The Cannondale SuperSix EVO Hi-MOD 2 road bike is fitted with Ultegra R8170 12 speed di2 disc groupset
and is designed for racing. I purchased this bike and have created this comprehensive owner’s review.
Cannondale offer several complete bikes that feature the EVO Hi-MOD frame, each sold with different components & pricing. In the past, the Cannondale EVO Hi-MOD frame used to be Cannondale’s premium frame, however with this 2023 frame update, The Hi-MOD frame is now second to the Cannondale SuperSix EVO LAB71 frame which occupies the top spot.
At this point I would like to mention that this review is based on my own personal opinions, preferences, requirements and experience. It is totally OK for you to have different opinions from my own. You need to use equipment that best suits your own preferences, requirements and budget.
It should also be noted that Cannondale have been gradually changing their frame fit geometry to be less aggressive (ie. less reach & more stack) over the years. If we compare the geometry chart for a 56cm frame size of the 2015 SuperSix EVO (Stack: 558mm / Reach: 395mm) with the new 2023 SuperSix EVO (Stack: 575mm/ Reach: 389mm). You will see the 2023 model offers a more upright position with less reach, but more on that later.
Dura-Ace LAB71 Bike vs. Ultegra EVO Hi-MOD 2 Bike
Why buy the Hi-MOD 2 when you could have the LAB71?
When comparing these 2 complete bikes, there is a HUGE difference in price, but I doubt there is very little difference in performance as Shimano have stated the performance of Ultegra R8170 di2 disc groupset and Dura-Ace R9200 di2 disc groupset to be the same, the derailleurs even have the same electric motors. The main differences between these 2 groupsets;
- Ultegra weighs about 300gms MORE than Dura-Ace.
- Ultegra is LESS than half the cost of Dura-Ace.
- Ultegra has a MATT black finish, Dura-Ace a GLOSS black finish.
- Dura-Ace has larger chain ring options.
So what are the differences between the SuperSix EVO Hi-MOD 2 Ultegra and the LAB71 Dura-Ace bikes?
- LAB71 Dura-Ace bike costs about 60% more.
- LAB71 frame is said to be 40 gms lighter than EVO Hi-MOD frame.
- LAB71 has Shimano Dura-Ace, EVO Hi-MOD 2 has Shimano Ultegra.
- Saddles are different.
- LAB71 has a one piece handlebar & stem, EVO Hi-MOD 2 has sperate stem and handlebar.
Interestingly both bikes are supplied with the same R-SL 50 wheelset. There is no mention of any differences in the fork or seat post of the 2 different frames. Apart from the difference in cosmetics and touch points of the 2 bikes, the biggest performance difference would be the weight. The LAB71 bike is lighter, by an estimated 500 gms and is the bike of choice for their World Tour team. If money were no object, I would have bought the LAB71 bike, but I would have had to wait much longer to get it due to less supply in our region. I also prefer the colour scheme of the LAB71, but I’m not sure if the fixed angle of the Momo one piece handle bar & stem would suit me.
Why Buy A Cannondale SuperSix Hi-MOD 2?
There are many high performance road bikes from other brands to choose from, so why did I buy this bike?
This is the MOST IMPORTANT criteria when buying any bike. The frame geometry needs to fit you correctly. On a road bike, you need to be able to comfortably ride in all 3 positions on the handle bars (ie. tops, hoods, drops) with bent elbows.
As my previous bike (2014 Cervelo R5) was a good fit, I was able to compare the stack and reach of that frame across a selection of new bikes that interested me. Near the top of that short list was the Specialized Tarmac SL7, however that frame features a very aggressive (long and low) race geometry. Interestingly however, the new 2023 Tarmac SL8 has been designed with a bit less aggressive geometry which will definitely suit a wider selection of riders. Cannondale thankfully have also adopted a less aggressive frame geometry than their previous versions, but don’t worry, it can still be tailored to suit young and flexible riders, as the same frame geometry is used in the professional peloton.
