The Synapse is Cannondale’s cyclo-sportive bike. Compared with the top of the Elite range’s Super-Six race bike, the same size Synapse is 5mm shorter in the top tube and 2cm longer in the head tube, putting the emphasis more on comfort and less on aggressive race styling.
It’s also 11mm longer in the wheelbase, with 1cm more fork rake, helping to give the stable and confidence-inspiring handling demanded by the sportive market.
However, despite these geometry tweaks, clearly aimed at increased comfort and handling confidence, the carbon synapse is still a worthy race bike, Liguigas chose them for the 2009 cobbled spring classics, and first impressions were that this was a positive and stiff ride.
The SAVE stays are curved to act like a micro-suspension system, absorbing road vibrations without sacrificing the lateral stiffness. Feedback from the road is good, not overly damped, but sufficient to feel in touch with the road beneath your wheels, without rattling your teeth out on poor surfaces. The oversized BB30 contributes to a feeling of efficient pedalling. Compact FSA bars and 90mm stem, combined with the Cannondale’s geometry, mean the position felt homely from the first ride.
Built with Campagnolo Athena, the total weight is 17lb – with some different wheels and finishing kit it would be easy to get this down to 15lb, as the frame itself is reasonably light. The performance could not be faulted, with crisp changes and the lovely ability to slam it down the cassette for sprints. However, with small hands, despite the comfortable hood position the inability to change gear from the drops meant constant irritation.
Despite the excessive talk of comfort and all-day riding, the Synapse is no plodder. It may be a bike for sportives, but it encourages you to chase after the gold award rather than be content with 'just getting round'. I'm looking forward to giving it a fuller test over the 100-mile plus distances it was designed for. £1,199 for Synapse Carbon BB30 frame with Synapse full carbon fork, seatpost, headset and standard BB adaptor.