December 05, 2019
I've had a little time to really get to know my latest bike, the all-new, 2020 re-vamped version of Cannondale's Supersix Evo Disc.
The frame - The most noticeable feature of this new design is the lower seatstays. This is a comfortable and definitely a contemporary addition - very inline with Cannondale's main competitors. It's said that this is to aid in vertical compliance, but although it might be in the lab, I haven't noticed it being more comfortable on gravel and rough roads than the last version of the Supersix. This is one of Cannondale's big strengths, and this bike makes me feel like it's an all-day ride bike, unlike some other brands that I've ridden that might not be suitable for 3hr+ rides due to the harsh vertical forces at work on the ole bottom. The 210km Around The Bay In a Day in Oct 2019, no problems. Giro Della Donna with 12km of gravel, no problem. Next is the more noticeable aero profiles added to the fork and frame tubes. The seatpost has even moved from round to aero. The handlebars and stem are now designed to be both aero and to hide the cables & housing from the shifter/brake levers and lead them into a cavity on the front of the headtube to keep all of them out of the wind. It might be a little more time-consuming to set up properly, but the bike looks clean and the big percentage of wind resistance that is caused by drag on the housing on most bikes is gone.
The wheels - The Cannondale Hollowgram 35 wheelset is a great all-around wheelset. The deep dish rims give it good flatland momentum, but are light enough to climb with at only 1562g/pair without rotors.
The Force Etap - This is my first Etap bike and it takes a while to get used to the shifting mechanism; a front shift is a tap of the single button on the left and right at the same time, and a rear shift moves in the direction of a single-sided tap on either button - right shifter/higher gear, left shifter/lower gear. It's fast, efficient, and a charge every few weeks keeps both the derailleur batteries topped up with no worries of running out of shifts while on a ride.
Saddle - The new ProLogo saddles that look suspiciously like two other VERY popular saddles on the market are spot on, kudos to the product developers for specing this comfortable and anatomical saddle on the bike. It's wide enough for most riders to support the sitbones properly, so unlike the last 10 bikes I've owned, I have not changed this saddle.
I only have two beefs with the bike... One, she's a little heavy; the overall weight of this 54cm (medium frame) with pedals & carbon cages just tips 8kg, a good 800g more than one would want for a bike of this price ($7499 AUD). Disc brakes usually add a bit, to be expected, but it's still heavy. When we first got this bike, the first Supersix model in the country, we were curious, so Murray our mechanic pulled it apart and weighed all the parts to see where the extra fat was located. Turns out the Force Etap crank is 200g+ heavier than the Red Etap crank, and the new aero bar/stem is hefty as well - a pretty big price to pay, but the comfortable shape, aero profile and ability to tuck away the hydraulic brake housing seems to be worth it. The rest of the parts including the wheels seem to be on par with expectations.
The other is that slightly awkward (removable) Garmin mount that mounts to the top of the handlebar. After all the talk of aerodynamics, one would think that a flush, lower Garmin position would be better, at least better looking. We imported some 3D-printed Raceware mounts from the UK that affix to the bolts on the underside of the stem and clean up the front end quite a bit (see photos).
The Final Verdict
After all that, what is my quick answer to the question when put on the spot at a red light by someone next to me?
It's fast on the flats, noticeably easier to hold a higher speed at the front of a pack facing the wind, and I have yet to find the limit of how fast I can pedal downhill.
That downhill thing is a big one. 81km/hr was the last top speed I hit with no end in sight, except the limits of my own bravery. It is stable and even with 42mm deep carbon rims front & rear, a little crosswind doesn't affect it at all. It feels like it's on rails which in combination with the disc brakes, really gives me more confidence descending. I can comfortably say this bike is the best descender I've ever ridden. Climbing on grades up to 6%, it feels good. Anything above that it can't be considered a great climber in terms of maintaining speed. Sprinting? It takes a bit longer to get up to speed, but I can hold that max wattage a few seconds longer with the aero advantage; in many situations that's all it takes to shake someone holding on to your wheel. On the flats, when rolling turns or spending time at the front, I enjoy the benefit of the aero design. I find that when riding beside someone I roll faster downhill and have to brake or let up on the pedals because the bike rides away. I would guess that the benefit of the aero features combined gives it about a 1-2km/hr advantage, the same as going from the hoods to the drops when facing the wind.
Next, I have my eyes set on a Himod version with Ultegra Di2 and the slightly more aero Knot 45 wheelset, so I'm expecting to see my weight concern addressed and an even more aero package. Stay tuned.
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