Cannondale are famous for the quality of their bike frames. They were one of the pioneers of aluminium framed bikes and now also make world class carbon fibre frames. More generally Cannondale have a reputation as innovators in the bike market. Some of their innovations such as the lefty fork have not caught on, while other such as changes to bottom bracket and headset designs are now the industry standard.
In the road cycling world Cannondale bikes are used by the newly renamed EFF Education First Drapac team. They are also known for their 2003 advertising campaign to ‘legalise my Cannondale’ after they made one of the first production bikes which broke the UCI minimum weight limit for race bikes.
Cannondale Women’s Road Bikes
Cannondale are taking the same approach as companies like Trek to women’s road bikes. Instead of developing a completely separate range of women’s bikes they are making versions of the mainline bikes which have been tweaked for women. This means smaller frame sizes, women’s saddles and women’s handlebars so that the main touch points on the bike fit and are comfortable. Other than that women get the same tech and innovation as men.
Cannondale’s 2018 road bike range, for both men and women, can be broken into three main sections. These are Elite, Endurance and New Road.
Cannondale Elite Road Bikes
These are Cannondale’s out and out race bikes, the ones used by their pro team and by amateur and professional racers around the world. These are bikes designed for speed and fast handling.
There are two basic models within Cannondale’s Elite road bike range, these are the carbon fibre framed SuperSix and the aluminium framed CAAD12. Both the SuperSix and CAAD12 are available in disc and rim brake versions and both are available in a range of specifications.
The SuperSix bikes start at £1,799 and go up to over £10,000. All of the bikes in this range use the same geometry but the frames themselves are made from different materials. The cheaper bikes in the SuperSix range are made from Cannondale’s standard Ballistec Carbon Fibre. This is carbon designed for ballistic armour and for use in other high impact uses such as baseball bats. The more expensive bikes in the range use the same base material but add in ultra-high modulus fibres to create Ballistec Hi-Mod carbon. This is stiffer than the standard Ballistec carbon so Cannondale can get away with using less of it and create a bike that is stronger and lighter. The switchover between the two frame materials comes around the £4000 mark.
The SuperSix is designed as an out and out race bike and has been tweaked to make it more aerodynamic. Cannondale have not gone for the exaggerated aero lines of a Specialized Venge or a Trek Madone. Instead they have carefully shaped the tubing and made subtle changes such as moving the bottle cage positions to reduce drag.
Full on road racing bikes are not always known for being comfortable to ride for long periods of time. With the SuperSix Cannondale are using their SAVE micro suspension system which allows some movement in the frame to reduce road buzz and soak up some of the bumps which can cause fatigue and pain on longer rides.
Cannondale made their name with their aluminium frames and the CAAD12 is the latest version. Aluminium is known for being ultra stiff which makes for fast bikes but ones that can be little harsh to ride. Cannondale claim that the 2018 CAAD12 bikes ride better than many carbon frames thanks to their SAVE technology. Cannondale have adjusted the shape of the tubing on the back of the bike, flattening out some tubes and rounding others, to control the way shocks travel through the frame. This allows the bike to be more forgiving to ride while maintaining the stiffness that makes aluminium bikes fast to accelerate and super responsive.
All of the CAAD12 bikes use the same carbon forks that are fitted onto the SuperSix bikes and come with a choice of disc or rim brake versions. With bikes starting for just over £1000 and gong up to over £3499 the CAAD12 is a bike where you can buy the spec you can afford and then upgrade as you go.
Cannondale Endurance Road Bikes
Like most of the big bike brands Cannondale have a whole range of endurance road bikes for 2018. These are bikes which are designed to be comfortable for long all day rides and which can also handle rougher roads and the odd gravel track. Originally designed for classics racing, endurance road bikes have almost become the norm for UK riders in recent years. As anyone who rides regularly on British country lanes will know they are not always suitable for use with fragile carbon wheels, super skinny tyres and the stiffest frames around. An endurance road bike will be a bit more forgiving of the odd pothole, won’t mind if the road is covered in mud and your back won’t be complaining after a couple of hours of riding.
As with Cannondale’s elite road range there are two basic bikes in the 2018 endurance road line up. These are the carbon fibre framed Synapse and the Aluminium framed Synapse Alloy.
The aluminium framed Cannondale Synapse bikes go up to £1299 but the two bikes that get the most attention are the Shimano Sora and Shimano Tiagra equipped versions at £849 and £999 respectively. These bikes come in under the £1000 Cycle to Work limit and both of them make great fast commuting bikes which will also let you keep up on your local club ride or sportive at the weekends. The Synapse is a fast bike but with 28c tyres and disc brakes as standard you can explore even the roughest country lanes and cycle paths on it in comfort.
As with the SuperSix Cannondale’s carbon framed Synapse bikes come in two flavours. The range starts with bikes made using Cannondale’s standard Ballistec carbon fibre and then switches to their Ballistec Hi-Mod carbon at around the £5000 mark.
The Carbon Synapse bikes use what Cannondale called ‘endurance race’ geometry. This is slightly more aggressive than many of the sportive bikes that are on the market and they claim that the Synapse is stiff enough to be used by world tour level sprinters. Whereas some sportive and endurance bikes can be just bikes for bimbling around, the Synapse is built to be fast.
The 2018 Synapse has raw speed but it also has mudguard mounts, space for tyres up to 32c and disc brakes making it a true all-rounder.
The Carbon synapse is where Cannondale first introduced their SAVE micro-suspension system (it started as an acronym for Synapse Active Vibration Elimination). Where other manufacturers such as Trek and Specialized have introduced ‘decouplers’ that allow parts of the frame to move independently Cannondale believe they can get the same effect by being clever with how they shape and manipulate their tubing. So rather than one big point of movement at the front and rear of the bike the Synapse has smaller flex points across the bike.
Cannondale New Road
Cannondale are using the term ‘New Road’ to describe what other brands are calling gravel bikes or adventure bikes. Simply these are bikes which look like road bikes, will be reasonably quick on the road but can handle a bit of off-road riding as well.
In common with brands like Trek, Cannondale have two types of ‘new road’ bike. One which is based off their Synapse range and another which is based off their cyclocross bikes. In both cases the ‘new road’ version has the SE designation so we get the Synapse SE and the SuperX SE. These are modelled around the mainline Synapse and SuperX bikes but come with bigger tyres, extra mid clearance and lower gearing.
If you are planning to use your bike off-road a lot, or on rough cycle paths a lot, then the cyclocross based SuperX SE is the way to go. If you are more likely to spend the majority of your time on road and might just make the occasional off-road excursion then the Synapse SE would be a faster option.