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review

Cannondale SuperSix Evo Carbon Disc 105 2021

8
£2,400.00

VERDICT:

8
10
Stiff yet highly comfortable speed machine, now with a helping of aero efficiency
Stiff and efficient frameset
Comfortable
Aero features
Not the lightest in this build
Weight: 
8,780g

The Cannondale SuperSix Evo Carbon Disc 105 is a stiff and efficient road bike that manages to offer loads of comfort and now aero features too.

The SuperSix Evo has always been known for its frame stiffness and that remains a key feature after a major redesign introduced to the world a little over a year ago. Stomp on the pedals and everything feels taut going on solid. Getting out of the saddle and chucking everything I have at a power climb, the bottom bracket remains steadfastly central. It's a feature you can't fail to notice.

> Find your nearest dealer here

Cannondale offers the SuperSix Evo Disc frame in a hi-mod version (complete bikes starting at £4,000) and the slightly heavier and more affordable standard version that we have here. Our 58cm complete bike hit the road.cc Scales of Truth at 8.78kg, which is a decent rather than spectacular weight for a disc brake bike at this price.

The SuperSix Evo is an eager bike. It gets cracking when you put in the power, that rigidity giving you the firmest of platforms from which to launch your assaults.

2021 Cannondale SuperSix Evo Carbon Disc 105 - riding 2.jpg

The handling is sharp. If you want to switch your line around other riders, the SuperSix Evo is about as precise as it gets, and cornering hard and fast feels perfectly composed, so you're inclined to lay off the brakes that fraction longer next time around. In terms of behaviour, there's very little to fault here.

You also get a high level of comfort for a bike with such a sharp focus on performance. Cannondale says that the new SAVE (Synapse Active Vibration Elimination) stays, plus a new internal seat clamp and HollowGram 27 KNOT seatpost, improve compliance by 18% over the old SuperSix. My arse doesn't have the capacity to gauge things that accurately, but I could ride this bike for hours without feeling at all shaken up or knocked about. This is probably the SuperSix Evo's most surprising feature.

2021 Cannondale SuperSix Evo Carbon Disc 105 - riding 3.jpg

The fact that the seatstays are now dropped, falling into line with bikes from the vast majority of other big brands, might help here, although Trek, which is still holding out on this front, says that dropping the seatstays doesn't make a whole heap of difference in terms of comfort.

2021 Cannondale SuperSix Evo Carbon Disc 105 - seat tube junction.jpg

It could be that the now slightly sloping top tube leaving a longer section of exposed seatpost is more important. The seatpost in question is aluminium and super skinny. Like the frame tubes, it is shaped with aerodynamics in mind so it's roughly D-shaped, measuring just 22mm across according to the trusty road.cc vernier callipers, and 27mm front to rear. It flexes relatively easily to take the edge off any nasties you encounter in the road surface.

2021 Cannondale SuperSix Evo Carbon Disc 105 - seat post and top tube.jpg

The saddle is a good one too: a Prologo Nago. My preference would be for a profile that's a touch flatter and a little less humpbacked (Prologo describes it as semi-round), but that's a purely personal thing. It offers good cushioning and a generous amount of give in the shell to filter out vibration.

2021 Cannondale SuperSix Evo Carbon Disc 105 - saddle.jpg

If you want still more comfort, the new SuperSix Evo has clearance for 30mm tyres with 6mm of space around them.

2021 Cannondale SuperSix Evo Carbon Disc 105 - clearance.jpg

Not surprisingly, the stock tyres are considerably narrower; they're Vittoria Zaffiro Pro Slicks in a 25mm width. We measured them at over 27mm wide on Cannondale's RD 2.0 Disc wheels.

2021 Cannondale SuperSix Evo Carbon Disc 105 - tyre.jpg

All of this adds up to a bike that feels impressively smooth over rough roads with good bump absorption both front and rear. Let's not go overboard – you're not getting an endurance bike-style fully cosseted ride here – but comfort is one of those things you usually only think about when there's not a lot of it around, and I certainly didn't need to dwell on it much here.

