Cannondale launch a completely new Synapse for 2018

Cannondale make their big selling Synapse endurance road bike, lighter, racier and disc only for 2018

I’m excited to see the launch of the new Cannondale Synapse for a number of reasons.

Firstly, it’s another step forward for disc brake bikes as the industry and manufacturers are making them better and lighter with each year and new generation.

Secondly, as a big fan of endurance road bikes, it’s great to see an evolution of the design philosophy from Cannondale too. Rather than going down the Trek/Specialized route of “clever” tech to improve ride quality over rough surfaces, Cannondale (like Canyon) have focused on making a racier endurance bike with good clearances, that’s light fun and fast to ride – exactly what many riders, including myself, want from an endurance fit.

Thirdly, whilst embracing wider tyres – up to 32mm now, Cannondale have also added fender/mudguard mounts.

I love good endurance road bikes and from what I can see the 2018 Cannondale Synapse is significant step on for the American bike brand. The previous Synapse was also a big seller and was the first road platform for Cannondale to have a disc brake option.

So what looks great about the new Synapse?

  • A big drop in frame weight over its predecessor with a 220 gm drop in frame weight for a 56cm frame down to 950 gms. The fork also sheds 116 gms down to 367gms. This pushes it down to the leading edge for endurance disc braked frames alongside the Canyon Endurace (a bike I’ve raved about before). The big shock in this graphic I sourced via Cycling Weekly is how much of a porker the Domane SLR is with IsoSpeed front and rear! There are alloy frames lighter than that including Cannondale’s own CAAD12! At present my lightest, best bike weighs 7.8kgs complete with pedals, bottle cages and Garmin mounts. I’d like an Endurance bike to be sub 8kgs and this new frame makes that eminently possible.

Via Cycling Weekly

  • Big improvements in stiffness at the head tube and bottom bracket. In the quest for higher performance from the Synapse, Cannondale have raised the stiffness of these key areas to a similar level to both the Evo range and to a similar level as that Canyon Endurace again. This will help the bike respond better on the road.

Via Cycling Weekly

  • Comfort has also been increased with the company’s proprietary SAVE system being updated and now also added to the new bars and stem – bringing SAVE up to the handlebars as well as the frame and seat post. More comfort is always good. Of course wider tyre clearances make a big difference to comfort and smoothness too. You can now run up to 32mm tyres now – great for ropey UK road surfaces.
  • The above when combined with an Endurance geometry that’s a touch more on the racey side but studying the geometry charts it’s a subtle evolution – a little longer wheelbase, some changes to the angles including fork rake means only a slight change to the stack and reach.
  • The new Synapse also has hidden mudguard/fender mounts allowing you to run full guards and 28mm tyres – which is a big win for me. The Domane has had this since the beginning too but it’s nice to have this option on a Synapse now. It might help you choose it as your one bike or as an all season/all weather foil to a race bike. More versatility is always welcome.
  • Of course, the new Synapse also makes the shift to 12mm through axles front and rear as well as flat mount brakes. So it’s right on the button with industry trends. It also has a Di2 junction port space in the down tube for future upgrades (unless you choose a Di2 build from new).
  • Cannondale have also said that with the SAVE handlebar and a few design tweaks, the new Synapse is one of their more aero frames. It’s been wind-tunnel tested but they’ve not released the data as they don’t see it as a key differentiator in the marketplace (and they’re probably right).
  • Interestingly the braze on front mech mount is removeable in case you wish to switch to a 1x groupset and in the USA there is a SRAM Apex 1x 11 build
  • There are plenty of price points with 11 models on offer from a standard modulus 105 bike at £2,200 through to the top of the range Dura Ace Di2 Hi-Mod bike at £7,800. Bikes should be in shops in August, so there’s not long to wait if you’d like one.

What’s not so great?

Personally I’m a little disappointed that there’s no Ultegra Hi-Mod option at launch. However, I suspect that once the R8000 Ultegra Di2 Disc groupset arrives, we’ll see this change. I would rather own a better (and lighter) frameset (Hi-Mod) partnered with Ultegra Di2 Hydraulic as I consider it the best real world groupset money can buy.

On a related note, I’m also disappointed you can’t order a frameset only (that I can see) as I think there would be a market for both the Hi-Mod and normal Synapse framesets. You can do this with Trek’s and Canyon’s ranges and I think it’s a great move that Cannondale have missed. Not everyone wants to, or can afford to buy, a complete bike. For me, this gap would probably leave me saving up for the Hi-Mod Dura Ace bike at £5k.

It’s being picky but I’m also not a huge fan of the graphics and colours of the Synapse either.

These are minor quibbles though.

Overall I’m excited about this bike and for those of us who want a little more relaxed fit, but still a light fast fun bike with disc brakes and wide tyres – the new Cannondale Synapse looks like one of the best options on the market.

If I can get a chance to try one, I’ll jump at it. In the meantime, read more here on the Cannondale site

Thanks for reading