2018 Cannondale SuperX Force 1 review£2,999.00

The SuperX prioritizes comfort, clean aesthetics and tire clearance, and it does it well

BikeRadar score4/5

I was pretty excited initially by the long front-center dimension of the SuperX. But after a few rides, I was questioning the execution — the 71-degree head tube angle is quite slack for a 'cross bike, and it was noticeable.

Yes, the SuperX absolutely changes the way racers can approach technical sections at speed, but with a very ‘early-29er ‘sensation of heavy steering. While I understand the approach and could feel the benefits in tricky terrain (at high speeds), using a longer top tube, shorter stem and a 72-degree head tube would yield the same benefits, without the heavy handling at slower speeds.

Regardless, if the SuperX is the bike you’re looking to roll, it’s no doubt you can adapt to the geo, but when paired next to all the other CX bikes on test it’s certainly noticeable that in tight conditions, riders will be working against the bike.

The composite layup and tube shapes created a vertically active and comfortable frame that at times felt more like titanium than carbon

Interestingly, this long front-center approach should have yielded a confident, high-speed descending machine, but it actually was a bit unnerving on loose terrain at high speeds. While I don’t have an explanation as to why, this is another area where riders would adapt to this as their ‘new normal’.

I had recurring issues with a slipping 25.4mm seatpost. Overhauling the binder on two occasions and abundant use of carbon paste didn’t solve the issue. Eventually the chronic wrenching led to the binder falling in to the frame and getting stuck in the seat tube.

However, I’d be remiss to point out that I know six local racers with this bike and not one of them has had the same issue — I’m always okay with being wrong. But the fact that the binder can fall in to the frame should be addressed for next year’s update.

Aside from the visual cleanliness, the SRAM Force 1x group reduces the auditory clutter too, by keeping the chain taut and all but eliminating chain slap. 

The composite layup and tube shapes created a vertically active and comfortable frame that at times felt more like titanium than carbon. That should be seen as a compliment, but it surely depends on your priorities — that lively comfort came at a cost to acceleration and ‘snap’.

If you like to swap wheels, be aware that Cannondale requires a complete re-dish of the rear wheel. But its engineering strategy allows the firm to shorten its chainstays by 0.5mm compared to other bikes, so it’s not without reason. Plus, the re-dished rear wheel has much better triangulation, and that’s a good thing.

The bike also boasts tire clearance of up to 40mm. With ’cross race tires measuring 33mm, that means plenty of room for mud and slop. It also means you can put on larger tires for adventures outside the race tape.

For riders seeking maximum comfort, or those that see more gravel miles than ‘cross tape, the SuperX is blessed with fantastic vertical compliance, abundant tire clearance and clean lines.

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