Monday, October 29, 2012

Review > Synrock > Mixed Bag

So, when we talked to Jim about doing this review and we agreed for him to send us some of his Synrock holds we were all up for it! We've wanted to see some of these holds since we started the site... and now we have some; Jim also specified that for us to do this review that we'd have to mention that these are some of the cheapest holds on the planet... we don't really bow to that kind of stuff but we think that in the course of this review we think his point will become clear.

This review is a different one... despite the holds we received we're going to talk more about what you the consumer can buy for your home wall, of course we'll talk about what we are reviewing but lets really talk and look at these holds because it's pretty damn interesting...

First lets look at the holds; well we'll look at what's currently on sale:
A: 132 holds: $79
B: 42 holds: $69
D: 46 holds: $79
C: 50 holds: $41

Now we have to explain why we're talking about whats on sale rather than fully on what we received to review; its a two pronged 1) we want to show what great shapes these are (compared to some of the other reviews we've run for these guys) and 2) because these shapes are cheap as all hell and as home wall owners people should look at them.
So what we received was a bunch of bolt ons and screw ons; if you'd brought them from Synrock then they'd have run $50 plus $15 shipping which is what they'd have gone for on ebay; now after many many years of running this site we know that if anyone actually puts the proper price onto a box coming across the border then we're going to get nailed with import fees, in this case it ended up being about the same price as the holds that were sent... lesson learned always remember to remind people to not put the price on a box thats coming across the border :)

So the holds we have are a mix of screw ons and bolt ons; all of them bar one of them are awesome, one has a ring texture that is a little too much for most peoples hands, even when you chalk the crap out of it the rings come through and it's a little skin intensive. The rest are just flat out amazing... Synrock, no matter how Jim talks it up is a great medium to climb on indoors; the holds are cool to the touch and the bolt ons are nice and smooth on the skin for sure, even the screw ons that are a little rougher in some cases are flat are awesome; running from two or three finger incuts to half pad slopers these are in our opinion some of the best screw ons on the planet and we have some S7 holds kicking about the joint and they're pretty damn awesome.

What we set was a circular route on a slightly slabbed wall at the gym and it was set only using the bolt ons and it was pretty fun... then we stripped that down and set on the bouldering wall; the owner of the gym was getting pretty attached to what he calls "those china holds"

One route was set by Bob and Noodles, it was meant to be around V2 but it ended up a little harder than that, again is was mainly the bolt ons that were used. The second route was set by Chris, Noodles asked him to set something with a gaston to gaston move (as Noodles is training) but it ended up being a little more interesting and challenging than we expected, it was a fun route to work upon and it kicked our ass a little more than we expected. Despite the paper that you'll get when you order these holds which is basically a disclaimer mentioning that even looking at these holds in a certain light might make them break and when you strip a route of these holds you don't throw them around at all; there are some great one liners in the paperwork that comes with the holds... "think of these holds like your mothers best china" among others made us laugh

Anyway despite using the correct sized screws and a drill that was set on a pretty low setting we did manage to break a couple of the screw on holds without trying too hard; it wasn't on purpose it was just something that happened, needless to say you do need to be a little more careful with these holds than most others, you'll need to give your wrench monkeys a good talking to before letting them loose with any of these holds. But when you do break a hold you can just epoxy the thing back together and continue on as if nothing had happened, in fact gluing them back together does seem to make them stronger; so don't worry when this happens :)
As you can see, we gave the holds a good going over, the hold that we're actually throwing to after the crimpy, balancey start is one of the ones that we don't like that much. It's like someone retracted the lead from a pencil and then made a thousand little impressions for it's texture; that being said once its nice and chalky it does get better and in this case when you're on a wall that's slightly overhung you'll be thankful for the texture. So it's a plus / minus thing for sure.

Now comes the tricky part... the suggested uses! As we had a mixed bag it's going to be a little tricky!!


If you're strong then there's no reason why you can't pull on the incuts on a 60, the slopers, well you're looking more at a 30 degree wall. These guys are just incut and large enough for three fingers and there's no reason why you can't get a little thumb catch and haul ass; despite the fact that they're a little fragile is something you can deal with.


We've had these guys on nice slabby routes to nicely overhung walls and they've all performed better than we all thought; we were skeptical about them but they're just great. Smooth shapes and simple designs is the name of the game and considering the price they're great for a home wall

  • Number of holds: Varies
  • Type (Bolt / Screw Ons): Both
  • Price per hold (set price divided by number of holds):
    • A: 79 holds / $132 = $1.67
    • B: 42 holds / $69 = 1.64
    • C: 50 holds / $41 = $0.82
    • D: 46 holds / $79 = $1.71
  • Color: Pink / Flesh / Sandy Yellow
  • Bolt placement: Middle
  • Screw Placement: Centre
  • Sanding: Ok
  • Hollow backed: No
  • Soft back (Rubber backed): No
  • Texture:
    • Smooth for the bolt ons
    • Grippy for the screw ons
  • Set size: Various
  • Versatility: Great
  • Pre-drilled screw holes: Yes for the screw ons
  • Shaper:
  • Weight: Depends
Right, once you get through the fact that you will (no might) break some holds for a home wall you're onto a great deal; yeah they're fragile but get over it.

Sanding is ok, the color is generally meh but when it comes to it you get what you pay for and for the price well stay away from the thin screw ons.

