Cannondale’s Synapse bikes are aimed at riders who appreciate comfort. Plushness is emphasised over performance. Cannondale has moved production to Taiwan, so sadly there’s no ‘Handmade in USA’ decal or those lovely smooth welds. But it does enable the American company to make a road bike that won’t break the bank.
The Synapse is typical for a £700 machine, having an aluminium frame, carbon fork with alloy steerer and Shimano’s functional Sora groupset. The triple chainset is less usual, but while weightier than a compact – especially with a steel inner chainring – it offers a slightly lower bottom gear. And while we Brits seem averse to triples, the rest of Europe happily accepts them.
Maddux is new to us, but the Taiwanese company’s wheels come as standard on several of Cannondale’s budget bikes. They’re no lightweights and contribute to the slightly underwhelming acceleration, but our workshop manager George was impressed with how evenly tensioned they were. A couple of hundred miles of riding convinced us that these are decent budget wheels, though you’ll need to look after the loose ball bearing hubs in winter to keep them running smoothly.
For a modestly specced machine, the ride is reassuring and comfortable. The frame has a shorter top-tube and taller head-tube than Cannondale’s racier bikes, resulting in a slightly upright position. The comfort is helped by the oversized bar, excellent bar tape, swooping keyhole-shaped seatstays and Schwalbe’s 25mm Lugano tyres, their grip allowing you to tackle corners confidently. Cannondale’s own saddle proved popular too, and the result is a bike that takes long rides in its stride and can tackle them at a reasonable lick. It’s excellent for the price, with Cannondale’s experience in producing aluminium frames standing it in good stead.