2011 Cannondale Super X Cyclocross Bike- Frame Technology and Ride Review

First seen in our photos from Cannondale’s Press and Dealer Camp, their all-new SuperX cyclocross bike was developed by taking what everyone liked about the X-TJ CAAD9 cyclocross bike (geometry, BB height, handling) and borrowed the Flash’s frame design and the 2011 Jekyll’s BallisTec carbon fiber construction.

Like the Flash, the SuperX uses a continuous fiber design from the top tube through the seatstays, which enhances overall frame strength and stiffness. The BallisTec carbon, which is molded using the same methods as things (like hockey sticks) that are designed to be smacked and abused, adds tremendous impact and fatigue strength…and the entire SuperX frame is made of BallistTec material. From there, they added high modulus carbon in some areas like the head tube to add stiffness. The result is a frame and fork with a weight around 1,450g (with hardware) that you can take off road with confidence.

I had the chance to race Cross Vegas’ Wheelers and Dealers* race aboard the SuperX and walked away extremely impressed. Check out the ride review and more details after the break…

The top of the line SRAM Red version weighs in at 14lb 13oz (size 58cm).

It’s worth noting that we’ve also posted about this frame with a LOT more photos in our coverage of Cannondale’s press camp, but the “official” unveiling took place at Cross Vegas where their technical marketing manager Murray Washburn walked us through the construction details of the frame:

The rear end uses their SAVE stays to offer up to 15mm vertical movement at the axle to help the bike track better, especially under power. The SAVE design uses special layups and flatter sections on both the seat- and chainstays that have a bit of vertical flex but are laterally very stiff.

Interestingly, they didn’t use their SAVE technology on the seat post like on their Flash carbon hardtail mountain bikes. Why? They said their pro racers didn’t like having the seat move on the bumps because they use it as a reference point during cornering and the movement was a bit disconcerting…but they are testing different versions of the post for the future.

The SRAM Rival version comes in substantially cheaper, uses the same frame and only weighs 16lb 15oz (size 58cm).

Up front, it has a tapered 1.125 to 1.25 tapered steerer tube. They found that tapering to a full 1.5″ lower was a bit overkill in terms of stiffness.

What I noticed while racing was that standing up to power through the grass yielded a very laterally stiff frame that only seemed to direct power into forward movement. I also noticed that I could stay seated and power right up some of the smaller hills without losing any speed, passing others that stood up and slowed down…which I feel conserved energy. On the rough stuff – there were plenty of 1″ to 4″ holes and bumps on the course – the bike never skipped around or beat up my rear end. Traction was impeccable whether sitting or standing.

Frame and fork with headset and BB cups: 3lb 6oz.

The size 56cm frame weighed here has a headset and BB cups installed, which is why it shows a bit heavier than the claimed 1,450-ish grams.

...and for those that prefer the metric system: 1,530g

Despite the light weight, there’s no rider weight limit and the frame has a lifetime warranty. They test it using the equivalent of a 250lb rider riding the bike everyday for 25 years, which means it likely won’t break under ‘normal’ use

Our race course was pretty dry (it was the desert, after all), but when it comes time to race in the mud, there’s massive tire clearance at both front and rear.

The next obvious question is when will a disc brake version come out. Cannondale’s Washburn says it’s definitely coming, but one of the biggest hold ups is that there are no hydraulic brake levers in road bike form yet, but we’re betting something will show up by Sea Otter (I wish I could back that up with something firm, but that’s just my hunch, and likely from a smaller manufacturer first…TRP, maybe?).

Two carbon versions will be at retail. The full high zoot team version with HollowGram SL cranks, SRAM Red and Zipp tubulars will be $7,499. The SRAM Rival model with FSA cranks will be $3,749. No frame set option at the moment, but bikes are currently available through your C’dale dealer. Size options are 44/48/52/54/56/58 (no women’s specific model, but the 44 is pretty small).

Aluminium CAAD9 models with come with either SRAM Rival or Shimano Ultegra, 105 or Tiagra builds, with complete bike prices ranging from $1,179 to $1,919.

So, after riding one, would I buy it? Absolutely, and for those that would rather have one really nice bike than mediocre road and ‘cross bikes, there’s no reason why you couldn’t get the Rival model, throw some slicks on there and upgrade the drivetrain as your budget allowed. If I were in that position, I’d be thinking long and hard about doing exactly that. As it is, I’m just trying to figure out how to get one of these in our long term review queue…

*For those that actually bother to check the Cross Vegas results, you’ll notice my DNF finish. Actually, I should have been in at least 10th, possibly better, except that I forgot to wear my timing chip. I did finish, and I didn’t get lapped, and as soon as I can figure out who was on course shooting pics, I’ll post something to prove my participation.

UPDATE: Race photos added, thanks to Cannondale’s guys for capturing a fee pixels for me!

Comments

Bogey - 09/29/10 - 12:38am

They’re advertising that they’re using the same technology as carbon hockey sticks. Have you seen how many of those shatter during each NHL game! I’ll definitely be staying off a Cannondale CX bike.

Adrian - 09/29/10 - 9:31am

I just picked mine up last week, SuperX RED, and I totally concur with the drive on the dirt , as you kick it flies forward with great traction and stability.

I bought mine for the reason you state i wanted one really good bike that I could use on the road and for off-road purposes. The gearing will need some changing for extended road use.

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