Cannondale is a leading bike brand which creates coveted machines for the roads and mountains – supplying WorldTour teams with winning bikes as well as masses of eager amateurs.
Like many such companies, Cannondale didn’t start out as a bicycle manufacturer. Indeed, at its birth in 1970 it manufactured precast concrete housing. Its first bicycle related product was the (“unintentionally”) cheekily named ‘Bugger’ bike trailer, inspired by a weekend camping trip.
The first bike arrived in 1983, an aluminium touring frame featuring handcrafted oversized tubes. The business hit rocky times in the early 2000s, declaring bankruptcy in 2003, to be later purchased by Canadian based Dorel Industries in 2008.
Dorel owns Pacific Cycle, the bicycle distributor of steeds made in Taiwan and China for US brands such as Mongoose and GT.
Now, Cannandale’s HQ is set in Wilton, Connecticut, and it supplies bikes to Cylance women’s team as well as the men’s squad EF Education First.
Useful links for road bike shoppers…
Every major bike brand has a long list of in-house technologies which feature on their bikes – most of them appearing across the range and utilised on a selection of models. Cannondale is no different – indeed, you could argue it’s one of the leaders.
Here’s a look at some of the key terms you can expect to come across when browsing Cannondale bikes:
In 2000 Cannondale introduced the BB30 – an oversized bottom bracket shell which replaced the steel BB spindle with a 30mm aluminium version – the result being a lighter and stiffer construction.
The brand released the design to the industry, and it’s been heavily adopted. The BB30a followed – it’s an asymmetric version of the same which adds material to the non-drive side to create an even stiffer base.
The bike trade shares three key obsessions: low weight, stiffness, and compliance. SAVE (Synapse Active Vibration Elimination) is Cannondale’s approach to the last value on that list. In simplistic terms it means designing flex into the fork, seat post and rear triangle to absorb shock – though carbon layup and tube shaping.
There are now four versions of ‘SAVE’: Plus, Speed, Aero and basic Save – with different methods used depending upon the aims of the bike and projected rider.
Cannondale’s answer to carbon is its own construction: BallisTec. It place an emphasis on strength and stiffness, but the lightweight chassis’ in the range prove that the number on the scales hasn’t been forgotten.
The name comes from the military grade ultra-strong base fibres, also used for ballistic armouring. The combining resins are similar to those used in the construction of carbon baseball bats. As ever, BallisTec carbon comes in several grades. BallisTec Hi-Mod is the strongest and lightest and features on the top end builds.
This one stands for ‘Cannondale Advanced Aluminum Design’ and is used across all of the aluminium frames. The principle is that rather than taking a tube and trying to shape it to meet the requirements, Cannondale identifies the needs the tube must meet, and then uses software to virtually create and test them until the desired qualities are met.
The popular CAAD12 (which emerges from the CAAD10 and so on) road bike was built in this way to offer the mix of stiffness and low weight which makes it a sought after criterium race bike.
Cannondale doesn’t stop at bikes – it also creates its own cranksets and wheels. The HollowGram cranksets are particularly coveted thanks to the spider web design used and ‘System Integration’ which keeps the weight exceptionally low and the stiffness high.
You’ll also spot other terms, like ‘System Integration’, or Si, which requires less explaining and simply means more integration which drops weight and sometimes drag; and mountain bikers would also name the ‘Lefty’ fork as a major accomplishment of the brand.
If you’re thinking of investing your heard earned pennies into a Cannondale road bike, then there’s a lot of choice. Here’s a description of each of the key models to help you work out which one is for you…
The SystemSix is Cannondale’s aero bike. It’s relatively new to the line up, having been unveiled in 2018 as part of the 2019 line-up.
The brand’s research shows that drag plays a part over 15kph (9mph) and it also says that the SystemSix is faster than the SuperSix Evo on anything up to a 6 per cent gradient, thanks to the aero tubing amongst other features.
The ‘Knot’ bar and stem sees cabling run underneath the stem, inside a plastic covering down the inside of the head tube, whilst split spacers mean you don’t have to de-cable just to make adjustments. Though the bar/stem combo looks like a one piece, it’s a two part combo with eight degrees of adjustability.
The frame is disc brake only, making room for tyres up to 26mm, though its optimised around 23mms.
Bikes start from £3,999.99, for a Shimano Ultegra model, and the two Hi-Mod models with top end carbon (from £8,999.99) come with a Power2Max crank based power meter fitted as standard.
The Cannondale SuperSix EVO is Cannondale’s carbon race bike. The geometry is designed around a flat back, heads down approach to riding, with nimble handling and a low weight.
The model began life as the Six13, in 2004. The name came from the number that carbon holds in the periodic table, since this was Cannondale’s first foray into using the material as the base of the chassis. Over the years, the bike dropped weight right down to 665g for a size 56 – but this was later bolstered to provide a stiffer platform.
The frames of 2017 came in at 777g for a 56, but with greater system integration which means the built bikes are actually lighter. With the increasing popularity of disc brakes, the range now includes models with rotor stoppers.
A completely updated SuperSix EVO was revealed in June 2019 featuring a revamped frame featuring airfoil shaped tubing and dropped stays. More aero and more compliant than previous versions it has pushed the SuperSix EVO into a wider role with greater appeal.
