Cannondale's venerable SuperSix Evo got the first update in its long reign as the US company's flagship race bike last season, and while most people's attention was on the expensive top-end models, the range actually starts out with this Shimano 105-equipped bike costing £1,799.
The good news is, while not dripping in lightweight carbon fibre components, it still offers a thoroughly enjoyable ride that is right at home on a long sportive or a demanding road race. It's a well-thought-out package with reliable components and comfortable finishing kit.
Ride and handling: fast, comfortable, agile
The SuperSix Evo has long been a road.cc favourite because, regardless of the level of equipment, it offers a highly engaging and rewarding ride. Thankfully, none of the magic of the original has been lost with the update, and instead it improves on a winning formula.
It's now lighter, more compliant and, for the first time, has been finessed with the aerodynamic brush. But the great handling – balanced, stable and predictable – is still evident.
I've always enjoyed the ride and performance of the SuperSix Evo bikes I've reviewed in various guises over the years, including my first experience of the updated Evo last summer, the £4k SuperSix Evo Hi-Mod Dura-Ace 1.
While there's an obvious weight penalty with this 105 model, there's no serious dent on the performance. Okay, so it's not as quick on the climbs nor does it exhibit the feathery responses you'd expect from a very light build with nice wheels, but it is a solid performing road bike that doesn't really disappoint.
The tried-and-tested geometry ensures a familiarity in the handling department. It works a treat in all manner of scenarios, from race pace efforts to chain gangs, leisurely Sunday rides and hill repeat training sessions. Though born as a race bike, the handling won't scare you too much if you're not actually racing, as there's a welcome level of predictability when out on the open road.
The changes to the updated frame have given the Evo a more finessed ride. It's a touch more nimble and agile. The new fork and skinny seatpost provide a ride that is also more forgiving of imperfect road surfaces, the sort most of us are forced to ride in the UK, and though I never felt the need, you could gain even more comfort if you swapped to wider tyres – the frame and fork will take 28mm.
Its DNA is racing, and the Evo excels when being ridden fast. Get low in the drops and give it the beans and the Evo responds willingly. But its great trick is how versatile it is. It's right at home away from the race circuit, and on long rides, sportives and more leisurely paced outings it puts in a superb performance. It really is a platform for enabling you to excel at any sort of riding you want to do with it. If you want a more upright position and even more comfort, you should probably be looking at the Synapse.
Updated frame: Lighter, stiffer and more aero
Visually the SuperSix Evo doesn't appear to have changed one bit since it was first launched in 2011, but look closer and there are some subtle clues as to how Cannondale has made the new frameset just that little bit better.
The frameset is made from the same BallisTec carbon fibre and is size-specific, and while this model eschews the expensive high-modulus carbon fibre of the top-end versions, Cannondale has still managed to shave a bit of weight off and bring about improvements in comfort and stiffness.
Look at that fork: it's way skinnier than before and now uses a one-piece construction with an in-moulded bearing crown. Along with the new smaller diameter 25.4mm seatpost, borrowed from the Synapse, the new Evo is a shade more compliant when it comes to riding over poor surfaces. If you want some numbers, Cannondale has them: the new fork results in a 21% improvement in compliance and the seatpost account for 36%.
Another change that is more easily going to allow for improved comfort is clearance for up to 28mm tyres. It joins a growing number of top-flight race bikes that accommodate 28mm tyres and will be a welcome change for people looking at the Evo not for racing but for sportives and general riding.
The final stage in the redevelopment has been a focus on aerodynamics. While it hasn't become an aero bike like the Specialized Venge or Trek Madone, Cannondale has shaped the down tube with a profile it calls Truncated Aero Profile (TAP). The water bottle cage has also been positioned lower so it's sheltered from the airflow. It's certainly not as radical as some bikes, but the change, according to Cannondale, does net a useful 6-watt drag reduction at 40km/h compared with the old Evo. Could I detect that during riding? Not at all, it's such a marginal gain that noticing it in the real world is nigh-on impossible. But it's nice to know that, in theory, the bike is faster.
A big part of the development of the new SuperSix Evo was the launch of the first ever SuperSix Evo Disc, and it's worth mentioning here because, although the cheapest model costs £1,000 more than the bike on test here, it's a superb disc brake-equipped race bike with the same handling characteristics as the standard Evo. So if you want an Evo with really good brakes, that's worth a look.
Equipment: Flawless Shimano 105 build
The Shimano 105 groupset is every bit as good as Shimano's more expensive offerings when it comes to braking and changing gears, and only if you're being super-picky could you say the shifting isn't quite as light and sharp as Dura-Ace.
The Cannondale Si crankset meshes with the Shimano drivetrain well and I really liked the 52/36 semi-compact gearing, which with the 11-28t cassette, offers all the ratios you really need, whether road racing or doing a hilly sportive.
Mavic Askium wheels are popular at this price point and for good reason: they're solid and dependable. The Aksium is a strong and stiff wheelset that copes with regular riding on punishing roads with all the reliability you'd hope for at this price. They do provide a slightly firmer ride than my experience of an Evo with better wheels, but it's not enough to ruin the ride.
The French wheel company is big into wheel and tyre systems, and according to the spec sheet the bike should come with Mavic Yksion Elite tyres in a 25mm width (ours arrived with Schwalbe Luganos due to supply issues with this early production bike). From experience I know that Yksions are just fine for regular everyday riding, being reasonably fast rolling and grippy in a range of conditions, though they lack the suppleness of a more expensive tyre.
