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.
- 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
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
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 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.
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?
|Name||Synapse Ultegra disc (15)|
|Available Sizes||48cm 51cm 54cm 56cm 58cm 61cm|
|Saddle||Fabric Spoon Shallow|
|Top Tube (cm)||56|
|Standover Height (cm)||80|
|Seat Tube (cm)||50|
|Bottom Bracket Height (cm)||27|
|Wheelset||Mavic Aksium One, Center-Lock, 24 spokes front and rear|
|Stem||Cannondale C2 6061 alloy 31.8mm 11cm|
|Shifters||Shimano RS685 11-speed hydraulic disc|
|Seatpost||Cannondale C2 UD Carbon 25.4mm|
|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|
|Rear Tyre||Mavic Aksion WTS 700x28|
|Front Tyre||Mavic Aksion WTS 700x28|
|Front Wheel Weight||1400|
|Handlebar||Cannondale C2 compact alloy 42cm|
|Headset Type||Synapse Si, 1¼in lower bearing, 25mm top cap|
|Rear Derailleur||Shimano Ultegra 6800|
|Frame size tested||56cm|