Cannondale has gone aero with the SystemSix
Words: James Raison
Images: Supplied by Cannondale
We get a lot of media releases and we ignore most of them. We tend to only publish the most significant and most interesting ones that hit our mailbox. Today one arrived that literally said; "Yes, this really is the fastest road bike in the world". Well played Cannondale, you have our (and probably everybody else's) undivided attention.
BEHOLD THE SYSTEMSIX
It's tough to know what to mention first. This is Cannondale's first aero road bike, it's only available with disc brakes, and they've thrown down a colossal gauntlet by saying it's the fastest road bike in the world.
The SystemSix has been spotted numerous times beneath EF Education First Drapac p/b Cannondale riders but we didn't have any info about it. Now we do. It sounds bonkers.
AERO IS EVERYTHING
Cannondale have used a "six-point" approach to build a holistically aerodynamic system. They've designed the frame, fork, seatpost, handlebar, stem, and wheels to be aero optimised together rather than individually aero. The results of that design process have emboldened Cannondale to claim the "SystemSix produces the least aerodynamic drag on the market."
Cannondale have crunched the SystemSix numbers compared to their road racing mainstay SuperSix EVO and come up with some eye-opening results:
- The SystemSix is faster than an EVO on any climb up to 6%
- Descending a 5% grade at 60km/h, a rider on a SystemSix putting out 200 watts to match a rider doing 300 watts on an EVO.
- On the flats, a SystemSix will save you over 50 watts at 48 km/h compared to an EVO. You also get 60% of that benefit while drafting another rider.
- The SystemSixwill beat a SuperSix EVO by 4 bike lengths over a 200m sprint at 60km/h.
- The SystemSix requires about 10% less power to maintain 30 km/h than an EVO.
Frame and Fork
Cannondale has designed the frame with tailored airfoil profiles with different levels of truncation to reduce drag. There's a "chine" shape that redirects airflow from the back of the fork leg and moves it downstream rather than interferring with the clean air coming over the fork crown.
The fork itself has been redesigned and integrated with the frame. It's sporting a larger opening for wider tyres, and has an asymmetric design to handle disc brake loads.
There's a new wheelset for the SystemSix, named the KNØT64. They use some HED patented tech to handle larger tyres while still managing to be "one of the absolute, bar-none fastest wheelsets on the planet."
They're a disc-only design optimised for 26mm tyres. Cannondale have noted "minimal changes in drag" for anyone wanting to go wider than 26mm.
Bar and stem
The top model SystemSix ships with an integrated stem and handlebar called the KNØT SystemBar. It's an adjustable one-piece design that gives 8° of pitch for dialling in your position. The bars have a rounded, truncated airfoil shape that's both more aero and comfortable. The Di2 lines and hydraulic lines route through the bars and into the headtube under a "mechanic friendly cover." Stem spacers can be added and removed without disconnecting the cables.
Other cool stuff
Here's the lighning round of other details:
- The Dura-Ace and Ultegra Di2 versions of the SystemSix will include a Power2Max NG Eco Powermeter and Vision rings.
- Di2 junction box has been integrated into the down tube. There's an interchangeable plate that can be swapped to use mechanical drivetrains, or a blank palte for SRAM eTap users.
- Down tube and seat tube have been designed to minimise the drag from bottles.
- The wheels use a Speed Release thru-axle as standard to make wheel changes quicker.
We don't have any prices yet but Cannondale have given us the builds that'll be available:
- SystemSix Hi-MOD Dura-Ace Di2: includes all of the fancy integrated stuff listed above and a Prologo Dimension NACK saddle.
- SystemSix Hi-MOD Ultegra Di2: all of the fancy stuff but Ultegra.and a Prologo Dimension Tirox Saddle.
- SystemSix Hi-MOD Dura-Ace mechanical Women’s: KNØT64 wheels, Vision Metron 4D Flat UD Carbon handlebars, Fabric Line Shallow Pro Saddle.
- SystemSix Carbon Dura-Ace mechanical: KNØT64 wheels, Cannondale HollowGram Si w/ SpideRing, Vision Metron 4D Flat UD Carbon handlebars, Prologo Dimension Tirox Saddle.
- SystemSix Carbon mechanical Ultegra: Fulcrum Racing 400 DB wheels, Cannondale HollowGram Si w/ SpideRing, Vision Metron 4D Flat UD Carbon handlebar, Prologo Dimension Tirox Saddle
There's still plenty of skepticism among the bike buying public about the efficacy of aerodynamics. We can assure you that aero bikes are the real deal. Riding the Canyon Aeroad earlier this year showed us how blisteringly quick they can be. About 90% of a cyclist’s resistance is caused by aerodynamic drag and about 30-40% of that is on the bike. Small details and efficiences can add up to a lot of free watts.
Cannondale make some of the best handling bikes we've ridden. If the SystemSix handles like a CAAD12 or SuperSix and is really as fast as they say, you could be looking at one of the world's best bikes. Hopefully we get a review bike to find out.
Keep your eyes peeled for these monsters at the Tour de France.