For this week’s Fast Bike Friday feature we’re casting our eyes over the truly drool-worthy Cannondale SuperSix EVO CX cyclocross bike (which also happens to be a super-fast gravel bike, but more on that later) with its stunning ‘Purple Haze’ paintjob and no-nonsense cyclocross-specific components. As ridden by our very own Wheelbase Cabtech Castelli cyclocross team at races all over the UK including the National Trophy Cyclocross series, the all-new SuperSix EVO CX launched in August this year and marked a significant change in Cannondale’s cyclocross line-up, with the older Supercross being succeeded by this more versatile ‘cross bike.
Before we get into the specifics of the SuperSix EVO CX let me share a nerdy observation from back in late 2019 of something that may just have contributed to the final incarnation of this super-fast cyclocross bike. In November 2019 Lachlan Morton was a guest at the annual Kendal Mountain Festival in the South Lakes, Cumbria; in a year that Lachlan had completed a number of gruelling endurance events including GBDURO he was attending the Mountain Festival as a guest speaker on behalf of Rapha. Seeing an opportunity for another epic ride (this time done in a ‘oner’) Lachlan decided to ride his bike from Manchester Airport up to Kendal, taking in as many off-road gravel sectors as was possible. This ride included a long stretch of gravel track which also just happens to be one of my local haunts – Salter Fell an elevated gravel track which stretches a fair distance over a remote region of Lancashire.
Did Lachlan Morton’s ride in November 2019 influence the development of the all-new SuperSix EVO CX? It’s highly likely.
Given the fairly technical terrain, when pictures came to light of Lachlan’s ride I was surprised to see that he had opted to ride his road-specific Cannondale SuperSix EVO rather than the Topstone Carbon gravel bike he’d used in the GBDURO. With the advent of disc brakes on road bikes and more generous tyre clearances between frame and tyre there’s more scope to fit wider tyres and Lachlan had decided to fit 32mm tyres that could handle the rigours of this gravel route but still roll fast and economically on the tarmac stretches between gravel sectors.
Could it be that the tech bods back at Cannondale HQ saw Lachlan’s setup and this is what gave birth to the development of the new SuperSix EVO CX? Perhaps? If not then it’s a hell of a coincidence because as the Cannondale team point out in their own marketing blurb – ‘We’ve unleashed the legendary performance of our SuperSix Evo to dominate the ‘cross course and fly over gravel tracks. Smoother, sleeker, and more capable than ever – dirt just got faster’. Yes, the starting point for this aero cycloross bike was born out of their existing SuperSix EVO road bike. The Cannondale marketeers continue – ‘It’s the fastest road bike to ever leave the pavement. SuperSix EVO CX takes the lead as our cyclocross weapon of choice and is built for chasing podiums. It’s our fastest ever mixed-surface bike with proven aerodynamic tube profiles to give you the edge on course – from the Flint Hills to Belgian mud.’
Taking the road-going SuperSix EVO as the starting point for the SuperSix EVO CX ‘cross bike was a stroke of genius.
OK, before we get into the specifics of this particular model, there’s one more factor that’s important to point out; we covered this in our original product launch feature but it’s worth repeating. In August Cannondale launched the SuperSix EVO CX and SuperSix EVO SE at the same time, principally because it was the same bike, just spec’d differently, with the EVO CX billed as their cyclocross bike and the SE billed as their super-fast gravel bike. Both models are aimed squarely at off-road performance and competition with the SuperSix EVO SE designed to excel in fast, long-distance gravel events where speed and aerodynamic efficiency play an important role while the SuperSix EVO CX has been designed to perform brilliantly in the rough and tumble of regional, national and international ‘cross racing.
What this means in practice is that the SuperSix EVO CX is a super-versatile cyclocross bike which includes greater amounts of tyre clearance than a traditional ‘cross bike so there’s better mud-shedding capacity mid-race, while the bike is ready to cater to wider gravel-specific tyres when the cyclocross season ends and the mud dries out. With a UCI-legal 33mm cyclocross tyre there’s tons of mud clearance and there’s enough room for a nice wide 45mm gravel tyre when the spring arrives.
