The original hi-mod SuperSix Evo was, hands down, our favourite super bike of recent years. It was an intoxicating blend of light weight, quick handling and stability, backed up with a remarkably smooth ride for such a highly focused pro-level race machine.
We never expected the highly innovative and technical frame to make it down to the mass-market ranks of below £2,000, but Cannondale has made it happen. The Evo 5 isn’t even the cheapest in the SuperSix range – that’s the £1,699.99 Evo 6, which has less Shimano 105 and cheaper wheels.
HIGHS: Smooth, stable, agile an outstandingly good all-round race bike
LOWS: No Di2 upgrade path, front end may be a bit low for some
Cannondale has managed to get the Evo 5 105 below two grand by using standard carbon, rather than hi-mod, and by routing the rear brake cable externally rather than internally. This only adds a few grams to the frame weight, but it considerably reduces manufacturing and assembly time. It’s a clever way to reduce costs, and doesn’t hamper the bike’s performance in any way. It makes servicing easier too.
Aside from gaining some grams everything we love about the hi-mod Evo is present here. That just goes to show that carbon-fibre frames aren’t just about material – it’s also about configuration, and the carbon experts at Cannondale have got it spot on here.
The rear end simply smooths out roads, thanks to the twisting and flattening chainstays and the slender, kinked seatstays. The slender-legged fork has much the same effect up front; this bike rolls like silk, floating across scarred, coarse tarmac with ease.
The SuperSix Evo flies up hills and races back down. Its measured smoothness makes it a climbers friend – even out-of-the-saddle stomps up steep inclines can’t faze this remarkable frame and, despite its slender proportions, we couldn’t sense any twist or give. On the downslopes, the bikes it turns in with perfect agility and it’s capable of holding the tightest, fastest cornering lines.
We’re glad to see that Cannondale has kept to Shimano 105, the chainset being the only omission from the groupset (Shimano don’t make a BB30 chainset to match Cannondale’s invention). The cassette has a sportive-friendly gearing of 50/34 and 12-27.
Shimano’s new RS11 wheels are among the best of their kind, and are a significant improvement over the R500s that are often found in this price range. The RS11s feature aero profiled 30mm deep rims and if their predecessors, the RS10s, are anything to go by, these should prove tough and hard-wearing.
We were impressed with the preformance of the Schwalbe Lugano tyres too, especially in the wet. Their filed tread sheds water well and they offer decent cornering grip in all conditions. For 23c tyres they have ample flex to help the rides smoothness.
The SuperSix Evo 5 is chameleon-like in nature. It can be both a smooth-riding sportive speedster and a rapid accelerator that can cope with rough surfaces one minute and sprint attacks the next.
The downside? Well this frame isn’t Di2 or EPS compatible, and it never will be, because its routing is all external. The only other thing we can think of is that because it’s very much race-derived ride, the front end is very low. You could stack up spacers at the steerer tube, but we’d rather get low and fast to enjoy the Evo for what it is; a modern classic and a racers’ dream machine.
This article forms part of Cycling Plus magazine’s Bike of the Year 2014 Awards, which will be published on 3 March 2014. Cycling Plus is available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.