This month we’re focussing our attentions on bikes designed for all-day comfort and having flirted with titanium thanks to the Kinesis Racelight Gran Fondo Ti, we’re turning to Cannondale’s carbon offering – the Synapse.
The Synapse frameset is available in a range of builds, based around three frame materials – aluminium alloy (Shimano Sora, Tiagra and 105), regular carbon fibre (SRAM Apex, and Shimano 105 and Ultegra) and high-modulus carbon fibre (Shimano Ultegra and Dura-Ace). Our machine is the Cannondale Synapse Carbon 6 Apex, which retails at £1,799.99.
Comfort is the Synapse Carbon’s chief claim, with the frame employing Cannondale’s SAVE technology – or Synapse Active Vibration Elimination – which is designed to make the ride as smooth as possible. So much so that some Liquigas-Cannondale riders ditched the top-of-the-range SuperSix Evo for the Synapse for the cobbled Classics, including the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix.
What’s SAVE? It starts up front with the fork, which, through a combination of its unique carbon lay up and offset dropouts, results in “increased vertical deflection and vibration absorption with no loss in steering precision”. Meanwhile, the Multiflex seatpost starts with an aero profile, mirroring that of the seat tube, before tapering to add flex. And finally, the chain stays have what Cannondale call a “redesigned micro suspension system” which features a flattened area that absorbs road buzz.
So the Synapse looks to offer a comfortable ride thanks to its frame technology, combined with an upright geometry (our 56cm model has an 18cm headtube), while the build of our machine, the cheapest in the carbon range, further ticks the sportive-friendly box thanks to SRAM’s Apex groupset.
The Apex groupset was unveiled in February 2010 and is aimed to make life a whole lot easier on the hills. The oversized cassette borrows heavily from SRAM’
s XX 2×10 mountain bike technology, with the biggest cassette a whopping 11-32t. Apex was spotted on some pro bikes during last year’s Giro d’Italia when the race headed into the super-steep Dolomites. So the Apex groupset, combined with the compact FSA Omega chainset (50-34t), offers a huge range of gears which will see you up any incline. That will, however, leave a pretty big gap between sprockets and we’ll report back on that, and how the bike rides, in our review.
Anything else to note? Shimano’s entry-level RS10 wheels are wrapped in Schwalbe Lugano tyres, while Cannondale provide the handlebars, stem and saddle and the weight of our test ride is 8.20kg (without pedals). As for the finish, that’s best described as sportive bling, with the white/black paint job complemented by white bar tape and the white Apex groupset, which was new for 2011.