We've broken the holds down pretty much my size, hang on kids it's going to be a wild ride :), overall build for the entire bunch of holds will be at the end, but suggested uses etc will be by set
But there are things that have to be said before we get into the nitty gritty of the review, Jim, the self styled "soup nazi of climbing holds" asked us to point out a few things before we begin:
- BETA holds - not optimized for looks yet.
- One of my mottos is that you climb with your hands and not your eyes.
- Wouldn't the time I spend making them look nicer (which has nothing to do with how they climb) better be spent helping starving kids in Africa? Not that I am going to do that mind you.
- You guys actually got a few "experiments" - I didn't send my best looking stuff.
- and perhaps most importantly.... Don't compare apples with oranges. These holds are so different from anything else out there that you can't compare these to other plastic holds. And be careful with that workmanship label. Just think about the "workmanship" required to carve a piece of foam, make a mold and pour plastic into that mold. That doesn't require much skill. The amount of workmanship necessary to make these is much greater. There are parts that have to fit together. Plastic holds have ZERO workmanship. If the shape is nice you could call them artistic perhaps but workmanship is the wrong term to use in general.
- Some of the holds as we can see can be called "Beta", but most of the holds (Labelled 1 & 2) look almost exactly the same as the holds we didn't like the look of way back when, don't believe us? Look to the left, don't those holds look almost exactly the same as sets 1 & 2? Why yes they do. But they're not actually the same, the sparkles aside the new holds Synrock portion of the holds don't actually contact the wall at all, so they're less prone to chipping. Jim really should update his website one of these days!
- We kind of agree with this point, you do climb with your hands and not your eyes! But having something that is ascetically pleasing to look at and to hold onto is far nicer than something that looks really bad. We've had this discussion with Jim before, and sometimes it's just not worth trying to convey a point when the other party (who sent us the holds for critique btw) just doesn't want to listen
- Actually, we feel you should do both of these things
- Now we totally disagree, and Jim has actually said something daft... look here aren't these holds that have been shaped in the normal fashion? People that sit down and shape holds ARE artists in their own right, it DOES take talent. If you look at the holds we're reviewing / testing and their parts then there is a degree of workmanship that comes into play, they aren't just one part "poured" holds, they are two part holds. So yes a degree of workmanship and skill has been utilised in making these holds, they are more complex and probably time consuming to make. The bases have to be poured, the synrock grip part of the hold needs to be shaped and then the two have to be fitted together and then glued. Whether that workmanship has then been put together with some TLC is another thing entirely.
Synrock is cooler to the touch, not much cooler to the fingers than resin, but there is a degree of coolness to this substance, the difference between Synrock and urethane in temperature when they're on the wall is clear. Some of the holds were just thin, 1/2 pad thing, others were two pads and then there is holds 3 / 4 & 5 which were just wonders to look at. First impressions were 3 /4 & 5 were going to be super fun to climb on, set 2 looked pretty much like our original holds but set 1 had a larger surface area so we could actually get on them more and see what these holds felt like, rather than just rip our finger tips off.
The holds went everywhere on the wall that sense allowed, we set short powerful routes and some stuff on the 45. The holds do actually climb really really well, they were fun and as we played with them more and more the crazier some of the moves we set became. The smallest holds aside... these holds climbed really well, there are some edges that could do with rounding off as they're a little sharp, this is something you can do with some sandpaper without too much trouble. The texture on these holds can also be lessened by using Mauriac acid, this isn't something we've done but we will try it at some point.
SUGGESTED USES SET 1:
Inset, positive and large slopers are all in the mix with these holds. These holds allowed us to to feel the Synrock and get what people have told us about the medium and how it feels, they're correct it does feel pretty good. The ledges felt cool to our finger tips and if your wall is a warm environment then these holds will probably be some of your go too's on routes time and time again. 30 to 45 degrees is where these holds came into their own, we pulled some pretty stiff moves on these holds and they were good to grab and pull on. Looking at the shapes you think that an angle of 30+ it's going to be hard to hang and pull on some of these holds, that's where we and you would be wrong! The shapes may not be prefect but the texture does allow you to get away with murder pure and simple... get these holds on the 45 and see what happens, you won't be sorry
SUGGESTED USES SET 2:
Small and crimpy, very small and crimpy, 30 is the absolute limit on these holds, we had trouble bearing down on these, most of the holds were flat rather than being incut which made sticking them hard. They'd actually work really well as foot holds more than anything else when you're on overhanging terrain... that being said on a vertical wall these holds are going to be thin going but more than doable. There are two or three of the holds that are a little larger and incut and therefore do make overhangs a little more climbable, we'd like more of these so we can set hard routes on the 45 degree wall. Size wise these holds are probably the best for home walls, just get the larger holds, or specify larger holds when you order
SUGGESTED USES SET 3:
The 8 pod is the most complete looking hold of the bunch, it looks like it could have come from most companys, if the middle was interchangable, and who knows in the future they might be, which is a good thing. This hold and the others we've seen on the site looks like they are good for a wall that is primarliy flat and something that you don't want to cut a hole in your wall. Fun thin slopes for your hands and good for our feet this hold is basically a bolt on feature for your wall. We took this shape upto 30 degrees and it was just plain hard as hell as the Synrock portion of the hold was thin and slopey, with a different more positive insert then the shape and the concept of these holds will, we're sure, become more and more of a staple of gyms and home walls alike.
