Review: Dynamic Synergy Road Bike

As we announced a couple of weeks ago, Dynamic Bicycles offered us the rare opportunity to test-ride their newest offering before anyone else outside their company. While I only got to keep the bike for a shortish test period (two weeks), I put a lot of miles (close to 200) on the bike and was able to get a great feel for it.

(pink Velocity waterbottle cage not included)

Here’s some background: Billed by Dynamic as 鈥渢he world鈥檚 first production internally-geared road bike鈥?, 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 internally-geared hub, the other item that really makes this bike stand out is the STI-style shifter co-developed by Dynamic and the Taiwanese component manufacturer Sussex. The shifter is branded “Versa”. This shifter is the first of its kind for internal hubs…prior to the development of this shifter, the two choices were a twist-grip shifter and a trigger assembly for flat bars (although a barend shifter set recently became available as well).

Please bear in mind that the bike we tested was a pre-production model; not all of the components shown are in the final production version, and there were minor changes to the frame and a different paint scheme is planned. Patrick Perugini, president of Dynamic Bicycles, was thoughtful enough to provide me with the production spec list:

路 7005 Aluminum Frame
路 Carbon Fork with alloy dropouts
路 Shimano Alfine 8-speed Internal Gear Hub
路 Versa 8-speed Road Shifter Set with integrated brake levers
路 Versa Alloy Crankset, 46T with external BB
路 Steel rear cog 19T
路 Alex DA-22 Double Wall Alloy Rims, 32H Butted Spokes
路 Shimano 105 front hub
路 Vittoria Rubino, 700x25C Tires
路 Alloy Pedals
路 San Marco Ischia Seat
路 Ritchey Pro Alloy Seat Post
路 Ritchey Pro Alloy Handlebars
路 Ritchey Pro Alloy Stem
路 Cane Creek IS2 fully integrated Headset
路 Tektro 740 Alloy caliper brakes
路 Includes water bottle cage
路 Frame Sizes: S,M,L,XL
路 Color: Blue/Silver
路 Weight: 21 lbs

As shown in the previous article, this is what the production bike will look like:

production version

The frame is configured in a fairly commonplace compact-geometry format, with a slightly extended headtube for a bit of added comfort and a slightly less aggressive riding position. There are rack-mounting points on the seatstays but no corresponding eyelets on the rear-facing fork ends. Dynamic has addressed that oversight in the production version; there WILL be eyelets back there. The frame itself is TIG-welded with nice clean beads. The fork is carbon fiber with polished aluminum dropouts and an alloy steerer. Like the OSO we reviewed a few months ago, the fork comes with eyelets for fender mounting…but there’s virtually no clearance between fork crown, tire and brake arches. It’s not clear if these eyelets have carried over into the production bike.

Fender eyelets on a tight-clearance road fork? Still a mystery…


Aluminum-frame-haters, you might be surprised: this frame isn’t harsh at all. In fact, I found it surprisingly comfortable for long rides and rides over some pretty rough streets, including the many brick streets of central and south Tampa. Part of that comfort is the riding position, part is courtesy of the carbon/aluminum fork and part of it comes from the 25mm tires (up to 28mm tires should fit in this frameset with no clearance issues). The main thing, though, is that a comfortable frame can be made out of any of the major frame materials, and I think Dynamic crafted a good one here.

Franklin Street in downtown Tampa — one of many brick streets in my area:

franklin street
(photo by Steve Swiger)

Let’s talk about the drivetrain, seeing as how that’s where a lot of the excitement about this bike centers around. The Alfine hub is a proven performer — easy to adjust, easy to shift under load or even standing still and plenty durable for all manner of applications. Coupled with the Dynamic/Sussex STI-style shifter, and you’ve got a winner; fingertip control over the entire range of gears lets you fire off shifts as easy as you please. The Alfine doesn’t care whether the hub is under load or coasting when the shifts take place, but I’ve found that easing off the pedal pressure makes everything a bit smoother.