2021 Cannondale SuperSix Evo Carbon Disc 105 - riding 4.jpg

The SuperSix is comfortable enough that the ride feels calm and composed even over pitted, jagged road surfaces, absorbing the irregularities rather than skittering about when you ride fast into a bumpy downhill bend.

Geometry

One other factor that has a bearing on comfort is the geometry which Cannondale has altered on this latest incarnation of the SuperSix Evo. As mentioned, I've been riding a 58cm model. The 2019 version of this bike had a stack of 58.4cm and a reach of 39.9cm, so the stack/reach was 1.46.

2021 Cannondale SuperSix Evo Carbon Disc 105.jpg

This new version has a stack of 59.4cm and a reach of 39.5cm, so the stack/reach is 1.5 (bear in mind that this is high partly because we're talking about a large bike; the stack/reach of the 54cm frame is 1.44). The front end is a little higher and a little closer to the saddle than it was before.

> Bike geometry 101: Why are stack and reach important?

In for a penny, in for a pound – let's chuck in a few more figures. The 58cm SystemSix aero road bike has a stack of 58.0cm and a reach of 39.8mm, giving a stack/reach of 1.46.

Why the difference? The main factor is that Cannondale has made the head tube of the SuperSix Evo longer than previously – 18.8cm versus 17.5cm on the 58cm model – so the riding position is more upright (given the same stack of headset spacers, obviously).

2021 Cannondale SuperSix Evo Carbon Disc 105 - riding 5.jpg

Will that suit you? It depends what you're after. Getting down on the drops for long periods is just a touch easier on the back and neck than previously. I found myself with my hands positioned down there a lot, and that's no bad thing. It's still an aggressive, speed-focused setup.

Frame features

We've so far not covered the changes that Cannondale has made to the SuperSix Evo's frameset in much depth, but the latest update has been radical.

2021 Cannondale SuperSix Evo Carbon Disc 105 - bosses 1.jpg

Previously, the SuperSix Evo had a distinctive silhouette: slim (or at least slim-ish) round tubes, a horizontal top tube, long seatstays... It wasn't exactly traditional looking, but it was in that direction.

2021 Cannondale SuperSix Evo Carbon Disc 105 - seat stays.jpg

That has all changed now. If you want to know about the updates in detail, head over to our story covering the launch, but in short Cannondale has given the SuperSix an aero makeover – as Specialized has since done with its Tarmac, Trek has done with its Emonda, and Giant has done with its TCR. It's all the rage. Lightweight bikes have gone aero for those who want the lot.

2021 Cannondale SuperSix Evo Carbon Disc 105 - UCI sticker.jpg

Most notably, Cannondale has introduced truncated aerofoil tube profiles to reduce drag, dropped the seatstays to improve comfort and aero efficiency, made the majority of hose/cable routing internal, and now offers an aero handlebar and stem system, although not on this particular model (you have to pay £3,300 for the SuperSix Evo Carbon Disc Ultegra if you want that).

2021 Cannondale SuperSix Evo Carbon Disc 105 - bosses 2.jpg

Cannondale reckons that the changes add up to the equivalent of a 30 watt saving at 30mph (48.3km/h) compared with the previous SuperSix Evo. That's a huge difference, especially when you consider the taller head tube.

2021 Cannondale SuperSix Evo Carbon Disc 105 - head tube.jpg

There's no way of checking that claim short of collecting our own wind tunnel data, so we're reporting it rather than verifying it. For what it's worth, the changes mean that the SuperSix Evo is now more in line with other bikes of its genre, the development work having been undertaken by engineer Nathan Barry who has a PhD in Applied Aerodynamics. Barry's first project for Cannondale was the excellent SystemSix aero bike, upon which some of the SuperSix's features are based.