SUGGESTED USES SET 4:
The Pill, probably our favorite hold of the bunch, this hold is good on steep terrain which is a surprise, and why is it a surprise? Because this is one big ol sloper, and on the steep terrain you're going to end up pinching, what keeps you on is the Synrock.. the texture just keeps coming and coming... but at first feel it feels like it's not going to go all that far and then it bites just enough to allow you get through the move. This hold is by far one of the best feeling slopers out there, bolt it on or screw it on, we did both... hell we even used one of the screw hole placements as a set screw to stop it from spinning.
What's interesting about the Slot and the Pill is that the Synrock part of the hold is the same! If you wanted the Pill base with the Slot inside then this could be done for you. It opens alot of options for Petrogrips and for the range of holds that they can produce!
SUGGESTED USES SET 5:
There is actually a symbol missing here, and if you look at number 5 the hold we've called the Slot then you can probably guess what it is.... yup we're missing a crack symbol! We'll have to make one up:), we never thought that we'd need that category, how wrong were we?
This hold is simply superb, a little thinner than we'd really like, but when it comes to climbing outside you have no choice when it comes to cracks, you can either climb them or you can't!! We have nothing like this hold on the market, and to say that it mimics the outdoors would be an understatement, it's the most realistic crack that we've found. Could you imagine a 4ft version of this on your wall? That's what we'd like to see!
We had this slot on the 45 and it's hard to hold, but it is fun trying to get your fingers locked into position and then move. Can you bear the pain? Well sometimes you have to just grin and bare down on your fingers and then just go for it :P Vertically this hold is technical depending upon how you set, and low down horizontally this hold is a bunch of hoots, it's hard to match and hard to move off of, you'll either love it or hate it. We know we want more of these in varying widths as it's a style that is missed from most climbing hold companies lists
OVERALL BUILD ALL HOLDS
- Number of holds: 19
- Type (Bolt / Screw Ons): Both, these holds have both options
- Price per hold (set price divided by number of holds): N/A
- Color: Disco, the holds are glittery
- Bolt placement: Mainly off center
- Sanding: Depends
- Texture: On the Synrock part of the holds amazing, the bases are smooth
- Set size: Various
- Versatility: Not bad
- Pre-drilled screw holes: N/A all of the holds are bolt on or screw on
Sometimes the bolt hole placement on the holes is in the middle where you'd expect it to be, other times it's off center... remember these holds can be bolted or screwed on so on the holds where the hole is off center you can just add a set screw. We wondered why the holes were everywhere so we asked:
"2 reasons - the first I can't talk about because it is a trade secret, the second reason is that when the bolt hole is to the left then most of your weight is to the right of the bolt hole - serving to tighten the hold by trying to spin it to the right. I realize this is backward if you are using the hold as an under cling but I am mostly thinking about footholds."
So did we make a mistake and use the small holds that should be footholds as handholds? We'll they can be used as both.
The color overall was glittery, it wasn't even throughout the bases of the holds, the Synrock is always the same light pink color. You're for sure not going to see anything like these holds, if the color was even then they'd not look so cheap and half finished. Maybe more glitter is needed in the base mix, that's something we'd never thought we'd say
Sanding / Hollow backs
On sets 1 & 2 the sanding is fine, sometimes it was a little over done and you could see the nails that are used to give the bases' their tensile strength.
3 was fine as well sanding wise, but upon closer inspection you could see where the synrock portion had been glued in.... actually on the back! The hold part where attached to the base was attached by running a bead of glue around the edge of the Synrock and then pressing them together... how could we tell? The base was probably too thin... the glue had burnt through and the join was soft. So soft we were able to pick it out with a finger nail!! The bases' need to be thicker we think.
