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Cannondale SuperX disc prototype - First look

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Cannondale’s new disc brake-equipped SuperX prototype

Cannondale’s new disc brake-equipped SuperX prototype (Image credit: Matt Pacocha)
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The seatstay of the prototype disc bike are considerably flatter than those of the standard production bike

The seatstay of the prototype disc bike are considerably flatter than those of the standard production bike (Image credit: Matt Pacocha)
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The prototype disc bikes have lots of clearance at the fork and seatstays

The prototype disc bikes have lots of clearance at the fork and seatstays (Image credit: Matt Pacocha)
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The added weight is worth it for clearance like this on a mud day

The added weight is worth it for clearance like this on a mud day (Image credit: Matt Pacocha)
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White Industries MI6 front hub

White Industries MI6 front hub (Image credit: Matt Pacocha)
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Cannondale picked the 135mm axle standard for the benefit it provides the wheel’s strength and durability

Cannondale picked the 135mm axle standard for the benefit it provides the wheel’s strength and durability (Image credit: Matt Pacocha)
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Thorne equipped the disc bike with Dugast’s discreet black-wall Rhino tires, which are normally reserved for teams and riders with other tire sponsors. He said it helps to quickly differentiate the disc wheels from standard in the team’s trailer

Thorne equipped the disc bike with Dugast’s discreet black-wall Rhino tires, which are normally reserved for teams and riders with other tire sponsors. He said it helps to quickly differentiate the disc wheels from standard in the team’s trailer (Image credit: Matt Pacocha)
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Another look at Cannondale’s Speed SAVE seatstays

Another look at Cannondale’s Speed SAVE seatstays (Image credit: Matt Pacocha)
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Johnson’s bike is equipped with GORE’s Professional brake system, which we found to produce one of the smoothest mechanical disc systems we’ve ever felt

Johnson’s bike is equipped with GORE’s Professional brake system, which we found to produce one of the smoothest mechanical disc systems we’ve ever felt (Image credit: Matt Pacocha)
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Despite the prototype billing, the SuperX looks very clean

Despite the prototype billing, the SuperX looks very clean (Image credit: Matt Pacocha)
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Zipp built up a number of custom wheelsets for the Cannondale-cyclocrossworld.com team, this particular set uses the standard 303 tubular rim, drilled for 24 spokes and laced cross 2 to White Industries’ MI6 disc hubs

Zipp built up a number of custom wheelsets for the Cannondale-cyclocrossworld.com team, this particular set uses the standard 303 tubular rim, drilled for 24 spokes and laced cross 2 to White Industries’ MI6 disc hubs (Image credit: Matt Pacocha)
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Besides the benefit of better brakes, Cannondale says that they can make their Speed SAVE micro suspension work even better without having to accommodate for cantilever calipers

Besides the benefit of better brakes, Cannondale says that they can make their Speed SAVE micro suspension work even better without having to accommodate for cantilever calipers (Image credit: Matt Pacocha)
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Avid’s BB7 brake handle braking duties on Johnson’s new bike

Avid’s BB7 brake handle braking duties on Johnson’s new bike (Image credit: Matt Pacocha)
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Cannondale has yet to permanently place cable guides on the fork; the prototype relies on adhesive style guides

Cannondale has yet to permanently place cable guides on the fork; the prototype relies on adhesive style guides (Image credit: Matt Pacocha)
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A 140mm rotor and White Industries MI6 hub finish the package

A 140mm rotor and White Industries MI6 hub finish the package (Image credit: Matt Pacocha)
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Looking closely at the brake mount reveals an upper rivet

Looking closely at the brake mount reveals an upper rivet (Image credit: Matt Pacocha)
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Johnson’s bike is fitted with Avid’s XX 140mm rotors; this angle also gives a better look at the minimalist brake mount

Johnson’s bike is fitted with Avid’s XX 140mm rotors; this angle also gives a better look at the minimalist brake mount (Image credit: Matt Pacocha)
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The rear uses a similar style 140mm direct post mount, both front and rear mounts appear to be made of two separate pieces

