Cannondale Carbon Synapse, (Women’s Geometry) 2006
50 cm., as ridden 16.8 lbs
Rider 5′ 4″, 116 lbs. , inseam 30.5″
This bike had two big firsts for me; first time riding a carbon fiber bike, and first time on Women’s geometry.
First carbon – umm, hell yeah. I’ve never felt such delicious lateral stiffness in all my life, not even from aluminum. And wow, it really absorbs shock and chatter. I’ve been very skeptical about carbon, (I’ve always been a Steel is Real” girl) but Cannondale has made me a believer. N.B.:every manufacturer has a different carbon composite, which all have their own characteristics. So, really all I can say now, is that I like Cannondale carbon.
The geometry for the 50 cm fit me fairly well. Women’s geometry definitely works for my long leg, short torso proportions. But since I also have long arms, the handlebars were in the wrong place for me. (If I were setting this bike for me exactly, I’d take the spacers on headset out, put them on top of the stem, and possibly even flip over the stem for a “negative rise”). The brake levers, which are made for smaller hands are magnificent. And with Ultegra for the drivetrain shifting was smooth and easy. The top tube is very low and long, so it felt like a fairly stretched out position. This made for an extremely stable ride, particularly on the descents. I certainly felt like I could lay off the brakes with confidence. But the same thing that makes it so stable, also makes it feel a bit unresponsive at high speeds. Admittedly, I used to race so I’m used to a very tight and twitchy bike. I was also not impressed with it as a climbing bike, but this could be because of the handlebar, position. I’m going to give it another chance on climbs before I reach a solid conclusion. However, I believe that the fork rake is just slack enough to make me feel as if I could never get “on top of the bike”, while out of the saddle. Even out of the saddle a in the drops didn’t get me low enough or forward enough.
This may mean that it is simply not the bike for me. This is just personal taste as far as geometry, and I can definitely see that many women would fall in love with the absolute solid stability that this bike has to offer on descents. All in all, a very comfortable ride. My guess is that we’ll see a lot of women on these bikes for long rides, like AIDS LifeCycle and other multi-day century rides. I would highly recommend this bike for women who like to do charity rides, and touring.
But… ( lucky me) I also had the chance to through my leg over a System Six, and ride that for a few miles. This is Cannondale’s true race geometry bike, and man, did it feel fast. I could tell right away that the geometry was much more my style. First impressions, stable on descent, responsive without being too twitchy, fabu’ for the aerodynamically inclined. No chance for a hill climb though. I can’t wait to demo this one, for real, ‘cept for one thing:
Hey Cannondale, why is there no WSD System Six? ( My eyes are little slits, my hand is on my hip, my index finger is tapping…) 😉
Thanks to Tonya Bray, Mark Ray and Bill Rudell for giving me the chance to demo.