versa shifter

The shifter itself takes a little getting used to. The hoods are comfortable and will feel very familiar to users of Shimano’s various STI “brifters”. The Alfine (and Nexus) hubs require a lot more cable pull to shift than a conventional derailleur-equipped bike, so a fairly long lever throw is required. The big lever on this Versa shifter travels almost 35 degrees, and I found quickly that using my longer middle finger to shift it made things work better. Two minor gripes about this shifter: initially, I found the smaller downshift lever to be in a somewhat awkward spot. Based on the way I wrap my hands around the brake hoods, I found on the first couple of rides that if I squeezed the lever bodies wrong, I would inadvertently press the downshift lever, triggering an unintentional shift. After the first couple of rides, I was more careful with my hand placement and this “problem” ceased to be. My other gripe is that this pre-production shifter seems to be a little finicky about upshifts — a rider has to be careful to press the lever all the way to its inboard stop in order to get a clean shift. I found that in some gears the shift wouldn’t be quite complete, causing a little bit of chain skipping. Luckily, hitting the lever again quickly was easy to pull off. Patrick Perugini insists that the production shifter won’t be so finicky — this pre-production version has a much cruder set of innards and all that has been refined by the manufacturer.

(photo by Steve Swiger)

The gearing range afforded by the Alfine internals, the 46 tooth chainring and 19T cog seemed adequate for all but the toughest hillclimbs. Set up this way, the range goes from a hair over 40 gear inches up to 108. That covers a lot of territory, and the ratios between them are fairly even. Still, with only 8 to choose from, there are times that NO gear is “just right”. That’s an inherent drawback to all internal hubs and doesn’t reflect in any way on the Dynamic system. To play with the gearing range, a rider can simply swap out chainrings (standard 130 mm BCD) or rear cogs for something more suitable to his/her terrain.

I don’t have much in the way of hills in my area (Tampa is pretty flat), but I’ve got a “test hill” on the North Boulevard bridge leading over the Hillsborough River — it’s where I take any bike that I get to test. This is a short but pretty steep pitch and lets me test the gearing range of a bike without too much hassle. Up this “hill”, I shifted down under load several times with no problem and I found this gearing range to be up to the task. Would I try to climb the Alpe d’Huez with this setup? Probably not…but anything short of that shouldn’t be too much trouble.

My test hill (don’t laugh…it’s all we’ve got around here!):

north blvd.

The test bike came equipped with some good componets — Ritchey stem, handlebars and seatpost, a San Marco saddle, good Tektro dual-pivot sidepull brakes, Cane Creek integrated headset and decent Alex wheels. Nothing too flashy, but also nothing generic. Everything functioned smoothly; there were no issues to speak of.

cockpit components

I’ve had a couple people express concern that the heavy Alfine hub (the bare hub weighs around three lbs.) would unbalance the bike. And, in fact, if you pick the bike up with your hands, it definitely feels “back heavy”. During rides (where such things really matter), though, this heaviness is completely unnoticeable. The bike rides smoothly and with stability.

Another concern was overall bike weight. This bike is aimed at the performance enthusiast, yet the bike appears “piggish” at 21 lbs. Again, this isn’t noticeable…but that’s easy for me to say, because one of my primary bikes is a 60 lb. machine with a minimum of 50 lbs. of cargo onboard! So, to me the Synergy felt quick and racy. Bottom line is that bike weight is a good bit overrated — if a bike performs well, giving both a spirited and comfortable ride, it really doesn’t matter how much it weighs.

Checking out the bike and talking about its features:


Overall, I really liked the bike — I was already a fan of internally-geared hubs, but the fingertip shifting control offered by the Versa system is amazing. The bike rode the way I like a bike to — stable and confident without being too twitchy. Geometry is performance-oriented, but with some comfort features built in. This bike seems ideally suited for speedy club rides, fitness riding and, with the addition of a rack, fast medium- to long-distance commuting. Besides, with the ease of maintenance of the Alfine/Nexus hub family (no fiddling with high/low travel screws, “B tension” screws, etc.), this bike helps simplify things for riders: more fun, less adjusting.

Looks like Dynamic has another winner on their hands — and who knows; perhaps this shifter/hub combination may find its way onto other platforms (especially a more commuter-specific bike with fender clearances and the ability to accept fat tires)?

Oh, did I mention the Synergy was fun to ride?

