In March 2023, after a four-year hiatus, Cannondale officially unveiled its hotly-anticipated new SuperSix model to an eagerly-awaiting public. It’s always a risk when a brand so well-established upgrades one of its most popular models – the challenge is making improvements without taking away elements of the bike that people love. It’s for this reason that the most recent SuperSix doesn’t see any hugely radical changes, but instead, some upgrades that make it, according to Cannondale, lighter, faster and more aesthetically pleasing than ever before.
At launch last year, Cannondale’s engineers explained that they had the goals of achieving the drag of an aero bike and a lower overall system weight, as well as adding more integration and capabilities to the SuperSix. There were also aesthetic goals that Cannondale’s team set its mind to, such as breaking the generic mould and restrictions of aero tubing alongside flawless component styling and finish. After multiple rounds of aero testing, Cannondale says that the new SuperSix shaves 12 watts off of the previous generation model at 45kph, yet at the same time it still stays true to its original identity as a bike made for going uphill fast (a top-spec Dura-Ace LAB71 SuperSix in a 56cm is claimed to come in on the UCI weight limit of 6.9 kilograms).
New, in-house componentry was also a big part of the upgrades Cannondale made to the SuperSix, as the American brand brought an integrated cockpit option to market which was created in collaboration with MOMODesign, called the SystemBar R-One. A newly-designed Hollowgram R-SL 50 Wheelset completed the SuperSix package.
What sets the SuperSix apart from the crowd of WorldTour race bikes that are steadily all being marketed as all-rounders which strike that balance between lightweight and aero are the considerations Cannondale has made for the everyday consumer in the SuperSix. Features like a threaded BSA bottom bracket standard, standard thru-axles for simple wheel removal, the relocation of drivetrain batteries to the downtube and clearance for up to 34mm tyres all make the bike a little bit easier to maintain, travel with and use on a range of terrain. Although the SystemBar R-One is the aerodynamic handlebar option, Cannondale also gives the option to run a non-integrated bar and stem with its ‘Conceal Stem’ that allows integration but fits with any handlebar, meaning the SuperSix is easily adjusted for different anatomical needs.
The men’s and women’s EF Education WorldTour teams have proven that the SuperSix certainly holds its own in the professional peloton, but does it do the job for those of us looking for a bike which can do it all? We’ve been putting the Cannondale SuperSix Evo Hi-Mod 1 to the test this winter.
I tested the SuperSix EVO Hi-Mod 1 in the Mercury paint scheme, which is the only colourway Cannondale currently offers in the Hi-Mod 1 build. While it might be nice to have a couple more options, I think that the warm silver and black combination works well on the SystemSix – the fade from matt to shiny from the back to the front of the bike is unique and the metal flake on the paint really pops in the sunlight. On the top tube, you can see a layer of forged carbon fibre which gives the bike an especially premium feel and highlights the craftsmanship of Cannondale’s frame builders.
The paint isn’t the only thing that gives the SuperSix a unique look – the tubes are smaller than you might expect of a bike with the same aerodynamic qualities, especially at the rear. While the SuperSix features the dropped seat stays that are common on aero bikes, the seat tube is extremely thin above the bottom bracket and this carries on all the way up through the seat tube. In fact, looking at the bike from behind, the carbon looks so thin it’s a wonder how it even holds. This is one of the reasons that Cannondale has moved the Di2 battery port to the down tube of the SuperSix – while this means that the battery won’t get lost in the seat tube (it’s all happened to us before when travelling with a bike) it also means that the battery sits in a part of the bike which is likely to face the worst water damage, something to bear in mind if using an internal electronic groupset battery.
At the front of the bike, Cannondale leans into more traditional aerodynamic frame shaping with subtle hourglass shape to the head tube, a reshaped fork and more space between the fork and front wheel. The bike I tested featured the extremely neat-looking SystemBar R-One integrated handlebar system which was wrapped with 3.5mm bar tape.
The Hi-Mod 1 build is the highest Hi-Mod model and it only comes with a SRAM Red AXS groupset – those who want to use Shimano would need to either step up to Lab71 for Dura-Ace or down to the Hi-Mod 2 build which comes with Ultegra Di2. The gearing on the bike was 48/35 chainrings paired with a 10-28 cassette, while the wheels were Cannondale’s own HollowGram 50 R-SL model. These use a rim shape with a 21mm internal width and a wide 32mm outer width and have a middling 50mm depth, with a bladed spoke which is shaped by Cannondale’s 'Draft' aero design philosophy. The wheels come standard with 25mm Continental GP5000 tyres, while the saddle that comes on the SuperSix is the Prologo Dimension NACK NDR with carbon rails.
