Cannondale’s Synapse range has always played second fiddle to their SuperSix line-up, the racier cousins always impressing us with their sharp handling, light weight and impressive road manners. The Synapse frame, however, has had major revisions over the past couple of seasons.
Frame & equipment: Well equipped sportive geometry
The head tube is 2.5cm taller on the new Synapse, and more relaxed, giving the frame a longer wheelbase that makes the bike more suited to long days in the saddle.
The revamped seat tube design is now compatible with a slender, 27.2mm seatpost for added comfort, and the Save Plus carbon layup at the rear end adds even more flex. That’s all combined with a new all-carbon Save Plus fork, which makes the front end as smooth as the rear while shaving a not-insignificant amount of weight.
The Synapse shares most of its build kit with the equivalently priced SuperSix, but Cannondale have selected a more comfort-oriented Prologo Kappa saddle and bigger volume 25c versions of Schwalbe’s impressive Lugano tyres for the more sportive-focused bike.
Full Shimano 105 combines with a BB30 compatible FSA Gossamer crankset, to give a solid and dependable drivetrain that combines consistent shifting and braking with Shimano’s unique smoothness.
The RS10 wheels are fine middleweights too – hardy, smooth rolling and with a quick pickup at the freehub. The 25c Lugano tyres complete the magic carpet of smoothness.
Ride & handling: A good balance of speed and comfort
Cannondale’s Performance Geometry is finely balanced between comfort and stability, with steering that’s reactive enough when you want to turn up the wick and have a bit of fun. Bikes such as Specialized’s Roubaix are more comfortable, but the Synapse isn’t far behind.
It is, however, a more involved ride. More exciting and swift, the Synapse will make you want to attack, get out of the saddle and go for it on the climbs, whereas sportive bikes are usually more likely to make you sit in and pedal.
On the flat the Synapse is rapid – you can concentrate on putting all your power through the pedals, the rigid frame transmitting your efforts straight down onto the tarmac.
If you like to get down low when the terrain allows, we felt slightly hampered by the large cone spacer on top of the head tube. Ideally we’d have liked to drop the bar height by more than the two carbon spacers would allow.
Through the turns the Synapse reacts as it should, tracking well and making it easy to hold the ideal line. Quick corrections aren’t as sharp as with the SuperSix but for an endurance bike we’ve only found Giant’s Defy to have the edge.
Cannondale have made a good gearing selection in the form of a 50/34 combined with an 11-28T cassette. It makes mincemeat of the climbs while offering a big enough gear to motor along at a high pace when you need to.
Overall, the latest Synapse is a great all-rounder and a worthy partner to the always impressive SuperSix.
This bike was tested as part of Cycling Plus magazine’s 2013 Bike Of The Year feature – read the full results in issue 273, available now on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.