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…
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.
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.
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.
The FSA Vision one-piece bar/stem runs its hoses and cables internally…
…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).
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.
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.
The bottom bracket shell is oddly shaped, with a rounded battering ram flowing over the BB inserts and into the chainstays.
Underneath is a small cable access port. The extra room around the bottom bracket should make installs much easier.
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.
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.
Front and rear, there’s plenty of room given to the wheels and tires, helping air move freely around them.
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
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.
Some of the team is still riding rim brake versions, too.
The front brake is routed through the fork’s leg to keep it aero.
Some of the bikes upgraded to Shimano’s ICEtech rotors, but were still running the TRP mechanical calipers.
Most of the bikes had the SRM crank spider-based power meter, but one was equipped with the Garmin power meter pedals.
As we saw from so many teams, they were running Vittoria tubulars on most of their wheels. But…
…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.
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!