The Cannondale-branded aluminium stem, handlebar and seatpost all go about their duties with minimal fuss. I liked the shaped of the bar, with the compact bends making it easy to get tucked down into the drops for fast riding.
Saddles are very much a personal matter, and the Prologo Kappa 3 is a non-offensive shape, but for my posterior it's not a patch on the Fabric you get on the more expensive SuperSix Evo models.
The SuperSix Evo has long been one of the very best carbon fibre road bikes on the market, as at home in the peloton as it is in a local sportive, and the updated version with all its improvements serves to future-proof this classic.
A classic race bike just got better
road.cc test report
Make and model: Cannondale SuperSix Evo 105
Size tested: 56cm
About the bike
State the frame and fork material and method of construction. List the components used to build up the bike.
Ultra-Stiff, For explosive acceleration – Asymmetric BB39a bottom bracket junction and chainstays, flared Delta seat tube, and killer-tuned BallisTec Carbon layup delivers spring-destroying power transfer.
Shockingly smooth, For better cornering, speed and comfort – Refined Speed Save micro-suspension system in the triangle, fork, seat tube and seat post, absorbs shock and keeps the wheels planted on the ground for crazy-good descending, wicked sprinting and surprising comfort.
Tap Aero, For better efficiency everywhere – Subtle TAP (Truncated Aero Profile) tube shapes and lower water bottle placement on the frame reduces drag by 6 watts/60 grams average, without the weight and stiffness compromises of full aero frames. It's like free speed.
Incredible Handling – The increases in lateral stiffness and vertical compliance, combined with the agile handling of our Elite Race Geometry makes the new EVO a rocket on descents and corners.
Ultra Light- BallisTec Carbon Construction and System Integrated design make EVO crazy light, but durable enough for our Lifetime Warranty.
Rider Profile – A flat back for flat out speed. Cannondale's Road Race geometry delivers a responsive and nimble ride in all handlebar positions to perfectly set you up for the win.
Frame: New SuperSix EVO, BallisTec Carbon, Di2 Compatible, SPEED SAVE, PressFit BB30
Fork: New SuperSix EVO, BallisTec Carbon , SPEED SAVE, integrated crown race, 1-1/8" to 1-1/4" steere
Headset: SuperSix EVO, 1-1/4" lower bearing, 25mm top cap
Bars: Cannondale C3, Butted 6061 Alloy, Compact
Stem: Cannondale C3, 6061 Alloy, 31.8, 6 deg.
Front Mech: Shimano 105, braze-on
Rear Mech: Shimano 105
Shifters Shimano 105
Chainset: Cannondale Si, BB30a, FSA rings, 52/36
Chain: Shimano HG601, 11-speed
Front Brake: Shimano 105
Rear Brake: Shimano 105
Rims: Mavic Aksium WTS
Front Hub: Mavic Aksium
Rear Hub: Mavic Aksium
Spokes: Mavic Aksium
Tyres: Mavic Yksion Elite, folding, 700x25c Front, Mavic Yksion Elite, folding, 700x25c Rear
Seatpost: Cannondale C3, 6061 Alloy, 25.4x350mm
Tell us what the bike is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about the bike?
Cannondale says: "For the ultimate all-around race performance, the SuperSix EVO strikes the perfect balance. Its unrivaled blend of light weight, stiffness, aerodynamics and smooth-riding compliance gives you the winning edge on every part of the race course.
"The new EVO is the best all around road racing bike ever made thanks to its perfect balance of everything it takes to go fast."
Frame and fork
Tell us about the build quality and finish of the frame and fork?
High-quality frame with clear racing DNA and very polished finish.
Tell us about the materials used in the frame and fork?
While still made from the same BallisTec carbon fibre and being size-specific, Cannondale has managed to shave a bit of weight off using a new skinny Speed Save fork and one-piece design with an in-moulded bearing crown.
Tell us about the geometry of the frame and fork?
It's racy but not so aggressive you can't be comfortable away from a road or crit race.
How was the bike in terms of height and reach? How did it compare to other bikes of the same stated size?
As you'd expect for a race bike, it's quite low at the front.
Riding the bike
Was the bike comfortable to ride? Tell us how you felt about the ride quality.
Did the bike feel stiff in the right places? Did any part of the bike feel too stiff or too flexible?
No lack of stiffness when climbing or sprinting.
How did the bike transfer power? Did it feel efficient?
Very well with no apparent flex of loss of efficiency.
Was there any toe-clip overlap with the front wheel? If so, was it a problem?
How would you describe the steering? Was it lively, neutral or unresponsive? Neutral and predictable.
Tell us some more about the handling. How did the bike feel overall? Did it do particular things well or badly?
The handling is the big highlight of the Evo.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's comfort? would you recommend any changes?
I'd look to upgrade the wheels at some point, but the rest of the equipment was just fine.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's stiffness? would you recommend any changes?
No I wouldn't rush out to make any changes.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's efficiency? would you recommend any changes?
Wheels and tyres
Did you enjoy riding the bike? Yes
Would you consider buying the bike? Yes
Would you recommend the bike to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your score
The £1,500-£2,000 price range is a very competitive one, and by Cannondale using its top-flight race bike as the basis for a more affordable option, you're getting the same great performance and handling normally only found on expensive top-end race bikes. Though some bikes might offer a better spec for the money, the heart of the bike here is the frame and it's what, in this bike, contributes to the great ride.
About the tester
I usually ride: My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo-cross, commuting, touring, mountain biking
David has worked on the road.cc tech team since July 2012. Previously he was editor of Bikemagic.com and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds.