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Longtermers: Vern Pitt’s Cannondale SuperSix Evo

I lusted over the Cannondale Supersix for several years before I got my hands on one. It was a proper racey bike, everyone I knew who had one raved about it and taking it for a spin had confirmed that it had the whip smart handling and intuitive ride that I was looking for. 

In early 2013, not long after the Evo had been released, this bike was heavily discounted and came with a bottom of the range spec, bringing it within my grasp. I’d just completed a big chunk of freelance work on top of my nine-to-five and splashed it on this.

I say I bought this bike here but almost none of it is original – I never even rode it in its original spec. 

Always with an eye for a good deal [you’re just tight, Vern – Ed] I took it from its box and immediately swapped the wheels and groupset with my existing bike. The Shimano RS10s (a basic set of hoops) were replaced with far nippier Fulcrum Racing 3s and the SRAM Apex that adorned it was upgraded to SRAM Rival, this is before the days of eleven speed groupsets at lower price points.

The saddle was also swapped for a Fizik Antares, which I run across all my bikes, brake pads were changed to my preferred Kool Stop Salmons, and the bars were swapped to a shorter reach FSA set. 

We did ask Vern to fix those stem bolts, but he argued for authenticity…

I’d originally switched to SRAM to give me the option of an ultra-low 34-34 dinner plate gear for the Etape du Tour in the Pyrenees the summer before – yes I did use it, in case you’re wondering, much more than I’d hoped I would. I’d grown to really like the positive action of SRAM, the click and ratchets beneath my hands was appealing, not something to be eradicated.

The only change I made was to switch to a short-cage rear mech, which can’t handle a 34 tooth sprocket, now confident I wouldn’t need it in a hurry in the South Downs where I usually ride. 

I can’t say the eight years since then have been entirely without hiccups. The front mech got an upgrade to Force when the cage split fully in two leaving me to trundle home in the little ring, and I’ve had to replace the shifters (luckily SRAM sells singles, unlike Shimano) when some crucial mystery bit of metal inside has finally snapped. But that’s not too bad going for eight years of solid riding.

The Fulcrums eventually wore out and were replaced with new ones, which got dinged and dumped in far too short order. Stung by that and in search of a bargain again I went with the Cero AR24s the bike now sports. While I don’t think they’re as stiff and responsive as the Fulcrums they’re not too far off and more than £100 cheaper. 

Cero aluminium rims and HighRoad tyres from Maxxis make up the rolling stock

When I take this bike out around the hills of South Wales where my in-laws live I can’t say I’ve noticed a huge difference in the cheaper wheelset. You could go lighter with carbon but I’ve always stuck with aluminium knowing how nervous a descender I can be, especially in the wet. 

It’s been with me to Majorca a couple of times, I did the first ever Ride London on it and it’s been the bike I reached for whenever the weather was good for anything from a solo hour to a Sunday club run. Despite being nominally the “summer bike” it’d sometimes come out in the wet just because I wanted to have its direct road feel and sharp handling beneath me. It’s lived up to what I expected from it when I lusted after it for all those years.

All that is why I didn’t hesitate to upgrade it to the new Supersix Evo last year – without even riding it. That’s against everything you’ll hear people tell you about buying a bike, but I knew the geometry, a touch taller and slacker at the front, would only aid the eradication of some of my massive stack of spacers and everything else was more or less the same. 

When Cannondale released the Ultegra non-high-mod version with a deep purple paint job (my favourite colour since I was a child) for 2021 I took it as a sign from the gods. That bike has, so far, proved to be even better; faster, smoother, and with disc brakes, better at stopping. Plus, with a few choice upgrades it comes in at a very similar weight.

That meant I had to decide what to do with this one. Should I sell it and keep my current winter bike, which is newer and has an 11 speed groupset? Or did I keep this? It took only one ride to make my mind up. The way this rides is just everything I want, it had to stay.

Maybe Cannondale, or someone else, will make a bike I like even more than the current Supersix at some point in time but at this point this has been a favourite for so long I’d be surprised if I ever get rid of it, or its new younger brother.

My riding…

My favourite thing about riding is being in fast groups, going faster than you could on your own, pulling your turns, working as a unit. For that reason most of my best rides are on Sundays with my club VC Godalming Haslemere, sometimes getting my head kicked in, sometimes doing a little punting myself depending who turns up. 

For that reason I’m tempted to say riding Ride London and some of the quickest riding I’ve done in my life on the way out of the city to the Surrey Hills (hanging onto some racing whippet’s coat tails) is the best, but I blew spectacularly that day marring the overall experience.

I think likely it’s a ride in Majorca in the sun riding up Coll de Soller and Puig Major before retiring to a cliff top restaurant to eat plentiful helpings of stewed goat as the sun went down. Ride days don’t get much better than that.

Future changes

A little nod to Vern’s sense of style, albeit seemingly upside down

I only recently swapped to a black saddle and bar tape, as part of its winterization makeover. I upgraded the chainset at the same time as the old one was very beat-up. I can see at some point in future I’d go to a 11-speed groupset – everytime something breaks I look at doing that and then decide against it on cost grounds. At some point something will become too expensive and I’ll change to the ultimate workhorse, Shimano 105.

As a winter bike it’s unlikely to get upgraded for fun and as my new bike is disc and 11-speed there is minimal trickle down.

The build…

  • Frame: Cannondale Supersix Ballistec Carbon
  • Chainset: Cannondale One
  • Shifter: SRAM Rival
  • Derailleurs: SRAM Rival rear, SRAM Force front
  • Cassette: SRAM PG1050 28-11
  • Brakes: SRAM Force, Kool Stop Salmon pads
  • Wheels: Cero AR24
  • Tyres: Maxxis High Road 25mm
  • Handlebars: FSA Omega
  • Seatpost: Cannondale C3
  • Saddle: Fizik Antares
  • Pedals: Shimano 105
  • Bar tape: Fabric Knurl

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