This entry-level SuperSix Evo promises penthouse performance for a bargain basement price, and opens up Cannondale’s premium road bike range to an even greater number of riders. There have obviously been economies to condense a Tour de France triple green jersey-winning superbike in to a more realistic budget, and they begin with the frameset.
Highs: It feels, rides and handles like a SuperSix should
Lows: Weighty wheels and ordinary kit mask the frame’s potential
Buy if: You want to go Evo and are willing to upgrade
Leaving aside the lofty Evo Nano, the heart of the SuperSix range uses high modulus carbon, for ultimate strength and light weight, but the Evo 5 sheds price with its BallisTec carbon construction, which uses standard high strength carbon with limited high modulus material in key areas to increase stiffness. Manufacturing costs have also been cut by swapping the internal rear brake cable guides for an external route beneath the top tube, and shifting the head tube gear cable stops to the down tube. It’s mostly an aesthetic change, and does at least ease servicing.
The ballistec construction puts hi-mod carbon in key places: Robert Smith
The BallisTec construction puts hi-mod carbon in key places
The net result is a frame that Cannondale still claims weighs under 950g, and that certainly bears its family DNA. A micro-suspension effect is provided by the Speed Save rear triangle and fork, which permit tiny amounts of flex, enabling the wheels to follow the road’s contours more accurately, and greatly enhancing comfort. The SuperSix has always had incredibly composed and agile handling, and the Evo 5 doesn’t let the side down, with great stability on the most broken roads.
Cannondale’s trick has always been in matching such a supple ride with incredible lateral stiffness, helping the SuperSix to accelerate with the best. In this spec, that ability is a little masked by the efficient, but average Shimano RS11 wheelset and 25mm Schwalbe Luganos. The latter’s larger volume and file tread improve comfort and wet weather grip especially, but also rotational weight, which is the enemy of acceleration. It’s tough rolling stock, and reasonably rapid, but they do blunt the bike’s climbing potential.
This bargain evo still handles descents with supreme composure: Robert Smith
This bargain Evo still handles descents with supreme composure
This is a shame, because the Evo loves to soar, and even though its quality fights to propel you skywards, there’s a sense of energy loss between drivetrain and road. Shimano’s 105 is as slick as ever, and the addition of an FSA Gossamer chainset makes the most of the BB30 bottom bracket, with 52/36 rings for a perfect gearing range. Descending is a calm and confident experience, the bike cornering with cheetah-like composure, our only issue being a lack of brake bite. Bedding in may improve things, but on dry and wet rides, stopping was unimpressive.
Prologo’s Scratch Pro saddle proved a fine perch, well-shaped and supportive, and Cannondale’s C3 alloy finishing kit was well finished, with a great ergo bar, but did transmit more road vibration than we’d like. The race-derived position won’t suit every rider, as the head tube is relatively short, but it’s not so extreme as to polarise the Evo 5, which is as capable of mixing it up in the races as being an everyday or endurance ride – and one that’s well worth upgrading.