For 4 & 5 the sanding was so-so, the holds had a bit of a wobble on when you placed them onto a flat surface, it wasn't the worst sanding job we've ever seen by a long shot, but it wasn't the best.
Now as we're talking about 4 (we call it the Slot) and 5 (we call it the Pill) the hollow backs were simply put "rubbish", they looked like they'd been attacked with a hammer, chisel and a drill. We asked about this, and sure it's not a massively important factor... who actually looks at a hollow back? That answer is simple, Noodles does, he loves a good hollow back... Teknik have it down, DRCC have it down, hell some of the smallest companies have it down (Element and Rock Candy) and he has said it time and again "a good hollow back is beautiful to look at, it saves weight and therefore postage, there's less material wastage and the strength of the holds isn't compromised" Sooner or later the molds that are used for forming the hollow back will be properly made and the holds will be optimised for lightness / strength. Right now the backs are just works in progress
The meat and the potatoes for all of us monkeys. The texture on Synrock is simply superb, it does feel like a sandstone kind of rock... it's something you're either going to love or hate (simply put). As these holds actually have a gripping area that we could feel, unlike our first review, we now know what Jim is going on about... he says "Plastic sucks" we disagree, we like plastic. Synrock has a feel like no other, the Pill is amazing to chuck onto... there's the right ammount of texture for everyone... no complaints at all. Same with the Slot, that crack was simply the most (and forgive the quote marks please) "the most ourdoor-esque crack / slot" that there is, and it's pretty nice on the hands as well. More of this hold with different widths and features we feel will become a staple of every wall. Number 3, the 8 pod, is brilliant aswell, it's as shallow and technical as you think it's going to be. Hopefully these holds will be made as interchangeable in the future... the concept and feel is simply superb.
The one hold that has a texture that we didn't like from the Synrock was the 2nd hold on the left of the big image at the top of the review. The synrock looks like it's been imprinted with the end of a ball point pen and it's given it some texture... but we don't like it. It's a little "bitty" for us and it really pulls on the skin when you have that hold on a steep angle.
So overall, Synrock DOES FEEL GREAT! But... oh you knew there was a but, didn't you?!! Synrock is brittle as all hell. The base of the holds can be used as a pry bar, we tried! It can be done :) Synrock is as strong as a fine china cup, if you drop these holds and this material is the part that takes the impact then you're pretty well done with the hold.... it is going to shatter. That for us is a shame, can it not be stronger? Some of these holds will be going into our next round of drop tests and we will let you know the results
Overall - The Final Comments on Build
We don't want to sound like a broken record, but we do like a good looking hold. We think that they're a thing of beauty. Jim has done a good job and is inovating his holds all the time, it's just a shame that some of the edges on holds were chipped, the color was uneven and there were some glued areas where the Synrock joins the base that were just a little ugly. For beta holds we take off our hat and we raise a glass for pushing the boundry of climbing holds. Wether it is the correct way for holds to go is for you, the consumer, to decide. Synrock is a great substance, make it stronger and work on the glued areas / color and we'd probably be in line to buy them. We're happy to have been able to give our feedback to Jim, and for being allowed to pass this information onto our readership. Jim should be rolling out the Beta program to everyone, so you can hopefully experience these holds first hand and then you can mail in your thoughts on the holds so Jim can continue to improve what is an already innovative product!!
WHAT ARE THEY MADE FROM:
Synrock, a rock like texture is the main hold part that you climb on. The bases are a strong plastic mix
PACKING / SHIPPING:
Not all that good, we had a little scrape here and there as the holds had moved about a lot. Jim ships by putting as many holds as possible into a single box to maximize savings, it was part of the test to see how the holds faired when shipped.
There are some people out there that swear by Synrock holds, am I one of them now that I've been able to feel more than 1/4 of a pad of the material?
That's a tough one, but something that is easy to answer!
Firstly let me point out, that I still stand behind our original review.
Secondly let me answer the question I just posed.
Do I like Synrock?
Yes I do! I love the feel of it, especially on the Slot and the Pill. I think it's texture is just right and it's a wonderful climbing surface. Set 1 are fun to climb on and were a pleasant surprise, the feel nice. Set 2 is as thin as our original review, they're technical and pretty good crimps, but they're not super crimpy, they're nicer on your fingers than you thinl... unless you set a mental sit start that shuts me down :) The final holds, 3 / 4 & 5 are my favorites, I think that they're great holds and I want to see different sizes of them so we can set full on problems with them.
