Faster, lighter and more comfortable than its previous incarnation, the new Cannondale Super Six EVO model has seen the best bits of the original and raised the stakes. In the words of the brand, it cranks each part up to 11. Here's how they've done it:
Making the best better
The original bike was born in May 2011, after two solid years of development. The goal? To create the perfect stiffness-to-weight ratio. The result? A naked frame weighing in at just 695g and a new stiffness-to-weight record. It's a race winner - unsurprisingly - notching up no fewer than 93 professional wins to date.
But a bike designer's work is never done and the SuperSix EVO has provided the best possible basis for a new generation of the bike. The team set about making the best better, dogged in their determination to find ways to improve the bike's key technologies - and invent new ones.
Jonathan Geran, Cannondale's Global Marketing Manager, Road, outlines their mission: "When people ride an EVO and go 'Whoa', they're not reacting to a few percentage points of advantage on stiffness to weight, or vertical compliance or aerodynamics, they're feeling that extra something, that nth degree difference that comes from that beautiful harmony of absolutely everything working together seamlessly."
Built to bend
Who'd have thought that ballistic body armour could be the key to building performance frames? Cannondale has made use of the high-strength fibres originally developed for bullet-proof vests to give the tube its main structure.
This material - known as Hi-Mod BallisTec carbon - gives stiffness, strength, controlled flexibility and light weight. The core is then layered with stiffer high-modulus carbon fibres - but only where it's needed to avoid adding unnecessary extra weight.
A design feature originally incorporated into the first model, they've upped the ante with the new Hi-Mod version - with yet another layer of fibres, this time with higher elongation properties. This means it's more flexible, lengthening the life of the frame.
Going the extra mile
Cannondale doesn't cut corners. Continuous Carbon - a network of high-modulus stiffening fibres - are wrapped around tube junctions and run along the outer edges of the frame's tubes meaning engineers are able to precisely control the final frame construction, tuning stiffness and ride quality to perfection.
Sizing it up
Size-specific engineering is crucial to ensure consistency of performance. As the frame size of the Evo Hi-Mod increases, the diameter and shape of the down tube varies, along with seat and top tube layups. In other words, each frame style is engineered and designed differently, rather than simply scaled up. Cannondale has even created custom moulds of the rear triangle for every size in the range, for the lightest and most finely tuned result.
Better handling and greater comfort
Comfort and handling is so important that the original's Speed Save Micro-Suspension has been overhauled to give an impressive 20 per cent more comfortable ride and improved cornering and traction in the new model.
Firstly, the rear triangle and fork have been given some tlc, with chainstays and seatstays reworked to create flex zones, which basically equates to greater comfort combined with increased rigidity when climbing. The fork itself has been crafted out of a single piece so, in addition, it's lightweight - 290g in fact.
As for the seat tube, stiffer carbon along the sides resists sideways force but allows some movement to combat road buzz. A narrower seatpost also helps tame road surfaces. On top of that, the seat tube has also been flared into a wide ovalised section where it meets the bottom bracket, increasing stiffness. Increased tyre clearance means you can fit tyres up to 28mm in width for even greater comfort and reduced rolling resistance.
Cannondale engineers have appropriated the tube engineering of their Slice triathlon bike for the SuperSix EVO Hi-Mod, to cut drag without sacrificing stiffness or its light weight.
Bridging the worlds of traditional round and teardrop tubes, these Truncated Aero Profiles are tubes that have had their trailing edge 'cut off' for improved aerodynamics, aided by fully internal cable routing.
This has shaved 60 grams of drag, or 6 watts, off the bike, making it even faster than its predecessor.
Stiffness and weight loss
"All other things being equal, lighter is better," says Geran. "But all other things rarely are ever truly equal, so going for light weight at the expense of other performance attributes is a fool's errand.
"By designing the frame, fork and key components like the crank and seatpost together as a system, we are able to improve all areas of performance, and shave off weight with an incredible amount of performance benefits added to the chassis."
Cannondale's team has both stiffened and reduced weight in the bottom bracket junction and head tube, as well as the aforementioned fork. The bike is now 8.8 per cent stiffer than the old model, according to Cannondale, thanks to enhancements in these areas.
Successful EVO evolution
With refinements and adjustments made across almost all parts of the bike, the talented team at Cannondale has managed to create a groundbreaking new model that's lighter and zippier and offers a higher level of comfort than they could have imagined at the start of the process. Such was the success of the first EVO, improving on this highly acclaimed road bike was a daunting prospect. But they did it. Try it - and experience the Cannondale SuperSix EVO Hi-Mod for yourself.
The SuperSix EVO Hi-Mod is available in five models, with specifications ranging from the top-end Dura-Ace Di2 and Enve-equipped Black Inc. edition to a mechanical Ultegra version with Mavic Ksyrium wheels. The new EVO will officially debut at the Tour de France on July 4. It will be available to order from late September/October 2015.
BikeRadar and sister magazine Cycling Plus were invited by Cannondale to get up-close with the new SuperSix EVO Hi-Mod before anyone else. Senior tech editor Warren Rossiter has also been riding the bike to give the world's first verdict on Cannondale's cutting edge new machine. Head back to BikeRadar to read a full first ride review of the new Cannondale SuperSix EVO Hi-Mod