Cannondale has totally revamped its SuperSix EVO platform for 2020, moving away from its pure climbing thoroughbred heritage and transforming the bike into a thoroughly modern all-round machine.
I have to admit that after seeing pictures of the new EVO with its fashionably aerodynamic dropped rear stays and aero tube shapes I was filled with trepidation — I’ve always been a huge fan of previous EVOs, from the classic lines, to the spot-on racy position and light weight, but above all, the way in which the it handles.
It’s still the bike that I feel most at home on when riding on the limit, it’s a confidence-inspiring bike. But onto the new bike.
My test bike for the day was the Dura-Ace mechanical model at £5,499.99. Warren Rossiter/Immediate media
There are certainly some seismic shifts with the new bike’s design, with its wind-tunnel optimised tubing and a much more integrated approach.
Full internal cable routing makes it look slick, and the new cockpit with its combination of KNOT bar and stem is one of the most elegant (and simple) of the new generation of integrated bar/stem combos that I’ve seen.
It still offers lots of adjustment too — with plenty of stem options and eight degrees of pitch adjustment it was easy to translate my favoured set-up onto the new bike.
The mechanical routing on the Dura-Ace bike travels through the port where a Di2 junction box would live. Warren Rossiter/Immediate media
On my first ride out, which consisted of a short spin uphill and then a long two-mile-plus twisting descent, the new EVO felt, well, familiar straight away.
The ride position is spot-on for me, and although it’s slightly taller than the older bike (by a centimetre) you’d be hard pushed to tell the difference.
After the first, wide open, sweeping turn on the descent, I was huddled down into the drops and spinning hard to get up to a decent speed. The succession of switchback turns and proper hairpins were attacked with ease.
I immediately found the balance point, with the new EVO allowing me to hit the right lines and keep accelerating, only relying on the excellent Shimano brakes to regulate speed rather than braking hard.
A smooth, fast ride
The next section of our 40-mile test ride was a fast blast on a rolling road, and here the EVO felt particularly impressive.
It holds onto speed well and, despite the road surfaces on the Vermont test roads varying from smooth to deeply frost scarred, potholed, and rutted the EVO proved itself to be a smooth riding companion.
Up front, the clever System SAVE bar muted road buzz and vibration, and at the back, the new slimline SAVE carbon post matched the front for smooth compliance without feeling saggy or overly flexy.
It’s worth noting that this was while running 25mm Vittoria tyres too. With larger rubber — the bike has clearance for 30mm tyres — this bike has the potential to be Synapse smooth.
The new KNOT 45 wheel design has a wide rim profile that like the SystemSix’s KNOT 65s sits proud of the width of the tyre. Warren Rossiter/Immediate media
As a further test for the bike’s character, we hit a long unpaved climb followed by a seriously choppy, pretty much gravel descent. The EVO coped well, only limited by the 25mm tyres, and reached the base of the descent without any issues or dramas.
Wet weather performance
After a couple of hours, the weather turned pretty sour and the heavens opened — not great for riding but another testing angle to my first ride.
The weather took a turn for the worst at the mid-point of the ride. Warren Rossiter/Immediate media
As the rain poured we had a 10-mile stretch of rolling road to get to our pre-destined, mid-ride coffee stop, so it was full on chaingang time, taking pulls on the front and rotating to drive the pace.
With a close to 30mph average along a gently undulating road, the EVO felt superb — it’s more akin to a little brother of the aero titan SystemSix than the flighty, lightweight EVOs before.
I have to admit to being quite taken with the new EVO’s dual personality – a light all-rounder and fast blast, speed machine.
Post coffee and back on the road, and with plenty of the test bikes being bathed in rain for 30-45 minutes, we did have a few issues. Barely bedded in brakes left to cool in the rain started to sound their discomfort for the first few miles, and a few of my fellow riders suffered slipping seatposts.
ProLogo’s Dimension NDR saddle is one of the best short-saddle options around. Warren Rossiter/Immediate media
I didn’t have any issues with my post slipping, though my saddle had slipped back on its rails by a centimetre by the end of the ride.
The remainder of the ride was a series of long, steep climbs and short descents to get back to the elevated start point of the circular loop, and it’s here where the bike shone.
The ever dependable Shimano Dura-Ace. Warren Rossiter/Immediate media
The new wheelset feels impressive at speed and doesn’t feel like a burden on long, steepening ascents. The 52/36, 11-30 gearing is ideal for all-round use, providing a big top-end to exploit the downs and a low enough gear to keep you spinning when the road turns upwards.
The new EVO climbs efficiently and smoothly. It didn’t have quite the same flighty, dancy feel when out of the saddle as the previous top of the range EVO, which could be a bit of rose-tinted memory from me, but I’ll need to get the new bike back on home soil and familiar roads to really find out.
Cannondale SuperSix EVO Hi-Mod Dura Ace early verdict
Overall, though, I’m impressed. It’s an efficient, absolutely cutting-edge machine that’s easily a strong rival to the best of its competition: The Trek Emonda, Specialized Tarmac, BMC Roadmachine, Cérvelo R5, Giant TCR, Pinarello F10, Merida Scultura and Canyon Ultimate.
However, I still can’t shake the feeling that in becoming such a state of the art, professional level racing tool something of the soul of the original EVO has been lost to technology.
Of course, that could just be sentimentality from this tester’s fond memories of the legacy the name holds.