Cannondale CAAD13 Force eTap AXS review

The new king of aluminium?

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Our rating 
4.5 out of 5 star rating 4.5
GBP £4,800.00 RRP | USD $5,750.00 | AUD $7,500.00

Our review

Cannondale's CAAD13 proves that high-grade aluminium can match carbon for performance
Pros: Stunning handling and super-smooth ride
Cons: It’s expensive for ‘just’ aluminium
Skip to view product specifications

The thirteenth element on the periodic table is aluminium, so the CAAD13 had to be a special offering from Cannondale, especially because its predecessor, the CAAD12, won our highest accolade of Bike of the Year back in 2016, so it has a lot to live up to.

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The CAAD13 looks different though: gone are the (mostly) round tubes, the horizontal top tube and traditional looks in favour of a bike that, at first glance, looks like a ‘carbon’ copy of the new SuperSix EVO.

It’s only when you see some of the large, substantial welds that you realise that it’s not carbon. Its 8.79kg weight is impressively light for alloy and wouldn’t feel out of place if it was carbon, and I’ve certainly ridden and tested heavier carbon bikes than this in a similar spec.

This model is at the top of the tree with the SAVE bar and stem borrowed from the SuperSix. The KNOT 45 wheels from the EVO add a layer of pure class, as does the brilliant new Force AXS group.

We’ve been spending a lot of time with SRAM’s new second-tier wireless drivetrain and it’s every bit as good as the sublime RED system, just a little heavier with more chain noise.

The gear range is simply excellent, featuring a 48/35 with a 10-33 cassette for a combination that’s closest to a 52/36 with 11-32 – but with a taller and a lighter gear at each end, and with seven single-tooth jumps leading to a more progressive-feeling range.

SRAM Force eTap AXS drivetrain on Cannondale CAAD13
SRAM’s new 12-speed Force AXS eTap continues to impress on every bike I try it on and the CAAD13 boasts an excellent gear range.
Robert Smith

Cannondale CAAD13 Force eTap AXS ride impressions

Spin the pedals in anger and the CAAD13 is, quite simply, a stunning companion. The pick-up is lightning quick and the handling oh-so-assured.

On descents, it’s a master of point-and-shoot dynamics. Push as hard as you dare on the pedals, stick the CAAD13 in the direction of a corner’s apex and it hits the mark every single time. Crank on the pedals straight after and head for the next turn.

This is a bike that, when you get to the bottom of a technical and fast descent, you feel the need to turn around and climb back up for another go with the absolute confidence that it can go a bit quicker.

Cannondale CAAD13 Force eTap
Big welds signifiy that the CAAD13 is an aluminium machine.
Warren Rossiter/Immediate media

The frame is aluminium so it’s never going to be as flyweight as the new EVO and carries a few hundred grams more.

Cannondale claims the CAAD13 is the same weight as the CAAD12 for the frame – the CAAD12 weighed in at 1,094g – while the EVO is a claimed 866g (both with all fixtures and fittings, and painted).

The weight weenies out there will decry that extra 228g on the CAAD13 compared to the EVO, but to put that into context, a full water bottle weighs 660g. And, if I’m truly honest, I just didn’t feel the difference in weight between the 13 and the Dura-Ace equipped EVO Hi-Mod I rode recently.

Yes, the Hi-Mod EVO had plenty of high-end extras (carbon-railed saddle, Shimano flagship group, lightweight SiSL2 chainset), which reduced the weight further, but this 13 rides light because it shares the same KNOT 45 rims and KNOT carbon bar and post, yet it’s £1,200 cheaper than the EVO Hi-Mod Dura-Ace at £5,499.99.

Vittoria tyres on Hollowgram KN0T 45 wheels
Its tempting to switch out Vittoria tyres with Continental’s 500TL.
Robert Smith

The setup of this CAAD13 is so good overall, in fact the only thing I’d look to change would be to take advantage of the KNOT wheels’ tubeless compatibility and switch out the decent Vittoria tyres for a tubeless tyre, such as Continental’s sublime new 5000TL.

Cannondale CAAD13 Force eTap AXS overall

Out on the road, the CAAD13 is stunning. In fact, it’s hard to believe that a metal bike like this can ride quite so well.

We’ve become accustomed to modern aluminium bikes being pretty special, from the likes of Trek (Emonda ALR), Specialized (Allez Smartweld), the venerable CAAD12, or even smaller brands, such as Tresca or Bowman.

This new CAAD13, however, is on another level still and has to be considered quite possibly the finest use of aluminium in a road bike and I’m now itching to try the CAAD13 in its more modest variants. It’s even got me excited to try the rim brake-equipped models too.

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Cyclist riding Cannondale CAAD13 Force eTap AXS in countryside
The CAAD13 is quite possibly the finest use of aluminium in a road bike.
Robert Smith

Cannondale CAAD13 Force eTap AXS geometry (58cm)

  • Seat angle: 72.9 degrees
  • Head angle: 73 degrees
  • Chainstay: 40.8cm
  • Seat tube: 56.2cm
  • Top tube: 57.8cm
  • Head tube: 18.8cm
  • Fork offset: 4.5cm
  • Trail: 5.8cm
  • Bottom bracket drop: 6.9cm
  • Bottom bracket height: 27.3
  • Wheelbase: 1,005mm
  • Stack: 59.5cm
  • Reach: 39.5cm

Product Specifications

Product

Price AUD $7500.00GBP £4800.00USD $5750.00
Weight 8.79kg (58cm)
Brand Cannondale

Features

Available sizes Cannondale CAAD13 Force eTap AXS
Handlebar Hollowgram SAVE carbon
Tyres Vittoria Rubino Pro Bright black 28c
Stem Hollowgram SAVE alloy
Shifter SRAM Force eTap AXS
Seatpost Hollowgram 27 SL SAVE carbon
Saddle ProLogo Nago RS
Rear derailleur SRAM Force eTap AXS
Front derailleur SRAM Force eTap AXS, braze on
Bottom bracket SRAM BB30
Frame CAAD13 aluminium
Fork Ballistec carbon SAVE
Cranks SRAM Force eTap AXS
Chain SRAM Force eTap AXS
Cassette SRAM
Brakes SRAM Force hydraulic with 160mm rotors
Wheels Hollowgram KN0T 45