Cannondale SuperX Apex 1 review£2,500.00

What it lacks slightly in component spec, the Cannondale makes up for with heart

BikeRadar score4.5/5

Since its release around two years ago, the current incarnation of the Cannondale SuperX has continued the competitive success of its predecessor by being perfectly equipped for the demands of modern cyclocross.

There are just three UK SuperX models and two colour options for this, the cheapest model. Cheap is a relative term of course, as £2,500 / $3,000 is hardly small change, but the Cannondale’s BallisTec Carbon frameset is a fine thing. There have been some small specification compromises to retail it for this price though.

SRAM Apex 1 has all the functionality of its more expensive Rival 1 and Force 1 siblings, but uses less expensive and heavier materials. The chainset has been exchanged for Cannondale’s own lightweight Si aluminium crank and fitted with the one-piece SpideRing, which uses SRAM’s X-Sync tooth pattern under licence, for unbeatable chain retention.

Interchangeable head-tube cable guides suit any cable setup
Interchangeable head-tube cable guides suit any cable setup

The bar, stem and seatpost are all Cannondale’s baseline C3, 6061 alloy numbers. They perform reliably, but add grams. Fabric’s Scoop saddle is such a great shape and feels so good off road that we’d forgive any added mass its rails may be carrying.

The CX 2.0 Disc wheels are 25mm tall and 24mm wide externally, and increase the width of Vittoria’s Terreno Mix TNT 33mm tyres to just over 34mm, but they’re not very fast.

Serious racers will want to slot in something fancier, but that’s not as simple as you might expect, because one of the design features of the SuperX is what Cannondale calls its Ai Offset rear end.

Chainset features Cannondale’s one-piece SpideRing and Si cranks
Chainset features Cannondale’s one-piece SpideRing and Si cranks

The rear wheel is undished and built with equal length spokes, making it stronger. The frame is designed to accommodate this, maintaining even clearances, but the 6mm lateral difference, compared to a conventional 11-speed rear wheel, means redishing any non-Ai rear wheel you might wish to use.

Despite those heavier components making the SuperX look a little lardy on paper, it rips across rough grassland and flies along rolling singletrack. The frameset’s power delivery is effective and there’s always more speed on tap.

Its torsional stiffness matched with impressive compliance helps keep drive to the rear wheel, even when out of the saddle on rocky ground. This is largely due to the SAVE stays, which deliver power and absorb bumps.

The SuperX is great value just for that frameset, and with racier wheels will fly
The SuperX is great value just for that frameset, and with racier wheels will fly

Seated comfort is impressive too, especially considering the relatively short exposed 25.4mm diameter seatpost is aluminium and not carbon fibre.

A relaxed 71-degree head angle gives enormous confidence on rough stuff or when descending at speed. In dry to damp conditions the Vittoria Terreno Mix tyres grip very well, and clear mud fast.

That almost horizontal top tube creates a large main triangle, ideal for easy carrying, where the broad, flat top-tube comes in to its own and the rounded down-tube collects less mud than flat ones.

The SuperX is prepared for the filthiest weather with all internal hose and cable routing, and effectively sealed ports. Tyre clearances are excellent front and rear, with room for 40mm rubber.

The gearing is spot on for ’cross, with a 40-tooth chainring and 11-36 cassette covering all bases, and with 160mm disc rotors at both ends you’ll not lack power or control.

Robin Wilmott

Tech Writer, Tech Hub, UK,
Robin began road cycling in 1988, and with mountain bikes in their infancy, mixed experimental off-road adventures with club time trials and road races. Cyclocross soon became a winter staple, and has remained his favourite form of competition. Robin has always loved the technical aspect of building and maintaining bikes, and several years working in a good bike shop only amplified that. Ten years as a Forensic Photographer followed, honing his eye for detail in pictures and words. He has shot at the biggest pro events since the '90s, and now he's here, drawing on all those experiences to figure out what makes a bike or component tick.
  • Age: 45
  • Height: 178cm / 5'10"
  • Weight: 75kg / 165lb
  • Discipline: Road, cyclocross, time trials
  • Beer of Choice: Sierra Nevada Pale Ale

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