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First Ride: Cannondale SuperSix Evo Hi-Mod Disc

Cannondale's new disc-brake version of its flagship road bike rides as well or even better as its rim-brake cousin.

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KITZBUHEL, Austria — Last year we touted Cannondale’s SuperSix Evo Hi-Mod as the standard-bearer for all-around race bikes because it’s light, responsive, stiff, and comfortable. With the launch of this year’s disc-brake version of Cannondale’s elite race bike, the test was simple: Does it ride as well as or better than the original rim-brake version?

It does indeed, though professional rider Phil Gaimon (Cannondale) thinks it still has one shortcoming: “Still no kickstand.”

That glaring shortcoming aside, the SuperSix Evo Hi-Mod disc shares the same geometry as the original SuperSix Evo Hi-Mod, even though the frame is constructed with all-new molds. The frame structure itself had to be redesigned to accommodate disc-brake loads, which means a different layup for strength reinforcement. Despite the changes, Cannondale has managed to create one of the lightest, if not the lightest, disc race bikes on the market today. A size 56cm frame weighs in at just 829 grams, and the fork a feathery 360 grams.

The fork is identical to the non-disc version, with one-piece construction throughout, though the disc version features a 12-millimeter thru-axle. The rear axle remains a quick-release for quicker wheel changes in race situations. Both front and rear brakes are a flat-mount design.

The test model we rode was spec’d with Hollowgram SI wheels with a 35-millimeter depth and a 19-millimeter rim width, and Cannondale reps say the disc version of the bike can handle 28c tires “no problem.” (Note: the stock builds feature 25c tires.)

We had an opportunity to put the new SuperSix through its paces in the mountains outside of Kitzbuhel, Austria, following the wheels of Gaimon and his teammate Toms Skujins. While the disc brake debate in the pro ranks continues to rage, Skujins said there are distinct advantages to Cannondale’s execution of the disc road bike. “People associate discs with mountain bike brakes and the sharp braking, but the modulation [on the SuperSix] is so nice,” he said. “It’s not only more predictable than mountain discs, it’s also more predictable than caliper brakes on road bikes.”

Testing this theory required a steady, steep climb up into the mountains, during which the pedaling responsiveness and exceptional handling we’ve come to love about the original SuperSix were on full display with the disc model. It was, by all accounts, the same bike with the same ride qualities. That’s high praise, given how well the non-disc version of the SuperSix did in our Buyer’s Guide testing.

When it came time to descend, there were no surprises: We’ve ridden Ultegra road disc brakes before and, as Skujins put it, the modulation is exceptional and braking power is strong. There was no brake shudder even on the steepest pitches and hardest pulls on the brake lever, and as Gaimon was quick to point out, “in the dry [conditions], if you give us better brakes we’ll just go faster.” That theory held true, even for the mere mortals on the ride: We found ourselves heading into switchbacks and sweeping turns with more speed and confidence, while braking later.

While a lot of that confidence can be chalked up to the reliable stopping power, a big tip of the hat also needs to go to the engineers who designed a stable frame geometry that feels appropriately playful on the climbs and locked-in on the descents. It’s the same trusted geometry from last year’s SuperSix, and designers were wise not to tinker with geometry for the disc version. The Hollowgram Si carbon clinchers added to the exceptional cornering abilities, taking full advantage of the tire profile with a 19mm rim width.

The test model we rode was dressed in Shimano Ultegra brakes and a Di2 drivetrain, a Hollowgram crankset, and Hollowgram Si carbon clinchers with a price tag of $6,200. If that’s too much scratch for your liking, Cannondale also offers an Evo Carbon disc, non-Hi-mod, version with Shimano 105 for $2,800. It’s a slightly heavier frame at 980 grams, but it shares the same molds as the Hi-Mod version so you get the same geometry and performance.