Cannondale’s SuperSix EVO should be familiar to many. Now in its third generation, since its 2008 launch, this has been one of the finest-handling race-orientated road bikes around.
Oh, and it also won our 2020 Road Bike of the Year title, so the 2021 model has a lot to live up to.
And Cannondale certainly talks up the qualities of its 2021 SuperSix EVO, describing it as a “light, smooth and ultra fast” bike built for “speed, agility and handling”, which covers most bases. Fortunately for Cannondale – and consumers like us – my testing largely confirmed Cannondale’s claims.
This SuperSix EVO has all the features you’d expect of a road bike at this price, from the mechanical Shimano Ultegra groupset – save for Cannondale’s own One chainset with FSA chainrings – and a raft of own-brand components, in this case complete with Cannondale’s HollowGram and quirky KNOT monikers.
Cannondale SuperSix EVO frame
Cannondale claims its all-new SuperSix EVO is not only the lightest disc-braked road frameset it has ever made but the new frame also features Cannondale’s own SAVE – Synapse Active Micro-Suspension – technology, which is designed to maximise compliance without sacrificing stiffness.
The 2021 frame inevitably features a lot of the design cues we’ve come to expect from today’s high-end race bikes. Cannondale says the frame’s truncated aerofoil frame tubes weigh the same as round tubes but with equal or greater stiffness, and they are also claimed to reduce aerodynamic drag by up to 30 per cent.
Cannondale goes on to say that this saves you 30w at 30mph (48.3kph) over the previous SuperSix EVO’s frame.
The SuperSix EVO’s seatstays are radically dropped and Cannondale, as with the likes of Giant, has eschewed a round seatpost for its own dedicated narrow flat-backed HollowGram KNOT carbon post, which is designed to reduce vibrations and improve aerodynamics.
Both the frame and fork have Speed Release thru-axles, which seem to be something of a ‘thing’ this year. These were developed by Mavic and allow for quicker and cleaner wheel changes than a standard thru-axle because you don’t need to completely remove the grease-covered axle to change the wheel.
Cannondale SuperSix EVO geometry
The SuperSix EVO’s geometry marks out this Cannondale as a fast race bike, and its numbers have a lot in common with those of Giant’s equally popular TCR.
The frame angles on my 58cm frame are as near to the classic parallel 73 degrees as makes no difference – a steep 73-degree head angle and virtually as steep 72.9-degree seat angle.
These are paired with tight 408mm chainstays and a 1,005mm wheelbase. The trail figure is 58mm. Trail is the distance between the tyre’s contact patch on the road and the steering axis – a shorter trail means faster handling – and 58mm is short.
|Seat angle (degrees)||74.3||74.3||74.3||73.7||73.7||72.9||72.5||72.1|
|Head angle (degrees)||70.9||71.2||71.2||71.2||73||73||73||73|
|Seat tube (cm)||40||43.8||47.7||51.5||53.6||55.8||57.9||60|
|Top tube (cm)||51.2||52||52.8||54.6||56.2||57.8||59.4||61.1|
|Head tube (cm)||9.9||11.4||13||15.3||16.4||18.8||20.9||23|
|Fork offset (cm)||5.5||5.5||5.5||5.5||4.5||4.5||4.5||4.5|
|Bottom bracket drop (cm)||7.4||7.4||7.4||7.2||7.2||6.9||6.9||6.9|
|Bottom bracket height (cm)||26.8||26.8||26.8||27.1||27.1||27.3||27.3||27.3|
Cannondale SuperSix EVO kit
Cannondale has put a lot of thought into kitting out this SuperSix EVO. It’s a mechanical Ultegra setup with a deviation for Cannondale’s own One chainset with FSA 52/36 chainrings and a wide-ranging 11-32 cassette, which should see you up the toughest of climbs. The shifting is smooth, the braking controlled and powerful.
It’s predominantly Cannondale’s own components elsewhere, from the aerodynamic HollowGram carbon SystemBar and HollowGram KNOT stem to the carbon HollowGram wheels.
The cockpit looks superb and helps to make the most of the SuperSix EVO’s internal cable routing.
The stem has a cradle design with no forward-facing clamp, which is an aerodynamic win, and the integrated out-front GPS mount contributes to the Cannondale’s smooth, clean lines.
The Cannondale HollowGram carbon 35 wheels are impressive and weigh less than 1,500g. They’re built around a 35mm deep carbon rim with a 25mm external width and a generous 19mm inner width that perfectly complements the SuperSix’s Vittoria’s Rubino Pro G+ 2.0 25mm tyres, which swell out to 27mm when inflated on the HollowGram rims.
The tyres are good, and are certainly a big improvement over Vittoria’s original lower-end Rubino rubber, but they are still outshone by Vittoria’s racy Corsa tyres, which this Cannondale really deserves.
The Rubino is a tough tyre and here they feel just about quick enough but they’re flattered on the Cannondale by being wrapped around a light and aerodynamic wheelset.
I’d very much recommend upgrading to lighter, faster tyres down the line, which would elevate the SuperSix EVO’s performance even further.
The SuperSix EVO’s front wheel has the addition of Cannondale’s own Wheel Sensor, which was developed in conjunction with Garmin.
The small sensor, which attaches to spokes near the hub, measures speed, time and distance, has on-board storage for up to 900 hours of information and runs off a CR2032 cell with a claimed battery life of a year. It works with Cannondale’s own app or any head unit compatible with BLE or ANT+.