Another bike that I really like is the Pinarello Dogma F. Pinarello offer a wide variety of frame sizes for the Dogma F and the geometry would have fit me very well. Regardless of whether you love or loath their curvy frame, I think they consistently offer THE BEST graphics and colour ways of any mass production bike manufacturer.
Unfortunately, the Dogma F also comes with an excessive price tag! One of the reasons for this may be that Pinarello do not use the exact same frame shape/geometry in their cheaper models. Specialised & Cannondale use the same frame/geometry and just change layups and materials which is cheaper and more efficient. It is also better for consumers as we get many of the benefits of the top level frames for lower prices.
Pinarello also tend to update their frames a bit quicker than other manufacturers, so your new bike can quickly become the OLD model. There is also the cheaper Pinarello F, but I couldn’t justify the extra weight and cost of a complete bike. From a performance perspective, I see the Pinarello Dogma F as the direct competitor to the Cannondale SuperSix EVO Hi-Mod or LAB71 frames.
Aesthetics are an important part of my decision when buying a bicycle. I don’t want to own a bike that I don’t like the look of. Whilst subjective, I would rate the shape of this frame in my top 3 modern bike frames along with the previously mentioned Specialized Tarmac SL7 and Pinarello Dogma F. I don’t mind the look of the new Cervelo R5, but I didn’t go that route because my old bike was a Cervelo R5 and I wanted something different.
I like the look of the Hi-MOD 2. It was available in 2 colour options. I chose matt black due to availability, but I do think it’s a bit plain and I prefer some of the other colour options that were not offered for the Hi-MOD 2. One advantage of the matt black colour is the downtube access panel matches the colour of the frame so it doesn’t stand out like on some of the other colour schemes. However, this colour and finish shows up any dried residue from electrolyte drink spills. Whilst it will wash off. I’ve never noticed this on other bikes I have owned.
Other styling details are very subtle on this frame. Cannondale added a small amount of gloss black to the lower fork legs, matt gold branding on the down tube, top tube and head tube. The visible carbon weave on the top tube is also a nice touch, but I wish they had added a gloss black to other parts of the frame or simply painted the whole frame with a gloss finish. I think Cannondale should offer buyers their choice of any of the SuperSix colour schemes. A number of bike manufacturers now offer custom colours for the frame at additional expense.
On a positive note, I suspect the matt black colour scheme maybe one of the lighter frame colour options. I also respect that Cannondale invest a lot of time and effort into shaving every gram off the frame to make it as light as possible, so it doesn’t make sense adding hundreds of grams of paint back onto the frame.
3. Design Features.
Cannondale have really put a lot of thought into the design of this frame which includes elements like;
- Fork steerer rotates fully in both directions, no steerer stops like the previous model.
- Standard threaded bottom bracket for ease of service and prevention of creaks.
- You can use any regular stem and handle bars.
- Seatpost features a 2 bolt saddle clamp, no risk of slipping like single bolt versions.
- Standard headset bearing sizes and not oversized due to triangular delta steerer design.
- Split spacers aid removal and replacement from under stem.
- Clever integration of all cables through the head tube by using a triangluar delta fork steerer.
- Integrated seat post clamp works well and hidden from view.
- di2 Battery has it’s own storage compartment in the down tube, accessible via bottom bracket.
- Downtube access panel helps with internal cable routing and includes an internal cable mount.
- Full cable integration for a clean look. But this does complicate setup changes and bearing replacement.
- Both aero and light weight frame.
- The frame can be fitted with a mechanical group set (not relevant for this build but a nice feature).
- The outside leg of the right fork has no visible thru-axle insert for a cleaner look.
- With 30mm tyres fitted you still have 6mm clearance on both sides, if wide tyres are your thing.
- 2 different mounting locations for bottle cages on both the down tube and seat tube, so you can position your water bottles up higher for convenience or down lower for better weight distribution and potential aero gains.