(photo by Steve Swiger)

Visit Dynamic’s website for more information on availability of this new model (projected for March or April?) and their line of other well-thought-out bicycles.


  1. Clinton

    Ha, I love North Boulevard but that bridge never fails to piss me off. I don’t mind the climb, it’s just that I always seem to catch the lights at the bottom and you can’t see if there’s cross-traffic til you’re practically at the interesection so you end up using the energy from the climb to heat up your brake pads. Bikely seems to shows the natural terrain on it’s elevation profile for North Blvd because it’s dropping to 0 m over the river, I wonder how tall that bridge really is. If you want a good hill Mango Rd out in Thonotassa has one that I’ve hit low 40s coming down and if I was gutsy enough to push harder I could probably hit 50 but low 40s is fast enough for me. It’s only 10 meters of elevation change over half a km but it’s steep enough to make this flatlander curse and gear down going up.

  2. Ghost Rider

    I’ll have to check out the Mango Road hill…like you, I HATE the stoplights on the North Blvd. bridge ends — can’t safely get up a good head of steam without getting a red at the bottom.

    The other benefit of testing bikes on the above bridge is that the pavement is so chewed up. I can really get a feel for a frame’s characteristics over this wasteland of crumbled asphalt…

  3. Mike Myers

    It’s a sharp bike. The fork/fender issue perplexes me. It’s not like Dynamic is actually building anything. They have the bike built in Taiwan. And they spec a fork out of a catalog. So why not spec one with clearance for a fender? I know carbon fork with fender clearance exist. I’ve seen them. Heck, I’ve seen them in the Nashbar catalog.

    Do you think that the bike will be too heavy for the gearing once a rack and loaded panniers are added? Maybe not for us flatlanders but will adding an additional 10-15 pounds to the rear make hill people long for a wider gear range?

  4. Ghost Rider

    I think a lightish load on the back (20 lbs. or less) would be fine for anyone other than the mountain-dwellers out there. 40 gear inches isn’t quite as small as I’d like for loads, but not too bad.

    As for the fork issue, perhaps this is another pre-production oversight? Of course, the bike isn’t geared toward the fender crowd — sure, the rear rack mounts suggest a concession toward versatility, but let’s face it: this bike is for folks who want to go fast without a lot of complexity.

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  6. ksteinhoff

    Hey, Jack, that’s a wimpy bridge. Come over to the other side of the state to Riviera Beach and climb what passes as a mountain for us: the Blue Heron Bridge.

  7. Pingback: Review of Dynamic Synergy with STI shifter for Shimano internal hub now up | Austin On Two Wheels

  8. Kermit

    There’s not a bike out there like this, if it had clearance for fenders, and disc brakes (or at least tabs) they could definately capitalize on this bike as a commuter bike. The depth of the drop outs doesn’t seem to leave much room for any chain stretch as the anti-rotational washer (I think that’s what it’s called) is almost at the end of it.

    8 Speed hubs are not for going fast at 3 pounds, they are for no/low maintenance which lends itself to commuting, much like disc brakes…
    but that’s my opinion.

  9. Ghost Rider

    I think the production version fork ends will have a slightly longer axle slot.

    If you’re willing to push one of the higher gears, the Alfine will let you go just as fast as you want! Total bike weight of 21 lbs. is nothing terrible to sneeze at, either.

  10. Mike C

    “Do you think that the bike will be too heavy for the gearing once a rack and loaded panniers are added?”

    No. I have an IRO Rob Roy built up into a commuter with a Nexus 8 hub and the same gearing, 46-19. With rack, lighting, and fenders, it weighs in just under 30lbs. Commuting with up to 20lbs in the rear panniers has not been too difficult–there’s one hill where I was in the low gear once thinking I might need a smaller chainring, but after H-ingTFU and commuting for a while, it’s not an issue. My commute is 35mi r/t, about half of it moderately hilly.

    Dynamic should leave this as a road bike, skinny fork and all, and introduce a true commuter soon. The commuter should take wide tires, fenders, racks, and hopefully have forward-facing horizontal dropouts–rear-facing track dropouts + fenders can lead to tire change issues. And that’s on top of the fact that some think the Shimano cable/hub interface is not the best for emergency tube changes… Also, track ends are not as friendly for brake adjustment.

