For that alone, Dynamic deserves kudos. But on top of that, it’s a very nice, clean-looking bike.

  13. Michael January 30, 2009 10:19 am 

    I thought for sure you were going to tell us it made use of the belt drive system. A little disappointed to see the chain. But the bike itself looks nice and the IGH really gets my wheels turing too.

  14. Ghost Rider January 30, 2009 10:42 am 

    Michael — don’t rule out a belt in a future iteration. I think we’ll see more of that from many bike manufacturers once the kinks are eliminated and the concept gets more market acceptance.

    For the purposes of Dynamic, they went with a chain-driven system because the IGH and STI-style shifting were both widely accepted and appreciated by the cycling community. Marrying the two is a stroke of genius! No need to further “muddy the waters” by throwing in yet another technology.

    Who knows…if this thing takes off, perhaps we’ll see a belt drive in the coming years!

  15. Tim January 30, 2009 11:21 am 

    What’s the weight difference compared to a derailleur setup? Also, what do you think is the vulnerability to dust and road crap at the rear axle? Their other bikes have dust covers to protect the shifting mechanism.
    All in all, it looks nice, especially with the shifters.

  16. Ghost Rider January 30, 2009 12:06 pm 

    Tim, the weight difference is a tradeoff — front and rear derailleurs and all that cable weighs a pound (or so). The Alfine hub is chunky and weighs a bit, so the weight difference between the systems is negligible. Where it gains is simplicity — one cable adjuster, no high/low/B-tension screws to fiddle with, etc. Much less to go wrong.

    For this application, a dustcover isn’t needed. The Alfine runs a standard cog, rather than a bevel gear. The dustcover on the shaft-drive models serves to keep crap out of the bevel gear and the back end of the shaft-drive assembly, not to protect the shifter bits.

  17. David Morris January 30, 2009 12:23 pm 

    Those are Microshift shifters. They are used by Sampson, Token and Sun Race too, and Fuji have specced them on one of their entry level road bikes. God on them for having a go at this!

  18. Ghost Rider January 30, 2009 12:25 pm 

    Some of the shifter parts are from Microshift, I believe, but these are made/developed by Dynamic and another manufacturing company.

    Just as an aside, there IS a barend shifter for the Alfine 8:

    http://jtekengineering.com/jtek_bar-end_shifter.htm

    It’s pretty new to market, and it uses an external handlebar clamp rather than an expanding plug, but hey…it’s pretty boss anyhow!

  19. Quinn January 30, 2009 12:50 pm 

    this is a cool idea! how ever in regaurds to the shifter, I think Shimano knows something that we don’t. I know I broke the Tiagra shifter on my ’08 Jake 2 months after I got the bike, and the Dynamic shifter, to me doesn’t looks any where near the quality of even a Tiagra shifter, and I know of a lot of bikes around the $1400 price point, and quite a few have 105.

  20. J. Clifford January 30, 2009 1:31 pm 

    Looks nice, but $1400 in this market?

    I’d like to see some information on a good, solid recession bike – something usable but inexpensive.

  21. jamesmallon January 30, 2009 5:48 pm 

    I am with Mike Myers: “the market for hub geared bikes is not racers. It’s commuters. Commuters want fenders and room for fat tires. A touring or ‘cross bike frame would be a better fit. A steel framed road bike…” I have built this bike in a singlespeed already, and will be using the Alfine with the J-tek shifter eventually. Anyone who knows enough to get an internal with drop bars is going to know enough to get steel and space for bigger tires.

  22. mercutio stencil January 30, 2009 6:18 pm 

    Just because the past applications of IGH’s have been for commuters doesn’t mean the technology doesn’t have applications elsewhere. Not everyone wants to run large tires, and not everyone believes it’s impossible to make a good frame out of anything but steel. There are plenty of people who like riding fast on paved surfaces, who don’t like doing maintenance, and this bike would be great for them.

    I admit, I’m not one of them, but if I had the 1400, I might buy this just for the shifter.

