The top-tier, lightweight, all-around race bike from Cannondale is fitted with top-shelf SRAM, and house-brand Knot and Hollowgram components in a simple, elegant, and expensive package.
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The Cannondale SuperSix Evo Hi-Mod Disc Red eTap AXS (whew, that’s a mouthful) is the latest do-it-all bike from the U.S. brand that is the bike partner to the EF Education-Nippo squad and Tibco-SVB women’s team. While this frame was introduced in 2019, the SRAM component group, updates to the cockpit, and the overall appearance have been refined since.
The lavender color is subtle — yet one of the most attention-grabbing features — compared with the Palace Skateboards designs seen in 2020, under EF Education-Nippo.
Hefting the bike — hardly scientific — to get a sense for its weight I was imbued with thoughts of scaling walls like Hugh McCarthy or Rigoberto Urán. (I am intentionally not weighing the bike until doing a few weeks of riding, and I’ll include the actual weight in my full review down the road.)
What this bike promises is fast fun in an elegant but expensive package.
Features and components
The SuperSix Evo comes with SRAM’s top-level wireless shifting and hydraulic brakes. The shifting is smooth and reliable so far, and the braking is powerful and allows for precision adjustments to speed. Using just one finger, the brakes bring this bike to a halt very quickly, and Cannondale engineered a ride that allows confident control even while slowing.
The Knot 45 wheels are firm without being rigid when jumping on the power, leaning into turns, and skipping along on dirt washboards. The Vittoria Corsa Graphene 25mm tires are grippy and durable, and hold up to off-pavement thrashing.
Cannondale’s Hollowgram cockpit has a hollow bar and stem with mostly internal cable routing. The underside of the stem has a plastic cover to keep cables and hoses in place. I’m not so sure about the plastic parts on a top-end bike, but it does allow for cockpit adjustment. It is a similar system to that used by BMC; both Specialized and Trek offer bikes in a similar tier, but with full carbon and fully hidden cables and lines.
On the top side of the very solid-feeling handlebar, the computer mount — which reminds me of a narwhal horn — seems to be an afterthought until I realized that the mount also hides the bolts that fasten the handlebar to the stem. Noted that the underside of the stem does not allow for an accessory mount. Is there a more elegant solution for such a pricey piece of carbon?
The bar offers a very firm feel, however, it does a brilliant job at insulation from road chatter, even on milled road surfaces. The drops have a tight radius bend, and the extension to the end of the bar offers so much room for many different hand positions. Unlike the Bontrager or Roval equivalent, there is absolutely no give or flex from the Hollowgram bar under my 163lbs (74kg).
The stock Prologo saddle is amply comfortable, and I’m certainly a fan of short, flat saddles with a center channel cut out to prevent any discomfort.
How does the Cannondale SuperSix Evo ride?
In a word: Silky.
The frame’s carbon layup schedule, geometry, and dropped seatstays make for a comfortable ride on washboard dirt and poor-quality pavement. On paved roads, the Cannondale SuperSix Evo is icy smooth, without imparting a dead feel in the name of reducing fatigue. To me, the Cannondale feels ever so slightly more refined in terms of ride smoothness than comparable bikes from Specialized and Trek, but this could be a judgment influenced by wheel and tire selection.
While exploring the precision and stability offered by the SuperSix Evo on different surfaces, I’ve the confidence to find small spaces to squeeze between others with precision.
And to be sure, the handling is very stable on the back end of this bike, and also nimble and precise up in front, underneath my hands. I find myself oversteering on fast gravel descents when I try to shove the SuperSix Evo from the center of the road to the gutter. This Cannondale seems to respond well to being caressed on dirt and also to being shoved on the tarmac.
Stay tuned for a full review.