Cannondale's 2011 carbon fibre SuperX gained a strong following among cyclocross racers with its low weight and superb handling. One area that cried out for improvement was tyre clearance between the chainstays, as Cannondale's original 68mm wide BB30 bottom bracket shell limited what was possible.
The all-new SuperX addresses this with its 83mm wide BB30-83 Ai (Asymmetric integration) shell that sprouts chunky chainstays, which flatten mid-way towards the dropouts, as do the gently curving seatstays. Here lies the foundation of Cannondale's SAVE micro-suspension system, with shaped and manipulated carbon tubes to ensure stiffness.
In keeping with recent new Cannondales, the SuperX also adopts a proprietary 25.4mm diameter carbon seatpost, for greater deflection and more seated comfort.
We had an exclusive first ride of this team model, which won't be imported in to the UK, but the same 1,000g BallisTec carbon frame will feature on three models, with three builds from Shimano 105 to SRAM Force CX1. Aside from the racy wheelset, there are no extra light components, making the complete 7.15kg weight for our 54cm bike impressive for a frame that'll take a real beating.
That giant head-tube, top-tube and bottom bracket with oversized stays make start line sprints instant. The Zipps help, but from the second you pull on the bar, engage your standing foot and push down, you surge forwards with impressive speed.
Cannondale has created a front end that's stable at all speeds on the gnarliest trails, but still has the reflexes of a cat, thanks to its slack head angle, clever fork offset and trail geometry. The rear is even more specific, as Cannondale has offset the rear triangle and drivetrain 6mm to the right, requiring a small rim realignment that results in an undished but far stronger wheel.
With both ends tied together by 12mm thru-axles, steering and braking precision is optimised, and it allows the stays to be bridgeless, which combined with the offset drivetrain manages to keep reasonably short 43cm chainstays for better traction and response, with space for up to 40mm wide tyres.
At high speed the SuperX virtually planes across uneven terrain, soaking up contours but still able to react in a second.
Cannondale SuperX Team early verdict
With the performance upgrade it always deserved, the SuperX is back on top
This article was originally published in Cycling Plus magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.