The Cannondale SuperSix EVO Hi-Mod is a frame with serious pedigree. Just consult the palmares of Peter Sagan, who has won two consecutive Tour de France green jerseys on Cannondale’s flagship machine.
It’s also our latest test bike. The SuperSix EVO was launched in May 2011 so it’s fast approaching its third birthday but it remains one of the lightest production frames on the market at a claimed 695g. Needless to say, that’s seriously light and our SRAM Red-equipped bike is seriously light, too – just 6.6kg out of the box.
We’ve covered the complete SuperSix EVO range, which was expanded across three price tiers for 2014, in more detail here but for now we’ll focus on the Cannondale SuperSix EVO Hi-Mod and specifically the £4,799.99 Red Racing build we have in front of us, seeing as that’s what we’ll be riding in the weeks ahead.
Cannondale say the SuperSix EVO Hi-Mod is designed to balance weight, stiffness, strength, compliance, handling and aerodynamics. Just about everything, then. A bike that can balance all five will be a fine bike indeed, but we’ll see over the course of our test.
But let’s hear what Cannondale have to say first. Weight, we’ve covered, so how about strength and stiffness? Cannondale’s BallisTec carbon construction uses high-strength, high-elongation carbon fibres to create a basic structure which is stronger than “most aluminium frames”. Cannondale then apply a continuous network of the more brittle high-modulus carbon fibres to key junctions and the outer edges of the frame’s tubes to enhance stiffness and tune comfort, claiming to achieve both without sacrificing the strength and, crucially, weight of the frame.
The tube profiles also are designed to create a stiff, rigid ride. There’s a 1-1/8″to 1-1/4″ tapered headtube up front, while the wide toptube slims in the middle before flaring at its junction with the seattube, which itself ovalises where it meets the BB30 bottom bracket and the round downtube. The SuperSix EVO Hi-Mod retains an understated look, though, and particularly against current trends where everything is hugely oversized or aero, and we like it for that.
The seatstays are super-slim and are part of Cannondale’s ‘Speed SAVE micro-suspension system’, which brings us round to comfort. Cannondale say some flex has been built into the seatstays and chainstays to take the edge of harsh roads but also to improve handling by allowing the rear wheel to track the surface, rather than jumping skittishly over it. The fork is said to work to the same effect thanks to offset dropouts. It’s light, too, at a claimed 315g.
On to aerodynamics and there’s nothing about the SuperSix EVO which immediately screams aero. However, Cannondale say the frame’s understated tube profiles create a smaller frontal area competition to oversized competition, thus reducing the area exposed to the wind and thereby reducing drag. There’s not much we can do to prove or disprove that.
One other point on the frame: the SuperSix EVO Hi-Mod’s gear cables run externally (the rear brake cable is internal), which is pretty rare for a modern performance frame, though it should make for easier maintenance.
The SuperSix EVO Hi-Mod is a race bike so it has a suitably racy geometry – look at the Synapse for Cannondale’s comfort-focused ‘endurance’ bike with a taller headtube and shorter reach. The toptube on our 56cm test bike here measures, well, 56cm. There are also matching 73.5 degree head and seattube angles, a tight 99cm wheelbase which should result in lively handling, and a low 15.5cm headtube. Those figures are fairly normal for a bike like this – it’s not outrageously aggressive for a race bike – but something to bear in mind, though Cannondale do provide a generous stack of spacers on top of the already tall headset cover.
The build is based around a near-complete SRAM Red 22 groupset. The Red Racing moniker of this model gives it away as a machine specced for the heat of battle and the standard double 53-39t chainset (compact chainrings are also provided – more on that below) and 11-26t cassette are a reflection of that, providing a tight, punchy spread of gears.
The chainset, by the way, is Cannondale’s stunning SiSL2 Hollowgram unit. The CNC-machined chainset may be made from aluminium, but it’s exceptionally light at a claimed 483g. The cranks are made from two separate pieces which are then bonded together, hence the ‘Hollowgram’ name. You can see the two pieces thanks to a gold outline (which also shows the locking teeth) on each crank.
The 3D-forged chainrings and spider, meanwhile, are made from one piece of aluminium, and the ten-arm design, inspired by racing car wheels, is said to boost stiffness. There are also no chainring bolts and that’s said to improve shifting as there’s no flex in the metal. The chainrings are interchangeable with the same crankset and Cannondale also provide the Red Racing with compact 50-34t chainrings for riders who want a lower spread of gear, or who want to swap for a trip to the mountains.
The rest of the build comprises Mavic Ksyrium Elite S wheels, which at a claimed 1,520g contribute to the low overall weight. They’re wrapped in Mavic Yksion Pro tyres. Otherwise, Cannondale finishing kit (stem, handlebar and seatpost) and a colour-matched Prologo Nago Evo Tirox saddle complete the spec sheet. While we’re talking about colour, we love the Red Racing’s paintjob and it certainly stands out from the crowd against a ever-present backdrop of matte black bikes.
Sizes: 48cm, 50cm, 52cm, 54cm, 56cm, 58cm, 60cm, 63cm
UK distributor: Cycling Sports Group