With an eye on maintaining the stiffness and low weight of the previous generation Supersix while at the same time reducing drag, Cannondale developed a new family of tube shapes.

2021 Cannondale SuperSix Evo Carbon Disc 105 - stays.jpg

'The technology that really helped make this possible was the tube cross-section studies,' said Nathan Barry. 'This started as parallel research in advance of what became the new Evo. I was trying to find a way that we could reduce drag on a bike without changing the stiffness or increasing the weight, but also trying to keep a classic low profile aesthetic.

'After iterating through many different combinations of highly truncated low aspect ratio airfoil sections, we arrived at the tubes you see on this new SuperSix Evo. The down tube is the same circumference as the previous generation bike (so the amount of material is the same), it is really just redistributed into this new form. That allows us to maintain stiffness and weight while reducing drag.'

Front end

Most mid to high-end bikes launched over the past couple of years have fully (or near enough) internal cables and hoses but on the SuperSix Evo the gear cables run externally between the ends of your handlebar tape and a plate at the top of the down tube.

2021 Cannondale SuperSix Evo Carbon Disc 105 - top tube.jpg

If you go for a bike with Shimano Di2 electronic shifting, the wires run along the underside of Cannondale's HollowGram KNOT stem, a cover hiding them away. Our review bike has cable-operated shifting and a standard Cannondale 3 6061 alloy stem.

On the models with disc brakes, like ours, the hoses duck into the top of the head tube via a proprietary headset cover and run internally where they need to go. The headset spacers are gated, by the way, so you can add/remove them without going through the rigmarole of disconnecting the brakes or, on Di2 models, the shift wires.

2021 Cannondale SuperSix Evo Carbon Disc 105 - stem.jpg

The setup on our review bike – mechanical shifting with a standard-type stem – already looks a little old fashioned compared with something like a Shimano 105-equipped Trek Emonda SL 5 where the gear cables run into the top of the head tube alongside the hoses. A SuperSix Evo with electronic shifting is much tidier, but you're looking at £5,000 for the model with an Ultegra Di2 groupset.

One result of Cannondale's system is that you can't turn the handlebar quite as far as you otherwise could (it's the same on the SystemSix) because the movement of the fork is restricted. A distinct thud tells you when you've reached the limit.

2021 Cannondale SuperSix Evo Carbon Disc 105 - fork.jpg

In practice, it's only relevant when you're doing a U-ey at walking pace; you never reach the stop point when you're going any faster than that – it would be too tight a turn.

The build

Built up with Shimano 105 components, our review bike is the most affordable disc brake SuperSix Evo, although a rim brake model is available for £2,000 (there's a rim brake Shimano Ultegra model for £2,500 too).

2021 Cannondale SuperSix Evo Carbon Disc 105 - drivetrain.jpg

The shifters, derailleurs, hydraulic disc brakes, cassette and chain are all 105, but you get a Cannondale One crankset with a 30mm diameter spindle. You won't find a Shimano chainset on any SuperSix Evo because the brand doesn't do 30mm spindles. The Cannondale One is a little heavier than a Shimano alternative but it contributes to the mega-stiff pedalling platform.

2021 Cannondale SuperSix Evo Carbon Disc 105 - crank.jpg

I won't go into huge detail on Shimano 105 because we've covered it sooooo many times before (and if I write too many more words sub-editor Tass is going to kick right off) but it is a fine, upstanding member of the Shimano community, that'll give you a nod in the street and probably stick a couple of quid in the charity box from time to time too. You know, a solid, super-dependable salt of the earth type. It works every bit as well as Ultegra and Dura-Ace, it's just a little heavier.

2021 Cannondale SuperSix Evo Carbon Disc 105 - bar and lever.jpg

The chainset is 52/36-tooth matched to an 11-30t cassette and I reckon that's spot on for a bike of this type. It'll keep you progressing on tough climbs and allow you to keep the power on at high speed.

