If you've read the fairy tale 'The Red Shoes' by Hans Christian Anderson, there's a parallel between the girl who almost dances herself to the grave due to her shiny red shoes and an enduring desire to ride faster, harder and further on the equally pretty Cannondale Super Six.
This is a bike I'd been looking forward to riding since I read Mat's review of the SuperSix 105. I wasn't disappointed. So addictive is the experience that the SuperSix Feminine is a hard bike to climb off of at the end of a ride, and harder still to take it easy when you are in the saddle. I noticed a distinct tendency want to stay in the upper gears- cruising just does NOT seem to be an option on this bike. Riding the Super Six is like having a voice inside your head always whispering 'faster, you can go faster' although hopefully not to the point of riding yourself to death! It'll draw the absolute best from any rider, whether they be an enthusiastic sporting amateur or an elite pro, and is guaranteed to get you fit fast!
On average I was a good few mph faster over familiar routes than usual, and much quicker up hills. The ride was extraordinarily responsive, with excellent acceleration from standing and at speed, whilst handling was slightly flighty but easy to get used to. The ability to truly accelerate uphill was impressive, as was just the general surge of power transmitted through to forward motion when the effort was upped. Even on a post-winter pothole riddled road the ride was surprisingly comfortable, with little road buzz, thanks to the combined efforts of the carbon frame (particularly the back end), forks and seatpost, and those Schwalbe Durano tyres. The frame geometry was spot on, giving a lively ride without being too erratic. Even on steep hill climbs the front wheel stayed pretty firmly rooted, with only a little lightening.
There is an issue with toe overlap with the front wheel however, due to the geometry, but this only manifest itself on extremely tight turns, much tighter than you would usually expect to encounter in normal riding conditions, although it could feasibly pose issues in city and traffic riding.
I'm not going to get drawn into an argument about whether there's actually a requirement for female specific bikes like the SuperSix Feminine now. Suffice it to say these frames and bikes can make life easier for the averagely built woman without access to a reliable and talented LBS with the know how to fit a unisex bike properly. In some cases they also use female tuned components - that is what you get here, the actual frame itself is the same as the men's version - the Feminine models are simply available in smaller sizes with an overlap with the smallest men's sizes.
The Super Six Ultegra Feminine from Cannondale is part of a relatively new movement in female specific bicycles. Whether it's a response to a rise in profile of female pro riders or just part of a general trend, it's got to be a good thing that now there's access to high end, performance orientated bikes akin to what's been available to men for years. There has been plenty of choice in the leisure and recreation end of the market, but little for women looking to race hard or really push their personal performance.
At the risk of sounding clichd, the first thing you notice about the Super Six Ultegra Feminine is its looks. Predominantly white, with flashes of bright red, it has an understated and totally non-girly appeal, in keeping with its serious racing demeanour. It really is a genuinely attractive bike, with nice attention to detail, but it's far from being just a pretty face.
Moving onto the more important stuff, this is a high end bike, at a high end price, with all the details you'd expect. The whole bike weighs just 7.36kg - for the 51cm bike I tested. With a full carbon frame, forks, crank and seatpost, as well as handlebar, there's not an extraneous ounce to be found on the Super Six. This is all about no-compromise speed and performance in mind. The bb30 bottom bracket is massively oversized and designed to deliver the absolute maximum of power for each pedal stroke, while the head tube and forks combo aim to give as much stiffness as is required for a responsive and precise ride. The Shimano Ultegra throughout gives a smooth transmission, while the Mavic Ksyrium Equipe hubs and rims offer the means to convert all that power.
In essence, yes, £2599 is a LOT of money, but you really are getting an awful lot of bike for that. On the other hand, there is a 105 version, you've guessed it, the SuperSix 105 Feminine, at £1799 (frame and spec, barring some women specific finishing kit are the same as the SuperSix 105 already reviewed on road.cc and that is a very tempting bike indeed). That said, the Super Six Ultegra is fast, faster than me definitely, responsive and will really encourage any rider to do their best and compete, even if it's only with their own times.
A LOT of money, but for one hell of a lot of bike... although you might also want to consider the SuperSix Feminine 105 for £800 less
road.cc test report
Make and model: Cannondale SuperSix Feminine
Size tested: -
About the bike
State the frame and fork material and method of construction. List the components used to build up the bike.
