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Cannondale Synapse 2 RL 2022


Launched today! Introducing the all-new Cannondale Synapse with SmartSense. Yes, that’s right, the popular Cannondale Synapse has had a dramatic make-over for 2022 and there’s lots to talk about; with a complete re-design of the Synapse’s frame and fork as well as a big injection of tech it stands alone right now in the industry as an endurance road bike with a fully integrated ‘SmartSense’ system reflecting a holistic approach to technology implementation from Cannondale.

Click the link above to see the all-new Synapse 2022 in action…


As official Cannondale launch partners we were lucky enough to receive an all-new Cannondale Synapse 2022 bike a few weeks before launch, giving us the opportunity to test the bike in the real world on the demanding roads of the Lake District National Park. Riding at this time of year has its own challenges when it comes to unpredictable weather, poor road surfaces and low light conditions and the new Synapse was more than up to the job, particularly during the short daylight hours, but more on that later.

Cannondale Synapse 2 RL 2022

The all-new Synapse can handle poor road surfaces and low light conditions with ease.


Before we get into the details, let’s just list the new Synapse’s headliners…

  • SmartSense – Fully integrated tech developed in partnership with Garmin
  • All-Road Ability – Strikes a versatile balance between road and gravel
  • Enhanced Comfort – Increase to frame compliance with size-specific proportional response construction
  • Faster – New subtly aerodynamic frame and fork tube profiles, more speed – less effort

So where to start? Well as the SmartSense system is the big talking point on the all new Cannondale Synapse and features on all but the cheapest model in the Synapse sub-range we’ll mainly focus on that system during this product launch. We received the Synapse 2 RL from Cannondale which sits in the middle of the range and features a Shimano Ultegra mechanical groupset; we’re going to take a more detailed look at the bike and discuss how it rides in our upcoming ‘Fast Bike Friday’ feature, which will be published later this week. For now let’s just share our first impressions on the all-new Synapse…

Cannondale Synapse 2 RL 2022

The stunning paintjob on our Synapse 2 RL does a good job of highlighting all of those new aerodynamic tube profiles.


At first glance it’s immediately obvious that the 2022 Cannondale Synapse has had a dramatic make-over; there’s a lot of changes from the previous version and my first thoughts were that some elements of Cannondale’s full-on road racing machine the SuperSix EVO had migrated over to the Synapse. There’s the dropped seatstays we’ve grown familiar with and squarer, flattened-off truncated airfoil tube profiles lifted directly from the SuperSix; squint and it almost looks like a SuperSix EVO with a slightly shorter, sloping top tube and a slightly higher head tube; it’s fair to assume that with this configuration the Synapse has gained more speed and even more compliance than its predecessor.

Cannondale Synapse 2 RL 2022

More comfortable, MORE aero, same low weight. The Synapse 2 RL is a great all-rounder.


The Cannondale marketing bods have termed the all-new Synapse the perfect ‘road’ bike with the ‘road’ in inverted commas because this bike actually represents the perfect balance between a road and gravel bike. With a magic mix of speed, comfort and capability the Synapse will ride well on all kinds of roads and a wide range of surfaces including smooth tarmac, more unpredictable un-made back lanes and gravel tracks. This brings us neatly to tyre clearance with the Cannondale Synapse accommodating tyres up to 35mm wide, allowing you to run gravel tyres with a minimal tread; with those 35mm tyres fitted there’s still 6mm of clearance between the tyre and frame/fork. Just like the previous version the engineers have included bolt-on bosses for mudguards so if you want to set up your Synapse for winter riding duties you can still run tyres up to 30mm wide with full mud guards.

Cannondale Synapse 2 RL 2022

The new Synapse is packed full of features that help accommodate a wider variety of riding styles and different terrains.


So after our brief summary of the new Synapse frame and fork configuration (remember to check back for our full ride-review of the Synapse 2 RL on Friday!) let’s get into Cannondale’s SmartSystem, a fully integrated system that works as one but is made up of the following constitute parts…


  • Front & Rear Lights
  • Rear Facing Radar
  • Radar Unit LED Display
  • Power Pack
  • Cannondale Wheel Sensor
  • Cannondale App (updated)

As our lives become increasingly influenced by tech in almost everything we do and we rely more and more on our Smartphones, GPS computers, Apps and even electronic gearing on our bikes our dependency on hi-tech gadgets is ever increasing. Up until now the trend has been for each manufacturer to do their own thing with compatibility and integration being an after-thought at best; Cannondale saw an opportunity to make things a little more user friendly while also improving rider experience and teamed up with Garmin to develop SmartSense for a completely integrated system.