The most expensive SuperSix Evo model for 2020 is the Hi-Mod Disc Dura Ace Di2, for £8999.99 with Shimano Dura Ace Di2 and Cannondale’s brand new KNØT45 carbon wheels.
The Hi-Mod models start at £5,499.99 (with Shimano Dura Ace mechanical groupset), and the basic SuperSix Evo starts at £1,999.99 with Shimano 105 and rim brakes.
Cannondale offers women’s specific builds on their bikes. These feature identical frames, with a smaller size available – from a 44cm – plus shorter stems, narrower handlebars, and women’s saddles – we chose the women’s SuperSix Evo as our women’s bike of the year in 2016.
At the time of writing 2019 models are still available and if you’re interested in choosing one of these models we’ve put together a handy guide to the range. Cannondale SuperSix Evo 2019 range and specs in detail here
The racing world has certainly not turned its back on aluminium. Though even the best aluminium is heavier than the best carbon, it can often rival cheap carbon – and is more resilient.
The Caanondale CAAD (Cannondale Advanced Aluminium Design) has been through many iterations, and we’re now on the CAAD13.
The CAAD12 was pretty popular – indeed it earned itself a 10/10 score and a place in the Cycling Weekly Editor’s Choice awards in 2018. The newer version is more aero, and more comfortable.
The aerofication of the CAAD divided opinions. It meant moving away from the traditional round tubes the model was renowned for, with truncated airfoil shaping to reduce drag – to a reported 30 per cent.
Extra comfort is said to come from dropped seat stays – again a common method, but one with aesthetics that won’t please all.
The geometry is not far off the SuperSix, indeed the stack and wheelbase are mirrored, as are the head tube and seat tube angles.
There are still CAAD12 models available, and Cannondale also offers the CAAD Optimo model, an entry level version with prices beginning at £649.99 with a Shimano Claris groupset.
Newsflash: not everyone wants to race. The Synapse is Cannondale’s answer to the endurance bike. The Synapse has a more relaxed geometry, a greater focus on compliance for 2018 it even finally mounts for mudguards.
Only available with disc brakes, the Synpase is available with an aluminium or carbon frame.
Being an endurance bike, dampening vibrations is important – and SAVE is employed across the models. Cannondale also uses a proprietary 25.4mm seat post, which offers more compliance, and the seat stays and fork are built to do the same.
The top end models also feature a ‘Power Pyramid’ bottom bracket, which aims to place material in the optimum position for power transfer. Research carried out at the Zedler Institute test lab ranked the bottom bracket and head tube of the Hi-Mod Synapse above leading endurance bikes such as the Specialized Roubaix Pro, Trek Domane SLR, BMC Roadmachine 01 and Canyon Endurace CF SLX.
Cannondale Synapse carbon models start at £1,699.99, with a Shiamno Tiagra build, topping at at £7,999.99 with a Hi-Mod frame and SRAM Red E-Tap AXS.
There are aluminium builds too, from £849.99 with Shimano Sora, up to £1199.99 with Shimano 105.
The women’s models promise size specific adjusted carbon lay up or aluminium tubing, and optimised touch points.
Cannondale’s Topstone is a gravel/all-road bike, featuring a super light ‘Kingpin’ suspension system, located part way up the seat tube, to ramp up comfort on the road and off the road.
The chainstays, seat tube and top tube have ‘flex zones’ designed to deflect more impacts than a traditional frame, too – equating to around 30mm of movement at the saddle, with around 25mm of that movement coming from around the bottom bracket area and a further 5mm centred around the rear axle path.
Cannondale says that all of this adds up to an experience similar to running a 9mm wider tyre.
There are alloy models, starting at £949.99 with Shimano Sora, and topping out at £1,499.99 with Shimano 105. The carbon models start at £2,099.99 with Shimano 105 and reach £4,799.99 with SRAM Force E-Tap AXS.
Cannondale’s cyclocross bikes combine technologies seen on their road and mountain bikes to create the nimble handling of a race bike with the robust strength and root/rock tackling expertise in the mud-world.
The CAADX bikes, as you might expect, feature CAAD developed aluminium frames whilst the SuperX sits top of the tree with BallisTec carbon. The geometry remains largely similar – with the same stack, reach, head and seat tube angles promising a similar experience.
The CAADX bikes come with Cannodale SI cranks and 46/36 chainsets, alongside 11-34 cassettes. By contrast, the SuperX has gone single ring, with all models sporting 40 tooth chainrings and 11-32 or 11-34 cassettes which are suited to muddy races with quick gear changes required.
Off course, there’s a price difference – CAADX models start from £999.99 with Shimano Tiagra whilst the SuperX models open up from £2,499.99.
For those looking for versatility, there’s a range of hybrid bike options.
For urban riders, there’s the infamous Cannondale Bad Boy. This carries the lefty fork, with integrated LED rechargeable lights. There’s an integrated rear light too, plus reflective ‘top tube bumper’. All models carry disc brakes and wide volume 35mm to 40mm tyres, which will roll over even the worst city roads.
Alternatively, for mixed terrain commutes The Cannondale Quick comes with a rigid fork, 30mm tyres capable of tackling unmade roads, flat handlebars and aluminium frame with wide ranging gears, and either rim or disc brakes.
There are Cannondale Quick CX option, with a 50mm travel fork and 38mm tyres which can tackle rougher terrain – and carbon frame models in the line up.
This content was originally published here.
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