Cannondale claims its SystemSix, built from the wheels up, can make anyone faster on two pedals.
Slow bikes are a drag — literally. And that’s exactly the problem Cannondale set out to conquer with the SystemSix. Launched today, the SystemSix represents Cannondale’s fastest and most aerodynamic road bike to date.
In fact, the Connecticut-based manufacturer claims the SystemSix is “the fastest road bike in the world.” And it’s the speediest bike on the market deemed legal by the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI).
Cannondale SystemSix: ‘Fastest Road Bike in the World’
Components and materials have, for the most part, reached a plateau of efficiency. But, all other factors being equal, Cannondale believes the SystemSix will reliably beat out any other road bike. How can the brand make that claim? It all boils down to wind tunnel testing.
“Aerodynamic drag is the single greatest resistive force that riders have to overcome, so it is important to everyone, not just racers,” said Nathan Barry, design engineer at Cannondale. “SystemSix delivers more speed, to more riders, more of the time.”
According to Cannondale, SystemSix comprises six bicycle systems — frame, fork, seatpost, bar, stem, and wheels — that engineers meticulously designed to better handle airflow.
Beginning with the wheels, Cannondale created a disc brake-only design to minimize drag. The front wheel hugs the fork and downtube in order to eliminate as much clearance gap as possible.
The brand also focused on perfecting airfoil shapes in the frame, fork, seatpost, and headset. Cannondale also gave the SystemSix an asymmetrical frame, similar to the asymmetric integration concepts it has used in mountain bikes. According to the brand, the off-center design reduces energy loss under braking and pedaling loads.
Lastly, Cannondale topped off the SystemSix with what it calls one of the “fastest wheelsets on the planet.” The HollowGram KNØT64 wheels can handle relatively wide road tires (26 mm) without plowing through the air.
Again — this is the result of wind tunnel testing to control how the SystemSix moves air around the bike and rider.
SystemSix: How Fast Is It?
While the SystemSix comes in four men’s models and one women’s build, with varying geometries and groupsets, the pinnacle is the Hi-MOD Dura-Ace Di2.
Here are the specs you need to know about the “fastest road bike in the world.” It sports internally routed braking and electronic shifting. The brand’s highest stiffness and lightest-weight carbon constitute the frame and fork. And Shimano’s Dura-Ace Di2 11-speed groupset helps translate pedal strokes into speed.
Cannondale really geeked out on this, and the brand wants you to do the same. If you can digest a wealth of test data and tech specs, check out the full SystemSix white paper here. For the rest of us, the cliff notes of Cannondale’s claims are heady, to say the least:
- Fastest UCI-legal road bike on the market
- The least aerodynamic drag of any bike available on the market
- Faster uphill than any lightweight climbing bike, up to 6-percent grade
- Faster downhill: 33 percent fewer watts to reach 37 mph at 5-percent grade
- Saves more than 50 watts on flats at 30 mph
- All things equal (rider, conditions, etc.), will beat the fastest competition in a 200-m, 37-mph sprint by four full bike lengths
- Riders use 10 percent less power at an 18-mph pace
Of course, all this bicycle bravado also comes with a bragger’s price. The SystemSix starts at $4,000 for an Ultegra setup and Cannondale’s second-tier wheelset. But the real speed machine goes for $11,000.