In addition, the Hi-MOD 2 complete bike is supplied with a separate handle bar and stem so you can easily change the bars or stem sizes to suit your preferences. You can also rotate the angle of the handle bars to an angle that best suits you. These are both negatives of an integrated bar and stem.
One minor negative with the bike build is that the included thru-axles are not the same size hex key. You will need to carry 2 different hex keys to be able to remove the wheels. Luckily my multi-tool has both hex key sizes. The front thru-axle also has a cone shaped washer which could be easily lost if you are not careful when removing / replacing the thru axle.
4. Ride Quality
Almost every bike manufacturer promotes their new frame is X % stiffer when compared with the previous model. Yes, I want the frame and wheels to be laterally stiff for cornering and riding out of the saddle. I want the frame to be stiff at the bottom bracket for pedalling efficiency. However I also want the frame to be vertically compliant. There has been an increasing trend toward larger volume tubeless tyres on road bikes. One of the stated objectives being more comfort. I feel that this need for more comfort may be due to the ever-increasing stiffness of modern road frames. Maybe you read magazine reviews regarding the new 2023 Cervelo R5 being made LESS stiff at the request of Tom Domoulin and fellow pro’s whom found it too harsh over the length of a grand tour. Presumably they reverted back to my 2014 Cervelo R5 which had amazing ride quality.
Personally, ride quality is VERY important to me. Initially I wasn’t confident that a modern stiff road bike would provide the same level of compliance without having to change to tubeless tyres. Well, I can say that the Cannondale SuperSix EVO Hi-MOD 2 bike delivers the same FANTASTIC ride quality on the included Hollowgram wheelset fitted with Continental GP5000 25mm tyres and regular inner tubes. I inflate my tyres to 85 psi (as an 80kg rider), but they can get as low as 60 psi before I pump them up again some 4 weeks later. Both front and rear of the bike provide a well balanced compliant ride quality over bumps and irregular surfaces. Tubeless tyres would only increase that level of comfort, but more on that later.
5. Shimano R8170 Di2 12 Speed Disc Groupset.
I have written a full review on this groupset and how it compares with previous versions of Shimano Ultegra. In short, I believe it offers the best shifting and braking performance of any Shimano groupset that has preceeded it. But there are some negatives. Read my Shimano Ultegra R8170 groupset review.
I decided to setup my di2 to be fully cabled (not wireless) as there are a number of benefits. Here is the Ultegra groupset component specification supplied with the 56cm frame;
- 172.5mm length cranks.
- 52t-36t front chain rings.
- 11t-30t 12 speed cassette.
Cannondale SuperSix has always had a reputation as a great handling bike. Even though the geometry has changed a bit over time, I am impressed with the handling. My old Cervelo R5 was very lively yet stable in descents and cornered very well. The steering response on the Cannondale is dialled down just slightly on the Cervelo. It feels a little bit more stable but still tracks through corners brilliantly. I think the thru-axles help with cornering by increasing lateral rigidity in the front end.
Cannondale claimed at launch the bike is one of the most aero road bikes on the market. I don’t have the equipment to test those claims, nor do I feel that my average speed has really increased by much. I would expect that the SuperSix may save 20 to 30 watts drag over my Cervelo R5 with 50mm deep rims. For me however, that saving may only translate to about 1 km/h speed difference, dependant on the speed I am riding, my position on the bike, clothing, helmet etc. However, I expect this to be one of the most aero modern bikes available, so there are no excuses if I can’t keep up with other riders! It’s also a nice psychological advantage. A negative of the narrow aero shaped seat post is that there are fewer rear lights that will attach and actually remain oriented correctly. In the end I clipped it onto the back of my saddle bag. Not the most professional look, but it works and should not add any extra drag.