Do I like the look of the holds? Nope, not one bit. But they do climb well. I think Jim has done an ok job of cleaning up his product and they're better than they used to be, I also think that if he focuses on this facet of making of the holds I think that you'd see them in more gyms and then I'd probably recommend them to more people. I'd like to think that Jim will listen to what I'm saying and will do something about it, but I'm 100% confident that he won't, he likes what he does, he's happy with the product and thinks it's pretty well fine as is... how can I say this? The quality of the holds has gone up in the last 2 years, since our original review, but it's not been super super improved.
If people want something that is a little bit different then they should look at Synrock and Petrogrips holds... that is a point I'd like to make. I'd go for the bigger holds, and stay away from the slim, small crimpy stuff... get your hands on Synrock, it is good to climb on.... but just don't drop them! The Synrock is fragile and it will snap, which is a shame... it's more fragile than resin by far, so it is kid gloves when putting these holds away, we've only had one of these holds break in two years... and it was a foothold that had been used constantly for that time, we also broke the 8 pod hold, but that was because we picked out the glue from the back.
Even though I don't agree with Jim's view on plastic being crap, I do like the way he stands behind his product and it's nice to see that he's being innovative with it. Synrock feels nice, it's good to climb on... like we said it's like a hard sandstone, but it is a shame it's so brittle :( I think that the holds have come a good way, the medium feels right and where the Synrock meets the base is a weird one for me.... I complain about it, not because of it's medium A (the base) meets medium B (the Synrock) but because I'd rather there wasn't a glue as an in-between join between these materials... this right now is a necessary evil that I understand and I hope that there is something out there (even if it is JUST GLUE) that makes this join look and feel a little nicer and that it's application when applied is nice and clean
I know that I'm looking forward to the next batch of holds now, we'll happily give feedback on them... I'd like to see some finished holds first, but what I'm going to keep an eye on is the 8 pods, that is what I want to see as that is an innovative product that I'd like to see go a long way
I predict that this review will have the same controversies as the previous Synrock review around the conflicting ideas that we have with Jim. Granted, we do climb with our hands but have you ever tried to climb with a blindfold? To say that we climb with our hand and not our eyes is a bit of an understatement. There are many factors that draw us to climbing. For some, it's to spend time with friends, or for a way to enjoy the great outdoors, others are drawn to it for the challenge. But what draws us to a specific climb, indoor or out? I think that in that respect, before we ever physically experience a climb, we are drawn to it with our eyes. The act of climbing only comes second.
With that said, the shapes climb very well. I'm not at all drawn to them when it comes to aesthetics, but they are nice shapes and finger friendly for the most part. Set number 1 consisted of edges and we had them up all over the wall. Nick set another problem that traversed on the vertical wall with these holds and he bolted them on as side pulls that we had to match. In this problem, the holds hurt a little. They climbed great on the 5 degree wall. I was surprised that I could grip the crimps from set number 2. These guys are small, I could even go as far as tiny. Since the Synrock grip is set into a very smooth base, you can't use your thumb to get any extra friction on the hold and you need to execute the moves properly to stick the hold. The crimps are probably the most comfortable crimps that come in this size. I've come to notice that most crimps are either sharp and bite into the skin or they're round and better used as foot holds, but the Synrock shapes are in that middle ground where you need to bear down hard on the hold without the pain of the hold biting back. At least you can bear down and get some time to sort your feet out.
I preferred the bigger holds. We came to know the Petrogrip holds when Jim sent us a batch of crimpers for our first review. There weren't too many larger holds in the range and these holds were our first and only impression too date. Then along came the second shipment and the holds came in all different shapes and sizes. I wasn't a fan of the blue and gold sparkly color of the holds...ok, I know that they're beta holds and they're "not optimized for looks yet", but we're climbers, not 12 year old school girls...the back could be hollowed out a little bit more but as for the shape of the hold, they've got a winner. Just like the crimps, these holds are made up of two parts and there isn't a whole lot of friction on the base of the hold so you need to rely on an open hand grip. The crack hold was my favorite. The inside of the crack is flat and even if you try a thumb or finger jam, there never seems to be enough friction to hold on.
So I'll get onto the million dollar question: Do I like Synrock holds?
Now that we've spent some time climbing a wider range of shapes, then yes. The shapes are well thought out, don't hurt the fingers and have a nice texture. What I'm turned off by is the look.
The next question is: Would I buy Symrock holds?
In their present form, probably not. We buy with our eyes grasshopper.
- Unique two part design
- Texture is great
- Good prices
- They're not lookers by any means
- There are some manufacturing defects that could be ironed out
- Glitter isn't for everyone
Depends, you'd have to check the site and mail them for exact pricing