Verdict: 
A quick and versatile bike based around a great frameset, though the brakes aren't the best
Weight: 
11,070g

Cannondale knows a thing or two about aluminium alloy bike frames, and the latest Synapse Disc Sora is testament to that. It offers an excellent ride quality, bags of stiffness and impressive comfort for what is not a huge amount of money. It's on the heavy side, though, and the brakes really aren't the best, which is a shame.

  • Pros: Great mix of stiffness and comfort, decent package for the money
  • Cons: Heavy wheels, poor brakes

The ride

The Synapse, if you haven't come across it before, is Cannondale's answer to the endurance market, with slightly less aggressive geometry and riding position over its race bikes. It's evolved over the years into what you see here.

> Find your nearest dealer here

With clearance for up to 32mm tyres, full mudguard mounts, rack mounts and being disc brake only, it has become much more than that original endurance bike. It's capable of a bit of gravel, towpath riding and even some light touring while still being a quick, performance-orientated machine.

cannondale_synapse_disc_sora_-_riding_2.jpg

One thing that Cannondale has really nailed is the comfort, which was a pleasant surprise after catching a glimpse of the diameter of some of the oversized tubing at the front end.

cannondale_synapse_disc_sora_-_uci_sticker.jpg

On one ride I covered over 100 miles, mostly on the road with a bit of gravel canal path chucked in, and the Synapse was an absolute pleasure. It never rattled or buzzed over rough conditions, and vibration to the wrists and rear end was really kept to a minimum – and this with plenty of air in the 28mm tyres.

The sloping top tube allows you to expose plenty of the narrow 25.4mm seatpost, plus the seatstays are very slim to promote a little flex.

cannondale_synapse_disc_sora_-_seat_tube_junction.jpg

It spins along well, too, considering the weight. Okay, it's a bit sluggish to get that 11.07kg up to cruising speed, and you aren't really going to be troubling any Strava KOMs on your local hills, but once you are moving it rolls pretty well.

The main weight is in the wheels, and with plenty here to test I fitted a set of Mavic Ksyrium Pro UST Disc wheels for the last ride which made a huge difference to the way the Synapse behaved everywhere. Admittedly, they are £899 and more expensive than the bike itself, but you could easily drop a fair few grams for a lot less.

Handling-wise the Synapse is well mannered and neutral. It's quick enough to have a bit of fun in the bends for the experienced rider, but for those who aren't the most confident descenders there shouldn't be anything to catch you out, especially if you take a smooth approach to the corners.

cannondale_synapse_disc_sora_-_riding_3.jpg

One thing you do need to bear in mind, though, is that the brakes – Promax DSK 718R dual side pull mechanical callipers – just don't have the power to bring the 160mm rotors to a stop quickly enough. They got better as they bedded in, but I still had a few moments in traffic or the odd fast descent when I forgot what bike I was on. An upgrade here is a must, or adopt a reserved riding style.

cannondale_synapse_disc_sora_-_front_disc_brake.jpg

Frame and fork

The aluminium Synapse is only available as a disc brake offering for 2018. The tubes forming its Asymmetric SmartForm C2 Alloy frame have all been shaped and formed to do a specific job at various parts of their length. The top tube, for instance, is much deeper where it meets the head tube for stiffness under steering and braking, while it slims down towards the seat tube for a little more flex. Even with all that, it's still a beefy affair being much larger in profile than most top tubes we see.

cannondale_synapse_disc_sora_-_top_tube_detail.jpg

The down tube follows a similar theme. It is massively oversized and switches from round to oval at the head tube for a larger cross-sectional area at the weld. It gives a good flowing entry point for the internal cable routing, too, for the rear brake and rear mech.

cannondale_synapse_disc_sora_-_frame_detail.jpg

The head tube is tapered from 1 1/8in to 1 1/4in top to bottom for improved front end stiffness.

cannondale_synapse_disc_sora_-_head_tube_badge.jpg

Only the top alloy model, the Synapse Disc 105 SE, uses a BB30 bottom bracket, with the other three using a threaded fitment.

Next to the huge down tube, the BB shell actually looks quite small but I never felt much in the way of flex unless I really stamped on the pedals to power up a climb.

cannondale_synapse_disc_sora_-_bottom_backet.jpg

The chainstays are chunky affairs too, and are shaped asymmetrically with the non-drive side kicking out earlier in a tighter bend to give clearance for the rear flat mount calliper.

Cannondale has added mounts for full mudguards, but in order to not spoil the lines it has concealed them a little bit by putting them on the inside of the fork legs at the front and underneath the seatstays where the brake bridge would normally sit, although they are in the traditional position at the rear dropout.

cannondale_synapse_disc_sora_-_seat_tube_decal.jpg

For the rear, Cannondale sells a bracket that uses the two bolts on the seatsays which lets you fit a standard mudguard. It's quite a neat solution but it'll cost you £9.99.

The Synapse does have a chainstay bridge so you'll find a traditional bolting mount there.

The fork has a mounting point on the rear of the crown and you can bend the mounts on a set of SKS mudguards, for instance, to make them fit the bolts on the inside of the fork legs. It's a bit of a faff, but doable.

cannondale_synapse_disc_sora_-_fork.jpg

A lot of disc brake bikes these days have been upgraded to thru-axles for wheel retention but the Synapse has stuck with quick releases front and rear, which considering the power – or lack of – from the brakes, is no big deal.

cannondale_synapse_disc_sora_-_rear_disc_brake.jpg

Groupset

At this price you are normally getting Shimano's Claris or Sora groupset and it's the latter here. Sora is 9-speed, which Cannondale has spread out over sprockets ranging from 11-34 teeth at the cassette, paired to an FSA Vero 50/34T compact chainset. It's a decent enough spread of gears for a bike of this style, with a 34x34 offering a great bailout gear for the steeper climbs.

cannondale_synapse_disc_sora_-_cassette.jpg

Sora shifters originally came with a thumbshifter on the inside of the hoods instead of the paddles sat behind the brake lever, as you see here on the latest version. It's now basically the same shifter body as used for the next level up Tiagra model but without the tenth gear.

cannondale_synapse_disc_sora_-_bar_and_shifter.jpg

The shifting is light, and while not quite as defined as the more expensive groupsets, it is very hard to fault. It's comfortable to ride in the hoods and the shape of the brake lever sits nicely in the hand.

Cable routing under the bar tape looks smart, and I like the black finish to the components.

cannondale_synapse_disc_sora_-_bars.jpg

The FSA crankset uses a cartridge bottom bracket which is a bit old school and looks quite dated compared with the Sora option, which uses outboard bearing cups.

cannondale_synapse_disc_sora_-_crank.jpg

Wheels and tyres

The Sora Synapse gets a set of Maddux RD disc rims built up with alloy hubs and stainless steel spokes laced in a two-cross pattern, with 28 spokes front and rear.

cannondale_synapse_disc_sora_-_tyre_and_rim.jpg

They are heavy, and durability doesn't seem to be an issue – they certainly stood up to everything I aimed them at without issue. Spoke tension remained the same and I had no issues with trueness.

I could get them to flex if I really went for it, although it's not that much of an issue with no rim brakes to rub against.

cannondale_synapse_disc_sora_-_front_hub.jpg

For the tyres, Cannondale has specced Vittoria Zaffiros in 28mm width, good entry-level rubber. Their grip is good enough to give you confidence in the wet and dry, and although they can feel a little lifeless at times because of their low thread count in the carcass, they do roll well enough. Puncture proofing is impressive too.

cannondale_synapse_disc_sora_-_fork_clearance.jpg

Finishing kit

Cannondale has kept the finishing kit in house, speccing its own alloy components for stem, handlebar and seatpost. It's all decent enough stuff – stiff and does the job.

cannondale_synapse_disc_sora_-_bars_2.jpg

The handlebar has a compact drop which, when paired with the tall 178mm head tube, means that even the least flexible of riders can get into a crouch to get out of the wind.

cannondale_synapse_disc_sora_-_head_tube.jpg

It's wrapped in 3.5mm thick gel bar tape, which certainly adds a little in the comfort stakes.

The Synapse gets an own brand saddle, too – the Stage Ergo – and I got on quite well with its shape. It has quite a narrow nose, which I like, and the padding is firm.

cannondale_synapse_disc_sora_-_saddle.jpg

Value

Okay, there are a few niggles such as the poor brakes and heavy wheels, which could do with upgrading, but for the money the overall package is pretty decent for £849.99.

For starters you are getting a really good quality frame and fork, always worth it so you can upgrade as you go. The finishing kit is basic but exactly what you'd expect for the price, and to see the majority of the excellent Shimano Sora groupset is another bonus, although there are a few bikes on the market that come with Tiagra.

> Buyer's Guide: 13 of the best aluminium road bikes

It's a few hundred grams heavier than the Bianchi Via Nirone All Road Sora, but it has a much better ride and costs £150 less.

Vitus's Zenium Disc is a very similar bike with an excellent frame and fork that'll set you back £899, but you do get a Tiagra groupset and TRP Spyre brakes.

Conclusion

The latest Synapse still has that performance ride and sporty side to it, but with those tyre clearances and mudguard/rack mounts it is a very versatile machine. Sort the brakes and you'll be very happy.

cannondale_synapse_disc_sora_-_riding_4.jpg

Verdict

A quick and versatile bike based around a great frameset, though the brakes aren't the best

If you're thinking of buying this product using a cashback deal why not use the road.cc Top Cashback page and get some top cashback while helping to support your favourite independent cycling website

road.cc test report

Make and model: Cannondale Synapse Disc Sora

Size tested: 56cm

About the bike

List the components used to build up the bike.

FRAME

NEW Synapse Disc Asymmetric, SmartForm C2 Alloy, SAVE, BSA

FORK

NEW Synapse Disc Asymmetric, SAVE, carbon blades, 1-1/8" - 1 1/4" tapered steerer, flat mount, 60mm rake (48, 51), 50mm rake (54-61)

RIMS

RD Disc, 28-hole

HUBS

Alloy, sealed loose ball bearing, 28h

SPOKES

Stainless Steel, 14g

TIRES

Vittoria Zaffiro 700x28c

PEDALS

Wellgo w/ Clip and Strap

CRANK

FSA Vero, 50/34

BOTTOM BRACKET

FSA Cartridge

CHAIN

KMC Z99, 9-speed

REAR COGS

Shimano HG400, 11-34, 9-speed

FRONT DERAILLEUR

Shimano Sora, braze-on

REAR DERAILLEUR

Shimano Sora GS cage

SHIFTERS

Shimano Sora

HANDLEBAR

Cannondale C4 Compact, 6061 Alloy

GRIPS

Cannondale Grip Bar Tape w/Gel, 3.5mm

STEM

Cannondale C4, 31.8, 6 deg.

HEADSET

FSA Integrated, 1-1/4" lower bearing, 25mm top cap

BRAKES

Promax DSK 718R, Dual side pulling, flat mount, cable disc 160/160mm

BRAKE LEVERS

Shimano Sora

SADDLE

Cannondale Stage Ergo

SEATPOST

Cannondale C4, 6061 Alloy, 25.4x350mm (48-56), 400mm (58-61)

SIZES

48, 51, 54, 56, 58, 61

Tell us what the bike is for and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about the bike?

Cannondale says, "On anything from fast group rides to daily commutes, the Synapse's light weight, comfortable sportive position and smooth ride will help you fall in love with cycling."

Where does this model sit in the range? Tell us briefly about the cheaper options and the more expensive options

The Shimano Sora model is the entry-level alloy Synapse. Cannondale also offers a Tiagra version for £999.99, a 105 model for £1,199.99 which gets upgraded TRP Spyre C brakes and lighter wheels, plus there is a 105 SE version which has tubeless wheels/tyres and a BB30-equipped frameset.

Frame and fork

Overall rating for frame and fork
 
8/10

Tell us about the build quality and finish of the frame and fork?

The frame is welded to a neat enough level for the money and looks to be well built. The paintwork is tough as well, so it should remain looking good for a long time.

Tell us about the materials used in the frame and fork?

The frame is made from Cannondale's own spec aluminium alloy and the fork uses carbon fibre for the legs with an alloy crown.

Tell us about the geometry of the frame and fork?

It's very much endurancebased with a shorter top tube and longer head tube than most race bikes.

Full charts can be found here for all sizes - https://www.cannondale.com/en/Great%20Britain/Bike/ProductDetail?Id=7147...

How was the bike in terms of height and reach? How did it compare to other bikes of the same stated size?

This 56cm model has a stack of 589mm and a reach of 389mm, which is pretty comparable to most endurance bikes of this style. Stack and reach are the vertical and horizontal measurements from the centre of the bottom bracket to the top of the head tube.

Riding the bike

Was the bike comfortable to ride? Tell us how you felt about the ride quality.

Yes, the frame manages to take out plenty of road buzz and never feels harsh.

Did the bike feel stiff in the right places? Did any part of the bike feel too stiff or too flexible?

I had a little bit of bottom bracket flex but the front end was very stiff.

How did the bike transfer power? Did it feel efficient?

Yes, reasonably. Lighter wheels would really make a difference to its efficiency.

Was there any toe-clip overlap with the front wheel? If so was it a problem?

No.

How would you describe the steering? Was it lively neutral or unresponsive? Neutral.

Tell us some more about the handling. How did the bike feel overall? Did it do particular things well or badly?

It's a very capable machine in the twisty sections and confidence-inspiring for newer riders.

Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's comfort? would you recommend any changes?

The saddle is comfortable and I especially liked the thick Cannondale bar tape.

Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's stiffness? would you recommend any changes?

I could get some flex out of the wheels but the rest of the components are plenty stiff enough.

Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's efficiency? would you recommend any changes?

Lighten the wheels to make the bike more efficient and upgrade the brakes so you can carry more speed without worrying about surprises.

Rate the bike for efficiency of power transfer:
 
7/10
Rate the bike for acceleration:
 
6/10
Rate the bike for sprinting:
 
6/10
Rate the bike for high speed stability:
 
8/10
Rate the bike for cruising speed stability:
 
8/10
Rate the bike for low speed stability:
 
8/10
Rate the bike for flat cornering:
 
8/10
Rate the bike for cornering on descents:
 
7/10
Rate the bike for climbing:
 
7/10

The drivetrain

Rate the drivetrain for performance:
 
7/10
Rate the drivetrain for durability:
 
8/10
Rate the drivetrain for weight:
 
7/10
Rate the drivetrain for value:
 
8/10

Tell us some more about the drivetrain. Anything you particularly did or didn't like? Any components which didn't work well together?

The Sora shifters are great as always, and the mechs work just as you'd expect them to. It's good to see a decent spread of gears too.

Wheels and tyres

Rate the wheels for performance:
 
7/10
Rate the wheels for durability:
 
8/10
Rate the wheels for weight:
 
6/10
Rate the wheels for comfort:
 
7/10
Rate the wheels for value:
 
7/10

Tell us some more about the wheels.Did they work well in the conditions you encountered? Would you change the wheels? If so what for?

A solid set of wheels for the money but heavy for any kind of performance riding.

Rate the tyres for performance:
 
8/10
Rate the tyres for durability:
 
8/10
Rate the tyres for weight:
 
7/10
Rate the tyres for comfort:
 
8/10
Rate the tyres for value:
 
7/10

Tell us some more about the tyres. Did they work well in the conditions you encountered? Would you change the tyres? If so what for?

For this type of bike the Vittoria Zaffiros are great training tyres which will stand up to rubbish road surfaces and minor forays off-road as well.

Controls

Rate the controls for performance:
 
8/10
Rate the controls for durability:
 
8/10
Rate the controls for weight:
 
7/10
Rate the controls for comfort:
 
8/10
Rate the controls for value:
 
7/10

Tell us some more about the controls. Any particularly good or bad components? How would the controls work for larger or smaller riders?

The compact handlebar has a nice shape for riders of any size to use, and everything else performs exactly as you'd expect basic alloy components to.

Your summary

Did you enjoy riding the bike? Yes

Would you consider buying the bike? I'd probably go for the 105 model to get the better brakes and lighter wheels.

Would you recommend the bike to a friend? Yes

How does the price compare to that of similar bikes in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?

The Sora model here is priced pretty well for the spec list. The Synapse may be a few hundred grams heavier than the Bianchi Via Nirone All Road Sora, but it has a much better ride and costs £150 less.

Vitus's Zenium Disc is a very similar bike with an excellent frame and fork that'll set you back £899, but you do get a Tiagra groupset and TRP Spyre brakes.

Rate the bike overall for performance:
 
8/10
Rate the bike overall for value:
 
7/10

Use this box to explain your overall score

An excellent frame and fork wrapped in good value for money components gives a great ride, kept at a very respectable four stars by those poor brakes.

Overall rating: 8/10

About the tester

Age: 40  Height: 180cm  Weight: 76kg

I usually ride: This month's test bike  My best bike is: B'Twin Ultra CF draped in the latest bling test components

I've been riding for: Over 20 years  I ride: Every day  I would class myself as: Expert

I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, commuting, club rides, sportives, fixed/singlespeed

Stu knocked out his first road.cc review back in 2009 and since then he's chucked the best part of seventy test bikes around the West Country, a couple of them quite literally! With three alloy and two steel bikes in his fleet he's definitely a metal man (that'll be the engineering background) but is slowly warming to that modern carbon fibre stuff along with fat tyres & disc brakes.
It's not all nostalgia though, after spending the last few years in product design Stu keeps banging on about how 3D printing is going to be the next big thing and he's a sucker for a beautiful paint job too.

32 comments

Avatar
Zermattjohn [289 posts] 4 weeks ago
2 likes

I'd love these useless cable-operated disc-brakes to just be ditched once and for all. I have the TRP Spyre ones and they're apparently the "best mechanical disc brakes on the market". This still means they're utterly useless, not even as good as decent rim brakes. While you get hydraulic brakes on even the cheapest Argos MTB special, you need to spend over a grand for the equivalent on a road road bike.

Don't waste your money on these - pay the extra for hydraulic ones from the start and you'll save hours of faffing trying to get that elusive stopping power you were promised, and you'll save the ££ on forever replacing the pads and cables.

Avatar
Freddy56 [330 posts] 4 weeks ago
0 likes

It is an odd point now, with endurance bikes that have no clearance for 35mm tyres.

This people in this market segment should look at the versitility of gravel bikes.

Just a change of tyres and you can tour/race or Cyclo cross up a mountain.

Avatar
barongreenback [127 posts] 4 weeks ago
2 likes
Zermattjohn wrote:

I'd love these useless cable-operated disc-brakes to just be ditched once and for all. I have the TRP Spyre ones and they're apparently the "best mechanical disc brakes on the market". This still means they're utterly useless, not even as good as decent rim brakes. While you get hydraulic brakes on even the cheapest Argos MTB special, you need to spend over a grand for the equivalent on a road road bike.

Don't waste your money on these - pay the extra for hydraulic ones from the start and you'll save hours of faffing trying to get that elusive stopping power you were promised, and you'll save the ££ on forever replacing the pads and cables.

 

agreed.  I have the 2016 105 synapse disc and the cable disc brakes are woeful. I have hydraulic discs on my other bike and they are fantastic. If hitting a price point is an issue they should be fitting good rim brakes instead. 

Avatar
kil0ran [1109 posts] 4 weeks ago
0 likes

I'd imagine there'll be quite a few of these being purchased as donors for an upgrade - they don't seem to do a Synapse Disc frameset?

Avatar
cyclesteffer [349 posts] 4 weeks ago
0 likes

Over 2 Kilos more than the Reynolds steel fairlight Strael. Is there some lead mixed in with the Aluminium frame? How the heck did Cannondale make it so heavy? It's almost as heavy as a Genesis Croix de Fer!? Doesn't seem very good value for money with crap brakes, heavy wheels and a made of cheese FSA Vero chainset either.

Avatar
BehindTheBikesheds [2395 posts] 4 weeks ago
1 like

The reviewer perfectly demonstrates why discs on road bikes are a bad thing, immediately rode thinking he had half decent brakes and was found wanting as he risk compensated and went at same speeds without bothering to figure out what the limitations of the brakes were.

It's an average over priced bike with a brand name on it, the only tiny crumb is the fact it has pannier rack mounts. The Genesis Delta 20 is same price, has mudguard eyelets but no rack mount, can fit 32mm tyres/28mm with guards, has near full Tiagra 4700 groupset and comes in at 9.58kg https://www.genesisbikes.co.uk/bikes/road/road-sportive/delta/delta-20.

This year models are already for sale at £620, GT Grade Comp 2019 with older non hidden cable Claris groupset can be pre ordered for £520! There's currently a Dawes 3IMA with SRAM Apex on offer for £700!

Frankly I think cannondale are taking the piss with another low end boat anchor, but punters will be swayed by the brand name alone instead of looking elsewhere to lesser popular brands that spec better and cost same/less as well as being much lighter yet still offer practical riding options.

Avatar
hawkinspeter [2484 posts] 4 weeks ago
4 likes
BehindTheBikesheds wrote:

The reviewer perfectly demonstrates why discs on road bikes are a bad thing, immediately rode thinking he had half decent brakes and was found wanting as he risk compensated and went at same speeds without bothering to figure out what the limitations of the brakes were.

I think that's more of an argument against cable disc brakes.

Personally, I think I'd go for rim brakes over cable discs on the road due to inconsistent braking, but hydraulics over rim brakes.

Avatar
dave atkinson [6428 posts] 4 weeks ago
6 likes

BehindTheBikesheds wrote:

The reviewer perfectly demonstrates why discs on road bikes are a bad thing

discs on road bikes aren't a bad thing. poor brakes on a road bike are a bad thing. not all disc brakes are poor. the best ones are much better than rim brakes.

Avatar
Griff500 [288 posts] 4 weeks ago
0 likes
hawkinspeter wrote:
BehindTheBikesheds wrote:

The reviewer perfectly demonstrates why discs on road bikes are a bad thing, immediately rode thinking he had half decent brakes and was found wanting as he risk compensated and went at same speeds without bothering to figure out what the limitations of the brakes were.

I think that's more of an argument against cable disc brakes.

Personally, I think I'd go for rim brakes over cable discs on the road due to inconsistent braking, but hydraulics over rim brakes.

Nothing wrong with "proper" cable brakes. I think it's more the case that brakes are the first casualty of cost cutting when a budget is to be met. Examples: Trek's use of unbranded rim brakes on their series one while the drive train is Shimano, resulting in a good budget bike, spoiled by appalling brake performance or Focus' Cayo use of 3rd party rotors with 105 calipers resulting in a good midrange bike with noisy brakes. As with the bike reviewed here, good bikes compromised for the sake of £20.

Avatar
vonhelmet [1178 posts] 4 weeks ago
0 likes

£20 is not the difference between cable discs and hydro discs, though, is it? You’re missing a zero, and maybe more besides.

Avatar
Griff500 [288 posts] 4 weeks ago
1 like
vonhelmet wrote:

£20 is not the difference between cable discs and hydro discs, though, is it? You’re missing a zero, and maybe more besides.

I never said it was. I said there is nothing wrong with proper cable discs did I not? Those fitted to the bike reviewed are a crappy example of cable discs.

Avatar
ibr17xvii [350 posts] 4 weeks ago
1 like
hawkinspeter wrote:
BehindTheBikesheds wrote:

The reviewer perfectly demonstrates why discs on road bikes are a bad thing, immediately rode thinking he had half decent brakes and was found wanting as he risk compensated and went at same speeds without bothering to figure out what the limitations of the brakes were.

I think that's more of an argument against cable disc brakes.

Personally, I think I'd go for rim brakes over cable discs on the road due to inconsistent braking, but hydraulics over rim brakes.

+1.

I purposely avoided cable discs when I was looking for a disc braked bike as everything I read suggested they were no better than rims.

As much as I love Cannondales as I have a CAAD12 this bike seems very poor value for money to me.

Avatar
cyclesteffer [349 posts] 4 weeks ago
3 likes

I'd love to know what the cost savings are of putting such crap spec on this Cannondale.

We so often see cost savings such as:

FSA Vero chainsets instead of the full Sora or Tiagra one

Own brand callipers instead of the Shimano ones, or crappy promax brakes.

Crappy own brand wheels, when Mavic Aksium discs, would be a million times better.

However, often "online shops", will have much better value than the big brands.

Ribble, Planet X, Wiggle and Chain Reaction will usually give the full groupset, decent wheels and decent finishing kit on their own frames.

So why dont the big brands? Their buying power must be huge.

I bet with their buying power they could have specc'd Aksiums, TRP Spyres and a Sora chainset for £50 extra.

Instead they've put such a shit spec on the bike - Joe Bloggs would have to spend £400 quid on upgrades, or just "putting it right" so it stops properly.

 

Avatar
Alessandro [174 posts] 4 weeks ago
1 like

I bought a Cannondale CAAD Optimo in March this year which is equipped with the same brakes. It's my winter bike and was replacing a bike which had Campag Centaur rim brakes which I had become quite used to along with the Campag Record rim brakes on my summer bike. I knew that cheap discs were never going to match the performance of the Record brakes and wasn't particularly surprised or disappointed to find that they weren't as good as the Centaur brakes they were replacing. However, I had to bear in mind what the bike was going to be used for - commuting and weekend rides in all weathers - and my plan is to ultimately upgrade to hydraulics at some point in the future. Knowing that I've got a solid frame that can accommodate that upgrade is part of the reason why I went for that bike rather than an equivalently priced bike with better rim brakes. 

Avatar
kil0ran [1109 posts] 4 weeks ago
3 likes
cyclesteffer wrote:

I'd love to know what the cost savings are of putting such crap spec on this Cannondale.

We so often see cost savings such as:

FSA Vero chainsets instead of the full Sora or Tiagra one

Own brand callipers instead of the Shimano ones, or crappy promax brakes.

Crappy own brand wheels, when Mavic Aksium discs, would be a million times better.

However, often "online shops", will have much better value than the big brands.

Ribble, Planet X, Wiggle and Chain Reaction will usually give the full groupset, decent wheels and decent finishing kit on their own frames.

So why dont the big brands? Their buying power must be huge.

I bet with their buying power they could have specc'd Aksiums, TRP Spyres and a Sora chainset for £50 extra.

Instead they've put such a shit spec on the bike - Joe Bloggs would have to spend £400 quid on upgrades, or just "putting it right" so it stops properly.

 

This is a beginners bike, priced to fill a market segment that demands a name brand at a budget price. Think iPhone SE or the poverty-spec small-engined cars BMW/VW/Audi churn out. I'm sure Joe will be delighted that he's got a Cannondale with disc brakes rather than a comparable Boardman or Pinnacle or B'Twin or similar, because he's probably popped into a dealer and bought what's available in his price range. £850 is important in this market because it leaves enough on the C2W budget for lights lock and helmet. If you're a first-time bike buyer you're not going to know the difference between the group levels, but you'll probably know that the pros ride Shimano so you'll be happy it says that somewhere on the bike plus you've got that cable routing like the pros have too.

Much like cars if you know what you're looking for it's rarely worthwhile buying brand new plus we have the advantage of self-build and winter projects and the like. It's not a bike aimed at most of the readers of this site.

I'm reminded of when I bought my first bike on my return to cycling - all I asked for was a bike that I could ride on the road, for rides of up to ten miles that had disc brakes. Being rural I came away with a perfectly adequate Felt hybrid that had disc brakes, big rubber, and a triple that would have got my 20st bulk up Ventoux. The fact it was all of about a month before I'd outgrown it was more down to the cycling bug hitting me hard than anything else. Sold it on, bought my brother's old Triban 3 and the rest is history.

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srchar [1031 posts] 4 weeks ago
1 like
cyclesteffer wrote:

I bet with their buying power they could have specc'd Aksiums, TRP Spyres and a Sora chainset for £50 extra.

The reason they do it is because they sell so many bikes that any small additional expense per unit has a large impact on the bottom line.

Cannondale's parent company sells almost a billion dollar's worth of bikes per year, making $25m profit, across several brands.  Let's take a guess that the average price per bike is $2,000, that's half a million bikes.  If they up-spec every bike they sell by £50/$65, they'll make a loss.

That's why the spec is penny-pinched. Most buyers won't care; the minority who do will buy with their eyes open and price in any upgrades they want.

At £850 it's still a hell of a lot of bike for the money.  My first decent road bike was made of aluminium, had Ultegra 6600 mechs & shifters, FSA cranks and Tektro brakes, cost £1150 - that's £1600 in today's money - and didn't ride anywhere near as nicely as a Synapse.  It's also well within the magic cycle-to-work figure of a grand, with headroom left for shoes, lights, the obligatory helmet etc.

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philhubbard [154 posts] 4 weeks ago
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cyclesteffer wrote:

 

Ribble, Planet X, Wiggle and Chain Reaction will usually give the full groupset, decent wheels and decent finishing kit on their own frames.

So why dont the big brands? Their buying power must be huge.

 

 

I can confirm that there buying power is absolutely massive. PX is the only possible exception there but there profit margin is negligible 

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nortonpdj [217 posts] 4 weeks ago
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Four stars? Please explain.

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David Arthur @d... [894 posts] 4 weeks ago
3 likes

nortonpdj wrote:

Four stars? Please explain.

 

Stu did, if you read the review...

"An excellent frame and fork wrapped in good value for money components gives a great ride, kept at a very respectable four stars by those poor brakes."

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jimhead [22 posts] 4 weeks ago
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Interesting seeing these posts about cable discs as I thought it was just me. I bought a CAADX Tiagra last autumn intended as a winter commuter but instantly regretted it when it arrived. The cable disc brakes were (IMO) downright dangerous.  I put it down to me being used to hydraulics but I sold it on after about a month. 

 

 

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kil0ran [1109 posts] 3 weeks ago
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jimhead wrote:

Interesting seeing these posts about cable discs as I thought it was just me. I bought a CAADX Tiagra last autumn intended as a winter commuter but instantly regretted it when it arrived. The cable disc brakes were (IMO) downright dangerous.  I put it down to me being used to hydraulics but I sold it on after about a month. 

 

Same here - I had TRP Spyres on mine (considered to be the best of the bunch). They were better than rims in the wet but that was it. Ended up running my rim brake bike on dry, cold days and discs only when it was tipping it down. I've still got discs on my tourer but have upgraded to cable-operated hydros. Meanwhile I've bought an audax rim brake bike so I can run 28mm tyres and mudguards and a winter wheelset. That's likely to get more use this winter than my tourer, which is getting converted to something a bit more monstercrossy - 42mm knobbly tyres going on for a winter of gravel/forest track action.

I'll probably always keep a disc-braked bike in the fleet but it will get upgraded to hydros if I need to go back to commuting rather than just cycling for pleasure.

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hawkinspeter [2484 posts] 3 weeks ago
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Griff500 wrote:
hawkinspeter wrote:
BehindTheBikesheds wrote:

The reviewer perfectly demonstrates why discs on road bikes are a bad thing, immediately rode thinking he had half decent brakes and was found wanting as he risk compensated and went at same speeds without bothering to figure out what the limitations of the brakes were.

I think that's more of an argument against cable disc brakes.

Personally, I think I'd go for rim brakes over cable discs on the road due to inconsistent braking, but hydraulics over rim brakes.

Nothing wrong with "proper" cable brakes. I think it's more the case that brakes are the first casualty of cost cutting when a budget is to be met. Examples: Trek's use of unbranded rim brakes on their series one while the drive train is Shimano, resulting in a good budget bike, spoiled by appalling brake performance or Focus' Cayo use of 3rd party rotors with 105 calipers resulting in a good midrange bike with noisy brakes. As with the bike reviewed here, good bikes compromised for the sake of £20.

To be fair, I haven't tried cable disc brakes so I'm just going from hearing other people talk about them.

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vonhelmet [1178 posts] 3 weeks ago
1 like

In the context of a bottom bracket, a cartridge bottom bracket is different to one with outboard cups, neither of which is the same as one with loose ball bearings.

Perhsps the poster doesn’t understand what cartridge bottom brackets are?

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Disfunctional_T... [334 posts] 3 weeks ago
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> Only the top alloy model, the Synapse Disc 105 SE,
> uses a BB30 bottom bracket, with the other three
> using a threaded fitment.

According to the Cannondale website, the Tiagra level version uses BB30 too.

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Moist von Lipwig [141 posts] 3 weeks ago
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When the spec says 'FSA Cartridge'  what BB are they actually referring to? AS a BB novice all that says to me in FSA brand with cartridge bearings but is that a traditional BB30 or a PF30?. I was assuming the PF as its 'BB30' on the higher spec models but on mine I can't see the outer ring of any PF cups.  I'd like to upgrade my 2017 Synapse which lists the same BB as this from FSA Vero to the new 105, but I'm currently failing to identify the BB to see if the wheels adaptors will fit.  Also unhelpfully the wheels adaptors (on Wiggle at least) are not for 2015+ Synapses due to the width of the frame shell, but mine measures 68mm as standard.

 

Edit - One more bit of googling seems to suggest a mistake on Wiggles part. The adaptors wouldn't fit a BB30A (73mm) but not all post 2015 Synapses are that.

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timmyotool [19 posts] 3 weeks ago
1 like

I can't understand all this anti-cable disc brake sentiment.
Owner of both BB7 and RS685 hydraulics, I'd be tempted to say I prefer the BB7 for pure stopping power. The hydraulics are lighter action but thats about it.
Every review I've read on here on cable disc brakes this year has the same trend:

"I still had a few moments in traffic or the odd fast descent when I forgot what bike I was on"
TRP Spyre - "while they are one of the better ones, braking performance can be... how can I put it?... challenging...there can be a few heart-stopping moments if you aren't planning ahead"
BR-RS305 - "I often resigned myself to looking for an escape route rather than relying on predicting a stopping distance when in traffic."

Cast your mind back a few years and the whole narrative was about how much better cable discs were than rim brakes. I understand that technology advances but I can't get my head around this anti-cable disc brake rhetoric that's being peddled, if they are as dangerous as they sound above, why are we still giving these bikes 4* reviews?

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a1white [139 posts] 3 weeks ago
1 like

Not sure about discs. Years ago, I had cable operated shimano's on my old Hybrid. They felt great to me, notably better than rim brakes I'd used before, the pads lasted ages too and I could change them myself. I now have TRP Hy/RD  on my Croix De Fer. They are good brakes when they are set-up right, but I've had to have them bled and adjusted a couple of times (even though they are suposed to be self adjusting). Their workings are a dark art to me too, so I have to take them to the LBS.

 

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a1white [139 posts] 3 weeks ago
4 likes
BehindTheBikesheds wrote:

The reviewer perfectly demonstrates why discs on road bikes are a bad thing, immediately rode thinking he had half decent brakes and was found wanting as he risk compensated and went at same speeds without bothering to figure out what the limitations of the brakes were.

It's an average over priced bike with a brand name on it, the only tiny crumb is the fact it has pannier rack mounts. The Genesis Delta 20 is same price, has mudguard eyelets but no rack mount, can fit 32mm tyres/28mm with guards, has near full Tiagra 4700 groupset and comes in at 9.58kg https://www.genesisbikes.co.uk/bikes/road/road-sportive/delta/delta-20.

This year models are already for sale at £620, GT Grade Comp 2019 with older non hidden cable Claris groupset can be pre ordered for £520! There's currently a Dawes 3IMA with SRAM Apex on offer for £700!

Frankly I think cannondale are taking the piss with another low end boat anchor, but punters will be swayed by the brand name alone instead of looking elsewhere to lesser popular brands that spec better and cost same/less as well as being much lighter yet still offer practical riding options.

 

Barrel of fun again aren't you?  Do you just hang around here looking for reviews to disagree with?

It's a £850 road bike, with Disc brakes. what are you expecting? The Genesis you mention, is a good price but doesn't have discs, so they can spec it up to Tiagra for a similar price. For a road bike with Disc brakes (and Sora), £850 is about the right starting price.

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Langsam [71 posts] 3 weeks ago
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cyclesteffer wrote:

....and a made of cheese FSA Vero chainset....

 

Just to clarify, I have put many thousands of KMs on my commuter bike with a square taper Shimano BB and an FSA vero crankset, it is still going strong, shifts beautifully and shows no sign of wear.

Heavy it is, made of cheese it is not.

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Zermattjohn [289 posts] 3 weeks ago
0 likes
timmyotool wrote:

Cast your mind back a few years and the whole narrative was about how much better cable discs were than rim brakes. I understand that technology advances but I can't get my head around this anti-cable disc brake rhetoric that's being peddled, if they are as dangerous as they sound above, why are we still giving these bikes 4* reviews?

I'm one of those who dislike the cable-operated disc brakes, and I'd say the reason the reviews are good/don't really mention the brakes is that when new/on a test bike set up well they're definitely good, better than rim brakes. The problem is the maintenance and reliability.

The cable for the rear brake has to run along the chainstay - which means the end is facing upwards. It collects water/grit, which sits in a ready-made reservoir along the cable housing. So, after a few months of wet weather the cable will be very draggy, usually corroded and this affects the performance of the rear brake. My front brake is fine, but when you're motoring you want 2 really.

 

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