Cannondale have used Eurobike to unveil the Synapse Hi-Mod Disc – a top-of-the-range model of the firm’s ‘endurance race’ bike equipped with Shimano’s new hydraulic disc brakes.
While a disc-equipped version of the alloy Synapse was introduced at that launch, Cannondale told us there were no immediate plans to have a carbon Synapse with discs.
Turns out that was a white lie to keep the Synapse Hi-Mod Disc underwraps until Eurobike – effectively the Tour de France of cycling trade shows, when the world’s dealers, distributors and press descend on Friedrichshafen, Germany, to view the latest products from hundreds of brands.
“We want to be at the leading edge of disc brake development,” Cannondale’s Jonathan Geran told RoadCyclingUK at Eurobike. “It’s an emerging technology on road bikes and it’s exciting to us.
“Why do you need disc brakes? It’s not just about pure stopping power, it’s about better control and better modulation. You can lock up a rear wheel on a road bike pretty easily, and when you lock up it’s when you don’t have steering or control. Disc brakes will solve that. It’s about controlled modulation”
The Synapse Hi-Mod Disc comes equipped with Shimano’s new Di2-specific non-series, hydraulic road disc brakes and corresponding STI levers, with the derailleurs, cassette and chain from the Japanese component manufacturer’s range-topping Dura-Ace group. Cannondale’s SiSL2 cranks and SpideRing chainrings complete the drivetrain, while the wheels are new-disc specific carbon hoops from Enve. This build will be available in the UK for approximately £7,500.
Geran says the frame and fork have both been re-engineered to account for the different braking forces applied by discs, while maintaining the combination of comfort and performance that is the Synapse’s raison d’être.
“We wanted to include all the features of the new Synapse – the SAVE Plus comfort technology, Power Pyramid and BB30A – but with a proper disc brake update,” he said.
“SAVE Plus is critical to the Synapse so incorporating disc brakes, and all the torsional forces that come with discs, meant we had to redesign the lay-up and we started with a clean sheet of paper.”
As a result, the carbon lay-up is now weighted more heavily on the left fork leg and left chainstay. The result is a 45g increase in claimed frame weight to 995g. The complete bike in this build weighs a claimed 7kg, just shy of the UCI’s weight limit (if disc brakes were permitted for use in racing), with a penalty of approximately 150g for using discs, according to Geran.
The rear disc brake is fixed to a moulded tab which Cannondale call the ‘reach around brake adapter’ which is itself mounted to the chainstay, rather than the helixed seatstay, which is kept isolated to maintain comfort.
Geran says the ‘reach around brake adapter’ allows them to mount the disc brake to a stronger part of the chainstay by moving it back, while it is also said to make adjustment and alignment of the brake pads easier.
The hydraulic hoses run internally and the result is very neat but that Geran says that also posed Cannondale’s engineers with a new challenge.
“Moulding holes into the fork and maintaining its structural integrity, while not the affecting the for and aft deflection we need for the ride quality, required a lot of engineering,” he said.
The fork leg also has a ‘speed guide fork tip’ which is essentially a small indent in the tip of the fork. Put the axle on that before inserting the wheel and seating the rotor into the caliper, and that aligns the rotor without having to use a third hand, according to Geran. The dropouts are forward facing but are offset, in a similar design to the non-disc Synapse, to allow the fork to compress and flex, and therefore improve comfort, without compromising stiffness or handling.
The paintjob is retro-inspired with the 71 on the downtube a nod to the year Cannondale was formed – 1971. The black, red and sky blue finish is very easy on the eye and we’re looking forward to getting our hands on this machine when it becomes available later this year.