The other big consideration is the bike’s geometry; for the past five or so years we’ve seen bike brands make the distinction between gravel-specific geometry and cyclocross-specific geometry, gravel bikes generally featuring more relaxed head angles, lower bottom brackets and longer top tubes for a less skittish, more stable ride feel and cyclocross bikes featuring a steeper head angle for sharper steering and a slightly higher bottom bracket to help prevent catching pedals on tight turns or when launching over the barriers. The SuperSix EVO CX (and it’s EVO SE equivalent) strikes a balance between the two preferences (see the geometry chart at the bottom of the feature) giving you a bike that will excel on modern cyclocross courses as well as fast, flat-out gravel races. Cannondale summarise this bikes versatility as having ‘agility, stability and traction, with an explosive kick and unreal grip from short chainstays. A blend of high-speed stability and low-speed agility’.
We wanted to know more, so with the benefit of having our Wheelbase Cyclocross team race on the previous Cannondale Supercross model for a number of seasons before swapping to the all-new SuperSix EVO CX we were able to ask our experienced racer Giles Drake (who has already won onboard his SuperSix EVO CX) for his impressions…
For the past 4 seasons, I’ve been aboard a Cannondale SuperX, and I’ve tackled everything from National Trophy cyclocross, The 3 Peaks, The 200km Dirty Reiver and just good old fashioned “adventure” riding. So when I heard the whispers of a new Cannondale cyclocross bike, I was genuinely curious what they could/would change to improve on the Super X. Enter the SuperSix Evo CX…
The first and most obvious thing is the looks. It looks like a modern fast, aero road bike, and even side by side, you’d struggle to tell the difference between it’s road going equivalent. Sticking with aesthetics, the paint job on this bike is incredible, plenty of little details, sparkle filled decals and the two tone paint is simply not done justice by the cannondale.com website photos.
First ride impressions? Instantly, I felt comfortable, even on the road where sometimes a CX bike can feel “High”, this felt like I was riding my road bike. This feeling transfers off road, the acceleration was the biggest positive I noticed during the pre ride of my first race on the new bike. Mud clearance is huge, especially on the fork which, combined with the more robust Sram Force 1 rear derailleur makes one bike racing much more viable.
Comparing the Super X with the SuperSix Evo CX, the differences are small. Which is far from a bad thing, the Super X was a superb bike & to improve on that at all is a tall order but Cannondale have definitely managed it. I feel so at home on these new bikes and that is the biggest compliment I can pay them.
The all-new SuperSix EVO CX is being ridden by the race-winning Wheelbase Cabtech Castelli cyclocross team this season.
So, as we’ve highlighted, the Cannondale SuperSix EVO CX’s carbon frame takes a lot of its cues from its road-going brethren and features the same dropped seatstays for added compliance and comfort over rough ground. It also features the same truncated tube profiles which have been developed in the wind tunnel as well as by using computational fluid dynamics CFD to create a frame that is more aerodynamic and efficient at cutting through the air. This has been proven to make a difference even at slower speeds so it’s good to see these features migrating over from Cannondale’s road bike equivalent. All cables run internally through the frame & fork and as you’d expect the SuperSix EVO CX features thru-axles and flat-mount disc brakes as has quickly become the established norm on all road, gravel and cyclocross bikes in recent years.
Those dropped seatstays add comfort and compliance on rough terrain.
When it comes to a special paintjob which catches the eye Cannondale have knocked it out of the park!
An integrated, full-carbon fork featuring thru-axles and a flat-mount for disc brakes helps keep steering sharp and responsive.
Neat internal cable routing keeps everything running smoothly and looks great too.
There’s plenty of clearance to cope with muddy cyclocross races AND in the summer months you can swap your tyres out for something wider and more suited to gravel riding.
The SuperSix EVO CX features a rather slack (for cyclocross) 70° head angle which helps make this versatile bike an equally capable gravel bike.
Cannondale have married up the SuperSix EVO CX frame and fork to SRAM’s excellent gravel / cyclocross specific SRAM Force 1 groupset. When SRAM first launched their purpose-built 1X drivetrain groupsets they were well ahead of the curve. Things in the cycling industry move on quickly but it’s important to remember that they were the first component manufacturers to produce cyclocross and gravel-specific groupsets that featured the simplicity of a 1X setup – one chainring at the front combined with a wide ratio cassette at the rear; this simple solution provides a lightweight, easy to maintain, functional drivetrain with no need for a front derailleur that still provides all the gear ratios you’ll need to negotiate a mix of gradients both on and off-road.
The SuperSix EVO CX comes spec’d with a no-nonsense, super-efficient SRAM Force 1 mechanical groupset.