    Sad to say, but I think they’re barking up the wrong tree, trying to sell this as a performance road bike–a performance-oriented commuter would be fantastic, but this falls short in too many critical ways.

  11. Mike Myers

    Mike C—-it should have a steel frame, too. LOL!!

  12. Mark Muller

    The lack of tire/fender clearance is the worst feature of this bike. Once you put on a ~3 lb rear hub on a bike, what is the harm in a little bit of extra stay length and fork clearance? As much as it pains me to say it, dynamic should offer this exact same bike with 650B (ISO 584) wheels and appropriate brakes. That would give clearance for a decent size tire and fenders, with a minimum of manufacturing differences.

  13. Mike C

    “Mike C鈥-it should have a steel frame, too. LOL!!”

    Hey, now, I got nothing against aluminum. In fact, the way they are selling this–as a performance road bike with an IGH–is fine with me. Just that they should come out with a different commuter model as well.

    Strange that a company which specializes in commuter bikes would come out with this model oriented toward road performance… and spec an IGH…

  14. Ghost Rider

    Dynamic is just trying to broaden their market…and that’s a good thing. Just like the shaft-drive, Dynamic is obsessed with coming up with different drivetrain options that fall outside convention.

    Besides, they’re the first to figure out an STI-style shifter for the IGH, which opens up all manner of fragrant possibilities and new models: light touring, commuter-specific, etc. I can’t speak for Dynamic, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see other models offered with this setup in the future.

    And for those who question a 3 lb. hub on a “performance-oriented” bike, let’s break it down: Let’s say you’ve got a Shimano Ultegra-equipped bike — rear derailleur, 9/10 cog cassette and hub weigh somewhere in the neighborhood of 800 g. Add in a front deraileur, an extra chainring, longer chain and the attendant cables and housing and you’re somewhere over 1000 g. Compare THAT to the Alfine, which weighs around 1500 g. Yes, the Alfine weighs more overall, but only about a pound. I can live with that if it means seamless shifting and reduced complexity in my drivetrain!

    Oh, and the bit about steel frames is an inside joke among us — a lot of us are steel-snobs at heart 馃槈

  15. Dean Peddle

    I have to side with Mike C’s points on this. While I understand Ghost points that this is just Dynamic testing the waters with verson 1 and a lot will come from this….I would think a perfomance enthousiast wouldn’t care about low maintenance of the internal gear hub. Also…my understanding is these IGH produce a small amount of drag which would also be a negative for the perfomance minded. The IGH is best for commuters so a fast commuter would probably be the best target market. But this is just my opinion 馃檪

  16. BlackBear

    I’m confused. Doesn’t Dynamic already make several commuter bikes? After looking at them I’d hazard that at least one or two are more aggressively lined and might be termed “fast commuter bikes.” Of course those are shaft driven bikes so people might be dismissing them from this discussion.

    From my point of view, any tech that makes shifting less of a chore is an improvement!

  17. Eric B.

    @Mark Muller: +1 on the 650B wheel on the same frame idea. Simple for them, and likely to be popular enough to be worthwhile. Probably more popular than this bike, but you never know. A lot depends on where they get their parts of course seeing as 650B rims as well as those Alfine hubs still aren’t super common.

  18. Kermit

    Converting to 650B would be a bandaid to a bigger issue. People that would ride it would be commuters that need stuff that is readily available incase they have to replace them and get back on the road (cheaply and not have to wait for an order to come in.)

    I’m not seeing any other drop bar Dynamic bikes, I think that is what’s making it more “performance ” oriented.

  19. Ghost Rider

    Guys, this is NOT advertised as a “commuter” or “fast commuter” or anything else other than a fun, speedy, simple bike for enthusiasts.

    Yes, it will accept a rack on the back and yes, it can be pressed into service as a capable commuter bike, but none of that was Dynamic’s intention in developing this machine. Addition of rack points is merely a concession towards some versatility.

    The reason it is considered a “performance” bike is that it has drop bars, a far more aggressive riding position (modern road bike geometry) and is WAY lighter than any other Dynamic offering.

    Let’s see how this new shifter/hub combo does…if it’s popular, I am sure that Dynamic and other manufacturers will make more tailored machines (for light touring, commuting, etc.).

