Today on the eve of the Tour, Cannondale announced an all-new SystemSix that resembles the Specialized Venge, Scott Foil, 3T Strada, and any number of Cervelos. They claim it’s the fastest road bike ever.
Considering how good bike companies are at making bikes these days, it makes sense that like car companies, their product designs would eventually homogenize into similar and familiar lines.
In other words, there are few to no outlier designs in the bike biz and more specifically, a once-innovative aero road bike is now a standard product offering from a brand. And, with a checklist of incrementally updated features that meet or beat other brands.
It’s the same thing with crossover SUVs, cameras, and enduro-style mountain bikes. While a critic like me, laments the staleness of the aero genre and how the engineers are distracted by the lure of more profitable ebikes, for the cyclist into performance, pick a high-end bike and you’re gonna get much for your money.
Like the brands before them, Cdale launched the SystemSix with a white paper proving how fast it is.
Don’t doubt it’s fast.
All aero road bikes are breathtakingly fast—the Look I rode last year, I swear went uphill for a bit without pedaling.
What you need to know is, base your buying decision on a brand you have an affinity for, the fit (does the geo match your body measurements), and ride quality. To that point, missing from Cannondale’s marketing language about the frameset is the term “comfort.”
They do that with the tires instead.
Some brands more than others use frame layup techniques to “dampen” the ride—done so with shaping, inserts, or materials woven into the carbon fibers.
As shared when road disc first arrived to market, there are no new molds being ordered for rim-brake bikes. The promise of disc was less the increased braking power and modulation, but freeing engineers from the constraints of calipers. See this post from Mark V about the topic and why we now have dropped chainstays.
The disc-brake only design freed SystemSix from the constraints imposed by rim brakes, allowing engineers to achieve new levels of drag-reducing integration between the frame, fork and wheels. Precisely truncated airfoil profiles in the frame, fork and seatpost maintain air flow attachment across important yaw angles and minimize drag, while delivering world-class stiffness and ride feel.
For what it’s worth, 3T did the same thing with the Strada, and took it a step further by removing the front derailer. You tune the ride by tire choices: stock are 30s and you can likely stuff a 32 into it.
What I appreciate about Cannondale’s offering here, is they’ve realized what should’ve happened with disc brakes from the get-go. Sure, the SystemSix will, “Climb faster, descend faster, sprint faster and draft easier.”
Don’t expect a bike in this price range to do anything less.
Find the SystemSix at a dealer near you. The line-up ships in 4 mens models and one womens with pricing ranging from $4 to $11K.