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New Cannondale CAAD13 First Ride - Can aluminium still cut it?

David rides Cannondale’s latest aluminium road race bike

This is the all-new Cannondale CAAD13, the latest in a long line of aluminium road bikes from the US company that made its name with aluminium during the 90s. Cannondale claims the redesigned bike is faster, lighter, more capable and more comfortable than the previous CAAD12.

In this article, we'll go through all the key details, as well as share some first ride impressions from a short spin around the Cotswolds at the UK launch.

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With the new CAAD13, Cannondale has tried its best to emulate the tube profiles and design language of the SuperSix Evo in SmartForm C1 Premium 6069 aluminium, and while the results aren't identical, they are very close.

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The downtube has a truncated aero profile, just like on the SuperSix Evo, to decrease drag. Cannondale claims a 30% reduction in drag over the previous CAAD12. There are two bottle cage mounts on the downtube, the lower being more aero if you’re using a single bottle. 

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The dropped seat stays help to improve comfort by increasing the amount of bending force through the seat tube and seatpost. A new seat tube curves around the rear wheel and hides an internal seat clamp underneath the top tube, and the Knot27 carbon seatpost is taken straight from the Evo.

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There’s an all-new carbon fibre fork design specifically for the CAAD13. Look closely and you’ll spot hidden mudguard mounts on the frame and rear stays, making the CAAD13 a viable option for winter riding and year-round versatility.

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A choice of rim or disc brakes is available, the former using direct mount brakes and the later 12mm thru-axles with flat mount callipers. There’s full internal cable routing using a port on the downtube, providing wide-ranging compatibility.

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Cannondale has also given the CAAD13 the same clever SpeedRelease thru-axles. These work much like regular thru-axles but the critical difference is the axle doesn’t have to be fully removed from the frame, thus speeding up wheel changes and mislaying the axle when you put it down to change a tube.

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Tyre clearance has been increased, up to 30mm on the disc brake version and 28mm with rim brakes. That increases the capability of the bike, helping it straddle the demands of privateer racers and comfort-focused mile munchers. In reality, you could probably fit a slightly wider tyre still.

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Despite all these changes, the frame weight remains about the same, at just over 1kg for a 56cm. That’s a very competitive weight and as light as many high-end carbon bikes.

Geometry is carried over from the SuperSix Evo and there are eight sizes from 44 to 62cm. 

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“Every new CAAD bike we design improves on the preceding version, but the CAAD13 represents a pretty radical new direction for us,” said David Devine, Global Product Director, Cannondale Pavement. “With CAAD13, we focused on elements that really improve the ride, namely drag reduction, comfort and wide-ranging capability, while not increasing the weight.”

The range

There are seven models in the range for men and women, with prices starting at £1,333.33 and topping out at £3,999.

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The range-topper CAAD13 Disc Force eTap AXS gets a new SRAM Force wireless disc brake with a 2x setup, new Hollowgram Knot 45 wheels with Vittoria Rubino Pro 28mm wide tyres, and the new Hollowgram integrated handlebar and stem.

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There’s an Ultegra Disc model at £1,999 and an Ultegra rim brake bike at £1,583.33, with Fulcrum Racing 600 wheels and a regular handlebar and stem arrangement.

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The entry-level CAAD13 105 costing £1,333.33 gets the same frame and fork with Fulcrum Racing 900 wheels and a Cannondale Si chainset, and of course a Shimano 105 mechanical groupset.

First Ride

Cannondale hosted the launch of the new bike at Renault’s F1 centre on the edge of the Cotswolds and I was able to take it for a short spin. Familiar roads they may be but time was short so here are some quick takeaway observations about the bike. There’ll be a full review once we get one in for a test, so look out for that soon.

I was riding the range-topping SRAM Force eTap AXS model with the same integrated handlebar and wheels as featured on the SuperSix Evo I first rode out in Vermont last month. My first feeling is that I felt right at home. The geometry is identical that that meant the fit and handling, as I navigated some idyllic countryside and picture postcard villages, was as reassuring and easy to live with as I was expecting.

What I wasn’t expecting was the incredible smoothness of the bike. Ask most cyclists about aluminium and they’ll probably tell you it’s stiff, and if they’re being really unfair they’ll say it’s harsh. But advances made by companies still willing to invest in aluminium like Cannondale has produced aluminium bikes that are anything but, and instead offer genuinely smooth and compliant rides.

The new CAAD13 is on another level though. My one criticism of the CAAD12 Disc (you can read my review here) is that the front-end felt too firm. There was too much feedback coming through the handlebars and it wasn’t matching the smoothness present at the back of the bike.

Cannondale has remedied that criticism and in the CAAD13 produced a bike that is wonderfully smooth all-round. The Cotswolds isn’t generally known for its smooth roads, and over the crusty surface on some quieter country lanes, the CAAD13 blew me away with its ability to not just provide a smooth and calm ride, but to really close the gap to a carbon fibre bike.

Since carbon fibre came along in the 90s and has now become the de facto choice for pro racers and many enthusiasts roadies, aluminium has largely been forgotten about. Cannondale and a handful of other brands, some big and some small, have continued plugging away with the aim to narrow the gap between aluminium and carbon.

The new CAAD13 is the closest to the ride experience of carbon from an aluminium frame that I’ve yet experienced.

But why not just buy a carbon frame? Money. Carbon is a hella lot of cash compared to aluminium, choosing metal means a lot more money can be spent on a better groupset, posher wheels and finishing kit.

It’s not just appealing to cyclists on a budget or wanting the best value for money package though, there are increasing environmental concerns about carbon, a material which isn’t easily recyclable. Aluminium is 100% recyclable. And aluminium has long appeal to privateer racing cyclists because it’s both cheaper and more resistant to crash damage.

First impressions then are good, very good, I can’t wait to get a longer ride on it now.

More info at

David worked on the tech team from 2012-2020. Previously he was editor of and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds, and you can now find him over on his own YouTube channel David Arthur - Just Ride Bikes

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