CANNONDALE SYSTEMSIX CARBON
£4999 › Cannondale debuts its carbon aero road machine
The original SystemSix was one of Us outfit Cannondale’s first forays into carbonfibre road bikes. Now, Cannondale has entered the highly competitive aero-road bike genre with the revival of its historic race bike name.
The main goal was to create a bike that was more aerodynamic, more of the time. Cannondale discovered that for, say, a 75kg rider putting out 300 watts, the SystemSix will save you 30 watts of effort over the company’s Evo. In a 200m sprint at 60kph the SuperSix would be 0.4 seconds faster – in distance terms, four bike lengths. We’ve seen plenty of races won or lost by much less.
The carbon Cannondale range splits into two. Those like the one tested use a mix of high-grade fibres while a smaller, premium range of Hi-Mod bikes employ more highmodulus fibres to add stiffness and reduce weight. They’re aimed at elite riders or those with deep pockets.
Our carbon model comes with the always-brilliant Shimano 9170 Dura-Ace groupset with a speedorientated 52/36, 11-28 gearing combination. It’s one of the best mechanical groupsets ever made: slick, accurate and reliable with excellent brakes to match.
Our bike receives a bar and stem from Vision. The Metron 4D Flat MAS bar would set you back close to £500 if bought separately, with a £100 Trimax OS stem, so it’s a pricey cockpit. The bar’s a great shape, its angled-forward flat-top sections offering a broad hold and enough width to rest your forearms on if you want to ease into an aero tuck.
The anatomic drop is the same as Vision’s other bars and one that we love. Its semi-compact shape offers a great in-the-drops feel and the flattened profile of the drop makes for a great hold.
Cannondale’s new wheels, the KNOT64s, are deep for a road wheel
You’d expect chatter with this much aero shaping, but it kills road noise
at 64mm, but weigh an impressivefor-the-size 1600g a pair. The super-wide rim, in excess of 30mm externally and 21mm wide internally, wears a 23mm tyre. When mounted to the KNOT64 rims they come up to 25.8mm and the bike can handle up to a 30mm tyre. The wheels are clamped in place via a new type of thru-axle that, rather than having to be removed completely, is retained in the wheel itself.
Within a few miles the overriding feeling on the SystemSix is familiar, like riding the Evo, one of the besthandling race bikes ever. As soon as we got chance to throw the SystemSix around it felt just as exciting as the Evo. There’s a bit of resistance from the deep wheels under acceleration but, once you’re up to speed, they hold on to it.
We expected a bit of chatter and vibration through a frame with this much aero shaping, and 23mm tyres, but the combination of the clever frame construction and Vittoria Rubino tyres does an admirable job of killing road noise.
The SystemSix is what an aero bike should be – brutally fast when you need it but always nimble and sharp handling, tempered with a quality of ride that won’t beat you up and sap your energy. When a design can pull off all of these traits you’re getting close to the perfect allrounder. It may be carrying a bit of extra weight over some of its rivals but it’s worth remembering that in this guise, although expensive, it’s half the cost of some of its rivals.
Below Vision’s Metron 4D Flat MAS bar is at the heart of a luxurious cockpit Bottom Our model was constructed from high-grade carbon fibre
HIGHS Sublime Evolike handling, spellbinding speed and smooth with it LOWS Deep-section wheels can be a bit ponderous on climbs BUY IF You favour aero benefits over light weight but don’t want to compromise comfort or handling The SystemSix is brutally fast when you need it but always nimble and sharp handling