The Synapse Carbon perfectly blends practicality, speed and style. Ideal for long rides and sportifs, as well as a reliable winter training bike. Keep reading to find out why we believe the Cannondale Synapse Carbon really is the Ultimate Road Bike.
Being a city centre Bike Shop we often get asked, what bike can I ride to work everyday AND have fun on at the weekend? Our answer is always the Cannondale Synapse Carbon. It is very rare to find a bike that excels in both the everyday grind and those epic bunch rides and/or events. Cannondale’s lightweight yet stiff frameset pairs with their proven endurance road geometry to offer great ride performance. This, combined with hidden mounts for mudguards and wide tyre clearance, is the reason the Synapse has successfully been the ‘one’ bike our customers are always asking for.
As much as we all dream our cycling lives are all full of picturesque rides, on days where there isn’t a cloud or a pothole in sight, the reality is most of the time your bike needs to be suitable for rough roads, sh*t weather and getting from A to B without any issues. For this reason the Synapse usually leaves our shop fully kitted out for anything the Scottish climate and road conditions have to throw at it. Normally including NiteRider Lights and a set of SKS Mudguards on top of the ‘off the shelf’ spec, which has 30c tyres and hydraulic disc brakes.
However when the time comes for the decent weather and light nights to draw back in, or even that long anticipated Cycling Holiday in the sun. All it takes is ripping those lights off, removing a couple of bolts and a wheel swap to transform your Cannondale Synapse into the perfect dream bike that makes you feel like you’re a TDF Pro Rider every time you swing your leg over it.
Gone are the days of Road bikes solely being for young whippets in skinsuits riding only for podiums, the Cannnondale Synapse is built for the modern day rider looking for a blend of comfort, versatility and performance. One bike, every occasion. Everything you could ever want in a bicycle neatly compacted into one convenient little package.
Working in a bike shop, you have a varied choice when it comes to borrowing a bike for a ride, but I’ve had my eye on the Cannondale Habit Neo 2 since it came into the shop and over the space of a week, I’ve had it out 4 times to put it through its paces.
It’s had a varied few rides, some tarmac, some flowing trails with berms and drops, and some more technical sections with roots and ruts. This bike has not missed a beat.
My first ride on the Habit was at the trails at Cathkin Braes. We were cycling from the shop and I was happy to be able to play with the power modes on a solid surface before hitting the trails. After some initial fiddling around with modes, I found Tour mode to be the best for the cycle from the shop, as it adapts to the surface and riding style, pulling the power back on the flats and still making you work.
The first thing I did when I got on the trails was crank it to turbo – big mistake. Too much power for those tight turns, especially for a newbie like myself. I was overshooting and skidding out of corners so caution is advised with that much power at your fingertips – there’s no real need on the way down.
Uphill is a different story however.. I’m very new to trails but having that power behind me for going uphill really made the going easy, and easy is what I am looking for. While the rest of the team were puffing away on steep climbs, I was able to shift down, crank up the power and make it back up to the top easily.
The battery makes the bike heavier than a standard MTB, but it wasn’t a dead weight. I was able to lift over gates fairly easily. This came in handy when I had the bike up at Callendar Estate in Falkirk, on our staff Tuesday ride.
The beauty of having that power on demand is that it gets you up the hill and back to doing the fun stuff more quickly.
The Techy Section
The components on the Habit Neo 2 are high quality, which is to be expected for a bike of this standard and price range.
The drivetrain is Shimano SLX 12 speed, brakes are Magura hydraulic disc with 220mm rotor on the front and 203mm on the rear. The frame is Cannondale’s BallisTec carbon layup. Rockshox front and rear suspension.
@liam-d set it up tubeless and with a lovely set of bling Gold DMR V8’s
The Kiox colour display is bright and packed with functionality, with power, cadence, rpm, bpm, avg/max speed, distance, range, calories and route planning capabilities (route planning via the connected phone app).
Power is delivered from the Bosch Performance CX drive unit in 4 modes – Eco, Tour, eMTB and Turbo.
Eco is as you’d think. Fairly restrained with a gentle curve upwards up to a maximum of 40Nm of torque
Tour+ is the new mode which adapts to your riding style, allowing you to forget about switching between modes, whether on flat tarmac or climbing a steep ascent. Tour+ gives you the full 85Nm of torque.
eMTB holds back slightly on power delivery initially then gives you the full guns. Depending on pedal pressure, progressive motor support perfectly to the riding situation. Start-up behaviour is much finer and more sensitive – especially in low gears.
Turbo is self explanatory – full power delivered as fast as possible. Not advisable on loose surfaces but definitely advisable all the way home after riding 🙂
This bike is all about one word – fun. Spend a bit of time setting the positions of the shifters, dropper lever and brakes, play about with the modes for a bit then just have at it. I had absolutely no shame having it on Turbo when cycling back from Cathkin to the shop and it was definitely a help at the big hills and for getting away from lights sharply.
On the trails it’s something else entirely, an absolute machine for getting you back up to the top quickly and ready to do the fun stuff again – flinging yourself down a hill at speed 🙂
We have these in various sizes in the shop so give us a shout if you fancy taking one for a spin round the Green.
Gravel bikes are quickly becoming the most sought after bikes in the industry, as they propose this ‘one bike’ theory that many customers are after. Commuting – Gravel bike, BikePacking – Gravel bike, Leisure rides – Gravel bike, Events/races – Gravel bike. These bikes are often all lumped into one category. However since Gravel bikes can do such a multitude of activities it is impossible for every bike to be the best at every activity. Therefore naturally there are some differences between bikes to look out for when buying one that will suit you better, depending on your riding style.
Generally Gravel bikes are split into two main categories – reliability and performance. Brands such as Genesis are best known for their exceptional reliability which makes there bikes ideal for multiday tours in remote areas where bike shops are few and far between and getting to work mechanical free. On the other hand brands such as Cannondale are best known for their performance, which makes their bikes best suited for Gravel events and BikePacking adventures. Both brands offer bikes that fall into both the reliability category and performance category, but as a general rule of thumb Genesis = reliabilty and Cannondale = performance.
Reasons to buy a Genesis –
Budget. The CDA range from Genesis offers outstanding quality and reliability at an affordable price range starting at £749.99. The CDA is the little brother of the ever popular (and more expensive) Croix de Fer (CDF) from Genesis. They share the same frame design and therefore have the same mounting points to take on mudguards, pannier racks and anything else you might need. The only difference is the frame material, the CDA is made from aluminium whereas the CDF is available in Titanium and Steel options. Aluminium isn’t quite as reliable as Titanium or Steel, however that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have benefits of its own. Aluminium is a whole lot lighter than steel and comes in at a way cheaper price point than titanium. Making this bike more accessible to a wider demographic and your overall set up will be lighter once you load it up with bags and the like. The CDA is best suited to riders who are just getting into gravel, commuting as it keeps the cost down on repairs and riders starting out their touring/BikePacking journey.
The CDF from Genesis is one for the ‘Steel is real’ club. If you’re an avid tourer/BikePacker with plans to be off in the wilderness for days on end, then the CDF offers the best reliability and comfort to do so. Steel is not only reliable but it also offers a super smooth, yet responsive, ride feel which you will be thankful for on those long days in the saddle. The CDF also has relaxed geometry with riding fully laden in mind. Meaning that the CDF is a lot easier to navigate once you’ve got all your bags on, which can be a lifesaver when on unfamiliar routes. Like I said above the CDF is also available in a Titanium frame option which provides the best of both world, lightweight and bombproof. However that does come at a price. Unlike other brands, the CDF is a high end touring/BikePacking machine with mounting compatibility for pannier racks (due to the bike not being full carbon). Therefor the CDF is ideal for riders not looking to break any time records but have the ability to be on tour with more luggage. Or have a bombproof commuter.
If you’re all about having fun with friends on weekend Gravel rides and overnight BikePacking adventures then the Fugio is the bike for you. Built for fun and backed up with Genesis’ heritage in reliability, you can push your limits without worry. The Fugio comes spec’d with 650c wheels and wide tyres allowing you to ride even the roughest terrain. It’s not all about fun though, the Fugio still has the practicality of mounting points for bags on the frame so you can always carry gear for longer trips. Furthermore the ‘entry level’ Fugio is available in an aluminium frame option, as well as steel further up the range, so can be available to customers on a bit more of a budget (however still not CDA territory). Like the CDF above if you’re after a high end Gravel smasher, that isn’t carbon, the Fugio is an ideal bike for epic social rides and overnight stays.
To view the range of Genesis Fugios on our website
The Topstone Aluminium is Cannondale’s ‘entry level’ Gravel bike range which blends performance with practicality. Therefore the Aluminium Topstone is ideal for people looking for a slightly nicer bike to commute on or a BikePacking adventure ride without splashing the cash for full carbon. This bike has the capacity to take full length mudguards and a pannier rack (which none of the other Topstones can offer) making it ideal for carry laptops to work or longer BikePacking/Touring trips. Since the Topstone is aluminium rather than steel (like the CDF) it is a lot lighter, especially once you have loaded up with luggage. Therefore if you’re more of a weight weenie, as opposed to searching for ultimate robustness, then the Topstone Aluminium is a great performance option with a cheap price tag for what you get.
To view the range of Cannondale Topstone Aluminium on our website
The Topstone Carbon is Cannondale’s flagship range of Gravel bikes which are ideal for events/racing and minimalist BikePacking set ups in order to keep the speed high, even when carrying kit. Whilst offering a an exceptionally high performance fast ride, the Topstone really stands out from the crowd with what they call, ‘Kingpin suspension’, this is a single pivot design, located at the join of the seat stays to seat tube, which offers 30mm of suspension. Don’t worry this doesn’t hinder its efficiency and therefore speed, Kingpin actually advances efficiency, comfort, control and therefor in turn, speed. However this does mean that the Topstone carbon cannot take a rear pannier rack, however BikePacking bags are still suitable. If you’re after a performance Gravel machine to rip the legs off your mates, chase the win at Grinduro or faster BikePacking trips then go for the Topstone Carbon.
To view the range of Cannondale Topstone Carbon on our website
If you’re really a mountain biker at heart or looking for a bit more comfort and confidence when out on rides then the Topstone Carbon Lefty could be for you. This bike is ideal for blurring the line between Gravel and MTB, with Kingpin rear suspension, Cannondale’s Lefty Oliver Gravel specific front suspension fork and 650c wheels with wide tyres, you can tackle much more challenging terrain than a rigid Gravel bike. On the other hand if you are new to off road riding, having that extra bit of cushion can boost your confidence and allow you to push yourself to ride further without taking unnecessary risks. Again due to the Kinpin design the Topstone Lefty cannot take a pannier rack but BikePacking bags can be fitted if you wanted to take your adventures to the next level. Due to the 650c wheels this bike has more of a comfort and/or playful story as oppossed to flat out speed. However depending on how technical the event, this bike could be the one to go for so you don’t get caught out on any descents.
To view the range of Cannondale Topstone Carbon Lefty’s on our site
In summary, Genesis’ heat lies in long tours in the outback, whereas Cannondale’s lie in going fast and day trips with your friends. Therefore depending on your top priority (Reliability or Performance) start with choosing between Brands then decipher which other characteristics you would like. For example, if your top priority is reliability but you still want to be able to have fun on the weekends and don’t plan to be an out and out tourer then go for a Genesis Fugio. Whereas if Performance is your top priority but you don’t want to break the bank, then go for a Cannondale Topstone Aluminium.