  20. Kermit

    Your tag does say “commuter bikes”. I am only so verbal because I like it a lot, and they are so close to something unique enough to stand out.

  21. Ghost Rider

    The tag is there because that’s the only category I get to choose from 馃槈

    I just wanted to make it clear that Dynamic doesn’t advertise this as a commuter bike — of course, ANY bike is a suitable commuter in my book, as long as it gets you where you’re going without falling apart!

  22. Ghost Rider

    From Patrick at Dynamic Bicycles:

    Thanks for all the input and ideas. Here’s additional info on a few of your comments:

    The fender mounts are on the front dropouts because we are working on a specially designed fender for this bike. We expect to have these soon, so the mounts provide a great option for people to add some stylish fenders for all-weather versatility.

    The weight and performance of this bike are impressive because of how much better it is than other IGH bikes. IGH may have some efficiency disadvantage over a perfectly maintained chain setup, but I know few commuters that can claim their externally geared bikes are always perfectly maintained, especially those ambitious riders in northern parts of the US through some pretty ugly winters.

    As far as gear range, the design of this bike makes it super easy to swap out the rear cog to manipulate the gearing range to your style and terrain. We recommend anywhere from 18-21T cogs in the back. This gives a tremendous range of versatility. Also, the dropout on the test frame Jack rode was changed for final production. The production frame rear dropouts were extended and mounting holes for fender/carrier were added.

    As far as a ‘true commuter model’, we are right there with you on this. We have additional bikes in the works, including a steel frame, dual disc model for release this summer that will be a truly dedicated commuter. A bit heavier than the Synergy, but dialed in for commuters. The Synergy model that Jack is riding was the first model we released because we believe the performance capabilities of the IGH go far beyond the ho-hum retro comfort-city IGH bikes that everyone else churns out. The Synergy is styled as an event/club/fitness road bike, but the reason we sent it to Jack first for review was because we know it will be awesome for medium-long commutes. I know I鈥檒l be commuting on it.

    But suffice to say keep your ideas coming. We’re anxious to bring to market unique bikes for commuters that are fun to ride, simpler to operate and simpler to maintain.

    Patrick Perugini – President, Dynamic Bicycles, Inc.

  23. Kermit

    That’s what I like to hear! Now I just need to know how much.

  24. Ghost Rider

    I am INTENSELY excited about a dual-disc commuter model…coupled with the IGH and shifter, that’s gonna be pretty darn badass!!!

  25. Mike Myers

    So let me get this straight—instead of using an already available carbon cyclocross fork which will allow fender mounting—Dynamic is going to spend R&D money designing a new fender? Pardon me, but WTF?

    However, the upcoming steel-framed dual disc model sounds boss. It’s funny that when I emailed Patrick and suggested a steel frame he replied that they were “staying with aluminum frames”. Hmm. I only hope they go with a nice steel. How about Reynolds 853??

    Patrick, if you’re reading this, do your research and get things right. That means room for fenders, mounts for racks, and putting the rear disc mount on the chainstay to facilitate easier rack mounting. You pay attention to the details and you may create the perfect commuter bike(loaded though that term may be LOL).

  26. Patrick Perugini

    Mike – we are sticking with the aluminum frame on the Synergy model. Our aim with the Synergy model is keep weight at a minimum, and really show off the performance potential for an IGH bike.

    The commuter model we’re working on will be a nice Cromoly frame and fork because on this model we are willing to give up a bit of weight to get the ride quality and durability of the steel. Different strokes for different folks.

    In the meantime, the fender mounts on the Synergy fork are going to stay as we are working on the fender set for this. Cyclocross forks were not the look we wanted on this model, which is why we didn’t go this route. We wanted a road specific look for the Synergy.

