Whenever you’re looking at a bike range, there will always be one standout model. The one that the product manager pulled out all the stops on, not to create a superbike that only one percent of bike buyers can own, but one that hits the balance between price and specification to create something that’s really desirable and attainable. In terms of Cannondale’s Evo range that superstar is this SuperSix Evo Dura-Ace.
For starters, it’s got probably the best mechanical groupset to date in the shape of 9100 Dura-Ace; a system so slick and sharp it’s hard to believe it relies on good old cables.
- The Cannondale SuperSix Evo Dura-Ace is one of our Bike of the Year bikes for 2018. To read reviews of the other contenders and the categories tested across road, mountain and women's bikes, visit our Bike of the Year hub.
It’s also now capable of taking a wider range gear than before. Cannondale has deviated from full Dura-Ace by using its own Si chainset. This isn’t a bad thing — it was designed to work flawlessly with the original Cannondale innovation, BB30, and the machined one-piece SpideRing looks like a work of art and performs as well as Shimano’s efforts in chain-shipping duties.
In the current fiscal climate, getting a bike with Dura-Ace in this price bracket is becoming increasingly rare. With this bike, Cannondale is taking it to direct-to-market discounters in the value stakes. You’ll also get the back up of your local dealer when it comes to service time.
This Evo is the carbon version, so rather than the super-light 777g hi-mod version, this frame weighs 980g with a 360g fork as a companion. The gear cables run externally under the down tube, with only the rear brake cable internal, with a neat horizontal exit port at the seat tube junction.
Compared to the latest dropped stay, sloping top tube designs from the likes of BMC and Specialized, the Evo looks quite traditional with its standard two triangle design and effectively horizontal top tube.
Don’t let that fool you into thinking the Evo is somehow outdated though. It remains one of the most exciting and compelling pure race bikes that I’ve had the fortune to swing a leg over.
The sheer speed it exudes is addictive, the way in which it responds to the smallest of inputs makes the handling telepathic, and threading the Evo through the tightest of turns is a joy.
Elsewhere, the spec has been thoroughly thought through. You get Cannondale’s all-new Hollowgram carbon clinchers for a bit of dazzle. They wear some of the best of the current crop of clincher tyres — Vittoria’s Corsa G+s — which are quick, grippy and tough thanks to their graphene-infused compound.
The new Hollowgram carbon wheels impress too, with smooth spinning hubs and a quick freehub pickup, and are fuss- and flex-free under load. The brake performance is decent; I rode the Evo in dry as well as very wet conditions, and in blustery high winds and the wheels gave me no drama at all.
The braking is firmer and lacks the feel of top-end carbon hoops from ENVE or Zipp, but it’s on a par with the likes of Reynolds, Vision and DT Swiss, which is a pretty good effort for what’s effectively Cannondale’s first crack at carbon clinchers.
Fizik’s excellent Antares saddle sits in the middle ground of the brand’s animal-inspired fitting and suits more than it upsets. The saddle sits atop of Cannondale’s comfort-infused SAVE carbon seatpost in the Cannondale-specific slim 25.4mm diameter, which was first seen on the endurance-biased Synapse and is a standard bearer for a smooth back end.
On climbs the SuperSix excels, which is in no small part to its overall lack of mass. My 58cm test model weighs 6.6kg, which is under the UCI limit for not only a big-sized bike but also one that comes in a massive £5,800 less than the range-topping Evo Black Inc.
The firm solidity of the chassis also makes it a masterful climber, the response to your efforts makes you feel like a superhero ascender.
The firmness translates into swift descending. With no discernible flex it’s a bike that you can lean into and pin a corner, snapping through the apex and getting on the power swiftly.
The comfort levels at the back are remarkable for such a firm feeling bike and that can only be down to the slender seatpost and the SAVE carbon construction. Up front, the C1 alloy bar is stiff and well shaped, but it does feel firmer than at the back. An upgrade to a quality carbon bar would make this Evo pretty much the perfect road machine.