Typically, aero optimized frame designs tend to be heavier than a traditional climbing focused bike, but Cannondale have done a good job of designing this frame to be both aero and lightweight. Unfortunately, disc brakes add extra weight to road bikes. The 56cm complete Hi-MOD 2 bike weighs about 7.3kg (excluding bottle cages & pedals). This is pretty respectable for a modern Ultegra aero bike with disc brakes. To get it a lot lighter, you will need Shimano Dura-Ace and some lighter wheels. But, for not much extra cost you can swap the butyl inner tubes to TPU inner tubes and reduce weight by a further 120 gms. TPU tubes also offer less rolling resistance and better puncture resistance than butyl tubes.
However, to achieve the UCI minimum weight of 6.8 kg, you need to pay a lot more for the LAB71 which has Dura-Ace 9200 and other component weight savings (bars and saddle). The good news is however, that the extra weight of the Hi-MOD 2 will not affect your performance much! The extra half a kilogram extra is a very small percentage of your overall system weight (you, your bike, clothing and gear). There are studies that surmise each additional 1 kilogram of weight you carry up a climb only requires an extra 3 watts to overcome. So half a kilogram only requires an extra 1.5 watts to overcome on a climb. A lot of riders could easily shed 1 or 2 kgs from their body weight (for free), but unfortunately, that just isn’t as satisfying as lifting an ultra-light road bike off the ground, is it?
The included Cannondale Hollowgram R-SL 50 wheels have a 50mm deep carbon rim with high quality DT-Swiss Aerolite bladed spokes (20 front, 24 rear) and DT Swiss 240 hub internals. They are quoted to weight 1520 grams for the set which is pretty good. They feature a modern wide rounded aero profile (21mm internal, 32mm external). The wheels can be setup tubeless (using the included tubeless valves) or with clincher tyres and inner tubes.
The spoke nipples are recessed inside the rim which isn’t my favourite configuration but I suspect it provides a small aero gain. These wheels are pretty good in cross winds, but when it is really blowing, any rims with a depth of 50mm are going to require regular course correction and require at least 1 hand on the bars at all times. I recently rode with winds gusting over 50 km/h and it was a bit unnerving on a few occasions. I wouldn’t be keen riding in those conditions in the wet.
The rear wheel features 2:1 spoke configuration to give more tension to the spokes on the non-drive side of the wheel (which is a great design), but for some reason, the front wheel lacing has the same number of spokes on each side, so the spoke tension is lower on the non-disc side (right). I checked the spoke tension on both wheels and it was pretty well balanced which is very important. The wheels are still true after a few rides. The gloss black Hollowgram graphics on the wheels is fairly understated, but is not protected by a clear coat, so you need to be careful when cleaning the wheels not to damage the decals.
The bike also includes with a wireless speed sensor (by Garmin) that can be paired to your GPS computer to track speed even if the GPS signal is not received. The sensor is mounted on my front wheel hub as pictured below.
The included Continental GP 5000 25mm tyres with inner tubes fit the rim width perfectly creating a nice aero front profile. I like the tan colour on the sidewalls which helps to break-up the overall ‘blackness’ of the bike. When fitted and inflated to 90 psi, they actually measure slightly over 26mm wide on the rim. Having used Continental GP 5000 tyres for many years, I find them very comfortable, puncture resistant, grippy, durable and fast.
Note: my bike was supplied with the standard GP 5000, not the GP 5000S TR (tubeless ready version).
11. Tubeless Tyre Setup
Originally I was going to request the bike be setup tubeless by the shop, but in the end I decided to stick with inner tubes. Initially, I wanted to make a direct comparison between the ride quality of my Cervelo R5 (which was also fitted with GP5000 tyres & inner tubes) and the Cannondale Super Six EVO Hi-MOD 2. I used the same tyre pressure for both bikes and familiar roads for an accurate comparison. If the ride quality of the Cannondale was too harsh, I could always change to a tubeless tyre setup.
I’m glad I went with this approach as I discovered the ride quality of the Cannondale was just as good as my old Cervelo R5, so in the end I was happy to stay with inner tubes. Whilst all of my previous bikes have been setup with clincher tyres and inner tubes, I have ridden a few bikes with tubeless setups. So far, tubeless technology has not won me over yet for the following reasons;
- I rarely have flat tyres using Continental GP5000 tyres and inner tubes.
- I find it comfortable riding 25mm tyres with inner tubes on my roads.
- Tubeless tyres require pumping up more often ie. they lose air faster.
- No messy sealant to deal with when fitting or changing a tyre.
- No need to top-up your sealant from time to time. ie. you always require a minimum amount of liquid sealant in the tyre in order to seal any new punctures.
- I’d still be carrying a spare tube, tyre levers and CO2 with me if I were using tubeless tyres.
- I would probably also have to carry a plug kit with me.
- I’ve never had a clincher tyre come off a rim using inner tubes, even when the tyre is completely flat.
On that last point, it should be noted that Continental GP5000 clincher tyres take a bit of effort to get off the rim even when fully deflated. The trick is to squeeze in both sides of the tyre wall (all the way around the rim) to unseat the bead before attempting to remove the tyre with a set of tyre levers. Speaking to race support at the 2023 Gran Fondo World Championships, a number of riders experienced tubeless tyres coming off their rims in the race. Considering the riders competing in this event are at a high level, I would expect that they are using good quality equipment and know how to maintain and set it up correctly. So it was not great to hear this and definitely not something I want to experience.
This is only my opinion on tubeless tyres and you need to use equipment that works best for you. If I were riding gravel bikes on off-road terrain with wide tyres, I would go with tubeless setup for sure, but for riding on the road, I’m more than happy with the simplicity, reliability, comfort, speed and grip of 25mm tyres fitted with inner tubes.
The bike (56cm frame) was supplied with Vision Trimax carbon handle bars measuring about 40cm (centre to centre at the hoods) and 43cm (centre to centre at the drop ends). This bar width suits me, but professionals are riding narrower bars. The hoods of the Shimano Ultegra groupset are angled slighty inward so you can position your hands a little closer together. Carbon handlebars are always a nice addition to any road bike.
My only complaint being the top section of these bars features a VERY deep aero profile (about 58mm at the widest section with included bar tape fitted). Personally, I would prefer the top of the bars to be narrower as I think it is a bit impractical when holding the tops of the bars. I assume the bars were chosen to improve the aero credentials of the bike. Over time I have become more used to them, but initially I was tempted to swap to a more standard handlebar. Riding on the hoods is fine and the drops are great. I don’t feel any flex from these carbon bars, but I’m not a sprinter.
The bike (56cm frame) was supplied with a Cannondale C1 Conceal 100mm -6 degree alloy stem. Initially I thought a 100mm stem was a bit short for a 56cm frame (I was expecting 110mm length), but as the frame, handlebars and hoods all have a bit more reach than my old bike, the stem length was just right for me. The stem comes in different lengths, so it could be changed if required.
Both handlebars and stem are designed for internal routing of the brake hoses, so all hoses and any cables are completely invisible. It is also nice to have the bars and stem separate, it gives you opportunity to swap the size of the bars and stem or even change the angle of the bars. As mentioned earlier, I chose a fully cabled Di2 setup so the di2 cables to my shifters are internally routed through the handlebars, stem and headtube along with the hydraulic brake hoses.
14. Handlebar Tape
The included perforated black bar tape has a nice fabric finish and racey appearance. I’m very happy with the feel and look. I recommend wrapping the bar tape all the way across the top of the bars for (a) better grip and (b) to protect the top tube of the frame. Because all the cables are internally routed, there is no resistance to the steering, the front wheel easily turns from side to side when it is off the ground and the top of the handlebars may collide with the top tube of the frame when you are washing, lifting or moving the bike.