  27. Joseph Shire

    Hello folks, I am happy to have discovered your bikes, and the ensuing controversy.
    I live in California and we have lots of hills and I tend to travel a fair amount. I need a bike for daily fast and efficient commuting and going off roads whenever the call arises, so I need a fast and strong commute mountain bike.
    I carry large and heavy packs freaquently, due to lots of different activities I do, work related, school, shopping, picking up materials from the lumberyard, etc, etc. I like a good strong packmule of a bike that is also fast, and can handle the most extreme range of gears from being able to climb some of the most steep hills to being to fly down hills faster than most bikes will let me due to running out of chainring power and having to slackpedal. I hope you know what I mean. I’ve several times tried to upgrade to both higher and lower gear ranges and repeatedly was told at shops that they just could not do what I wished to accomplish. I also wish bike manufacturers would create a 4 speed front shifter/derailleur for that wider range I yearn for.
    Many kudos to you for providing what I wished for for years — the shaft drive!
    Alrighty then, what can you folks tell me about satisfying my wishlist? Thanks, Joe.

  28. Ghost Rider

    What would be your preferred high and low gears (in gear inches)? That would help answer your questions better.

    As for getting a shaft drive bike to have that much range, you’re probably out of luck. With most such bikes, range goes from about 35 gear inches up into the low 100s (110 or so?)…all this depends on what size cog and chainring is on the bike.

    And, for the record, a four-chainring setup IS possible:

    You’ll have to shift it in friction mode, though.

  29. Pingback: STI Style Road Shifters for Shimano Internally Geared Hubs available this summer | Austin On Two Wheels

  30. Paul Rivers

    I hope for the steel commuter model mentioned, they’ll consider putting on a full chainguard (aka chaincase – a piece that completely encloses the chain). One of the big advantages to an internal gear hub is the ability to completely protect the chain from the elements, but most manufacturers seem to miss it. The only commute-worthy bike I know of with a full chaincase is the Breezer Uptown.

    A full chaincase would make a difference for rain, but it would make a HUGE difference in being able to keep all that road gunk off the chain in the winter with all the salt, sand, and snow on the road (like here in Minnesota). If people would complain it wouldn’t look good enough, make it optional. It would be a huge draw for me. I’d love to have one – come to think of it my problem is that there’s no bike that has an Alfine hub AND a full chaincase (the Breezer has a Nexus, and the version they sell with an Alfine has no chaincase).

  31. Blorg

    @Mike C- my own commuter has full fenders (SKS Chromoplastics) and track ends. I was concerned myself before I put them on that there would be issues getting the rear wheel out but in practice it is not a problem.

  32. Joshua Duggan

    For anyone who stumbles across this like I did, Soma Fabrications has the Versa integrated drop bar shifters for sale on their website:

  33. bicyclebicycle

    Hill? my driveway is longer and a better climb. Why not do a review of real riders in real conditions. 21 LBS is heavy in a carbon world. My road bike is 17 pounds so climbing would be 4 pounds less per peddle. That adds up over 40 to 60 miles a day.
    Sorry it is a commute bike not a real road bike.

  34. Frank Logan

    And we’re all SO impressed by your light bike. Do you want a cookie or a medal?

  35. MJK

    I thought you’re not supposed to pedal and shift at the same time on internal hubs. Does that work OK for this one?

  36. Ghost Rider

    The best practice for any shifting system is to let off the pressure just prior to shifting, but the Alfine hub can handle shifting under load. Probably not the best thing to do all the time, but perfectly fine for occasional needs.

  37. NoviceBikeMonster

    Dear Mr. Sweeney,

    I’ve spent the last two days scouring the internet for information, reviews, press, and discussions for the Dynamic Synergy bike. I was surprised to discover that in order to test drive the Synergy, I would have to dive in and and buy one! Although internet-only shopping for bikes may be a common practice these days, it’s been years since I’ve purchased a new bike, and I would really like to test ride it before committing $1000+. There is lots of pre-release buzz online about the Synergy, but I can’t find a single post from someone who owns and uses this bike for daily riding. Based on it’s specs, this bike appeals to me a great deal, but I would really like to hear from some folks who ride it, or something very similar (IGH, drop bars, aluminum frame), before making the purchase.

    Is there anyone out there who is riding this bike?

    If there’s already a site/forum out there where this bike, or something similar, has been discussed at length a link in the right direction would be very helpful!

  38. pinion gear

    the bikes are really good. The internally-geared road bike looks lighter in weight and colorful. I wish I should have one

  39. William

    Are there any up to date posts on this bike? 2012(April)

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