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High-end frame with a mid-range spec and an enthusiast's price tag

2011 bikes are coming in thick and fast now, the latest model to roll into road.cc HQ being the handsome SuperSix 105 from Cannondale which brings a top end design down to a price that’s more accessible than ever. Don’t get us wrong, we know £1799.99 is hardly cheap, but these things are relative.

The SuperSix series is Cannondale’s top level ‘Elite Road’ range of race bikes, as opposed to their ‘Performance Road’ Synapse bikes which are designed to combine speed with an extra helping of comfort.

There are seven SuperSixes this year, the range topping out with the £6,999.99 Hi-Mod Team that comes dripping with Campag Super Record kit and rolling on Mavic Cosmic Carbone wheels. Back in the real world, our 105 model is the most affordable in the lineup.

This is the first time that Cannondale have run a Shimano 105 groupset on a SuperSix. Last year the entry-level model in the range was the SRAM Rival version at £2,699.99, so you can now be part of the SuperSix club for £900 less than before.

The frame is full carbon, but whereas some of the higher level SuperSixes are made from high modulus carbon fibre, the 105 uses standard modulus. What’s the difference? The bottom line is that the high modulus version is lighter (900g versus 1050g for a 56cm frame, according to Cannondale), but the standard modulus is a big chunk cheaper.

There’s nothing too unusual about the geometry. Our 56cm model comes with a 54cm seat tube (centre to top) with a 56cm effective top tube and 73°/73.5° frame angles. The head tube is a little shorter than average at 15.5cm but it’s not crazy. It looks dumpier than it actually is because it’s so broad…

A lot of manufacturers are going for a tapered head tube/fork steerer these days – everyone’s at it. Rather than using 1 1/8in headset bearings top and bottom, they’re increasing the size of the lower one, usually to 1 1/4in, to beef things up a bit and add extra front end stiffness. Cannondale have stuck with 1 1/8in up top but they use a 1 1/5in lower bearing so the front end looks really thickset and sturdy. We’ll soon find out if it is.

The SuperSix also gets an oversized bottom bracket that’s built to the BB30 standard that Cannondale themselves introduced back in 2000 to increase stiffness and save weight. The whole BB area, which Cannondale call their Beatbox design, is huge and we’re hoping that makes for plenty of rigidity when we put the power in. We’d be surprised if it wasn’t – we can’t remember testing any Cannondales that weren’t stiff through the centre.

As usual with Cannondale, the down tube is colossal. We’ll measure it properly when we get a mo but it’s virtually the full width of the bottom bracket shell – huge – in contrast to the slender seatstays that snake in and out to provide, the manufacturers claim, plenty of give out back. The chainstays are asymmetric to account for the different forces on each side, the cable stops on the head tube are a neat design, and the fork comes with a carbon steerer to match the blades.

Aside from the Shimano 105 equipment, the SuperSix gets a compact (50/34T) FSA Gossamer chainset, Cannondale’s own cockpit components, and a Prologo Scratch Pro T2.0 saddle. The wheels are Mavic’s entry-level Aksiums although, as we’ve said before, Mavic’s entry level isn’t the same as most other manufacturers’. We’ve almost always had good results with these.

As for weight, the Cannondale comes in at 7.9kg (17.4lb), which is pretty light and exactly the same as the £2,250 Giant TCR Advanced 2 that we’ve got in on test at the moment. We’re looking forward to comparing them out on the road. Speaking of which, we’re heading out to put some miles into this bad boy right now. Keep your eyes on road.cc for our review.

Mat has worked for loads of bike magazines over the past 20 years, and been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. He's been road.cc technical editor for seven years, testing bikes, fettling the latest kit, and trying out the most up-to-the-minute clothing. We send him off around the world to get all the news from launches and shows too. He has won his category in Ironman UK 70.3 and finished on the podium in both marathons he has run. Mat is a Cambridge graduate who did a post-grad in magazine journalism, and he is a past winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer.

6 comments

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step-hent [722 posts] 5 years ago
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Looks like really good value for such a quality frame. But with a 56cm effective head tube, surely the handling is a bit unwieldy?!

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andylul [410 posts] 5 years ago
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so THAT'S how you get the bikes to stand up magically - a piece of bamboo cane  1

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cat1commuter [1421 posts] 5 years ago
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Looks like loads of ankle clearance on that chainset. I wonder when Shimano or Campagnolo will start making BB30 chainsets.

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Mat Brett [625 posts] 5 years ago
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Our 'make this make sense' button wasn't working. Seems to be better now.

Ta.

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dave atkinson [6223 posts] 5 years ago
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Usually we photoshop the standy-up stick out  1

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dancing james [7 posts] 5 years ago
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a spanner under the pedal axle can work quite well as a standy-up prop