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Cannondale revamps Synapse road bike with intelligent SmartSense tech for ‘reducing distractions and increasing awareness’

With its centralised system and single power source, 'SmartSense' features a lighting and traffic detection system, and comes fitted as standard on the new Synapse

Cannondale aims to make road cycling more inviting and efficient than before with the launch of the redesigned Synapse endurance bike and introduction of its SmartSense light and radar technology for “more visibility, better visibility, less pre-ride fiddling”. This sees a set of lights with a rear brake light function and Garmin's Varia Radar traffic detection system included in the package, that can be charged from a single power pack. 

> And we've already had a go! Read Stu’s first ride review of the new Synapse with SmartSense tech over here


Before taking a look at the redesigned Synapse, let’s check out the interesting new technology Cannondale has specced on the endurance bike.


SmartSense is Cannondale’s new intelligent system of lights and radar that aims to reduce distractions and increase awareness to make road cycling more enjoyable for experienced riders and more inviting for new riders. It is a centralised system which uses a single power source to simplify recharging and to help ensure you don’t head off ill-equipped. 


Users will have access to a selection of settings via Cannondale’s app to customise their ride experience. “The settings are designed to provide enhanced awareness while also creating heightened visibility so the rider can more effectively see and be seen,” Cannondale says.


“Once desired customisations have been applied, a spin of the front wheel, outfitting with a Cannondale wheel sensor, initiates an ongoing chain of communication across all the available SmartSense touch points,” Cannondale explains.

The Garmin Varia Core Battery is used as a single power source to eliminate the need to charge multiple batteries. It has the added capability of being used as a USB-C charging source when it’s disconnected from the bike. 


It works with Lezyne’s Front and Rear Daytime Running lights. The front improves visibility for oncoming traffic, while the rear has an optional brake alert function. “Both lights can adjust brightness to accommodate limited or changing daylight, or signal oncoming rear traffic and hard braking,” Cannondale sums up. 

Then you’ve also got the Garmin Varia Radar which constantly scans for approaching traffic and can signal the speed, distance and number of cars through audible and visual alerts on the Cannondale app or the bike’s display unit. 

> Review: Garmin Varia RTL510


Cannondale introduced the Synapse as its first carbon road frame 15 years ago and now the brand has revamped endurance platform and used it to showcase its new SmartSense technology.

> Review: Cannondale Synapse Disc Sora


“This well-rounded road bike embodies the fusion of performance, comfort and versatility with the ability to tackle a variety of terrains,” Cannondale sums up. “It has a comfortable rider position, engineering that helps smooth the roads and now it has the added confidence and awareness of the SmartSense system.” 

This version provides the “smoothest Synapse ride yet”, Cannondale claims, and this is thanks to 8% increased compliance that’s been matched with a sporty, more upright riding position. 


“Discreet flex zones in the rear triangle, seat tube and seatpost absorb road chatter and bumps without adding weight or isolating you from the ride experience,” Cannondale claims. 

> 17 of the best disc brake endurance bikes for 2021

The Synapse is also said to be speedier than its predecessor thanks to learnings applied from the Cannondale SystemSix, with subtle aerodynamic shaping of the frame and fork. 

> First Ride: Cannondale SystemSix

Cannondale’s 'Proportional Response' is the brand’s size-specific design for optimising the performance for all heights, and this has been applied to the Synapse. Cannondale says it adjusts the bike’s geometry, construction, stiffness and steering characteristics, based on rider size and their varying centre of gravity. 


The Synapse is equipped with the SAVE vibration-absorbing handlebars that are designed to offer the integrated looks of a one-piece bar/stem, with the modular adjustability of a two-piece design. 

It rolls on HollowGram 45 SL KNOT wheels which feature a wider 45mm deep profile and are claimed to maintain aerodynamic efficiency with big tyres.


The Synapse has clearance for up to 35mm tyres for use across light gravel. For those long days exploring off the beaten path, it also has mounts for top tube bags and two water bottles. 

The new Synapse is available with SmartSense tech from £3,200 up to £9,000, with a selection of radar, lights and electronic shifting denoted by R, L and E in the model name. Here's the spec breakdown:

Synapse 1 RLE: £9,000

  • Shimano Dura Ace
  • SmartSense with Lights and Radar

Synapse LTD RLE: £6,750

  • Shimano GRX Di2
  • SmartSense with Lights and Radar

Synapse 2 RLE: £5,800

  • Shimano Ultegra Di2
  • SmartSense with Lights and Radar

Synapse 2 RL: £4,000

  • Shimano Ultegra
  • SmartSense with Lights and Radar

Synapse 3 L: £3,200

  • Shimano 105
  • SmartSense with Lights 

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