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We put the new ‘affordable’ Cannondale SuperSix Evo road bike to the test

Cannondale SuperSix Evo Red

Cannondale SuperSix Evo Red 

Seeing as Cannondale’s SuperSix Evo Hi-Mod is our favourite ever all-round frame from hundreds we’ve tested, we were apprehensive about testing the new ‘affordable’ SuperSix Evo. Turns out we needn’t have fretted about the downgraded fibre one little bit.

Frame and fork

The frame is from the same mould as its flagship siblings so it’s visually identical. That means a flattened top tube ahead of a skinny seat tube and a massive press-fit BB30 bottom bracket. Cannondale’s ‘Speed Save’ design means the seatstays turn into flat leaf-springs below the rear brake to reduce shock transmission. The curved-leg, tapered-top fork gets distinctive rolled back ‘wrists’ above the dropouts. These extend the rake of the fork for increased suspension effect without affecting the bike’s wheelbase or handling.

Detailing includes gram-saving external gear cable routing, with direct internal brake cable routing from the head tube to the rear top tube corner. The frame isn’t Di2 compatible though, and the riveted plate mount for the front mech is functional rather than pretty.

As the name suggests, the main difference between the Evo and the Evo Hi-Mod is that the cheaper bike is constructed from a lower-modulus version of Cannondale’s proprietary BallisTec carbon fibre. However, while the Evo frame and fork are 250g (30 per cent) heavier than the Hi-Mod’s – 1,054g and 423g, respectively, on our 56cm test bike – the company has worked hard to keep the drivetrain stiffness and floated Speed Save ride as similar as possible. Eight different sizes means a fine fit range too, but try before you buy as Cannondales come up at least a size bigger than most bikes.

The kit

The Evo stands out from other bikes at this price due to its ultralight SRAM Red 2014 brakes and gears. These drive Mavic’s stiff and stealthy-looking Ksyrium Equipe S wheels through a SRAM Force chain and cassette. A broad own-brand cockpit and skinny seatpost fill the missing links, while the red-flanked Fizik saddle is a literal cherry on top. The rolling chassis (frame, fork and wheels) weight is nothing to write home about but the lightweight spec offsets this to give a very good complete bike weight of 7.09kg.

The ride

Our first ride on the Evo involved some deep breaths to ready ourselves for potential disappointment. Down-specced, mid-price carbon fibre copycats from other brands have a history of half-hearted performance. But Cannondale’s carbon guru, Peter Denk, has done an incredible job here.

The ride sensation as you clip in and roll up the road is sublime. The way the Speed Save stays and rolled fork tips smoothly skim the edges off potholes and glide over rough patches is obvious immediately. The longer you stay in the saddle, the more you’ll appreciate the silky ride too.

What’s remarkable is that there’s no sense of that softness or compliance when you increase pressure on the pedals. Whether you’re revving through smoothly spun gears or lifting out of the saddle and stomping the pedals, the Evo responds without any hesitation.

Even when you’re grovelling against a big gear and steep slope there’s no hint of twist between the rear wheel and the broad bars. The low complete bike weight means you’ll rarely be struggling at stalling speed either, as a couple of good stabs of your carbon daps is normally enough to break through to escape velocity and blast away up the hill. You don’t have to ride the Cannondale like a muscle bike, though, as it’s equally adept at working its way quietly and efficiently through the super-positive short-shift gear levers in a high-spun cadence if you’re playing the long game.

The beautifully balanced line between responsiveness-boosting rigidity and the sting-removing, Tarmac-softening Speed Save compliance is even more obvious on descents. With masses of traction from the well-damped fork and softer-compound front tyre, plus swimmer-friendly super-wide bars, you can push the bike into corners outrageously hard.

The big main tubes mean there’s no mid-section twist either, so the rear wheel tracks round with total obedience. Add a low head tube for a potentially properly crouched position, plus the fantastically direct feeling, feedback-rich diagonal routed rear brake, and the SuperSix Evo just lives for taking liberties on descents.

That same surefooted confidence, direct-wired braking precision and generous bar leverage translates equally well to flat corners. Add the acceleration rush on the far side of every slow section and the Cannondale absolutely relishes showing off on twisty roads and roundabouts.

The ‘discount’ SuperSix lives up to its illustrious name

+ Fantastic ride quality
+ Super-light SRAM Red based build flatters the frame further

– Frame (and particularly fork) weight is OK rather than low
– Sizing is definitely on the large side, so try before you buy