Cannondale’s SuperSix has now been around for a long time, but both its flagship Hi-Mod (abbreviated from High Modulus, effectively top-grade carbon) and the more affordable Evo here are still both benchmark all rounder performers. Even though the Evo lacks the frame remodelling of the latest Hi-Mod version the overwhelmingly positive feedback from our test team suggests there’s little sign of that changing any time soon.
Like any relationship the first meeting with a bike often has a long resonance and it would be hard for a bike to chime better with most riders who tried it than the Evo. While the head tube of the SuperSix is relatively low to encourage a more attacking position (the comfort-oriented Synapse is taller in the same frame size), the combination of a steep 74-degree seat tube and relatively short top tube meant our testers never felt overstretched.
Even when swapping between riders there was none of the constant saddle sliding back and forth to try and find a sweet spot in relation to pedal position and shoulder burn – something you’ll often experience trying to get a 'bloke's bike' to fit. Unlike many women’s brands, which only offer three frame sizes in each model, also Cannondale offers the Supersix in five different sizes across a 44 to 56cm range.
No disc-brake option, annoyingly, but Ultegra SLR-EV rim brakes are up there with the best
Cannondale has fitted its own slightly flattened, compact sized C2 women’s wing bar and Fizik’s Arione Donna saddle to provide excellent contact points that stay comfortable all day long. Finally, in a refreshing change from the cliched norm, there’s no trace of pink paint anywhere on the Ultegra 3 – although the light blue of the stripe details definitely seems to be the favourite bridesmaid colour when it comes to women’s bikes.
High performance, high comfort
As much as fit obviously matters it’s the ride quality of the Evo that separates it from an increasing number of very good women’s bikes.
For a start it pulls off a very clever double act of being both high performance and high comfort. Despite being significantly cheaper than most similarly equipped bikes, its sub 7.5kg weight is lower than any of the half dozen Ultegra and Dura-Ace specced women’s bikes we’ve tested recently by 300g. Not a massive amount in itself, but when you press hard on the gorgeous-looking and impressively stiff Cannondale Hollowgram SI cranks with their 30mm axle BB30 innovation (which Cannondale and FSA originated and then made open source to establish it as a universal standard) it makes a surprising difference to acceleration.
Gorgeous and impressively stiff Cannondale Hollowgram SI cranks are specced on the Ultegra 3
Add reasonably light and tight Mavic wheels and it all establishes an effervescent ride character that never dulls even when the road rears upwards again at the end of a long day in the saddle.
As we say, you’re likely to get to that final hill feeling fresher than on most bikes anyway – and not just because of its low weight, firm power transfer efficiency. The flattened SAVE rear stays have been evolved on Cannondale’s bikes since the late 90s, starting with the Scalpel mountain bike. The carefully laid up and shaped SAVE fork construction is designed to do the same up front and the way they isolate the rider from road rattle and undodged debris and pothole impacts is obvious even out of the saddle.
Sit down and the skinny 27.2mm carbon seatpost adds another length of sharp-edge damping spring between between road and rider. Even riders who didn’t know (or particularly care) why it was happening all commented on the silky floated and buoyant ride as it skimmed them across sections better than a lot of comfort focused sportive/fondo bikes that feel fat and flaccid when you get to the hills.
Whether you're interested in the tech behind it or not, there's no escaping the SuperSix's distinctively serene ride
It’s equally well behaved from a handling point of view too. The conspicuously relaxed 71.5 degree head angle means you can put total faith in the forward weighting of the bike when it comes to attacking corners or dropping down sketchy winter descents.
While the Aksium wheels and matching Mavic tyres are adequate rather than amazing in terms of grip the balance of stable precision and traction-boosting damping in the curved, tapered leg front fork and big round mainframe tubes mean we never had trust issues even on wet and winding roads.
The carefully laid up and shaped SAVE fork construction is designed to isolate the rider from road rattle
The Ultegra SLR-EV brakes are among the best you can grab a rim with too, although it’s a shame there are no disc brake options in either the SuperSix or Synapse Carbon women’s ranges.
Not enough of a good thing
As much as the Supersix EVO is a beautiful bike and a bargain in terms of performance it’s a shame there’s no women’s version of the ultra light 700g-framed EVO Hi-Mod to compare to other full-spec flagships like Trek’s Emonda SLR 9, Boardman’s SLR, Liv’s Avail Advanced SL or Envie Advanced Pro and Cube’s Axial WLS C:62. That said, there’s little difference in the weight of the frames and the aero sculpting of the Hi-Mod version only gives a small (6W at 40kph according to Cannondale’s own figures) wind cheating advantage.
Composed and confident as the EVO is, it's got plenty of snap when you put the power down
If you're reading in the UK though, you don’t get the full US range of four different spec levels including super light SRAM Red and a cheaper Ultegra version either. The Shimano 105 based entry bike and this Ultegra 3 bike, with Cannondale’s own HollowGram SI cranks, that the UK does get are definitely the picks of the bunch though.
We certainly don’t want to end on a negative though. This is a bike that prompted nothing but totally positive 'is there nothing that this isn’t brilliant at?' feedback from our test team – and has definitely set a benchmark for all-rounder performance when it comes to women’s road bikes.