We review the Cannondale SuperSix Evo 2 Red road bike
Cannondale SuperSix Evo 2 Red
We’re not forgetting for one moment that £4,000 is a lot of money but this bike is very good value. The only frame you can buy that’s lighter – Cervelo’s R5ca – costs twice as much as this whole bike. Rather than keep its special frame as an ultra-exclusive halo product, Cannondale has built up this one to a price that’s within reach of many more buyers, with a spec that includes a great drivetrain and worthy wheels.
FRAME AND FORK
Efficiency is the buzzword for the SuperSix Evo. Cannondale pursued it by targeting weight, stiffness, compliance and drag. A few years ago, not many people thought frames could ever get this light – a real 710g. According to Cannondale, its new internal moulding process is the key to making such a light frame as it allows tight control of fibre placing.
The fork, seatstays and seat tube all feature ‘Speed Save flex zones’ which provide some vertical compliance for comfort. Cannondale also claims that they reduce rolling resistance and actually make you faster. To improve aerodynamics, Cannondale simply reduced the frontal area by using smaller diameter tubes. The head tube is down to 1.25in for the lower race, and the fork and down tube have been slimmed down by 20 and 11 per cent respectively. This neatly avoids the compromises that affect most aero road bikes.
Cannondale says that the Evo frame has achieved a record stiffness-to-weight (STW) score of 142.3Nm/deg/kg in an independent test. However, we’d always like to see an outright stiffness figure too because STW ratios favour very light frames yet when you’re riding you feel the stiffness more than the weight. In short, it’s no substitute for road testing.
The Evo 2 Red has been built down to a pricepoint but there really isn’t anything bolted to it that disappoints. The groupset is SRAM’s top-of-the-range Red and it’s complete except for the Force chain and cassette. The saddle is a high quality Fizik Antares and FSA supplies its lightweight carbon SL-K seatpost and stem, along with its 7075 alloy Wing Pro Compact handlebars. All of the above, and even the Schwalbe Ultremo ZX tyres, feature small green flashes that create a smart finish. It’s understated without being dull.
As usual, you can choose between standard or compact gearing. This bike came with the latter and an 11-26T cassette, so no matter how spectacularly you blow up on a ride you’ll have a gear with which to drag yourself home. The most obvious cost saving in the spec is the Mavic Ksyrium Elite wheels. Nevertheless, they’re good quality, reasonably light wheels that should be a bearable trade-off if the frame delivers on its promises.
The SuperSix Evo 2 is instantly and emphatically impressive. It feels fast straight away, wherever you’re riding. It’s so light that the response to any extra effort is electric. If we didn’t know better, we’d guess the Ksyrium Elites are ultra-light, pro-issue race wheels. The frame really flatters them because there’s no way that a mid-range wheel should feel this responsive. It’s to their great credit that the wheels don’t feel like a ball and chain on this bike. An upgrade to something like Mavic’s R-Sys SLR, let alone Zipp 303s, would unleash another level of performance again but you’ll never resent refitting these wheels.
Uphill sprint efforts confirm that this is a very stiff frame. It climbs superbly, underlined when you get out of the saddle and have to click three gears for something to push against. When you dance on the pedals you dance to the Evo’s tune… and the Evo likes the quickstep. It seems to roll really easily, like your own private tailwind. The feeling was too consistent to write off so we have to believe that Cannondale’s efficiency drive has paid off to some extent. The crux is that, whatever the reason, this bike feels good.
The slimmer head tube doesn’t have a negative impact on steering fidelity, braking or descending – all are assured. Ride comfort is really good, making the SuperSix Evo a great choice for long, hilly rides or an Ironman. The front end is low, as you’d expect from a bike developed for road pros, but not extreme. Our 56cm frame came with an oddly short 10cm stem – we swapped it out to correct the reach.
+ State-of-the-art, ultra-light frame and no weak link in the spec
+ Outstanding all-round performance, fast on the flat and up the hills
– Well, it would be nice to be offered the white option available in the US
– Finding new friends when your old ones get bored of being dropped