Cannondale Synapse 2 RL 2022

Cannondale’s SmartSense is a fully integrated system that’s unique to the Synapse.


The headliner of the system is the SmartSense Radar consisting of a Garmin Varia rear facing Radar adapted for SmartSense; this clever setup gives you more confidence on the road by helping you ride in traffic without having to intermittently check over your shoulder. Radar detects vehicles approaching from behind at a distance of 140 metres. Once detected your Radar LED Display on the Synapse’s out-front handlebar mount gives a visual and audible signal alerting you to the oncoming vehicle. This clever LED display indicates the relative position and speed of all contacts and signals warnings for vehicles coming up too fast or too close. The Radar will also activate the rear light (we’ll go into the SmartSense lights in more depth in a moment) increasing the brightness of the light as the vehicle approaches, helping to alert the driver; upfront the SmartSense front light also brightens. It’s worth noting that while the Synapse bike ships with the standard Radar LED display unit the Radar SmartSense system also works with a Garmin, Wahoo or similar GPS head units or your Smartphone installed with the Cannondale App, lighting up in the same way.

Cannondale Synapse 2 RL 2022

The rear-facing Radar detects vehicles approaching from behind at a distance of 140 metres.


In use out on the open road I was impressed by how quickly and intuitively you adapt to using this system; the audible signal drew my attention and a quick glance down told me that a car was approaching from behind. It was surprisingly accurate with an instance where three cars coming up behind me at once were all indicated on the display at the same time. On another occasion a car came up behind me and then had to sit on my wheel until we had passed a blind bend, again a quick glance down to the display confirmed what I suspected was going on behind me. It seems like a small thing, but the fact that I didn’t have to glance over my shoulder left me more focused on the road ahead and definitely gave me a little more confidence riding in heavy traffic.

Cannondale Synapse 2 RL 2022

A audible signal on the Radar display draws your attention and a quick glance down tells you that a car is approaching from behind.


Cannondale Synapse 2 RL 2022

I quickly fell into the habit of glancing down to the Radar display to help understand what was going on behind me.


The SmartSense system on the all-new Synapse includes front and rear lights developed in partnership with leading bike light brand Lezyne; the front ‘Foresite’ light is neatly fitted to the out-front handlebar mount and the ‘Hindsite’ rear light fits neatly under the saddle and comes with various adapters to allow you to set it up with a saddle bag too if required. Both the SmartSense lights and the Radar system are powered by the SmartSense Powerpack developed by Garmin with both lights powering up and turning on automatically when you begin to ride. This is a sophisticated lighting system with some clever features including ambient light sensors to help ensure you have optimal visibility in all light conditions; the rear Hindsite light responds to your bike decelerating and brightens as you slow down to warn vehicles behind you. As I’ve already mentioned when I talked about the Radar system your rear light will also brighten when vehicles approach you from behind at a distance of 140 metres; upfront, as well as the Radar LED display your Foresite front light will also brighten to warn you that a vehicle is coming up behind you. The SmartSense Foresite headlight acts as the junction box which connects the system and is constructed with an aluminium body; you can also customise how your lights behave via the Cannondale App to set up the system to your preferred configuration.

Cannondale Synapse 2 RL 2022

The SmartSense ForeSite headlight with a powerful 350 Lumens lights up the road in front of you really well.


Cannondale Synapse 2 RL 2022

As the light fades the Synapse’s SmartSense light system provides enhanced visibility and road safety.


Cannondale Synapse 2 RL 2022

The HindSite rear light brightens when cars approach from behind as well as brightening as you decelerate to catch a driver’s attention.


Cannondale Synapse 2 RL 2022

The Cannondale SmartSense system gives you more confidence when you’re riding on short winter days.


SmartSense ForeSite Headlight

  • 350 Lumens

SmartSense HindSite Tailight

  • 25 Lumens
  • Integrates with SmartSense Radar
  • Feature inertial brake alert

Cannondale Synapse 2 RL 2022

Developed in partnership with fantastic light brand Lezyne the integrated Cannondale SmartSense headlight lights your way ahead.


