Possibly the best value bike in Cannondale's disc-only SuperX range combines years of carbon refinement and the best cyclocross components. Balancing accurate and precise steering control with ample rigidity when accelerating out of corners, the frame works with you rather than beating the terrain into submission, and its forgiving nature makes its performance easier to exploit.
Cannondale’s BB30 works as well off-road as on, but the narrowish shell limits clearance between the chainstays and 33mm rubber. In average conditions it’s not a problem, but when the going gets gloopy, mud and grass can collect behind the shell, the limited space reducing the chances of it clearing. Disc brakes remove two common clogging points, though we’d like to see wider spaced chainstays for all-conditions versatility. But the reasonably slim down tube collects less mud than beefier frames, and the main triangle with its flattened top tube is easy to shoulder.
SRAM’s superb 1x11 Force CX1 groupset is simple and effective, but Cannondale fits its own Si chainset with an FSA Megatooth chain ring. Its teeth differ from SRAM’s, but with the clutch derailleur keeping the chain taut, the effect is the same, and we had no unshipped chains. We did find the 42x28 lowest gear literally too steep, barely managing our test route’s stiff off-road climb. A 40 or 38-tooth ring would be more suitable and allow the rider to use all 11 sprockets.
Fulcrum’s Racing Sport wheels are very much middle-of-the-road performers. These will take a beating and propel you at a good lick, but won’t win races; Schwalbe’s Racing Ralph clinchers, meanwhile, are keen all-rounders that grip tenaciously in all but the thickest mud and aren’t too heavy.
The hydraulic brakes are awesome, but the older Avid rotors proved very noisy when damp. It didn’t affect performance, but was embarrassing. Cannondale’s finishing kit was solid and reliable, though we’d prefer an ergo bar for a flatter lever transition. But the package has a very competitive weight, and with judicious upgrades would make a rapid race bike or fantastic all-rounder.