Cannondale has finally revealed the highly anticipated update for its all-round road bike, the SuperSix EVO. And it’s a radical departure from the previous, classically slim-tubed race bike launched way back in 2015. Yes, the SuperSix EVO has gone aero.
Cannondale’s SuperSix EVO has long been hailed as the standard to which road bike handling and geometry has been compared. It’s a platform with a long history, an even longer palmarès and has won the hearts of innumerable riders across the world.
So when a bike is held in such high regard how do you set about trying to improve on what is, in some people’s eyes, the bike with the perfect combination of handling, performance and comfort?
Well if you’re Cannondale you start by not trying to create a replacement. Well, not quite…
The new SuperSix EVO actually started life when Cannondale’s design team (the same people responsible for the SystemSix) sat down to sketch out their take on a modern race bike. This was, in their words, a completely separate project. But as work went on it became obvious that this new platform was inevitably going to fill a SuperSix-sized hole in Cannondale’s road bike range.
Taking this into account, and with the SuperSix’s formidable reputation, the team headed by Dr Nathan Berry had to adapt to the challenge of making this new bike even better than the existing model.
This created specific engineering challenges as the team aimed to decrease frame weight whilst increasing comfort, keeping the characteristic EVO handling, making it mechanic friendly, developing proportional sizing, reducing aerodynamic drag and adding features such as thru-axles and other peripheral hardware. No mean feat.
Whilst the new SuperSix EVO does of course exceed expectations (we’ll get to that in due course) we have to address the elephant in the room; the aesthetics.
Fans of the ‘old’ SuperSix will lament the loss of the elegant slim tubing and classic double diamond frame profile and many more will claim it now looks like the same as ‘XXX’ from brand ‘XXX’. And at first many of us journalists at the launch were in agreement and felt the same. However, when you dig deeper you realise that this is no cookie cutter copy and that all the changes are for very good reasons.
Highly truncated airfoils
With aerodynamics and comfort almost as important as maintaining the classic SuperSix handling prowess, the changes to the frame are vast. According to Cannondale, this new frame has 30 per cent less aerodynamic drag than the previous version and is as aerodynamic as many of its rival’s pure aero race frames.
It has managed this by deploying truncated airfoil tube shaping to almost every part of the SuperSix’s frame. This process takes a typical aerofoil teardrop shape and chops out a smaller chunk to create a tube shape that has minimal impact on frame weight but is proven to be faster than purely round tubing.
With aerodynamic resistance making up over 50 per cent of total resistance at speeds of over 15kph, this reduction in drag is something that every amateur rider and racer can benefit from. And for all you keen data heads, Cannondale claims that this new version will also save you nine watts over a Specialized S Works Tarmac and up to a whopping 40 watts over a Trek Emonda (granted not an aero machine). These comparisons came during wind tunnel testing, albeit at a constant 48.3kph.
And the use of truncated airfoil shaping has a two-fold benefit; not only is it obviously more aerodynamic but its use increases the torsional stiffness over purely round tubing, helping to make the new Cannondale SuperSix EVO stiffer than its predecessor.
What about comfort?
To counteract any comfort issues that might arise from the use of this aerodynamic tubeset the new SuperSix has a few tricks up its sleeve.
Most obvious is a move to a dropped seatstay design, probably the most obvious and controversial change to the design. Through the use of this and tuned carbon layups the rear end is now more compliant than ever. Cannondale has also upped the tyre clearances to allow the SuperSix to comfortably swallow a 30mm tyre width with 6mm of breathing room on all sides.
It has also tweaked the geometry, predominately the reach and stack measurements. Here Cannondale has adopted a similar approach to its Synapse endurance platform and has raised the stack height and shortened reach slightly to produce a more comfortable ride position.
Bikes will also come stock with a relatively high spacer stack under the stem to further tweak bar height and fit.
SuperSix EVO system components
This latest SuperSix EVO follows in the footsteps of the SystemSix in that Cannondale has designed it as part of a system in which the frame is just one part. To this end the launch of the SuperSix also sees Cannondale presenting a new wheelset, bar/stem and seatpost.
Cannondale is sticking to the same model format with the new SuperSix EVO, consisting of six models with the standard BallisTec carbon frame and four models with the higher quality Hi-Mod carbon frame. The good news for some riders is there will be two rim brake models available in the range.
Cannondale SuperSix EVO HM Disc Dura Ace Di2, £8,999
Cannondale SuperSix EVO HM Disc Ultegra Di2, £6,499
Cannondale SuperSix EVO HM Disc Dura Ace, £5,499
Cannondale SuperSix EVO Disc Ultegra Di2, £5,499
Cannondale SuperSix EVO Disc Force eTap, £4,799
Cannondale SuperSix EVO Disc Ultegra, £2,999
Cannondale SuperSix EVO Ultegra 2, £2,499
Cannondale Supersix EVO disc 105, £2,299
Cannondale SuperSix EVO 105, £1,999
First ride impressions
On a very inclement, UK-esque day in Vermont, USA we managed to put the SuperSix EVO Hi-Mod Dura-Ace through its paces over a very lumpy 50 kilometres of rough tarmac and ungraded roads.
And without wanting to prolong the agony of finding out if the heir to the throne is as good as the incumbent version, the good news is the new SuperSix EVO is good. In fact it’s better than good, it’s breathtakingly good.
We would even go as far as saying that Cannondale has far exceeded expectations. Creating a machine that manages to effortlessly combine razor-sharp handling with a lightening quick power response and all wrapped up in a level of comfort that is nothing short of sublime.
Fans of the SuperSix EVO rejoice, the EVO is reborn and this time it’s even better.