Cannondale Super X
What an amazing bike for a brilliant price point in 2015 specification.
I must start this review with a confession, ever since I rode my first Aluminium F600 Cannondale MTB I fell in love with the brand. The quality and design innovation they brought to the marketplace was second to none.
Cannondale brand might not carry the same romantic history of Italian brands such as Colnago, Pinarello or Bianchi but neither do they carry the over inflated prices. But in their own way they carry an engineering design beauty that exhibits itself in form and function at the cutting edge of modern materials.
As some of you who follow my reviews and articles online will know I built my first CX bike a couple of years ago from spares and a few second hand parts and had a great time getting back to basics. Taking part in an Adventure X event in the Lake District proved the the CX bug had bitten and that it was time for an upgrade. The Monster event proved that cantilevers just don’t cut it in comparison to discs.
I had three simple aims for my new CX bike:-
- Value for money, best bang for my bucks.
- Full carbon frame
- Hydraulic discs
The final criteria left my choices rather limited to say the least, I did include the potential of a brake calliper upgrade but was trying to avoid it.
After hunting high and low I was more then pleased to discover the great package that Cannondale had put together with the Super X and the Rival 22 hydraulic disc group set. I must also thank Richard Pascoe of Bikechain Ricci for sourcing and supplying the Super X.
Initial impressions out of the box was that everything was well put together and the bike was pretty light, but with room for improvement. The Maddux wheelset looked function but perhaps not the lightest. The standard tires, Schwable Rapid Robs, looked good for off road but I was not sure about the rolling resistance for Tarmac or hard pack. The stem appeared to be a little short too (I must confess to liking to ride a short wheelbase frame with a long stem). Richard and I had had a bit of discussion over frame sizing when sourcing the bike and we decided that the 54cm might be longer on the top tube then I would like, so we plumped for the 52cm frame.
I was blown away by the bikes ability to soak up the bumps with minimal jarring or twitchiness on the rough stuff. The ride was very much point and go with no brown pant moments or wondering if the bike was going to take you where you wanted. The standard tires indeed rolled well with none of the expected MTB tractor type road noise or high friction. However as predicted the handlebar stem was too short and my knees where catching on the ends of the bars. This was quickly sorted with a 130mm stem.
Ten months on.
I am coming to the end of a months riding in France using the Super X everyday and I have to say it has never disappointed, the grin just gets wider and wider. I have even switched out the CX tires and put on some 23mm continental Ultra Sports to do some longer road rides, and while the tyre clearance might look odd, the Super X has just done what it always does and performed perfectly. It is silky smooth on or off road, it tracks its line perfectly, it has never been twitchy on any surface I throw it at, it has been as smooth as a hot knife through butter.
What really took my breath away was riding some off-road forest trails on 23mm tires at 100psi and not feeling I was being thrown around, the Super X just put the power down allowing me to confidently cover the ground at high speed.
In fact I have come to the conclusion that a second set of wheels with road tyres would not go amiss and the Super X would be the most versatile bike I have ever ridden.
Rival 22 FSA 46/36 BB30 chainset
What a top flight group set, yes I know SRAM had a nightmare with production seals on their hydraulic brakes but they are sorted now and boy are they good! The hydraulic brakes have super stoping power but more importantly excellent modulation and the potential for one finger braking. The hood design is comfortable and easy on your hands after hours in the saddle, great ergonomics.
I confess to being a little unsure about the double tap shift to begin with, but it has really grown on me. In fact it is perhaps the most positive gearshift I have ever used, smoother than Shimano and more positive than Campagnolo, and I very quickly got used to the double tap system.
The FSA Chainset has been faultless, it might not have the kudos of others but it does exactly what is says on the tin, and does it very well. The 36/46 chain rings give you just what you need and I never felt under geared on the road, my only concern is if 36 is small enough for the Adventure X events, only time will tell!
Maddux 2.0 Disc Wheelset
This is perhaps the area for biggest potential improvement, and to be fair to Cannondale something had to give to meet the price point. In 10 months of use the wheelset has never let me down even when I took a massive high speed front wheel hit on some rocks. They have stayed true and put up with a lot of abuse and I am no lightweight! Perhaps I was too quick to judge and was being a little snobby.
However with the search for a second wheelset for road use just beginning, it is proving hard to find good light weight 700c disc wheelsets (more on this in another article).
From the Prologic saddle to the Maddux wheels the Super X 2015 is one hell of a bike. It’s such a shame the base full carbon model will come with Shimano 105 and not Rival 22.
For my money I would aim for a Rival version, sell your road bike and get a second set of wheels and watch your Grin grow and grow. The Super X just keeps screaming, ride me, ride me!… and you know what I do.
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CyclingShorts.cc Rating: 90% It gets our Star Buy stamp of approval.