To connect your bike to Cannondale’s app you simply spin the front wheel. This lets you register your bike for its warranty and also allows you to display just about every riding metric you can think of as well as a few others that are a bit more surprising.
In addition to the likes of the usual ride distance, speed and calories you’ve consumed, you can dip into the amount of fuel you’ve saved by riding instead of driving, how much CO2 you’ve saved and receive ‘health’ reminders for your bike, so you’ve no more excuses for forgetting to lube and service it.
The app also links to technical manuals and maintenance procedures relevant to your bike, such as how to bleed the hydraulic brake hoses.
You can also register more than one bike, log your cycling achievements and goals, and the app also has an X-ray function – in reality an augmented reality screen that shows what’s going on underneath the skin of your bike, things such as the internal cable routing.
You can use the app as a standalone ride log – it can log and save 30 days of riding – or in conjunction with Strava.
Cannondale SuperSix Evo ride impressions
The SuperSix EVO’s racy geometry and its technological and component highlights – of which there are many – are only part of the story. What really makes this bike so compelling is the sheer quality of every aspect of its ride.
The handling is simply sublime. The SuperSix EVO responds quickly to your steering inputs and your shifting bodyweight without a moment of hesitation or a murmur of complaint.
I found myself attacking every descent and railing every corner with the enthusiasm of Evel Knievel (Google him if you’re under 40), safe in the knowledge that if I had to make a last-minute correction for a pothole, branch or suicidal rabbit, the Cannondale would have my back and respond instantly.
It is also an unfailingly enthusiastic and willing climber, an impressive sprinter and it flows over coarse surfaces with confidence.
The 2021 cockpit is an improvement over that of the 2020 model, and that upgrade to the aerodynamic KNOT stem and matching aero KNOT SystemBar also goes some way to justify the price increase over last year’s model.
The SuperSix EVO’s D-shaped KNOT carbon seatpost and ProLogo Nago S saddle are a good match for the front end when it comes to comfort, too.
The overall picture for the third-generation SuperSix EVO is that Cannondale has not only made improvements over the 2020 model, which is an achievement in itself, but the new model also combines superb frame stiffness, consistent rock-solid handling and compliance exactly where it’s needed.
This is the most comfortable SuperSix EVO to date and I firmly believe it sets the standard for ride quality in a race-ready bike, edging out even Giant’s TCR when it comes to comfort.
Cannondale SuperSix Evo bottom line
In its 2021 Cannondale SuperSix EVO, Cannondale has taken everything that made its predecessors such successful machines and elevated it still further.
The SuperSix EVO’s handling, ride quality and responses are as good as I’ve found on any bike in the decades I’ve been testing road bikes.
Yes, I’d recommend upgrading the tyres later on to really let the ride shine, and the SuperSix EVO’s value for money may have suffered in these economically challenged times – but this year that’s true for pretty much all brands at all sorts of price points.
In an ideal world this would be discounted to around £3,500, which is about what it would have retailed at in pre-pandemic times.
But all things considered, this year’s SuperSix EVO is just as much a star in 2021 as it was in 2020, even if it now faces tougher competition than ever.
It is a bike that has got better with age, one that offers you the genuine superbike experience without having to stump up the usual five figures.
And not forgetting Muc-Off, for its help keeping the bikes washed and lubed throughout testing.
Road Bike of the Year 2021 contenders
Thirty-two of the best bikes ridden and rated…
- ARC8 Escapee
- Basso Venta 105 Disc
- BMC Roadmachine TWO
- BMC Teammachine SLR TWO
- Boardman ADV 8.9
- Boardman ADV 9.0
- Boardman SLR 8.9 105
- Boardman SLR 9.4 AXS (winner)
- Cannondale SuperSix EVO
- Cannondale Topstone Lefty 1
- Cervélo Caledonia-5
- Cinelli King Zydeco
- Genesis CDA 30
- Giant Contend AR 3
- Giant TCR Advanced Pro 1
- Giant TCR Advanced SL 0 Disc
- Lapierre Xelius SL 5.0
- Orbea Avant H60-D
- Orbea Orca M20
- Pearson Off Grid
- Planet X London Road SRAM Apex 1 Disc
- Ribble CGR Ti Pro
- Ribble Endurance 725 Base
- Ribble Endurance Ti Disc
- Rondo HVRT CF1
- Sensa Giulia GF
- Specialized Roubaix Sport
- Specialized S-Works Aethos
- Specialized S-Works Tarmac SL7
- Trek Domane AL 5
- Van Rysel EDR AF
- Vitus Zenium Tiagra
|Price||AUD $6500.00GBP £3950.00USD $4500.00|
|Available sizes||44, 48, 51, 54, 56, 58, 60, 62cm|
|Handlebar||HollowGram SAVE SystemBar carbon|
|Tyres||Vittoria Rubino Pro Graphene 2.0 25mm|
|Seatpost||HollowGram SL 27 KNØT carbon|
|Saddle||ProLogo Nago S|
|Rear derailleur||Shimano Ultegra|
|Front derailleur||Shimano Ultegra|
|Bottom bracket||Cannondale Alloy PressFit30|
|Cranks||Cannondale 1, 52/36|
|Cassette||Shimano 105 11-32|
|Brakes||Shimano Ultegra hydraulic disc with 160mm Ice-Tech rotors|
|Wheels||Cannondale HollowGram 35 carbon disc|