The bolt ons are flat out awesome, the shapes are simple but they're clean and well worth looking at. The shapes make for clean climbing with a nice clean texture and the Synrock texture is cool to the touch; they all bolt down to the wall nicely and don't spin when they're screwed up tight to the wall. They've not spun and so far apart from a few defects from shipping and a few whilst dropping them whilst setting the holds are ok... heavy but ok.

The screw ons, if you take some time and don't go nuts with the drill will (as will the bolt ons) serve you a life time, just treat them gentle when you put them up and you'll be fine. We found that one click on the drill too much with the right sized screw would snap them easily :(


Synrock, Synrock, Synrock; ah I don't so much think of these as holds as more an ethos from Jim the owner of the company. We've had some lively debates in the past, hell there are posts where we talk about holds and there's one thing that is apparently clear; he loves Synrock (his own creation) and as he says "everything else that you climb on indoors sucks" (that's paraphrased btw)

So Synrock, there's a couple of questions that need to be answered on that one:
  • Is it really as good as Jim claims?
  • Are the shapes any good?
Why do I always end up being devils advocate? Oh yeah, I own the website, that's probably why :)

So lets tackle Synrock:
It is cool to the touch, much like real rock; when it's smooth is it superb to climb on... that it's a far superior material than say oh I don't know, resin or urethane well that one is a complete toss up. It does climb exceptionally well, and it does clean up well that's for sure. But as there's only one person making it and the shaping is simple at best it means you're not going to be seeing any font style holds any time soon. Synrock is also amazingly brittle, you could see the dust when you opened the box from where the holds had taken a little damage from shipping and it's also heavy (honestly I have 4ft volumes that are lighter than a single hold)

It sure is better than what we've seen before by leaps and bounds because this is the pure material that's not attached to something else. I've enjoyed setting and playing with the holds. Would (if I could) change ever shape that I've ever owned, set with or climbed upon indoors into a Synrock material? Well that'd be a no for many reasons, too many reasons to list here but what Synrock as a material is as another medium that's a little more rock like and a little cooler to the touch than other materials on the market... it's also cheap as hell when you buy holds so who gives a crap if it breaks? Just glue it back together and continue on as if nothing happened. Second thoughts on the holds in Synrock material... the Boss would be fucking amazing if it were Synrock, ours ia 35lbs (original mold) in urethane, so Synrock would be 50+ and it'd be worth it, just because of how it'd feel and climb

Are the shapes any good?
Strangely yes, where the material lacks the shapes do actually make up. The screw ons are as bitey as needed and the smooth simple shapes of the bolt ons make up for their weight... these holds aren't Teknik by any standard but they're pretty damn nice... except for the ones with the "pen pocket in the material" texture, I hate those, if the texture was gone and the Synrock was there i'd be waaaay happier (this is where Jim tells me I can just sand down the texture if I want (Note to Jim: I want climbing holds not work))

So here's where I weigh in I guess... Love the cool feel, hate the brittleness. For a home wall on a budget I'd order from these guys and specify what I want. For a gym, skip the screw ons, go bolt on all the way but sand the backs of the holds a little because it was a little off for my liking.

Jim; great work, I love these compared to the pods... I know there's more from you and I want to see the evolution of Synrock from brittle to the point where you sell it to people and it becomes more of a staple in more gyms Worldwide.

Shiiiiit, soon as Noodles told me we were doing a review for Synrock I wasn't sure what to make of it. There have been some reviews that we've done that I've felt bad about, Synrock or Petrogrips as we know them has been one of the companies I've had a hard time sleeping about after it's been published.

Not so much this time, at least Jim mentions in the paperwork that come with the holds that they're brittle and prone to breaking and too be honest at the price we're looking at you can sacrifice a few holds now and then and just get them replaced.

Now not to put too finer point on it I prefer the screw ons to the bolt ons despite breaking a couple mainly because I like small holds and the route that we set was something to work on; its a shame that Noodles got up it a few attempts before me, maybe his training is paying off a little :)

I think that for a home wall will benefit from a box of screw ons, hell most walls could probably do with some screw ons, the bolt ons for me are a little hit and miss, they're good holds but nothing you can't get that's stronger from another company... at a cheaper price well, probably not!

  • Cool to the touch
  • Cheap as hell

  • Brittle
  • Heavy


Jim Bowers said...

Another advantage of synrock over plastic for home walls. The synrock holds don't rotate as easy as plastic because they are super stiff. When you tighten them it transfers the force evenly everywhere along the back of the hold. With plastic you really have to tighten them down and you don't get as much force at the perimeter of the hold where all the leverage is. After a while the plastic relaxes a bit and you have to tighten them even more. All this tightening is bad for the t-nuts because the grade 8 bolts are harder than the steel used in the t-nuts. Excessive tightening eventually leads to messed up t-nuts which is a major pain. So synrock is easier on your wall since very little tightening locks them in place.


Anonymous said...

I have a lot of Synrock holds. I've never broken a bolt-on (I put them on by hand). With the screw-ons you should tighten the last couple of turns by hand because if you use a screw that is too large and over tighten with a drill they can break. Since switching to #6 size screws (US size) I haven't broken any.

Where these holds really shine is the larger holds. Some of my favorite holds on my home wall are the larger pinches and slopers.

Gray Beard.