  23. Ghost Rider January 30, 2009 6:43 pm 

    Then let’s pray the shifters eventually become available separately — $1400 is a lot to shell out just for a shifter!

    I think Mercutio has the right idea — we’re just so used to seeing IGHs in commuter or other urban configurations…but there’s a vocal and enthusiastic group of MTBers who are using the Alfine and Nexus beyond what Shimano ever imagined.

    Is it not possible that coupling a sleek road bike with one of these hubs might open up similar opportunities for performance enthusiasts?

  24. Ken Sturrock January 30, 2009 6:59 pm 

    I can’t wait for the full review to hear how it shifts. I’m also curious about the balance of the bicycle since it seems like the weight of the hub so far back on a light frame might be noticeable. I’d also love to know more about the feel of the shifters: Is the lever throw and pressure just like with Derailers? I wish you were keeping it longer….

    I agree, it’s not exactly racer material but the future applications will rock.

    */ Rant on /*
    Also, off topic: regarding the continual and seemingly obligatory hipster “aluminum bashing” comments. Some of us actually LIKE aluminum. I’ve ridden aluminum frames (among other materials) for over 20 years and a good aluminum frame rides well. Every major frame material has its advantages and disadvantages. Ride quality and performance are impacted by frame design, material and everything else between you and the road. Clearly, everyone is entitled to have and talk about their own opinion, but GOOD GOD WE GET IT ALREADY!
    */ Rant Off /*

  25. Mike Myers January 30, 2009 7:58 pm 

    Ghost—that hub is way heavy. The bike is at 20 pounds now. Add a couple of bottle cages and bottles, a seatbag with multitool and patch, and a pump or inflator, and you’re looking at a 25-26 pound bike. Pretty heavy for the performance oriented.

    Ken—a good aluminum frame DOES ride well. That would be one with room for fat tires, since tire volume has more to do with ride quality than almost any other factor. Most aluminum road bikes don’t. I can tell you I had an aluminum road bike that rattled my fillings loose. When I traded for a steel frame with similar geometry and the same 700×25 tires I was much more comfortable. YMMV.

    There was a poll taken on this board and we overwhelmingly ride steel. And there’s nothing “hipster” about a bunch of dorky bike commuters.

  26. Ghost Rider January 30, 2009 8:17 pm 

    I’m with Ken on this one — while I’m almost an exclusive steel-framed rider and tend to prefer it (more for aesthetics than any other factor), aluminum is perfectly fine in plenty of applications, especially when the time has been taken to really shape and tune it to give good characteristics.

    The whole “steel is real” business has been adopted as a mantra by the hipster community to the point that a lot of us are pretty tired of it. Sure, steel’s great, we get it. But there are other materials that are as great if care is taken with their design and application. There are a few carbon bikes that would give steel a run for their money in terms of comfort and there are plenty of aluminum frames that are absolutely suitable for long-distance rides in comfort.

    Look, I’ve only ridden this particular bike for a couple days, but I have purposely taken it on some ROUGH roads (not hard to find here in Tampa). Lots of brick streets, lots of road seams and crumbled asphalt. I certainly can’t find fault with this aluminum frame — it’s not chattery like other frames I’ve tried, and I attribute that to the geometry and tubeset choice. This frame is a 7005 alloy…I don’t know if that makes any difference in ride quality.

  27. mercutio stencil January 31, 2009 12:36 am 

    all I have to say in response to ‘steel is real’, Talk to Charlie Cunningham, or Craig Calfee. A good designer can make a great riding bike out of any material.

  28. Dean Peddle January 31, 2009 9:28 am 

    I like it!! This is a great idea. I agree with mercutio stencil with not everyone wants to run large tires. I have a long commute to work (77 km/day) so I ride a bike configuration like this. Road or cross machine with 700ccx25 tires. This bike would fit nicely as I have a dutch style city bike and LOVE the internal hub. One thing I would add though is whenever I see these internal hubs I see a golden opportunity to put a full chain guard on. The one on my dutch bike does a great job of keeping the dust and grime away from the chain. If they do move this technology down the bike like this bike with fenders, rack and full chain guard would make the perfect “long” commuter bike.

