Advertisement

Sign up for our newsletter

Advertisement

Cannondale SuperSix Evo 2020 review

14 Feb 2020
Verdict:

Cannondale's iconic SuperSix Evo has received an aero overhaul without compromising on comfort

Cyclist Rating: 
Price: 
£6,500
For 
Light • Stiff • Measurably faster • Still retains enough of the previous SuperSix Evo’s traits
Against 
Bye-bye traditional aesthetic

Times change. It’s an inevitable fact of life. In 2008, when Cannondale introduced the SuperSix Evo as its top-end, super-light race weapon, Blackberrys were all the rage, paying for goods by card still required a signature, and if you wanted to watch movies on the go you needed a portable DVD player. It’s a different world today and, thanks to a complete redesign, Cannondale’s latest SuperSix Evo is a very different bike.

Gone are its traditional looks, including the horizontal top tube and predominantly round tubing profiles which the bike had clung to for half a decade longer than many of its rivals. Enter a new silhouette, one that is ever more common in high-end road machines, with dropped seatstays and truncated aerofoil tube shapes and an aero cockpit, born out of one simple desire: to go faster.

Improvements to speed

Cannondale’s Dr Nathan Barry, a key figure in the development of the super-aero SystemSix, was again instrumental in the design of the new SuperSix Evo.

‘Even at just 15kmh aero drag equates to 50% of the total resistance we experience on a bike, so losing the traditional shape was a very worthwhile sacrifice in terms of performance,’ Barry says.

According to his wind-tunnel data, the new SuperSix Evo is faster than its predecessor by a good margin – 30 watts less drag at 30mph (48kmh). His yaw-weighted drag model also suggests a 9-watt improvement on Specialized’s latest Tarmac and a whopping 40 watt saving over Trek’s Émonda, although I can’t verify those claims.

For me, the main challenge for Cannondale’s engineers was going to be keeping hold of what the SuperSix Evo was known for beneath the skin – being highly regarded for its sublime balance of low weight, impeccable handling and comfort. And it’s no easy thing to maintain those elements when you’re focussed on such a bold new objective – to become the fastest bike in its class.

I was a real fan of the old SuperSix Evo, so when I took to the road on this latest version I was a little nervous that I might not enjoy it as much if that extra speed had come at too great a cost elsewhere.

Ride feel and spec

Thankfully, the new SuperSix Evo felt just like an old friend, only quicker. There was an unmistakable familiarity about the way it rode, which immediately put me at ease.

The quick and assured handling was still there, as was the resolute frame stiffness that responded to my hardest efforts with the same likeable, punchy and taut feel I had been used to previously. In fact, in terms of the latter it was maybe even superior to its predecessor.

All the while I was absolutely aware that this bike was substantially faster. You may ask how I can be certain of that when I don’t have my own wind-tunnel. Well, my own bike is a SuperSix Evo (the older version) so my times around my local routes are well established on it.

Recent fitness tests showed that my FTP (the average power I can sustain for an hour) has dropped by around 20% in my first year of being a dad, so the fact I’m getting round my training loops at the same speed can only be down to the bike.

Buy the Cannondale SuperSix Evo from Tredz now for £6,499.99

The cockpit and in particular the wheels are clearly key contributors to the new bike’s aerodynamic gains. Something I really liked about the HollowGram cockpit is that it performs like a one-piece design but it is actually two separate pieces, which means that the bars and stem can be adjusted independently.

This really helped when it came to fine-tuning my precise setup, and it also seemed a little less harsh in terms of ride feel compared to most of the one-piece cockpits I’ve tested. Additionally, the two-piece design also makes it easier to remove when packing the bike for travel.

As for the wheels, they might be ‘own brand’, and maybe they don’t have the prestige of offerings from Zipp, DT Swiss or Enve, but the HollowGram Knot 45 SL wheels are first-rate, with excellent rigidity and a very responsive feel. (Incidentally, they are the same spec as fitted to the range-topping £9,000 build).

The super-wide 32mm rim profile works on two levels. First and most obvious is the proven aerodynamic benefit, but also it lends itself ideally to wider tyres, for which the frame has clearance for 30-32mm depending on the tyre brand.

Talking of tyres, I would rate the Vittoria Corsa Graphene 2.0 (25mm) fitted as probably the best on the market right now, which only added to the confidence this bike inspired when I was carrying speed through bends on often damp roads strewn with leaf litter.

Comfort 

I’ll come right out and say it: I don’t think the new SuperSix Evo is as comfortable as the older generation. It’s not so far adrift as to be an issue, but it’s a fact that those aero tubes shapes just end up transmitting more of the knocks and general road surface vibrations compared to the old, rounder tube profiles. For anyone who values the additional speed the new frame brings, the pay-off in terms of comfort will be perfectly acceptable.

Overall the SuperSix Evo is bang up to date, while retaining enough of its ‘old’ character to please the brand’s devotees. It is an irrefutably fast, light, stiff and relatively comfortable race bike.

That’s a cluster of terms we hear bandied around a lot, but few brands truly pull off marrying all four as Cannondale seems to have done here. And if all this has whetted your appetite for possibly buying one, then this Ultegra Di2 model is where the smart money should go.

Price

It’s £2,500 cheaper than the top-spec Dura-Ace Di2 model, and I would challenge anyone who tries to tell me you can actually feel a tangible performance difference between Shimano Ultegra Di2 and Dura-Ace Di2 componentry. Plus you get the same Hi-Mod frame (866g claimed for size 56cm painted), HollowGram 45 SL Knot wheels and HollowGram aero cockpit.

All you’re really sacrificing is around 300-400g in weight, which comes from the use of fewer fancy materials in the groupset and a slightly lower-spec crank arms and saddle. It’s a no-brainer, and that £2,500 is a good chunk of cash towards a decent family holiday to appease the fact you’ve just bought yourself a new bike.

Buy the Cannondale SuperSix Evo from Tredz now for £6,499.99

Spec

Frame Cannondale SuperSix Evo
Groupset Shimano Ultegra Di2
Brakes Shimano Ultegra Di2
Chainset Shimano Ultegra Di2
Cassette Shimano Ultegra Di2
Bars HollowGram Save carbon  
Stem HollowGram Knot alloy
Seatpost HollowGram Knot carbon
Saddle Prologo Dimension NDR
Wheels HollowGram 45 SL Knot carbon, Vittoria Corsa Graphene 2.0 25mm tyres
Weight 7.80kg (size 56cm)
Contact cannondale.com

Fancy taking the Cannondale SuperSix for a spin? Attend one of the Cyclists Track Days this year for a whole day of riding the world's best bikes around purpose-built tracks. Tickets available here.

• Want more in-depth reviews of the latest bikes and must-have kit? Subscribe to Cyclist magazine today and try 3 issues for JUST £5 (saving 84% on RRP) and get a FREE Ass Saver as a welcome gift.

Read more about: