The mechanics building the bikes for the Drapac EF p/b Cannondale pro cycling team were being very secretive about the bikes planned for flat stages. Their truck was tucked away in a dark corner behind the hotels, well outside the view of passersby. But on race day, it was clear why: This all-new, unreleased Cannondale aero disc brake road bike prototype has a lot going on. And if we know Cannondale, there’s a lot more to the development story than what’s visible on the outside. But the outside tells a lot, so let’s dive in…

prototype cannondale aero disc brake road bike spotted at 2018 giro d-italia under Drapac pro cycling team

prototype cannondale aero disc brake road bike spotted at 2018 giro d-italia under Drapac pro cycling team

Compared to their SuperSix or Synapse, this new disc brake aero road bike takes more of its design cues from the Super Slice. Things like the headtube flare into the downtube, low-set, widely spaced seatstays, and a bulbous bottom bracket are all features found on their TT bike.

prototype cannondale aero disc brake road bike spotted at 2018 giro d-italia under Drapac pro cycling team

prototype cannondale aero disc brake road bike spotted at 2018 giro d-italia under Drapac pro cycling team

The fork’s legs are set wide, too. We’ve seen other brands do this to reduce turbulence between the wheel and fork, so we’re guessing that’s the reason here, too. Behind the fork’s crown, though, is a dramatic taper into the downtube, which itself is heavily shaped to help hide the water bottle cage. That bottle cage looks to get two positions, too.

prototype cannondale aero disc brake road bike spotted at 2018 giro d-italia under Drapac pro cycling team

The flat backside of the downtube also holds a carbon cover plate for Di2 junction box integration, including the charge port. Several spots on the bike appear to have tape covering it, perhaps hiding graphics and a name that might give away too much. You can see it in the pic above running along the bottom of the top tube.

prototype cannondale aero disc brake road bike spotted at 2018 giro d-italia under Drapac pro cycling team

The FSA Vision one-piece bar/stem runs its hoses and cables internally…

prototype cannondale aero disc brake road bike spotted at 2018 giro d-italia under Drapac pro cycling team

…which feed directly into the front of the headtube. From the looks of it, there’ll be a custom headset cover that keeps it clean, perhaps even in different heights to maintain an aero aesthetic regardless of how tall you want your cockpit. Of course, if you slam that stem, you may not be able to use that cover plate at all (see image on left).

prototype cannondale aero disc brake road bike spotted at 2018 giro d-italia under Drapac pro cycling team

The seatpost has a truncated aero profile with a flat backside, and has the only feature branding seen on the bike. Perhaps this bike will be called the Knot? Or this is just a reference to their design theme for the bike. The UCI approval decal’s code suggests the name will be the Cannondale SystemSix, and it was approved last July. That name would be a reboot of a bike they made in the late 2000s.

prototype cannondale aero disc brake road bike spotted at 2018 giro d-italia under Drapac pro cycling team

We start to see similarities to their road bikes at the chainstays. The flattish design is reminiscent of the Synapse’s SAVE stays, which flex to provide comfort. There’s no such branding on this one, but they look like they’d be more compliant than most. Flat mount brakes keeps everything looking nice.

prototype cannondale aero disc brake road bike spotted at 2018 giro d-italia under Drapac pro cycling team

The bottom bracket shell is oddly shaped, with a rounded battering ram flowing over the BB inserts and into the chainstays.

prototype cannondale aero disc brake road bike spotted at 2018 giro d-italia under Drapac pro cycling team

Underneath is a small cable access port. The extra room around the bottom bracket should make installs much easier.

prototype cannondale aero disc brake road bike spotted at 2018 giro d-italia under Drapac pro cycling team

One of the most interesting features is this ribbed section on the seat tube. Hard to tell if it’s molded into the shape or applied afterward as a decal, but our guess is it’s there to improve air flow around the tube and keep it attached as it flows over the rear wheel’s leading edge.

prototype cannondale aero disc brake road bike spotted at 2018 giro d-italia under Drapac pro cycling team

Front and rear use 12mm thru axles, but with an open dropout on the lever side. That implies it’s using the Mavic Speed Release system, which makes a lot of sense for the pro peloton, but we haven’t seen it on FSA wheels yet. Maybe it’s something similar. The brake-side dropout of the fork reads “M12-100 Double Lead” around the threaded insert, suggesting it’s a double-start thread pitch. Typically, that would mean it’s easier to start and quicker to thread all the way in, both good things when trying to make a quick wheel change…as long as it won’t loosen too easily, something that can happen on multi-start threads.

prototype cannondale aero disc brake road bike spotted at 2018 giro d-italia under Drapac pro cycling team

Front and rear, there’s plenty of room given to the wheels and tires, helping air move freely around them.

prototype cannondale aero disc brake road bike spotted at 2018 giro d-italia under Drapac pro cycling team

Considering this bike showed up at one other major race earlier this year, chances are it’ll be a 2019 model. More info as we get it.

Team Drapac Cannondale Super Slice Disc

2018 Giro D-Italia pro bike check Drapac Cannondale Super Slice Disc TT race bike

The Cannondale Super Slice Disc debuted last year in the triathlon world and quickly moved to their pro cycling teams, too. Without a complete hydraulic TT brake solution from any of the major brands at the time (although TRP made theirs official last fall), they’ve opted for the TRP Spyre calipers.

2018 Giro D-Italia pro bike check Drapac Cannondale Super Slice Disc TT race bike

Some of the team is still riding rim brake versions, too.

2018 Giro D-Italia pro bike check Drapac Cannondale Super Slice Disc TT race bike

2018 Giro D-Italia pro bike check Drapac Cannondale Super Slice Disc TT race bike

The front brake is routed through the fork’s leg to keep it aero.

2018 Giro D-Italia pro bike check Drapac Cannondale Super Slice Disc TT race bike

Some of the bikes upgraded to Shimano’s ICEtech rotors, but were still running the TRP mechanical calipers.

2018 Giro D-Italia pro bike check Drapac Cannondale Super Slice Disc TT race bike

Most of the bikes had the SRM crank spider-based power meter, but one was equipped with the Garmin power meter pedals.

2018 Giro D-Italia pro bike check Drapac Cannondale Super Slice Disc TT race bike

As we saw from so many teams, they were running Vittoria tubulars on most of their wheels. But…

2018 Giro D-Italia pro bike check Drapac Cannondale Super Slice Disc TT race bike

…there were a few using Vittoria’s tubeless ready Corsa clinchers. They weren’t set up tubeless yet, instead running the red latex tubes, but it’s a step in that direction. One of the mechanics told us they’ve still got a lot of testing to do with the tubeless system before they start racing on it.

2018 Giro D-Italia pro bike check Drapac Cannondale Super Slice Disc TT race bike

Other than this carbon fiber tube zip-tied to the aero bar extensions,  there weren’t many hacks or customizations beyond the normal fit and finish options. More info on this bike at Cannondale.com. Check the team’s homepage at DrapacCycling.com

Check out all 2018 Giro team bike coverage here!

23 COMMENTS

  1. Curious for the first Tour Magazine test. The skinny Rose X-Lite Four with 60mm rims was 212 watts compared to 208 watts for a Madone with 50mm rims at 45km/h. All these efforts on tubing et al. don’t have such a big effect after all…

    • I recall reading at some point that the bike needs to only be intended for production. So if for some reason this never did make it to market…oh well, they thought they would.

  2. Looks like Damon Rinard, who was an engineer at Cervélo before moving to Cannondale a few years ago, is starting to make his mark. If it didn’t say Cannindale I would have guessed it was an S5 Disc prototype.

  3. All aero bike look pretty much the same.. the best thing here seems to be the way they have done the cables, neat and simple. I hope it hits the shops soon so I can check it out

  4. … I really cannot stand to see any more integrated stem/bar combos, especially running hydraulic brakes. If you need to change the length of your stem or the width of your bars even just by one size (+-10/mm length +-20mm width) you will have to run NEW hoses, bleed the brakes and you will end up paying a steep three figure sum on top of the cost for the bloody steering setup.

    The bike looks very generic, like a cross between a Canyon, Specialized and Cervélo.

    Why mimic everybody else (and their often very poor designs)?

    The SuperSix Evo is one of the best handling and best looking bikes available.

    I doubt this creation will be setting a benchmark in an category.

    Also, reviving the SytemSix moniker just seems absurd for a bike which has no predecessor.

    Why not call it the AeroSix?

