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Today’s races and mass-start events are moving beyond the classic interpretation of endurance and expanding into increasingly challenging turf. Bikes in the endurance race category are similarly being designed to handle those increasingly challenging surfaces, climbs, and distances. Once the domain of more upright, compliant, less responsive ride characteristics, current endurance bikes have become racier and stiffer, while still keeping the right amount of comfort to handle the toughest World Tour Classics courses. Cannondale’s Synapse is no stranger to the race-worthy endurance bikes, and the 2018 model is no exception.
The new 2018 Cannondale Synapse helps push those category boundaries. It is envisioned as a true “Classics” bike. Such a bike needs to be light enough, stiff enough, and smooth enough to handle racing’s most punishing roads. This bike is designed to be raced and enjoyed over long, grueling days.
The frame is available for men and women, ranging from sizes 44cm to 61cm. To ensure a Synapse-worthy ride quality, engineers have applied a size-specific approach to design. Each size gets its own particular carbon layup, which is then paired to different potential fork steerer, head tube diameter, and fork offset combinations to achieve the desired ride characteristics. It’s all about optimization for Cannondale on this bike. At 56cm, the 2018 Synapse frame is 950g. This is 220g below the bike’s current model. Pitted against four other bikes from the obvious players, third-party testers found that Synapse came in lighter than all except for the Canyon Endurance CF SLX.
Compliance is key for tackling rough, unpredictable courses. Synapse riders have classically appreciated the bike’s smoothness, which was partially achieved by utilizing “SAVE Micro-Suspension.” This basically translates to specific areas throughout the frame, fork, and post designed to deflect shock. To improve this supple experience, the 2018 Synapse has added the carbon SAVE Integrated bar to the skinny 25.4mm SAVE seat post. Although the bar looks integrated, it is built to accommodate interchangeable stem lengths. The combined goal is greater vibration dampening and improved handling. Adding to that compliance, the Synapse comes with 28mm tires, but it can accommodate up to 32mm, which will truly unleash the bike’s potential more than any “SAVE Micro-Suspension” can.
Available in both men’s and women’s configurations, the 2018 Synapse comes in two levels: the Synapse Hi-Mod and Synapse Carbon. The Hi-Mod version has all the predictable top-shelf disc builds. With eTap, Di2, and Dura Ace options, assembling a finely tuned Synapse should be breeze. Synapse Carbon models can be found in Ultegra Di2, Ultegra, and 105 disc options. The Synapse Carbon SE Apex Disc is an entry-level model available for both men and women. Prices will range from $2,499 to $9,999.