A bike that needs no upgrades for the racecourse
Cannondale – Cyclocrossworld.com was arguably the most successful American team during the 2015-’16 season. At the tail end of the calendar, Stephen Hyde mixed it up in Belgium’s intimidating mud on the 2017 SuperX. Now it’s in our hands, and we are big fans of this aggressive yet stable bike that’s race-ready out of the box. It’s not the perfect cyclocross racing bike, but it’s darn close.
As ‘cross courses become more technical, quick and agile steering becomes a high priority. The SuperX has a 55-millimeter fork offset, 63-millimeter trail, 71.5-degree head tube angle, and a 68-millimeter bottom bracket drop that makes for stable steering at high speeds. And despite the stable feel, other geometry tweaks keep the SuperX lithe and aggressive. Cannondale calls it Out-Front Geometry, which gets the rider in a better position to weave through technical sections. The chain stays measure 422 millimeters on all frame sizes, which represents an 8 millimeter shortening from previous models. It’s among the shortest on the market for cyclocross bikes. That tweak allowed Cannondale to extend the front-center measurement on a 56-centimeter frame to 621 millimeters without extending the wheelbase, which is relatively short at 1,034 millimeters.
The combination leads to a locked-in feeling at high speeds and quick steering in tight turns. The SuperX feels preternaturally stable on descents, and at slower speeds it’s easy to thread the needle. Our one slight criticism is that it felt slightly too locked-in at high speeds; a little more liveliness here could really help with quick flicks during elbow-to-elbow passes or line changes out of a rut.
The SuperX is built with Cannondale’s Speed Save frame design, which features flattened tubing to help maintain lateral rigidity while allowing for some vertical flex for comfort. The tubes are undeniably radical — the bike has flattened chain stays and seat stays and a thinned seat tube below where the seatpost ends. It pays off: The SuperX is a comfortable ride over chatter, yet it never feels flimsy when grinding up climbs. The 1,000-gram frame is made from three total pieces (the front triangle being one and the rear triangle comprising two), and despite the comparatively diminutive bottom bracket shell (0.64 millimeters of deflection), the SuperX transfers a good bit of power under heavy sprinting and short, punchy climbs.
Cannondale engineers gave a nod to the burgeoning gravel scene when designing the frame, creating a bike that can accommodate tires up to 40 millimeters in width with 5 millimeters of clearance to spare. They did this by moving the drivetrain 6 millimeters outboard. But there’s a rub: The rear wheel needs to be re-dished to work properly with the drivetrain offset. That means if you need to swap wheels in the pits, you better be sure you’ve got a properly dished wheel at the ready. It also is a problem if you’ve got an existing set of pit wheels that aren’t dished specifically for this frame.
The SuperX Team features a 142×12-millimeter rear thru-axle and front Maxle — a significant upgrade from last year’s bike. It comes stock with Zipp 303 tubular wheels and Challenge tires — truly race-ready out of the box. For a bike that needs no upgrades for the racecourse and can pull double-duty as a gravel grinder, its price tag is fitting.