Cannondale Synapse Hi-Mod Disc Dura-Ace Di2

Our bike of the year's high-end hydraulic disc sibling

This article originally appeared on BikeRadar

We like the Cannondale Synapse. A lot. Our Bike of the Year is serving as a long-term test rig and is our endurance bike benchmark. Your extra five grand will get you the top-of-the-range high-modulus carbon frame, which weighs just 7.36kg overall – very impressive with full hydraulic braking. But just how does the premium machine compare with its much cheaper sibling?

Highs: Light weight, superb handling at speed and superb hydraulic braking
Lows: A little stiffer than the standard Synapse
Buy if: You want precision handling, top-notch equipment and great high-speed performance

The frame is constructed from Cannondale's own carbon. It features curved and slender seatstays, sculpted chainstays and carbon dropouts – forming what Cannondale calls a 'Micro-Suspension' rear triangle. The carbon lay-up is designed to reduce road noise and the frame is topped off by a 25.4mm carbon seatpost for even more vibration-damping flex and comfort.

It's not purely about plushness, though. Cannondale stops the rear end from becoming overly soft by splitting the seat tube in two just below the front derailleur mount. This 'Power Pyramid' adds stiffness to the bottom bracket, making the Synapse a superbly efficient bike to pedal.


Handling is laser-precise, but your hands perhaps get a little too much information from the front end

As you'd expect from all these design features, the Hi-Mod is a very smooth operator, and it beats virtually every other machine out there in both the comfort and performance stakes – but it's still not quite as silky as our bike of the year. Some of that difference is down to the exceptional Enve Smart 3.4 Disc wheels. These wide-rimmed carbon wheels have different depth rims for the front and rear. And though the back wheel benefits from the Synapse's well-designed rear end, the rigid front wheel creates more vibration that you can feel through your hands.

This only stands out because we're so familiar with the standard bike – and the Synapse is still phenomenally composed over rough road surfaces. It's just that we expected a little more from the range-topper of our current all-time favourite.


Cannondale's unique and lightweight SpiderRing chainset

Every other element of the Synapse Hi-Mod Disc is pretty much flawless. Fizik's Aliante is as good as ever and Schwalbe's fat, supple 25mm Ultremo rubber gives limpet-like grip whatever the conditions. Shifting and braking is handled by the Shimano R785 levers paired with Dura-Ace and Cannondale's lightweight SiSL2 chainset.

This keeps the weight down and contributes to a bike that climbs with ease thanks to light rims and great gearing. Crest a hill and the Hi-Mod descends wonderfully. It stays resolutely planted through turns and the total sense of control from Shimano's hydraulics keeps your power up. When riding on the limit it feels infallible, bullet-quick and totally assured – it's just that when we were spent and trundling home on poorer surfaces after a long ride it did let us know what we were riding over. 

Full Specifications

Specifications

Name: Synapse Hi-Mod Disc Dura-Ace Di2 (14)
Built by: CannondalePrice: £7499
Description: LED built into headset top cap
Available Sizes: 48cm 51cm 54cm 56cm 58cm 61cm
Bottom Bracket: FSA BB 30
Brakes: Shimano BR 785 hydraulic disc
Cassette: Shimano Dura-Ace 11-28 11-speed
Chain: Shimano Dura-Ace
Cranks: Cannondale Hollowgram SiSL2 50/34 175mm
Fork: Synapse Save Plus Disc, Ballis
Tec Hi-Mod carbon 1 1/8 - 1¼in tapered steerer
Fork Offset: 5Frame Material: BallisTec Hi-Mod carbon
Front Derailleur: Shimano Dura-Ace Di2
Front Tyre: Schwalbe Ultremo 25mm
Front Wheel Weight: 1140
Handlebar: Cannondale Escape carbon 44cm
Head Angle: 73
Headset Type: Cannondale Synapse Si tapered 1 1/8 - 1¼in
Rear Derailleur: Shimano Dura-Ace Di2
Rear Tyre: Schwalbe Ultremo 25mm
Rear Wheel Weight: 1460
Saddle: Fizik AlianteSeat Angle: 73.5
Seatpost: FSA SL-K Carbon 25.4mm
Shifters: Shimano ST-R785 hydraulic Di2 11-speed
Stem: FSA SL-K 11.5cm
Trail: 5.2
Weight (kg): 7.36
Wheelset: Enve Smart 3.4 Disc on DT Swiss 240s: F 24 bladed spokes, R 28 bladed spokes
Year: 2014
Weight (lb): 16.23
Spoke Type: Bladed
Bottom Bracket Height (cm): 27
Chainstays (cm): 41.2
Seat Tube (cm): 52
Standover Height (cm): 83
Top Tube (cm): 58
Wheelbase (cm): 101
Frame size tested: 58cm

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