The SRAM Force rear derailleur features a clutch – technology that was first seen on their mountain bike groupsets – this clutch keeps the chain in tension regardless of what gear ratio you have selected; when you’re riding over rough terrain this tension helps keep the chain secure preventing it from unshipping from the cassette or chainring.
The SRAM Force1 11-Speed rear derailleur features a clutch mech to help keep your chain located even when racing conditions get really muddy.
When it comes to gear ratios Cannondale have spec’d a cyclocross-focused SRAM cassette with a 11-36T range of gears giving you everything you’ll need to negotiate short, sharp climbs, fast sprint finishes and everything in between.
The SRAM Force1 11-Speed cassette provides all the gearing you’ll need for ‘cross racing, with an 11-36T spread of gears.
SRAM Force 1 shifters are simple and effective; with a left mechanical gear shifter combined with a hydraulic brake lever and a right hydraulic brake lever only with no gear shifter (because there’s no front derailleur) the brake / shifter setup is simple and intuitive to use. Gear shifting is taken care of by one small shift-lever tucked behind the brake lever; when pressed lightly the chain shifts down the block, when pressed more firmly (further inward) the chain moves up the block. If you’re used to Shimano or Campagnolo shifters it will take a moment to get your head around this, but it’s amazing how quickly you adapt to this system which feels a bit more ‘definite’ in its shift when compared to Shimano which can feel a bit light; this is a good thing when you’re making multiple gear changes while you’re negotiating technical ‘cross courses and everything is happening at once. Another positive aspect with these shifters is the large hoods which are made that way to accommodate the brake’s hydraulic fluid reservoir but also provide a more secure feel when riding on the hoods, negating the risk of slipping and losing grip particularly when you’re riding in wet off-road conditions.
The SRAM Force 1 hydraulic brake and mechanical shifter units have been popular with cyclocross racers thanks to their extra-secure tall hoods.
Cannondale have spec’d their own ‘Cannondale One’ crankset on the SuperSix EVO CX featuring a stiff 30mm spindle and fitted with a 40 tooth OPI SpideRing which is a suitably-sized chainring when paired with the 11-36T cassette on the rear. Combined with a BB86a bottom bracket the whole crankset up is stiff and light, helping you to transfer all your pedaling power through to the rear wheel in those explosive efforts required to dominate your local ‘cross race.
A Superlight Cannondale 1 chainset featuring a 40T sing chainring with narrow/wide tooth profile keeps the SuperSix EVO CX’s drivetrain simple and effective.
Light and stiff the Cannondale 1 chainset helps to transfer pedaling power through to the rear wheel.
Braking is taken care of with SRAM Force 1 hydraulic disc brakes matched with a compact and lightweight 140mm rotor at the rear of the bike and a slightly larger 160mm rotor at the front to provide plenty of braking power when you need it regardless of the conditions you’re racing in. Likewise, when ‘cross season ends and you find yourself heading out further-afield on some gravel epics this braking setup is more than capable of controlling your speed.
Outback there’s a compact 140mm CentreLine rotor matched up with a powerful Force 1 hydraulic caliper.
Upfront the fork’s flat-mount accommodates a SRAM Force hydraulic caliper matched with a larger 160mm rotor for extra braking power.
The versatile Cannondale SuperSix EVO CX comes spec’d with a pair of DT Swiss R470 DB wheels featuring tubeless-ready rims and smooth-rolling centrelock Formula hubs with a 12x100mm thru-axle up front and a 12x142mm thru-axle out back. The DT Swiss R470 rims feature a 20mm internal width which helps to give the tubeless-ready Vittoria Terreno Mix TNT tyre a nice wide profile when fitted. This means the tyre’s sidewalls have a squarer shape, being less pinched-in and consequently placing more of the tyre’s tread in contact with the ground – all advantages that apply to ‘cross racing on slick, muddy courses.
The SuperSix EVO CX comes spec’d with DT Swiss R470 DB wheels boasting wide-profile rims and smooth-rolling hubs.
