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CX or gravel? New SuperX aims for versatility

The company reimagines its cyclocross offering with different axles, wheels, and geometry to tackle gravel and technical courses.

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Last year I reviewed Cannondale’s SuperX Hi-Mod CX1 cyclocross bike and gave it good marks but bemoaned its lack of thru-axles and Stan’s Grail Team wheels that we found to be on the flexy side. It seems Cannondale was listening: The 2017 SuperX features a 142×12 rear thru-axle and front Maxle, and the Team-level SuperX comes stock with Zipp 303 tubulars, a significant upgrade over the Stan’s wheels that came on the bike last season. This is a very different ’cross steed than what we’ve seen in the past, though the core of the machine still capitalizes on all of Cannondale’s best tech.

Component choices aside, Cannondale took a new tack with the SuperX to respond to the burgeoning gravel segment, though reps from the Connecticut-based company are quick to note that the SuperX is a cyclocross bike first and foremost. In fact, Stephen Hyde tested the new SuperX late last cyclocross season in Belgium.

As CX courses become more technical, the need for more steering stability becomes a higher priority; the SuperX accommodates such courses with a 55mm fork offset, 63mm trail, 71.5-degree head tube angle, and a 68mm bottom bracket drop that makes for stable steering at high speeds.

All those figures make the SuperX sound like anything but a quick steerer, but Cannondale’s global senior product manager David Devine says other geometry tweaks keep the SuperX quick and aggressive. The company is calling it Out-Front Geometry, which gets the rider in better position to attack technical sections with quick steering and agility. The chainstays clock in at 422mm on all frame sizes, 8mm shorter than previous model years and among the shortest on the market for cyclocross bikes. That allowed Cannondale to extend the front-center measurement on a size 56 centimeter to 621 millimeters without extending the wheelbase, which is decently short at at 1,034 millimeters.

The combination should lead to some agile handling at high speeds and quick steering in tight, tape-to-tape turns. In other words, Cannondale is promising everything a CX racer wants and needs.

Frame construction got an overhaul too. The main triangle — head tube, top tube, seat tube, and down tube — is all one piece, while the left and right chainstays are constructed as one piece respectively. That means the 1,000-gram frame is made from three total pieces. That should translate into high lateral stiffness numbers for efficient power transfer and handling.

Like previous SuperX models as well as SuperSix Evo bikes, the new SuperX features Cannondale’s Speed Save frame design, which essentially translates into shaped tubing that helps maintain lateral rigidity while allowing some vertical flex for your comfort. The SuperX has some of the most dramatic examples of shaped tubing that Cannondale has incorporated into a bike, with flattened chainstays and seatstays and a thinned seat tube below where the seatpost bottoms out.

The nod to gravel comes in the form of wide tire clearance, and to get that, Cannondale offset the drivetrain by 6 millimeters outboard. The rear wheel needs to be re-dished to work properly with the drivetrain offset, with the ultimate goal of chainline maintenance. The payoff: The SuperSix can fit tires up to 40 millimeters with 5 millimeters of clearance to spare.

Other nice touches include flat mount front and rear disc brakes, a SRAM X-sync licensed chainring on the Cannondale Si crank, and a 25.4mm Save seatpost with a hidden clamp bolt.

Cannondale will also offer an aluminum version, the CAADX, with similar geometry, though it will only take a 35mm tire. Various build kits will be available for both the SuperX and CAADX; pricing is yet to be determined.

We’ve only got a ride or two on the SuperX so far, so it’s too early to say if Cannondale delivers on its big promises. Keep an eye out for our long-term review soon.