Cannondale Synapse Ultegra disc – £2499
Super-smooth carbon frame and all-weather hydraulic disc brakes
The non-disc Synapse claimed our 2014 Bike of the Year title
Shimano’s hydraulic discs offer a brilliant balance of feel and power
Mavic’s Aksium One Disc wheels don’t feel like an entry-level offering
As ever the Synapse’s ride is speedy and smooth, even over corrugated surfaces
“One of the best ever endurance bikes out there just got even better”
Should you have been reading BikeRadar earlier this year you might have noticed that we like Cannondale’s Synapse – the non-disc model took our 2014 Bike of the Year title. For 2015 Cannondale has expanded its disc-braked Synapse range, which formerly only included alloy bikes and the extravagantly expensive Hi-Mod Disc.
- Highs:Smooth and fast, with quality kit and an attractive price
- Lows:Who wants a tall spacer on their steerer?
- Buy if:You want one of the best endurance bikes ever created with the bonus of hydraulic braking
Video: Cannondale Synapse Disc Bike of the Year review
As you’d hope at this price the Synapse comes with some great kit, based aroundShimano’s excellent Ultegra groupset and hydraulic brakes. But this also sees the debut of Cannondale’s more economical alternative to its exotic SiSL2 chainset – the Si. It’s not as light as the SL and doesn’t feature the one-piece Spidering, instead relying on a pair of FSA chainrings, but it weighs less than an Ultegra unit and equals its performance, the rapid pick-up when switching between rings making the front shifting consistently quick and smooth.
The rest of the Ultegra setup is just as slick with the braking equally impressive, Shimano’s hydraulic brakes offering a brilliant balance between superb feel and out-and-out stopping power. It’s braking like this that shows why more and more road bikes are getting the disc brake treatment.
Mavic has only just launched its Aksium One Disc wheelset, but it has been making disc-brake wheels for mountain bikes for years, so it knows what it’s doing. The Aksium Disc One’s broad rim shapes the tyre well, and with straight-pull spokes creates a stiff wheel. It’s the French company’s entry-level offering, but it doesn’t feel like it. They’re shod with Mavic’s new 28mm Yksion Comp rubber. The extra width hasn’t noticeably hampered performance or speed but it has enhanced comfort, and the soft, sticky nature makes for incredibly confident descending and a planted feel through high-speed corners.
The Synapse’s ride is quick and smooth – the complexity of integrating disc brakes hasn’t hampered the bike’s smoothness at all over poor road surfaces. It’s fast uphill and down, with the descents aided by braking that is dependable whatever the weather.
Excellent contact points also contribute to the Cannondale’s comfort. The saddle is Fabric’s new Scoop, which in its carbon guise recently led us to award a maximum five stars. The more modest model here has the same flexible hull and padding, for first-rate long-distance comfort.
Your hands are similarly pampered by a highly textured and thickly padded rubberised bar tape. It’s not that chunky but is very good at isolating your palms from road noise.
The Synapse not only has quality kit and a class-leading ride, it’s also well priced. In fact, our only real criticism is of one little component: the 25mm-tall headset spacer that limits front-end adjustment. Yes, the bearing has a flat cap underneath but you’ll still need spacers to adjust the position. Why can’t we just have a standard flat cap?