The Vittoria Terreno Mix TNT cyclocross tyres spec’d by Cannondale are a typical 33mm width making them UCI legal – a requirement that’s observed at National and International levels of racing but not at your local ‘cross racing league level. With those 33mm tyres fitted there’s plenty of mud clearance between them and the frame & fork so mud-shedding capability is high and makes the possibility of only running one bike per race much more of a genuine possibility. The tread pattern of the Terreno Mix TNT’s facilitate rast-rolling performance when the ground is hard with a nice, widely-spaced tread running down the middle of the tyre and more aggressive side-knobs that dig in and bite when you’re negotiating slick off-camber sections of the course. Needless to say, when ‘cross season comes to a close and you assign the SuperSix EVO CX to gravel-biking duties the frame and fork is ready to accommodate up to 45mm-wide gravel-specific tyres.
Ready for racing – the Vittoria Terreno Mix TNT 33c cyclocross tyres are UCI legal and ready for national-level competition.
The Terreno Mix TNT tyres are good all-rounders suited to racing in dryer conditions.
That central tread-pattern helps the tyres roll fast in dry conditions.
It’s great to see a Fabric Scoop saddle fitted to the SuperSix EVO CX bike with its versatile profile and moderate width suiting most riders. With more time spent in the saddle rather than out of it during the gravel-riding-months of the year Cannondale have spec’d the EVO CX with their own lightweight HollowGtam 27 SL Knot carbon seatpost which will add a small amount of compliance and comfort to those long hours spent traversing rough lanes and off-road terrain.
A comfortable Fizik Aliante Delta saddle will suit most people and stands up well to the rigours of ‘cross racing.
‘Versatile’ is one of those words that is probably a little over-used in bike marketing but in this case the Cannondale SuperSix EVO CX is arguably so. As the gravel bike market has quickly established itself as the fastest-growing cycling discipline when it comes to bikes sales it’s not surprising to see brands like Cannondale re-think their cyclocross bike offering (there’s basically a lot less ‘cross bikes being sold). It’s no secret that the SuperSix EVO CX and the SuperSix EVO SE (super-fast gravel bike) both feature exactly the same frame & fork and are simply spec’d differently to perform well in their chosen disciplines. As we’ve highlighted this means that both bikes feature a frame geometry which has to shine in both cyclocross AND gravel races and happily Cannondale have nailed it; fast and agile for ‘cross with a little bit more stability which comes into play on particularly technical ‘cross courses while being a flat-out race machine for fast, long-distance gravel events. Taking the existing road-going SuperSix EVO as a staring point for this venture was a strike of genius; by taking all of the elements from this model, including those truncated aero tube profiles and the comfortable dropped seatstays Cannondale have created a super-fast, efficient off-road bike that excels on mud, gravel and almost anywhere in between.
The all-new SuperSix EVO CX takes everything that’s good with their road-going SuperSix EVO and blends it with all of the best elements from their previous Supercross model for a super-fast, versatile ‘cross bike that’s also ready to take on gravel racing duties when the mud dries up.
- Frame: SuperSix EVO CX Carbon, internal cable routing w/ Switchplate, 12x142mm Speed Release thru-axle, SAVE, PF30-83 Ai, flat mount disc, integrated seatpost binder
- Fork: SuperSix EVO CX Carbon, SAVE, integrated crown race, 12x100mm Speed Release thru-axle, flat mount disc, internal routing, 1-1/8″ to 1-1/2″, 55mm offset
- Headset: Integrated, 1-1/8″ – 1-1/2″
- Shifters: SRAM Force 1, 11-speed
- Rear Derailleur: SRAM Force 1, Long cage
- Cassette : SRAM PG-1170, 11-36, 11-speed
- Chainset: Cannondale 1, BB86a, OPI SpideRing, 40T
- Chain: SRAM CN-1130
- Brakes: SRAM Force 1 Hydraulic Disc
- Brake Levers: SRAM Force 1
- Rotors: 160 Front / 140mm Rear CenterLine
- Wheels: DT Swiss R470 DB 28h, Formula CL-712, 12x100mm centerlock (Front) / Formula RXC-400, 12x142mm centerlock (Rear)
- Tyres: Vittoria Terreno Mix TNT, 700 x 33c, Tubeless Ready
- Stem: Cannondale 3, 6061 Alloy, 31.8, 7°
- Handlebar: Cannondale 2, 6061 Alloy, Compact
- Bar Tape: Cannondale Bar Tape, 3.5mm
- Seat Post: HollowGram 27 SL KNØT, Carbon, 2 bolt clamp, 330mm, 0mm offset all sizes
- Saddle: Fabric Scoop
Written by Johnny Dodgin
Written by James Vincent
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