The SuperSix Evo Hi-Mod 1 is priced at $13,500/ £10,500 and the frameset is $4,500/£3,750. The LAB71 version of the SuperSix sits at the top of the range and jumps up ($2,000/£1,500) in price, for a weight saving of approximately 40 grams.
The first time I rode the SuperSix, I was impressed with how comfortable the geometry was – it feels less aggressive than other bikes I’ve tested, such as the Pinarello Dogma F, but this is something that made the bike extremely comfortable on long rides. There was also plenty of stack height at the front of the bike, so there is the option to make the front end lower for those who prefer a more aerodynamic fit.
The versatility of the SuperSix is where it stands out from the crowd – it’s fast enough for racing but it’s also comfortable enough for long rides. Throw on a pair of 30mm tyres on and utilise Cannondale’s SmartSense integrated light system and this is a bike that has everything you need for the long haul. Despite the increased seat post depth compared to the previous SuperSix, the bike is still forgiving on rough terrain, likely thanks to its dropped seatstays and thinly profiled seat tube. The small notch out of the seatpost just underneath the saddle also helps here – I didn’t suffer from jolting or saddle discomfort when riding the SuperSix (credit can also be given to the Prologo Dimension saddle for helping with this, I found the seat to be comfortable and supportive.)There are a few things that Cannondale could change to make the SuperSix a bit more applicable to non-race situations, though. For example, I would have preferred the bike to come with 28mm tyres rather than the 25mm it is equipped with as standard, for a more practical choice – the majority of users won’t be taking this bike straight into a race scenario. I would also note that the specially designed aero bottle cages don’t fit bigger water bottles easily, so these may require a switch if you want to set up the SuperSix for all-day riding. These are small changes though, and overall I was extremely impressed with the comfort of the SuperSix over long rides.But where Cannondale has ensured that the SuperSix can support a rider for long days in the saddle, the American brand has created a bike that is more than capable in faster scenarios, too. Riding in my local chain gang and on intense group rides which involved accelerations from traffic lights, the SuperSix was quick to respond and get up to speed as soon as I asked it to. The SystemBar R-One handlebars help the bike to feel stiff and solid – I felt as if the bike was lively and ready to race, urging me on in tough efforts and ensuring that no power was being wasted through the pedals. If I was buying the bike myself, though, I would opt for a two-piece system just so I could choose my own fit options (I found the SystemBar R-One integrated bars to be a little wide for my usual liking.) I can’t test Cannondale’s aero claims when it comes to the SuperSix, but I did find myself comfortably passing other riders in descents without notable effort, which gives validity to the claim that this is a bike optimised for going fast. Uphill, the bike was light and springy, offering plenty of feedback when out of the saddle.
The confidence I had in the SuperSix was also helped by the handling of the bike. I used it on wet and slippery roads, yet the bike responded quickly to any small adjustments I needed to make going into a corner. While it’s fast to help you correct your line if you need to, the SuperSix doesn’t have the twitchy, nervous feel that some bikes do and is extremely well-balanced. The HollowGram R-SL 50 wheels were stiff and responsive and I didn’t feel any flex during accelerations or at high speeds.
While the Cannondale SuperSix Evo Hi-Mod 1 comes at a premium price point, it’s actually £1000 cheaper than its predecessor and favourably priced upgrades are representative the entire way down the range. The versatility of the SuperSix also helps to justify the price – it can serve riders all year round, from long slogs and winter miles, to snappy, sunny races where you need a bike that responds quickly to accelerations and can support you when railing it round corners. Aesthetically, the SuperSix has some stunning carbon shapes and I personally really like the silver paint job, though it’s a shame there aren't more options when it comes to both colour and specification on the Hi-Mod 1 build.
There are certainly lighter bikes out there than the SuperSix and there might be ones that test faster in the windtunnel, but this won’t be without sacrificing the impressive responsiveness and compliance that the SuperSix offers. Similarly to other major bike releases in the past year (such as Specialized’s new Tarmac SL8), the SuperSix definitely seems to represent a step away from consumers having to make a choice between an aero bike or a climbing bike – instead Cannondale offer a bike that can do it all in the SuperSix, whether that’s in the WorldTour peloton or on a local club ride.
Overall, there may be a few very minor things that Cannondale could iron out on the SuperSix EVO Hi-Mod 1, but it’s pretty hard to fault this model for those who are looking for a bike that is comfortable but also offers high-end race capabilities. It may not be for the watt-crushing, marginal gain searching, aero testers among us who would likely want something lower and more aggressive, but for the everyday rider who likes to go fast, the SuperSix ticks plenty of boxes.