2021 Cannondale SuperSix Evo Carbon Disc 105 - rear mech.jpg

The handlebar and stem are standard-style 6061 aluminium and together offer a really strong front end, although if you're attracted by the efficiency claims made for the SuperSix Evo you'll probably yearn for a model that features the aero-optimised HollowGram Save SystemBar and HollowGram KNOT stem. The least expensive of these is the SuperSix Evo Carbon Disc Ultegra at £3,300.

2021 Cannondale SuperSix Evo Carbon Disc 105 - cable routing.jpg

The Cannondale/Formula wheels are decent enough but they don't really suit the character of the SuperSix Evo in that the rims are shallow. Let's be honest, this bike is crying out for deeper section rims. The 35mm-deep HollowGram carbon clinchers on the SuperSix Evo Carbon Disc Ultegra are more the ticket – although, of course, that bike is considerably more expensive. Maybe you already have favourite wheels that you'd swap onto this bike anyway, in which case you're laughing. We nearly got that Ultegra model in on test and I'd seriously consider opting for that one if your budget allows. It looks like the better deal.

2021 Cannondale SuperSix Evo Carbon Disc 105 - rim and tyre.jpg

Money bit

That brings us seamlessly to the money bit. The obvious comparison is with the Shimano 105-equipped Trek Emonda SL 5 that's a little cheaper at £2,275. We've not reviewed that model but Stu rode the Emonda SL 6 Pro which features the same frameset. He said that the stiffness throughout the fork and the lower half of the frame is very impressive, and called it a 'firm yet fun ride'. 

In terms of components, there's not a great deal to choose between the SuperSix Evo Carbon Disc 105 and the Emonda SL 5.

> Your complete guide to Shimano road bike groupsets

The 2020 Merida Reacto Disc 5000 that we reviewed was £2,500 and the 2021 model is a little cheaper at £2,450. This model has Shimano Ultegra brakes, shifters and derailleurs – a level higher than 105 – although the chainset is non-series Shimano RS510.

Stu said, 'It's not the lightest [8.97kg for size M/L], or most comfortable, but if speed is your main goal then the Reacto Disc 5000 delivers.'

The Specialized Tarmac Disc Sport that we reviewed earlier in the year was £2,350. That bike has essentially become the Specialized Tarmac SL 6 Sport for 2021. It features a Shimano 105 groupset and DT R470 Disc wheels which aren't the flashiest, lightest or most aero ever, but they are dependable.

We said, 'Race-ready performance with great handling and decent comfort, the Tarmac Disc Sport shines everywhere bar value.'

At £2,750, the Tarmac SL6 Sport is £350 more than the Cannondale SuperSix Evo Carbon Disc 105.

Conclusion

Cannondale took a risk in updating the SuperSix Evo so radically because the previous version was so popular, but it's a gamble that has paid off. It has managed to retain all of the good bits and thrown aero efficiency into the mix.

The SuperSix Evo Carbon Disc 105 is super-stiff and responsive and far, far smoother than you might expect of a race bike. It's also highly upgradeable, the frameset being well worthy of some mid-depth carbon wheels as and when funds allow.

Verdict

Stiff yet highly comfortable speed machine, now with a helping of aero efficiency

If you're thinking of buying this product using a cashback deal why not use the road.cc Top Cashback page and get some top cashback while helping to support your favourite independent cycling website

road.cc test report

Make and model: Cannondale SuperSix Evo Carbon Disc 105

Size tested: 58cm

About the bike

List the components used to build up the bike.

