Cannondale is a leading bike brand which creates coveted machines for the roads and mountains – supplying WorldTour teams with winning bikes as well as masses of eager amateurs.
Like many such companies, Cannondale didn’t start out as a bicycle manufacturer. Indeed, at its birth in 1970 it manufactured precast concrete housing. Its first bicycle related product was the (“unintentionally”) cheekily named ‘Bugger’ bike trailer, inspired by a weekend camping trip.
The first bike arrived in 1983, an aluminium touring frame featuring handcrafted oversized tubes. The business hit rocky times in the early 2000s, declaring bankruptcy in 2003, to be later purchased by Canadian based Dorel Industries in 2008.
Dorel owns Pacific Cycle, the bicycle distributor of steeds made in Taiwan and China for US brands such as Mongoose and GT.
Rigoberto Uran wins stage nine of the Tour of France for Cannondale-Drapac (Sunada)
Now, Cannandale’s HQ is set in Wilton, Connecticut, and it supplies bikes to Cylance women’s team as well as the men’s squad Cannondale-Drapac.
Every major bike brand has a long list of in-house technologies which feature on their bikes – most of them appearing across the range and utilised on a selection of models. Cannondale is no different – indeed, you could argue it’s one of the leaders.
Here’s a look at some of the key terms you can expect to come across when browsing Cannondale bikes:
In 2000 Cannondale introduced the BB30 – an oversized bottom bracket shell which replaced the steel BB spindle with a 30mm aluminium version – the result being a lighter and stiffer construction.
The brand released the design to the industry, and it’s been heavily adopted. The BB30a followed – it’s an asymmetric version of the same which adds material to the non-drive side to create an even stiffer base.
The Cannondale BB30 revolutionised the industry approach
The bike trade shares three key obsessions: low weight, stiffness, and compliance. SAVE (Synapse Active Vibration Elimination) is Cannondale’s approach to the last value on that list. In simplistic terms it means designing flex into the fork, seat post and rear triangle to absorb shock – though carbon layup and tube shaping.
There are now four versions of ‘SAVE’: Plus, Speed, Aero and basic Save – with different methods used depending upon the aims of the bike and projected rider.
Cannondale’s answer to carbon is its own construction: BallisTec. It place an emphasis on strength and stiffness, but the lightweight chassis’ in the range prove that the number on the scales hasn’t been forgotten.
The name comes from the military grade ultra-strong base fibres, also used for ballistic armouring. The combining resins are similar to those used in the construction of carbon baseball bats. As ever, BallisTec carbon comes in several grades. BallisTec Hi-Mod is the strongest and lightest and features on the top end builds.
This one stands for ‘Cannondale Advanced Aluminum Design’ and is used across all of the aluminium frames. The principle is that rather than taking a tube and trying to shape it to meet the requirements, Cannondale identifies the needs the tube must meet, and then uses software to virtually create and test them until the desired qualities are met.
The popular CAAD12 (which emerges from the CAAD10 and so on) road bike was built in this way to offer the mix of stiffness and low weight which makes it a sought after criterium race bike.
Cannondale doesn’t stop at bikes – it also creates its own cranksets and wheels. The HollowGram cranksets are particularly coveted thanks to the spider web design used and ‘System Integration’ which keeps the weight exceptionally low and the stiffness high.
Cannondale fit their own Si cranksets to BB30a bottom brackets
You’ll also spot other terms, like ‘System Integration’, or Si, which requires less explaining and simply means more integration which drops weight and sometimes drag; and mountain bikers would also name the ‘Lefty’ fork as a major accomplishment of the brand.
Cannondale road bikes
If you’re thinking of investing your heard earned pennies into a Cannondale road bike, then there’s a lot of choice. Here’s a description of each of the key models to help you work out which one is for you…
Cannondale SuperSix Evo
CW descending on the 2018 Cannondale Supersix Evo Disc
The Cannondale SuperSix Evo is Cannondale’s carbon race bike. The geometry is designed around a flat back, heads down approach to riding, with nimble handling and a low weight.
The model began life as the Six13, in 2004. The name came from the number that carbon holds in the periodic table, since this was Cannondale’s first foray into using the material as the base of the chassis. Over the years, the bike dropped weight right down to 665g for a size 56 – but this was later bolstered to provide a stiffer platform.
The frames of 2017 came in at 777g for a 56, but with greater system integration which means the built bikes are actually lighter. With the increasing popularity of disc brakes, the range now includes models with rotor stoppers.
