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Cannondale Road Bike Buyer's Guide: Synapse vs SuperSix & More

Cannondale road bikes have something for everyone — the versatile SuperSix Evo, the aero SystemSix, the comfortable Synapse, and even gravel bikes like the Topstone.

Written by: Bruce Lin

Published on:

Posted in:Guides

From Mario Cipollini to Peter Sagan, Cannondale road bikes have panache in their pedigree. Cannondale’s radical engineering ethos, proprietary technology, and novel designs have offended some, but also captured the hearts and minds of many forward-thinking cyclists.

Born in Wilton, Connecticut, this scrappy American brand has designed some of the industry’s most innovative bikes and components and grown from a quirky little bike builder into one of the most influential players in the business. For Cannondale, the constant pursuit of innovation is the key to producing better bikes.

Cannondale’s catalog includes everything from race-ready road bikes, to trail-shredding mountain bikes, to reliable cruisers for your daily commute. Here we’ll review Cannondale’s road and gravel offering — with a brief foray into CX — to help you better understand which model in its current line-up is the best fit for you.

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Cannondale road bikes

The Cannondale SuperSix EVO

Cannondale SuperSix Evo road bike

The SuperSix EVO is Cannondale’s classic road racing machine. It’s an all-rounder, designed to be light and agile for road racers who want to conquer big mountain stages or smash their Strava PRs. The newest model also offers aerodynamics and comfort. The current SuperSix EVO is 30% more aerodynamic than its predecessor, saving precious watts at high speeds. But with dropped seat stays and clearance for wide 30mm tires, it is also compliant enough to handle rough roads and occasional dirt and gravel too.

For an in-depth look, check out our long-term review of the SuperSix EVO

Who it’s for: Riders looking for a lightweight bike for climbing, racing, and all-around road riding.

Cannondale SystemSix

Cannondale SystemSix Road Bike

The SystemSix is Cannondale’s aero road racing bike. It is one of the most aerodynamic bikes ever tested in a wind tunnel, and Cannondale has enough aero data to confidently claim that it is currently the “fastest bike in the world.” Interestingly, it isn’t referred to as an “aero bike” in Cannondale’s marketing. Cannondale still considers it an all-rounder that is capable of climbing and providing a comfortable ride. The deep-section aero tubes do make it slightly heavier than the SuperSix EVO, but it will satisfy sprinters, crit specialists, and road racers searching for every aero advantage possible.

Who it’s for: Riders looking for maximum speed and aero gains, especially on flat and rolling roads.

Cannondale Synapse

Cannondale Synapse road bike

The Synapse is Cannondale’s endurance road bike. Compared to the SuperSix EVO and SystemSix, it has a more relaxed geometry and an upright riding position to enhance rider comfort. It also has clearance for large 32mm tires that provide more comfort and some off-road capability. Sleek hidden fender mounts help the Synapse handle wet climates. The Synapse is available in both budget-friendly alloy and high-end carbon models. The Synapse Carbon adds a unique split seat tube at the bottom bracket junction to absorb bumps and vibrations. Despite all this focus on comfort, the Synapse is still light, efficient, and fast. It lets riders go farther, ride longer, and explore with more confidence and less fatigue.

Who it’s for: Riders looking for comfort for long rides, rough roads, and light gravel.

Cannondale CAAD13

Cannondale CAAD13 Disc

The CAAD13 is Cannondale’s high-performance aluminum race bike. CAAD bikes have set the standard for aluminum frames for nearly 40 years. With the first CAAD3, Cannondale proved that aluminum bikes could win at the highest level, taking multiple Tour de France stage wins under Mario Cipollini. The CAAD series of bikes continues to carry the torch for aluminum, even when the rest of the industry moved to carbon. Amateur racers love CAAD bikes because of their low price, durability, and performance. The latest CAAD13 is the best CAAD bike yet. It features a redesigned frame with aero-shaped tubing that keeps it competitive with the fastest carbon bikes on the market.

Who it’s for: Riders looking for a budget-friendly, high-performance road racing bike.


Cannondale gravel bikes

Riding gravel on a Cannondale

The Cannondale Topstone Carbon

The Topstone Carbon — the brand's flagship gravel bike — evolved from the groundbreaking Cannondale Slate. The lightweight carbon frame uses Cannondale’s new Kingpin Suspension. Instead of a shock and linkage, the entire rear triangle flexes up to 30mm on a thru-axle pivot at the seat tube. This improves comfort and traction without adding weight. With 37-40mm 700c tires, it rolls fast on pavement, and is ready to attack tough gravel roads.

For riders who want even more off-road capability, the Cannondale Topstone Carbon Lefty adds the Lefty Oliver Gen2 fork, built off of the Lefty Ocho mountain bike fork, to provide 30mm of suspension travel in the front. With high-volume 650b wheels and tires, it can handle the roughest terrain.

Who it’s for: Riders looking to tackle rough and loose gravel roads on their regular rides

Cannondale Topstone gravel bike

Cannondale Topstone Alloy

The Topstone Alloy is Cannondale’s budget-friendly gravel bike. Rather than Kingpin Suspension, the Alloy version relies on Cannondale’s aluminum framebuilding expertise to provide a smooth and snappy ride on pavement and gravel. It has clearance for 42mm tires, is dropper post-ready, and has mounts for bags and fenders. It’s perfect for gravel riders, bikepackers, and commuters looking for a tough, versatile, and affordable adventure rig.

Who it’s for: Riders looking for a budget gravel bike or bikepacking rig.


Cannondale Cyclocross Bikes

Cannondale SuperX 

Cannondale SuperX

The SuperX is Cannondale’s race-ready carbon cyclocross bike. With precise and agile geometry, it excels in demanding off-road conditions like mud, sand, and grass. Thanks to the Ai Offset rear end, it has short chain stays and huge mud and tire clearance. The SuperX is not only a competitive ‘cross racing rig, but with clearance for 40mm tires, it can serve as a great gravel bike for riders who enjoy the more agile feeling of cyclocross geometry or need a bike that can transition between both disciplines.

Who it’s for: Cyclocross racers looking for maximum performance

Cannondale CAADX

The CAADX is Cannondale’s aluminum cyclocross bike. It shares geometry with the high-end SuperX cyclocross bike and will perform similarly on mud, sand, and grass. To reduce cost, it uses a slightly heavier CAAD aluminum frame instead of carbon, but it still possesses the precise and agile ride quality that makes the SuperX a competitive racer. Like the SuperX, the CAADX is also capable enough for most gravel riding.

Who it’s for: Cyclocross racers looking for a budget-friendly race bike.

Cannondale SuperSix SE / SuperSix CX

For the 2022 model year, Cannondale has released new SE and CX versions of the SuperSix road bike. It uses the aerodynamic frame tubes introduced for the current generation SuperSix but adds clearance for 45mm tires to make the fastest gravel and cyclocross race bike possible. 

Who it's for: Riders who want an "all-road" bike that fast and aero on pavement and smooth gravel. 

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Have questions about which Cannondale bike is right for you? Hit up a TPC Ride Guide at (866) 401-9636 to discuss our current selection and find the ride that suits your cycling needs. Do you already have one of these bikes? Let us (and other cyclists) know in the comments what you love about your Cannondale.