Cannondale Synapse Ultegra disc – video review

Super-smooth carbon frame and all-weather hydraulic disc brakes

Our rating 
5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0
GBP £2,499.00 RRP | USD $3,790.00

Our review

One of the best ever endurance bikes out there just got even better
Skip to view product specifications

Should you have been reading BikeRadar earlier this year you might have noticed that we like Cannondale’s Synapse the non-disc model took our 2014 Bike of the Year title. For 2015 Cannondale has expanded its disc-braked Synapse range, which formerly only included alloy bikes and the extravagantly expensive Hi-Mod Disc.

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  • Highs: Smooth and fast, with quality kit and an attractive price
  • Lows: Who wants a tall spacer on their steerer?
  • Buy if: You want one of the best endurance bikes ever created with the bonus of hydraulic braking

Synapse video

Video: Cannondale Synapse Disc Bike of the Year review

As you’d hope at this price the Synapse comes with some great kit, based around Shimano’s excellent Ultegra groupset and hydraulic brakes. But this also sees the debut of Cannondale’s more economical alternative to its exotic SiSL2 chainset – the Si. It’s not as light as the SL and doesn’t feature the one-piece Spidering, instead relying on a pair of FSA chainrings, but it weighs less than an Ultegra unit and equals its performance, the rapid pick-up when switching between rings making the front shifting consistently quick and smooth.

Shimano’s hydraulic discs offer a brilliant balance of feel and power:
Robert Smith

Shimano’s hydraulic discs offer a brilliant balance of feel and power

The rest of the Ultegra setup is just as slick with the braking equally impressive, Shimano’s hydraulic brakes offering a brilliant balance between superb feel and out-and-out stopping power. It’s braking like this that shows why more and more road bikes are getting the disc brake treatment.

Mavic has only just launched its Aksium One Disc wheelset, but it has been making disc-brake wheels for mountain bikes for years, so it knows what it’s doing. The Aksium Disc One’s broad rim shapes the tyre well, and with straight-pull spokes creates a stiff wheel. It’s the French company’s entry-level offering, but it doesn’t feel like it. They’re shod with Mavic’s new 28mm Yksion Comp rubber. The extra width hasn’t noticeably hampered performance or speed but it has enhanced comfort, and the soft, sticky nature makes for incredibly confident descending and a planted feel through high-speed corners.

The Synapse’s ride is quick and smooth – the complexity of integrating disc brakes hasn’t hampered the bike’s smoothness at all over poor road surfaces. It’s fast uphill and down, with the descents aided by braking that is dependable whatever the weather.

Mavic’s 28mm yksion comp boots make for an incredibly planted feel through high-speed corners:
Robert Smith

Mavic’s 28mm Yksion Comp boots make for incredibly planted cornering

Excellent contact points also contribute to the Cannondale’s comfort. The saddle is Fabric’s new Scoop, which in its carbon guise recently led us to award a maximum five stars. The more modest model here has the same flexible hull and padding, for first-rate long-distance comfort.

Your hands are similarly pampered by a highly textured and thickly padded rubberised bar tape. It’s not that chunky but is very good at isolating your palms from road noise.

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The Synapse not only has quality kit and a class-leading ride, it’s also well priced. In fact, our only real criticism is of one little component: the 25mm-tall headset spacer that limits front-end adjustment. Yes, the bearing has a flat cap underneath but you’ll still need spacers to adjust the position. Why can’t we just have a standard flat cap?

Product Specifications

Product

Name Synapse Ultegra disc (15)
Brand Cannondale

Available Sizes 48cm 51cm 54cm 56cm 58cm 61cm
Saddle Fabric Spoon Shallow
Wheelbase (cm) 100.5
Top Tube (cm) 56
Standover Height (cm) 80
Seat Tube (cm) 50
Chainstays (cm) 41.5
Bottom Bracket Height (cm) 27
Weight (lb) 18.56
Year 2014
Wheelset Mavic Aksium One, Center-Lock, 24 spokes front and rear
Weight (kg) 8.42
Stem Cannondale C2 6061 alloy 31.8mm 11cm
Shifters Shimano RS685 11-speed hydraulic disc
Seatpost Cannondale C2 UD Carbon 25.4mm
Seat Angle 74
Rear Wheel Weight 1870
Bottom Bracket FSA BB30
Frame Material Cannondale BallisTec carbon
Brakes Shimano RS685 hydraulic disc
Cassette Shimano Ultegra 6800, 11-32, 11-speed
Chain Shimano HG600 11-speed
Cranks C'Dale HollowGram Si, BB30A, FSA rings 50/34 175mm
Fork Synapse Save Plus BallisTec Carbon 1 1/8- 1¼in tapered steerer
Fork Offset 4
Front Derailleur braze-on-front
Rear Tyre Mavic Aksion WTS 700x28
Front Tyre Mavic Aksion WTS 700x28
Front Wheel Weight 1400
Handlebar Cannondale C2 compact alloy 42cm
Head Angle 72.5
Headset Type Synapse Si, 1¼in lower bearing, 25mm top cap
Rear Derailleur Shimano Ultegra 6800
Frame size tested 56cm