The rear uses a similar style 140mm direct post mount, both front and rear mounts appear to be made of two separate pieces (Image credit: Matt Pacocha)
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The lower alloy part of the brake mount/dropout appears to plug into the chain and seatstays

The lower alloy part of the brake mount/dropout appears to plug into the chain and seatstays (Image credit: Matt Pacocha)
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The fork doesn’t use an offset dropout like Enve’s new cyclo-cross fork and some ridged disc mountain bike forks. The forward offset adds security to the system

The fork doesn’t use an offset dropout like Enve’s new cyclo-cross fork and some ridged disc mountain bike forks. The forward offset adds security to the system (Image credit: Matt Pacocha)

Earlier in the week Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld.com team manager Stu Thorne posted a sneak peek at his outfit's latest test rig: a special disc-equipped version of Cannondale's carbon fiber SuperX. Now that the team has rolled into Boulder, Colorado for the weekend's UCI races, we've had a chance to take our first look at the prototype.

In anticipation of seeing the new SuperX, we spoke to Cannondale's vice president of R&D about the prototype frameset. He said that Tim Johnson and the Cannondale-cyclocrossworld.com team were a driving force behind its development. "I've had many discussions with Tim Johnson about disc brakes during long rides over the last couple of years, and he was always pushing us," Peck told Cyclingnews.

Besides the benefit of better brakes, Cannondale say they can make their Speed SAVE micro suspension work better without having to accommodate for cantilever calipers on the seatstays

"I'm all for innovation," Johnson told Cyclingnews. "I don't think we should be afraid of it at all. The technology that goes into these bikes is only going to make it better. We're dealing with a sport that has so many things entrenched in tradition that we can afford to branch out with a little bit of technical innovation.

"There could be a huge difference in performance and we're just starting to see that; Fort Collins [Colorado US Gran Prix of Cyclocross] day one – perfect disc conditions. Koksijde world championship course – perfect disc brake conditions and course…

The added weight is worth it for clearance like this on a mud day

"If you have disc brakes, and you have braking where you need it and stuff isn't getting caught up on your cantilevers, it's going to add up. In one lap it's an advantage, and in an entire race it'll be a huge advantage."

Along with the benefits of better braking, Peck explained that by moving the brake calipers from the tops of the fork legs and seatstays, Cannondale has been able to further capitalize on the SuperX's Speed SAVE micro suspension design. "By removing the cantilever mounts and reinforcements in the middle of the seatstays it allows our SAVE features to offer more vertical compliance which helps with tracking and cornering on bumpy surfaces," he said.

The seatstays of the prototype disc bike are considerably flatter than those of the standard production bike

While Cannondale has revealed that the fork weighs 450g, they haven't disclosed a frame weight, which has the potential to be lower than the cantilever version. The rear dropout spacing is confirmed at 135mm, which Cannondale say they've spec'd for the stronger, more durable wheels it produces.

Rotors on Johnson's bike are sized at 140mm – both front and rear – and are mounted via minimalistic direct post mounts which appear to be alloy and both bonded and riveted to the stays and non-drive fork blade. Both mounts can be spaced for 160mm rotors depending on a rider's needs.

Cannondale picked the 135mm axle standard for the benefit it provides the wheel’s strength and durability

Johnson's prototype weighed 16.42lb (7.44kg) when we previewed it – however, that was without pedals, titanium bolt kit and alloy backed brake pads, that team owner Stu Thorne had yet to install. We'll follow up once the bike is complete with its custom bits. For comparison, Johnson's standard SuperX weighs 15.85lb (7.19kg).

Cable routing appears to one of the last things to still be in development; the prototype fork featured adhesive guides, while the rear housing was routed along the left side of the top tube, which will likely interfere when shouldering.

This isn't Cannondale's first disc-equipped cyclo-cross bike; in 2003 they launched a CAAD series bike for the 2004 model year, simply called Cannondale Cyclocross Disc. It was banned by the UCI and thus never caught on with racers. So it's of little surprise Cannondale are once again developing a disc brake bike for cyclo-cross.

This article originally appeared on BikeRadar

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