Full carbon frame
FSA BB30 oversized bottom bracket
Full carbon forks
FSA SL-L Light Carbon BB30 crank
Shimano Ultegra 6700 front and rear derailleur
Shimano Ultegra 6700 shifters
Shimano Ultegra 6700 brakes
C2 Bliss handlebars
C2 Road stem
C2 full carbon seatpost
Mavic Aksium Race rims
Mavic Ksyrium Equipe MY11 spokes
Schwalbe Durano S 700x23 tyres
Fizik Vesta Mg rails saddle
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?
Aimed at elite female road riders and serious enthusiasts, or those looking to push their performance hard.
Definitely a bike for those who want to ride hard.
Frame and fork
Tell us about the build quality and finish of the frame and fork?
Extremely well built and beautifully finished.
Tell us about the materials used in the frame and fork?
Full carbon frame
Full carbon forks with tapered steerer and alloy dropouts.
Tell us about the geometry of the frame and fork?
Aggressive geometry, definitely 100% a race bike, with low front end, short rear and a sharp fork rake.
How was the bike in terms of height and reach? How did it compare to other bikes of the same stated size?
A relatively compact frame, with good reach, even for those with shorter arms.
Smaller feeling frame for its size than other bikes of the stated size I have tried.
Riding the bike
Was the bike comfortable to ride? Tell us how you felt about the ride quality.
Extremely comfortable to ride.
No feeling of too much weight on arms.
Sporting position but never felt overstretched or doubled over.
Very little road buzz and surprisingly comfortable even on post-winter potholey roads.
Did the bike feel stiff in the right places? Did any part of the bike feel too stiff or too flexible?
Incredibly stiff throughout, with no budging at bottom bracket or in frame.
Never felt too stiff though, just responsive.
How did the bike transfer power? Did it feel efficient?
Superb power transfer and efficiency. Immediate surge forwards for any increase in effort.
Was there any toe-clip overlap with the front wheel? If so, was it a problem?
Yes, there was toe overlap. A problem only on very tight turns.
How would you describe the steering? Was it lively, neutral or unresponsive? Lively.
Tell us some more about the handling. How did the bike feel overall? Did it do particular things well or badly?
Lively handling and steering takes some getting used to, but once you've got that sussed it handles nimbly and reliably.
Corners well, climbs beautifully and accelerates at the speed of light!
Tricky on tight turns due to toe overlap.
Some lightness of front end on extremely steep uphill bends.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's comfort? would you recommend any changes?
Frame, fork, seatpost and bars all contributed to good comfort levels.
No changes needed.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's stiffness? would you recommend any changes?
Hugely oversized BB30 bottom bracket had a great effect on the overall stiffness of the ride and the efficiency of the power transfer.
Frame and forks also felt stiff and efficient without transmitting road buzz.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's efficiency? would you recommend any changes?
Oversized bottom bracket increased efficiency, as did lightness and stiffness of frame.
Superb ability to surge forwards with any extra effort.
Really capable sprinter.
Very stable even at high speeds.
Cruising? What's that? This bike doesn't do cruising.
Fine, except for on very tight turns, when toe overlap can become a problem
Corners well, except for sharp turns - likely to be more of an issue in urban situations or traffic
Climbs like the hill just isn't there.
Doesn't hamper performance of frame etc
Pricy but so's the rest of the bike.
Tell us some more about the drivetrain. Anything you particularly did or didn't like? Any components which didn't work well together?
All worked just fine.
Wheels and tyres
Well made, stiff and responsive wheels. Good looking too.
No problems, even with rough post-winter roads.
Light enough to go with the rest of the bike.
Minimal road buzz and tyres gripped surprisingly well.
A high quality element of the bike, worth the money.
Tell us some more about the wheels and tyres.Did they work well in the conditions you encountered? Would you change the wheels or tyres? If so, what for?
Wheels and tyres both worked well in a variety of conditions, including dirty and pitted winter roads.
No problems at all.
Extremely comfortable. No problems with reach etc
In keeping with the rest of the bike.
Tell us some more about the controls. Any particularly good or bad components? How would the controls work for larger or smaller riders?
Controls work well for smaller hands and for those with shorter reach. Compact bar is a good size for the female frame.
Anything else you want to say about the componentry? Comment on any other components (good or bad)
Components effectively chosen and all function well together.
Did you enjoy riding the bike? YES. A lot.
Would you consider buying the bike? Definitely. Am already saving.
Would you recommend the bike to a friend? Yes, but only if I could have one too.
Anything further to say about the bike in conclusion?
Pricy, but oh so worth it if you really want to push your limits. Better value than many equivalent women's bikes from other marques.
About the tester
I usually ride: My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, touring, general fitness riding, mtb,