It’s taken Cannondale longer than most other brands to release an aerodynamic road bike, and the SystemSix is the first to be built from the ground up for speed. The long wait has meant Cannondale could allow so-called ‘standards’ to settle down and, as such, this is a disc-brake only model.
Cannondale is synonymous with very lightweight bikes, so it’s perhaps a little surprising that the SystemSix isn’t a featherweight, being just shy of 8 kg. Cannondale claims, however, that improved aerodynamics outweigh any extra weight and during testing, this was borne out.
The HollowGram KNØT 64 wheels are very impressive and likely play a big part in that, being light for the 64 mm depth on offer and also being tubeless ready. The look of the wheels is a stand-out feature with a huge 32mm-width carbon rim, matched with a narrower 700x23c Vittoria Rubino Pro Speed tyre.
It looks a little like a banded wheel with a stretched tyre from the modded-car scene, as the rim bulges wider than the tyre, but Cannondale claims it’s the fastest setup, and while it is impossible for us to confirm this outside of a wind tunnel, this is one swift bike. We expected such a deep wheel to be a real handful, but that simply wasn’t the case, and while we sometimes felt them tug a little, they didn’t prove too much of a challenge, no doubt helping the bike feel (and sound) so fast.
The SystemSix is surprisingly easier than expected to ride. While it’s possible to get a very low aero position, the handling isn’t so scary that it feels like riding a runaway go- kart. Comfort is decent if not class-leading, even with the narrower tyre, although there’s room to fit a wider tyre with only a marginal reduction in drag claimed if using a 25c tyre.
The cable routing isn’t the cleanest and has a small effect on shifting. One feature we did like, though, is the way the front brake cable slots through a hole in the steerer tube to keep it out of the wind. To make this possible, the steering turning angle has had to be limited, which can feel strange off the bike, although never proved an issue on it.
Complete package – With a full and high-end spec, nothing needs upgrading.
Stiffness – Impressive response to pedalling without feeling too uncomfortable.
Wheels – Feel fast, stiff, relatively light and trouble free.
Not so good
Cable routing – On out-of- the-saddle climbs, the gear cables may knock your knees.
Shift quality – Tight routing mean that front derailleur shifting, in particular, feels harder than it should given the Dura Ace components.
The SystemSix from Cannondale is an incredible bike, and this model is the full package, with everything including superb aero wheels thrown in. We think it’s probably the fastest bike you can buy right now for $6,500 and – potentially – were you to spend quite a bit more.
Frame: Cannondale Systemsix BallisTec Carbon with carbon thru-axle fork
Groupset: Shimano Dura Ace 9000, with hydro disc brakes
Chainset: Cannondale HollowGramSi,52/36
Cassette: Shimano Ultegra,11-30
Saddle: Prologo Dimension
Seat-post: Cannondale KN0T Carbon
Wheels: Cannondale HollowGram KN0T Carbon, 64mm, tubeless ready
Tyres: Vittoria Roubaix Pro Speed, 700x23c