  29. jamesmallon January 31, 2009 10:16 pm 

    Look, even if aluminum rides as well as steel (which is a leap of faith) fat tubes are as ugly as ‘compact road geometry’ and toothpaste welds.

  30. Robert Petersson February 1, 2009 6:32 pm 

    This may be the only current production road bike with an IG hub but there were many such models fro m Raleigh and others until the British accepted the derailleur in the late 50’s like the Clubman, Lenton Sports, etc.

  31. Ghost Rider February 1, 2009 6:55 pm 

    Robert, good point…there’s really nothing new in the world of bicycles, right? 😉

  32. Ken Sturrock February 1, 2009 7:23 pm 

    James: No leap of faith necessary. Any major material can ride well if the design is good. People obsess about material as a proxy for ride quality because it’s much easier than thinking about the total design of a bicycle that they haven’t ridden.

    Some folks argue about the glass used in a single element of a camera objective rather than look at the entire design. Other people dismiss a car that doesn’t have a V8 instead of analyzing the whole vehicle’s performance. I have friends that refuse to shoot cartridges narrower than 45 hundredths of an inch. The problem isn’t unique to bicycles – it happens with any technology when users try to reduce an entire system to a single variable.

    I agree that nice steel frames have ride qualities that are prized by many commuters, but I’ve also ridden some damn crappy steel frames. As Jack said: the “steel is real” concept repeated ad nauseum as an article of faith and then the implication that non-steel buyers just don’t know better has gotten pretty old.

    I also agree with you though about compact geometry and toothpaste welds. I happen to like the beer can tube look though. I guess two out of three ain’t bad.

    Matt: I agree with you about the tires. My aluminum daily rider has 32mm wide tires on an aluminum frame and my road bike has 23mm tires. The daily rider is comfortable and the road bike is very aggressive – as they were meant to be.

    As for the poll, what’s the relevance? Steel frames have qualities prized by commuters so it’s not surprising that the readers of this site who bothered to respond to the poll indicated that they rode steel frames. The poll results, however, do not mean that aluminum frames are inherently inferior. It’s the same argument that says that Macintoshes are inferior to Windows machines because more people use Windows, or that Surlys are inferior to Walmart Schwinns because most bicycle riders overwhelmingly ride them.

    No offense taken or intended guys – I just felt the need to challenge what I keep perceiving as a knee-jerk reaction.

    -Ken

  33. Michael February 2, 2009 12:46 pm 

    My comment towards making these IGH for performance road bikes would be the number of gears. I mainly ride road bike and the difference between a 7 speed rear cassette and a 10 speed rear cassette is night and day. With a 10 speed cassette there is nearly a one tooth separation between gear changes, no chunck taken out of your speed when switching up a gear and an out-of-control leg spinning when going down a gear. Since I have never ridden an IGH my question is: Is the transition between gears a smooth transition?
    And my only beef with frame material die hards is when people say if it’s not made out of steel then it’s cheap and will not last. As hard as I have ever been on my steel, aluminum and carbon fiber bikes I have yet to break one. And that includes jumping off a roof on an aluminum mtn bike…I no longer recommend the practice but it survived with no damage.

  34. tadster February 2, 2009 7:51 pm 

    umm sweet. Looks a great weekend bike for me. :)

    Those tires look fatter than x25

  35. Bike trader February 5, 2009 3:57 am 

    Its really a good bike.I cant guess its price.???????

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  37. hmm August 19, 2011 3:27 am 

    Steel frame can be easy modifyed, repaired if broken/bent. Alu frames better throw out as it is quite difficult to bend back, weld PROPERLY if needed… Also aluminium as material “tires” much quicker than steel…
    Also, depends from design, though, sometimes alu frame can be heaver than steel if same strengh needed.
    So, as steel as alu has their own strenghts and weakneses, that’s why no one of them are best, just must be used for right purpose.

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