Cannondale lists:

FRAMESET

Frame BallisTec Carbon, integrated cable routing w/ Switchplate, 12x142 Speed Release thru-axle, SAVE, PF30a, flat mount disc, integrated seat binder

Fork BallisTec Carbon, SAVE, integrated crown race, 12x100mm Speed Release thru-axle, flat mount disc, internal routing, 1-1/8" to 1-1/4" steerer and 55mm offset (44-54cm), 1/8" to 1-3/8' steerer and 45mm offset (56-62cm)

Headset Integrated, 1-1/8" - 1-1/4" (44-54cm), 1-1/8" - 1-3/8" (56-62cm)

Bottom Bracket Cannondale Alloy PressFit30

Chain Shimano HG601, 11-speed

Chainset Cannondale 1, BB30a, 52/36

Front Derailleur Shimano 105, braze-on

Rear Cogs Shimano 105, 11-30, 11-speed

Rear Derailleur Shimano 105 GS

Shifters Shimano 105, 11-speed

Brake Levers Shimano 105

Brakes Shimano 105 hydraulic disc, 160/160mm RT64 rotors

Handlebar Cannondale 3, 6061 alloy, Compact

Tape Cannondale Bar Tape, 3.5mm

Saddle Prologo Nago RS STN

Seatpost HollowGram 27 KNØT, Alloy, 2 bolt clamp, 330mm, 15mm offset

Stem Cannondale 3, 6061 Alloy, 31.8, 7°

Front Hub Formula CL-712, 12x100 centerlock

Rear Hub Formula RXC-400, 12x142 centerlock

Rims Cannondale RD 2.0 Disc, double wall w/ eyelet, 28h

Spokes Stainless Steel, 14g

Tyres Vittoria Zaffiro Pro Slick, 700 x 25mm

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, "Fast, just got faster. A pure road bike. Light, smooth and ultra fast. The evolution of the classic race machine."

Cannondale lists these highlights

* Lightweight low-drag BallisTec carbon frameset

* Shimano 105 hydro disc group

* Cannondale 1 crank

Cannondale says it is built for speed, agility, and handling, and "thrives in competition, the open road, up and down hills".

You get the picture, it's a performance-minded road bike aimed at racing or at least riding fast.

Where does this model sit in the range? Tell us briefly about the cheaper options and the more expensive options

The SuperSix Evo Carbon Disc 105 is the most affordable disc brake model in the range. Models with the aero-optimised Hollowgram handlebar and stem (which hide gear hoses completely) start at £3,300.

Frame and fork

Overall rating for frame and fork
 
9/10

Tell us about the build quality and finish of the frame and fork?

The frameset is exceptionally good and could easily take higher level wheels (as other models in the range do).

Tell us about the materials used in the frame and fork?

We have the standard version of the frame that uses what Cannondale calls BallisTec Carbon. Complete bikes with a lighter Hi-Mod frameset cost from £4,300.

Tell us about the geometry of the frame and fork?

Cannondale has altered the geometry with this version of the SuperSix Evo, lengthening the head tube a little. It's slightly more relaxed than previously, although clearly still focused on a flat back riding position. I've covered this in more detail in the main body of the review.

How was the bike in terms of height and reach? How did it compare to other bikes of the same stated size?

I was on the 58cm frame with a 57.8mm top tube, which is about normal for a road bike of this kind.

The stack is a little higher than on previous versions of the SuperSix Evo and the reach is a little shorter. It's a significant tweak but this still feels like a race bike.

Riding the bike

Was the bike comfortable to ride? Tell us how you felt about the ride quality.

I found the level of comfort the most surprising feature of the SuperSix Evo.

Did the bike feel stiff in the right places? Did any part of the bike feel too stiff or too flexible?

Head tube stiffness feels high and it feels even higher at the bottom bracket.

How did the bike transfer power? Did it feel efficient?

This is probably the SuperSix Evo's strongest suit. It feels like nothing is wasted.

Was there any toe-clip overlap with the front wheel? If so was it a problem?

Just a touch, and not a problem.

How would you describe the steering? Was it lively neutral or unresponsive? I'd call it sharp.

Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's comfort? would you recommend any changes?

I liked the Prologo Nago saddle, but I'd swap to something flatter long term. If you want more comfort you could always swap to wider tyres or run a tubeless setup.