    I do like the “skin” on the seat tube which is clearly designed to optimize an control air flow.

    IF I had to go for an aero bike I’d prefer this over any Specialized or Canyon any day though.

    • Just get a BMC… The brake hoses don’t run through the stem, only underneath a cover. Besides that, the spacers split in half, so you don’t need to unplug the hoses to remove or add spacers. It’s the best integrated system for changing stems or spacers, imho.

    • Hire a good fitter and get dialed on your conventional bike, then duplicate it on the aero bike. If you don’t already have a 100% dialed fit, a bike like this isn’t going to be of any benefit.

  5. Many of these highly aerodynamic road bikes are so singular in their purpose, its really easy to understand why the had likely avoided making a bike such as this.

    The moments this bike works is on flat races under sprinters or breakaway riders. In the bunch, the aero has limited affect and you can likely guess the weight will be up there and the ride quality needed a good dose of compliance through those shaped stays. If you happen to be a powerful rider who’s worked out their position rather well and want something for the situation and don’t love climbing days, this could be an option.

    For most, its just another novel design that ultimately few want or even need. A more blended design, which adds aero elements is a better route for many. Other companies have fit the niche of making an aero bike that is much balanced as a daily ride. From its outward appearance, I sincerely doubt this will add the that group.

    • That’s what I thought before I took the plunge into an aero bike. It does everything better (including climbing) because of the energy it saves me over the course of a ride.

      • That doesn’t imply that its a better climbing bike, but that your a bit quicker in reaching the climb and maybe somewhat fresher as you have expended somewhat lesser energy getting there.

        Some of these bikes do tend to have rather stiff frames that transmit energy well. Geometry has tended to be very aggressive on the front and may not be as balanced as one might like, but any bike takes time to adapt. To myself, I do see bikes that are rather aero and well balanced. Wilier Trestina Cento 10 Air is in my view a good balance with tested aero matching the Canyon Aeroad aerodynamically and just behind the best while having excellent ride qualities. It isn’t heavy and doesn’t have excessive integration. It’s frame performance was very good as well. The Dogma F10 would be also under the same banner, but it goes for better aero performance and ultimate speed with frame performance is lesser in comparison to the other Italian. The Canyon Aeroad is a fair competitor to these as well. The best compliance in the ones mentioned, but only at the back and mainly due to its seat post.

        We do need to wait and see on how this bike performs before saying anything, but its outward appearance, it has the hallmarks of a fast bike, but not the lithe one. Ride quality shall be interesting as they really shaped the stays, but that seat post tube looks rather beefy.

        The thing about climbers, its first about bringing the rider down to their optimal climbing weight, meaning the more waif like single digit body fat figures. Then I do agree that you could nit pick about the weight of the ride, but before then, nit pick on yourself first. The bikes are more than just lightweight. They offer stiffness at specified points and compliance when required. The geometry is pushed to find ideal handling over aerodynamic position, but I would also put in that ideal handling will vary with a riders physical characteristics. The final point is that all around bikes now integrate some aero design to close their gaps to their dedicated stablemates. So I do believe a happy spot can be found rather easily for most customers.

        • “That doesn’t imply that its a better climbing bike, but that your a bit quicker in reaching the climb and maybe somewhat fresher as you have expended somewhat lesser energy getting there.”

          Yes, that is exactly what I meant. The aero bike is a little heavier, but there’s plenty of data out there that shows that an extra pound doesn’t turn into a meaningful disadvantage unless the climb is very significant.

          An issue with understanding the benefits of aero is it’s too easy to compartmentalize performance into a “here and now” examination. Aerodynamics really benefits cyclists over the length of a ride in energy savings.

          All that said, in those moments to minutes when you’re racing at very high speeds, it can make the difference between holding on and getting dropped. The faster you’re going, the bigger the benefit, in the “here and now”.

  6. a strong rider on a thirty year old steel huffy will pass this like a motorcycle if this is ridden by the usual dorky person that can afford to buy this over engineered and overly expensive bike… pro teams use this sort of equipment getting them for free or at a reduced price… ferraris are fast and expensive and the market for them is mostly among people past the age of actually using them to their full potential… bicycles have become needlessly over engineered and hideously expensive only because the companies are at a loss for any other path to claim distinction as modern… fools…

What do you think?

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.