With disc brakes continuing to infiltrate the road bike scene at a seemingly inexorable rate, the market is in the midst of a major shift – and with discs now installed on the SuperSix Evo race frame, the American brand is embracing the revolution too.
Last year, we got our hands on the rim brake version of the SuperSix Evo Hi-Mod for a review in and around the Etape du Tour, and there it impressed us with its sheer all-round rideability. Whether you wanted to attack the Col de Joux Plane, or spend a whole day on UK roads, it was equally at home. Composed, responsive, quick. Ideal.
But what about the disc version? Now this Shimano Ultegra-specced SuperSix Evo Disc doesn’t feature the top-level Hi-Mod carbon frame layup of Cannondale’s more expensive machines, and is instead constructed of Cannondale’s ‘Ballistec’ carbon, but the heart of the bike - the geometry, ride quality, and aggressive-yet-accessible position - is for all intents and purposes near-identical.
You give up some weight (829g for the Hi-Mod Disc compared to 1,030g for the Carbon Disc) but gain a chunk of cash, and for our money the SuperSix Evo Disc Ultegra featured here sits in an accessible sweetspot which offers the bike’s trademark ride, without an eye-watering price tag.
Let’s take a closer look at the frame, then. Compared to the rim brake bike we rode at the Etape, there’s a redesigned fork and rear triangle to accommodate the disc rotors and calipers (you’ll spot a 100x12mm front thru-axle and a 135x9mm rear quick release skewer), at the same time boosting tyre clearance to 28c.
Our time on the bike revealed it rides almost identically to the SuperSix Hi-Mod rim brake frameset thanks to the same 989mm wheelbase length coupled with a 405mm chainstay length in a 56cm frame. Naturally, and as we've already covered, there’s a weight penalty in the frame, with the Disc Ultegra overall build coming in at 8.5kg, but its biggest plus point is that it's difficult to tell unless you're on really steep pitches. Even with the conservative Mavic Aksium WTS providing the rolling stock – naturally somewhat at fault for the extra mass – climbing remains a pleasure, as does tipping down the other side.
Here the Shimano RS685 brakes step into their own, providing powerful and consistent stopping power that allows the rider to attack the bends. Cannondale’s engineers have worked wonders, retaining the sleek and narrow rear triangle tube diameters more reminiscent of a featherweight rim brake frame – yet at the same time distributing the increased braking forces of discs with ease.
Elsewhere, this mechanical Ultegra version relies upon reliable, high performing componentry to simply get the job done, no questions asked. We’ve already mentioned the Aksium disc hoops - they're dependable but the frame is worthy of better and it's a line in the spec sheet which leaves space for serious upgrade potential – but the quality kit story continues with a Prologo Kappa 3 saddle atop a comfort-boosting 25.4mm Cannondale C3 alloy seatpost derived from the Cannondale Synapse endurance machine. You’ll also find Cannondale’s own distinctive, stiff Si chainset.
Cannondale SuperSix Evo Disc Ultegra
- Price: £2,799.99
So what if you want to go fast? The SuperSix Evo frame (nor indeed Cannondale in general) has never been one to follow the trends of aggressive aerofoiled tubing, but even the latest versions have seen truncated aero profiles subtly introduced.
But what we like most is how it retains a sense of traditionalism in a bike industry that’s fast evolving. While we like an aggressive aero bike as much as the next rider – all poise, drama and downright aggressive speed – the SuperSix Evo Disc is a rare beast, in that it embraces the future without losing the distinctive narrow, straight tube profiles of its predecessors. It even retains external cable routing of the downtube for easier servicing, yet you do have to look carefully to notice.
More evolution than revolution, the Evo Disc, even in this ‘bottom-of-the-range’ version, is a seriously impressive all-round machine. Left alone, it’s a joy to ride in all conditions, yet it’s also ready for some well-chosen upgrades too.