I like the look of the included Prologo Dimension NDR 143mm saddle and it looks to be good quality. On my first ride I thought it was comfortable, but after a few more rides, I realized it was not going to work for me. So I swapped back to my Specialized Power Arc saddle which is a little more slippery than the material of this saddle. Saddles are a totally personal thing and hopefully it will suit you, but it’s an easy to change if required.
16. Aero Bottle Cages & Bottles
Cannondale includes 2 x plastic aero bottle cages and matching aero bottles with the Hi-MOD Di2 bike. I fitted them for my first few rides. I’m sure there is some kind of small aero saving using them, but as I expected, they are a bit fiddly. It would take a bit of practice to get proficient using them.
The included aero bottles are made from a nice flexible plastic which can be easily squeezed. They have a nice large flow nozzle with a standard push down cap closure. However, for many years now I have been using the Camelbak nozzle design which doesn’t require a top cap to seal, so you simply squeeze to get water out. I find this Camelbak design to be superior. It’s faster to use and IMO better for your teeth not having to pull / push the regular nozzle cap.
I also tried inserting a few different round bottles into the Cannondale aero bottle cages, but they didn’t fit that well. So I removed the aero cages and fitted 2 Arundel Mandible carbon bottle cages. I use my Camelback round bottles. Faster, simpler and safer.
17. Other Included Accessories
The bike is supplied with these additional parts;
- 2 x plastic aero cages & bottles (mentioned already above).
- Shimano Di2 Rear derailleur USB charging cable.
- 2 tubeless wheel valves.
- di2 tool to connect and disconnect the di2 cables,
- A mix of stem spacers with split in half design (2 x 15mm, 1 x 10mm, 2 x 5mm).
- Combined computer & front light mount.
The computer & front light mount is cleverly secured through the faceplate of stem and features separate angle adjustment bolts for both the computer and the front light. Both have Garmin style mounting adapter. But the mounting plate design will reduce the front light options.
Also, if you are going to be removing your wheels for either an indoor trainer session or travelling, you should ask your bike shop for some disc brake pad spacers (I don’t think they are included with the bike) that clip in between your pads to fill the space of the missing disc rotor. This will ensure that if anyone squeezes the brake levers, the pistons will remain in place and you will be able to easily re-insert the wheel without manually having to push the pads (pistons) back into position.
Cannondale offer a lifetime frame warranty for the original owner. But like all warranties, the usual clauses can be found to negate the warranty. Ultimately, it’s going to come down to the problem, age of the frame and agent you are dealing with as to whether the warranty will be honored by Cannondale or not. Obviously, the ultimate endorsement for Cannondale is that NO warranty claim is needed. I’ll hope for that outcome.
19. Price & Value
Unfortunately, modern road bikes are expensive. But in comparison to the premium LAB71 model with Shimano Dura-Ace, I think this bike is good value. If you want to save money here are some of the cheaper bikes fitted with 12 speed Shimano di2 disc and have the same frame geometry and aero design;
- SuperSix EVO 2 includes the Ultegra di2 groupset but is a bit heavier, with cheaper wheels.
- SuperSix EVO 3 (Shimano 105) but the new 12 speed di2 105 doesn’t feature all the benefits of Ultegra 8170 such as the Servowave braking technology.
Ultimately, it’s up to your needs and your budget. If you are looking for a new bike that has great ride quality and performance, the 2023 SuperSix EVO is definitely worth a test. I purchased the Cannondale SuperSix Hi-MOD 2 with my own money, so my opinions are not influenced by Cannondale. However, don’t buy this bike purely based on my review, try it for yourself and leave a comment with your thoughts!
I have been riding and working on my own bikes for many years now. I wanted to share my experiences, knowledge and research with others. My aim is to inspire people to get involved in all aspects of this amazing sport. Cheers.
I welcome reader feedback in the comments section. Should you wish to suggest an amendment, please include a note advising the source of your information so that myself and other readers can ascertain the accuracy of your information. Note: Trolling or argumentative comments will be removed as they are counter-productive.