The final piece of the puzzle which brings all of the Synapse’s integration together is the SmartSense Powerpack developed in partnership with Garmin. Let’s get one thing straight, this is no after-thought component that’s been hastily attached to where a bottle cage would normally sit. This powerpack is an intrinsic part of the Synapse’s frame, reflecting Cannondale’s commitment to this design principle, with a specially made cradle sitting neatly in a special recess that’s been molded into the carbon frame during production. The SmartSystem’s rechargeable battery is removed and refitted using a simple and secure lever and means that there is just one single power source for your lights and Radar system which can stay permanently attached to your bike. Here’s some quick facts on the SmartSense PowerPack…

Cannondale Synapse 2 RL 2022

The Cannondale SmartSense powerpack was developed in partnership with Garmin.


Cannondale Synapse 2 RL 2022

With the SmartSense powerpack there is just one single power source for your lights, Radar system and GPS unit if you’re running one.


SmartSense Powerpack

  • 3 hour recharge time
  • 150 day battery life in stand-by mode
  • 5 hours average battery life
  • 2:45 hours battery life in full blast mode
  • 20+ hours battery life in lowest battery saver mode

SmartSense Wake-Up Options

There’s actually four different ways to turn on the SmartSense system…

  • Press battery button on Powerpack
  • Use Cannondale App SmartSense power button on Smartphone
  • ‘Proximity Wake’ function – simply walk up to your Synapse with the Cannondale App on
  • ‘Auto Wake’ function – just hop on and go; the Cannondale Wheel Sensor detects movement and powers up the system

Cannondale App & SmartSense

Like all good tech available out there the SmartSense system can be customised, controlled and analysed by a corresponding App; the existing Cannondale App has been updated to allow you to do the following…

  • View light and Radar status
  • Cycle through light modes
  • Customise SmartSense and light configurations in Settings menu
  • Update firmware directly

Cannondale Synapse 2 RL 2022

You can customise how the SmartSense Radar system behaves to suit you and your riding.


Cannondale Synapse 2 RL 2022

You can customise how your SmartSense lights behave via the Cannondale App.


Cannondale Synapse 2 RL 2022

Cannondale’s Garmin sensor communicates with your smartphone’s Cannondale App and gives you important riding stats.


So that’s the SmartSense system explained; this setup is exclusive to Cannondale, in partnership with Garmin and it’s a pretty impressive, fully-integrated way of equipping your bike with a sophisticated lighting and Radar system that includes a central rechargeable power source. When we first saw the all-new Synapse and listened to Cannondale’s presentation there was one big question from the group and you may well be asking yourself the same question right now. Is the Shimano Di2 electronic gearing also powered by the Garmin Powerpack? It seems like a no-brainer, however at the moment all Shimano Di2 drivetrains are still powered by their own independent seat tube battery; the team at Cannondale explained that Shimano’s system is so efficient when it comes to battery life that the current configuration works fine, however they did also hint that they were in talks with Shimano and that including the Di2 system within the SmartSense system could be a possibility in the future; it would certainly make sense.

Cannondale Synapse 2 RL 2022

The all-new Cannondale Synapse is ‘road reimagined’ according to the American bike brand, so how does it ride out on the punishing back roads of the Lake District National Park? Check in with us again on Friday to read a full review of the Cannondale Synapse 2 RLE in our upcoming Fast Bike Friday Feature…


There’s 6 Cannondale Synapse Models to Choose From

At the launch of the all-new Synapse Cannondale revealed six different models, all featuring Shimano groupsets and ranging from the Synapse 4 spec’d with Shimano Tiagra through to the super-hot Synapse 1 RLE spec’d with Shimano’s newest Dura-Ace Di2 electronic 12-speed groupset. The model names include a series of letters which indicate the inclusion of SmartSense tech per bike, as explained below…

R – Garmin Radar Unit & LED Display included

L – Foresite Headlight & Hindsite Taillight included

E – Electronic Gear Shifting

Cannondale Synapse 2 RL 2022


Cannondale Synapse 1 RLE 2022

Cannondale Synapse 1 RLE, £9,000.00


Cannondale Synapse LTD RLE 2022

Cannondale Synapse LTD RLE, RRP £6,750.00


Cannondale Synapse 2 RLE 2022

Cannondale Synapse 2 RLE, RRP £5,800.00


Cannondale Synapse 2 RL 2022

Cannondale Synapse 2 RL, RRP £4,00.00


Cannondale Synapse 3 L 2022

Cannondale Synapse 3 L, RRP £3,200.00


Cannondale Synapse 4 2022

Cannondale Synapse 4, RRP £2,400.00


Stock of all 2022 Cannondale Synapse bikes will be available in store and online in the coming weeks; the all-new Cannondale Synapse 3 L is already in stock (at time of writing).


Written by Johnny Dodgin

Photos by James Vincent


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