The most expensive SuperSix Evo models are the Black Inc models, with prices north of £10k. The Hi-Mod models start at £3,999.99 (with Shimano Ultegra), and the basic SuperSix Evo starts at £1,799.99 with Shimano 105.
Cannondale offers women’s specific builds on their bikes. These feature identical frames, with a smaller size available – from a 44cm – plus shorter stems, narrower handlebars, and women’s saddles – we chose the women’s SuperSix Evo as our women’s bike of the year in 2016.
If you’re serious about this one, we’ve gone through the Cannondale SuperSix Evo range and specs in detail here
Aluminium CAAD12 with Dura-Acre build
The racing world has certainly not turned its back on aluminium. Though even the best aluminium is heavier than the best carbon, it can often rival cheap carbon – and is more resilient.
The CAAD12 is bred for racing – it’s light, stiff, but a reliable crash-proof (to an extent!) option for crit and road racers, as well as sportive and everyday riders who prefer the ride and price tag of the long-standing metal.
Mario Cipollini rode a CAAD back in 1999, the CAAD10 appeared in 2015 and we’re now in the days of the CAAD12. The geometry is not far off the SuperSix, indeed the stack and wheelbase are mirrored, as are the head tube and seat tube angles.
A CAAD12 with Dura-Ace will set you back £3,499, and models start at £1,099 for the CAAD12 with Shimano Tiagra. There’s a select few builds designed for women too, with sizes starting from 44cm and altered touch points.
Looking at a CAAD12? We’ve explained the CAAD12 model and spec options in detail here
Cannondale Synapse Disc takes on the climbs
Newsflash: not everyone wants to race. The Synapse is Cannondale’s answer to the endurance bike. The Synapse has a more relaxed geometry, a greater focus on compliance for 2018 it even finally mounts for mudguards.
Only available with disc brakes for 2018, the Synpase has a completely reworked carbon layup. An (unpainted) frame comes in at 918g, and the fork at 372g for a size 56cm.
Being an endurance bike, dampening vibrations is important – and SAVE is employed across the models. Cannondale also uses a proprietary 25.4mm seat post, which offers more compliance, and the seat stays and fork are built to do the same.
New for 2018, the Synapse boasts a SAVE integrated bar and stem, which has the added bonus of an aero advantage as well as being more comfortable and aesthetically pleasing.
The top end models also feature a ‘Power Pyramid’ bottom bracket, which aims to place material in the optimum position for power transfer. Research carried out at the Zedler Institute test lab ranked the bottom bracket and head tube of the Hi-Mod Synapse above leading endurance bikes such as the Specialized Roubaix Pro, Trek Domane SLR, BMC Roadmachine 01 and Canyon Endurace CF SLX.
Cannondale Synapse carbon models start at £1,399.99, with a Shiamno Tiagra build. The Hi-Mod versions start from £4,499.99 with Shimano Dura-Ace.
There are aluminium builds too, from £849.99 with Shimano Sora, and women’s models with size specific adjusted carbon lay up and optimised touch points.
Cannondale CAADX and SuperX
Cannondale SuperX cyclocross bike
Cannondale’s cyclocross bikes combine technologies seen on their road and mountain bikes to create the nimble handling of a race bike with the robust strength and root/rock tackling expertise in the mud-world.
The CAADX bikes, as you might expect, feature CAAD developed aluminium frames whilst the SuperX sits top of the tree with BallisTec carbon. The geometry remains largely similar – with the same stack, reach, head and seat tube angles promising a similar experience.
The CAADX bikes come with Cannodale SI cranks and 46/36 chainsets, alongside 11-32 cassettes. By contrast, the SuperX has gone single ring, with all models sporting 40 tooth chainrings and 11-32 cassettes which are suited to muddy races with quick gear changes required.
Off course, there’s a price difference – CAADX models start from £999.99 whilst the SuperX models open up from £2,499.99.
Cannondale hybrid bikes
Cannondale Bad Boy 4 Hybrid Bike
For those looking for versatility, there’s a range of hybrid bike options.
For urban riders, there’s the infamous Cannondale Bad Boy. This carries the lefty fork, with integrated LED rechargeable lights. There’s an integrated rear light too, plus reflective ‘top tube bumper’. All models carry disc brakes and wide volume 40mm tyres which will roll over even the worst city roads.
Alternatively, for mixed terrain commutes The Cannondale Quick comes with a rigid fork, 30mm tyres capable of tackling unmade roads, flat handlebars and aluminium frame with wide ranging gears, and either rim or disc brakes.
There are Cannondale Quick CX option, with a 50mm travel fork and 38mm tyres which can tackle rougher terrain – and carbon frame models in the line up.