CANNONDALE SUPERSIX EVO CX & SE
PRICE: $4,000 (CX) / $5,000 (SE) WEIGHT: 18.5 LB (CX) / 19.5 LB (SE)
CANNONDALE’S PREVIOUS CYCLOCROSS bike, the Super X, was so good for so long that it backed the brand into a corner. Cannondale could either keep making the same fantastic bike at the risk of having it look increasingly dated, or it could change it and potentially mess with a really good thing. Looking at the new SuperSix Evo CX and SE, you might assume that Cannondale has chosen the latter, but put the geometry charts side by side and you would be hard-pressed to spot the difference. It took me a while to find it—it’s the seat tube angle. On the new bikes, it’s around 1º slacker. Other than that, it’s the same Super X we know and love, even though from a distance, you could confuse it for the SuperSix Evo road bike.
A big part of the redesign was prompted by the explosion of gravel racing, at which the previous bike was quite successful. While the aerodynamic tube shapes lifted from the Evo road platform will not hurt the bike’s cyclocross performance, they will certainly help more significantly in gravel races, where riders often spend many miles fighting the wind alone or in small groups. The increased tire clearance—up from 40mm to 45mm—might, again, be aimed at the gravel racing crowd while also resulting in added mud clearance for the cyclocross racers.
It’s hard to make a bike that’s good at two different things, especially when those two things are as different as a 60-minute ’cross race and a 200-mile gravel race. Winning both was something to which the previous Super X was no stranger, and the new SuperSix Evo CX and SuperSix Evo SE only improve on that formula.
Riding over to my cyclocross practice spot, I had to keep reminding myself that I was on a ’cross bike. It was intuitive and responsive in the same way I would expect a well-designed road
bike to be. To understand what makes the Evo CX a standout, you’ll need to push it at race pace for a few laps. Sprinting out of turns, it responds immediately to pedal input, thanks to the short chainstay length, which carries over from the Super X. Flowing through corners at speed, it’s remarkable how well the front end holds a line. The steering is smooth, precise, and reliable without being twitchy or prone to oversteer.
On steep and technical terrain, the bike shines even brighter. This is where the slack front end and short reach of the Super X can be felt. Other ’cross bikes put more weight over the front wheel, limiting your ability to shift your weight back, making steep descents feel unnerving. The SuperSix Evo CX might not magically turn you into a downhill champ, but the bike’s combination of shorter reach and lower bottom bracket can help you tackle steep descents more comfortably.
Given that the SuperSix Evo SE is Cannondale’s new gravel race platform, I did a bit of mixed-terrain riding on it. It’s very well suited to riders looking for a similar ride experience to their road racing bikes, just with big tires. There aren’t any bag or fender mounts on the SuperSix Evo SE, and all of the compliance comes from tire pressure or rider skill. The things that make the Evo CX an excellent cyclocross bike also make the Evo SE a great “fast” gravel bike. It’s efficient under hard pedaling and a rocket both up- and downhill.
It’s worth mentioning that the Evo SE and Evo CX are by no means “quiver killers.” They are bikes with tire clearance to spare and whose predecessor was used to win one of the most prestigious gravel races (Unbound Gravel) in 2018 as well as several cyclocross national championships. So, if your version of gravel is a road race on dirt, this is probably the right bike for you; and if you race cyclocross, this is also the right bike for you.—D.C.