With the introduction of the SuperSix EVO, Cannondale can rightfully claim to make one of the finest carbon fiber bikes on the planet.
The carbon fiber market is a lot like the contender list for a grand tour. You’ve got lots of strong guys who can win stages, some dark horses, a few also-ran contenders and then the actual favorites. Those favorites comprise maybe a half-dozen guys but they share in common an impressive array of abilities: They are light and go uphill like a balloon. They drop from the heavens like a predatory bird. They are good against the clock as if made by the Swiss. And they always look comfortable, stylish.
So it is with the SuperSix EVO. It is a bike that combines those most-coveted qualities you wish to find in a bicycle to make it worthy ofany sort of road riding you might do. All-purpose sounds like knock, but in this case it’s a nod to the incredible blend of different qualities found in this bike.
When I got on the bike I immediately noticed how light it was and then reminded myself how the build was just straight SRAM Red (which I know is the lightest group on the market) with Mavic R-Sys wheels, carbon bar and aluminum stem. Only the Mavic wheels stood out as a concession to ultra-light.
The EVO’s strength-to-weight ratio is apparent when you stand up with your hands on the hoods to jam up a hill. The front triangle doesn’t twist at all. But if the hill is long enough, you begin to notice something else. On most ultra-stiff bikes, I notice rear wheel chatter when I’m out of the saddle. If the road surface is anything other than linoleum-smooth, I can feel that rear wheel begin to break loose. That never happened with the EVO. Just to test how supple the rear triangle was, I took a few opportunities to shift my weight a bit more forward than usual and yet the rear wheel continued to kiss the pavement with all the fervor of two teens in their first embrace.
The little roads we rode were rarely in the best shape. Broken pavement, gravel and uneven seams between sections of road and, of course, sunken and raised utility covers presented an ever-present array of items to sort through, kinda like the junk mail in your mail box. I decided to wade in. I hit seams, took bumps, rode through gravel, thunked holes and generally cyclocrossed what everyone else was avoiding.
I’m not going to tell you the EVO smoothed this over with a politician’s diplomacy. What I found was that shock to the saddle wasn’t as sharp. Cannondale is calling this feature “micro suspension” and I’m willing to grant them the point. As stiff as this bike is, it’s not harsh, which has been my knock against some otherwise stellar bikes. It’s here that I believe Cannondale’s work to create hollow dropouts and flatten not only the seat stays but also the chainstays really pays off.
Cannondale’s blend of carbon fiber gives the EVO a ride quality that I’ve found in only a handful of bikes. Rather than damping all the high-frequency vibration out of the road, a certain amount comes through, giving the bike a lively feel reminiscent of great steel bikes, and on rough roads, I love having that feedback to know what the tires are doing.
Our second day of riding was no less hilly, but the descents seemed longer and it was then that I really began to appreciate the geometry of the EVO. For those of you who have been riding the SuperSix and enjoying it, you’ll find the SuperSix EVO unchanged. My previous experiences with theSuperSix had been at the Outdoor Demo at Interbike and because the bike really wasn’t set up for me, I never liked the handling much. It’s an experience like this that can restore my wonder for how much handling can change when you drop a stem five centimeters.
When I think of the bikes on the market that have the most assured, yet nimble handling, the list hasn’t traditionally included Cannondale. I apologize for the omission. I loved diving into turns late, apexing far inside and feeling the bike hold the arc as if it was a tether ball. I can’t wait to try this thing on the canyon roads of Malibu.
A bike this good is flat-out rare.