Rate the bike for efficiency of power transfer:
 
9/10
Rate the bike for acceleration:
 
8/10
Rate the bike for sprinting:
 
8/10
Rate the bike for high speed stability:
 
7/10
Rate the bike for cruising speed stability:
 
7/10
Rate the bike for low speed stability:
 
7/10
Rate the bike for flat cornering:
 
9/10
Rate the bike for cornering on descents:
 
9/10
Rate the bike for climbing:
 
7/10

The drivetrain

Rate the drivetrain for performance:
 
8/10
Rate the drivetrain for durability:
 
8/10
Rate the drivetrain for weight:
 
8/10
Rate the drivetrain for value:
 
8/10

Wheels and tyres

Rate the wheels for performance:
 
7/10
Rate the wheels for durability:
 
7/10
Rate the wheels for weight:
 
7/10
Rate the wheels for comfort:
 
7/10
Rate the wheels for value:
 
7/10
Rate the tyres for performance:
 
5/10
Rate the tyres for durability:
 
7/10

The tread is fairly thick which helps with durability.

Rate the tyres for weight:
 
5/10
Rate the tyres for comfort:
 
6/10

Tell us some more about the tyres. Did they work well in the conditions you encountered? Would you change the tyres? If so what for?

I'm not a huge fan of these tyres. They're not particularly light or quick. I'd be upgrading them. They're the least impressive part of the spec.

Controls

Rate the controls for performance:
 
8/10
Rate the controls for durability:
 
8/10
Rate the controls for weight:
 
8/10
Rate the controls for comfort:
 
8/10
Rate the controls for value:
 
8/10

Your summary

Did you enjoy riding the bike? Yes

Would you consider buying the bike? Yes

Would you recommend the bike to a friend? Yes

How does the price compare to that of similar bikes in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?

The Shimano 105-equipped Trek Emonda SL 5 is a little cheaper at £2,275. We've not reviewed that model but Stu rode the Emonda SL 6 Pro which features the same frameset. He said that the stiffness throughout the fork and the lower half of the frame is very impressive, and called it a 'firm yet fun ride'. In terms of components, there's not a great deal to choose between the SuperSix Evo Carbon Disc 105 and the Emonda SL 5.

The 2020 Merida Reacto Disc 5000 that we reviewed was £2,500 and the 2021 model is a little cheaper at £2,450. This model has Shimano Ultegra brakes, shifters and derailleurs – a level higher than 105 – although the chainset is non-series Shimano RS510. Stu said, 'It's not the lightest [8.97kg for size M/L], or most comfortable, but if speed is your main goal then the Reacto Disc 5000 delivers'.

The Specialized Tarmac Disc Sport that we reviewed earlier in the year was £2,350. That bike has essentially become the Specialized Tarmac SL 6 Sport for 2021. It features a Shimano 105 groupset and DT R470 Disc wheels which aren't the flashiest, lightest or most aero ever, but they are dependable.

We said, 'Race-ready performance with great handling and decent comfort, the Tarmac Disc Sport shines everywhere bar value'.

At £2,750, the Tarmac SL6 Sport is £350 more than the Cannondale SuperSix Evo Carbon Disc 105.

In the light of all that, the SuperSix Evo is pretty good value. It has an excellent frameset and is highly upgradeable.

Rate the bike overall for performance:
 
9/10
Rate the bike overall for value:
 
7/10

Use this box to explain your overall score

It's about the most solid 8 possible. It's very good.

Overall rating: 8/10

About the tester

Age: 48  Height: 190cm  Weight: 80kg

I usually ride:   My best bike is:

I've been riding for: Over 20 years  I ride: Most days  I would class myself as: Expert

I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding,

Mat has been in cycling media since 1996, on titles including BikeRadar, Total Bike, Total Mountain Bike, What Mountain Bike and Mountain Biking UK, and he has been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. Mat has been road.cc technical editor for over a decade, 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 winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer. Now pushing 50, he's riding road and gravel bikes most days for fun and fitness rather than training for competitions.

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