Endurance cyclists need a high-performing road bike built for long, tough rides. The Cannondale Synapse bike series gives you that bike, with various price points that can meet your budget needs. Our Cannondale Synapse bike series review will compare five of the most popular bikes from the series so that you can choose what model’s level of performance is right for you.
Cannondale Synapse Series Bike Overviews
Cannondale Synapse is an endurance road bike series that also includes the lower-budget, but also high performance, Cannondale Synapse Alloy series. The Synapse is one of Cannondale's most popular road bike series and the only one that's focused on endurance comfort over speedy sprinting abilities, although the bikes pack in a lot of speed, too. Let's look at five of the most popular bikes in the Synapse series from Cannondale.
Cannondale Synapse Disc Tiagra
The Cannondale Synapse Disc Tiagra sits at the lowest price point of this group, at $1299, and is the only bike in our comparison that is part of the Synapse Alloy end of the series. This bike meets the focus of the series, which is to provide endurance geometry with a slightly more upright position and excellent shock absorption, but at a lower price point than the Synapse end of the series.
The main difference between this bike and the higher-level Synapses is the alloy frame instead of carbon. Therefore, the Synapse Disc Tiagra may not provide as much stiffness as the other Synapse bikes, but it does create a lighter frame at a lower price point.
Cannondale Synapse Carbon 105
For $1999, you can upgrade to the Carbon 105, which has Cannondale’s BallisTec Carbon frame with SAVE technology. The BallisTec construction provides a stiffer bike than the Tiagra and its alloy frame, and SAVE technology removes vibration and enhances comfort for endurance cycling.
With the addition of the mid-level Shimano 105 drivetrain, this bike is an excellent choice for those who prefer 11 speeds over the 10-speed Tiagra for less shifting gaps and have the budget to improve their long-distance rides with more comfortable frame technology.
Cannondale Synapse Carbon Disc Ultegra Di2
The Cannondale Synapse Carbon Disc Ultegra Di2 has a significant price jump over the Carbon 105, at $4199. This bike is easily one of Cannondale’s most popular for endurance cyclists who don’t mind paying more for the peace of mind of having Shimano’s electronic Ultegra shifting and quick-stopping disc brakes.
This bike also has the additional benefit of a SAVE PLUS fork, which is designed to lessen the impact of road obstacles and bumps while also lending to the bike’s acceleration abilities. You might get some more speed out of the Ultegra Di2 than the previous models, making it an excellent option for both endurance and racing.
Cannondale Synapse Carbon Disc Dura-Ace
If the Synapse Carbon Disc Ultegra Di2 isn’t a speedy enough upgrade for you, then the Cannondale Synapse Carbon Disc Dura-Ace will be. This bike costs $4999, and for the extra $800, you’ll get a race-worthy wheelset and the Shimano Dura-Ace hydro disc groupset, one of the newest and top-performing sets in the Shimano line that offers rigid and quick stopping power combined with intuitively-designed shifters for natural comfort.
The Fulcrum Racing 500 wheelset included on this bike is a top-rated set that lends to incredible aerodynamics and improved acceleration. This bike, therefore, can meet the needs of endurance cyclists who want the perfect balance of comfort, power, and speed.
Cannondale Synapse Hi-MOD Disc Dura-Ace
The Synapse Hi-MOD Disc Dura-Ace is one you’ll have to shell out $9999 for, but its speedy wheelset and Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 drivetrain make this bike the quickest, most responsive powerhouse of the bunch. And, the Hi-MOD carbon frame and fork give this model even better shock absorption and stiffness over the other models to create the most comfortable long-distance rides.
If you're saving your money for a race-ready bike that doesn't sacrifice comfort and stability, you'll likely love this Cannondale. This is also an excellent option for those who frequently ride on hilly roads since the 11-speed Dura-Ace Di2 electronic groupset can handle them with ease.
Cannondale Synapse Series Bike Comparisons
To make the most accurate comparisons, we are using the 54cm size geometry for each Cannondale Synapse model. This way, you can see where the main differences in these bikes lie, regarding their geometry, to find the best level of comfort and performance that you need.
All five of these bikes’ chainstay lengths fall within the typical range of endurance road bike geometry, which tends to hover in the 410mm to 415mm range. While sporty, agile bikes typically have a measurement closer to 405mm, endurance bikes, like the Cannondale Synapse series, tend to have a slightly longer chainstay that can equate to a more comfortable ride.
What this means for you is that these bikes offer excellent traction and a more comfortable ride over the ability to turn tight corners. The Cannondale Synapse Disc Tiagra has the longest chainstay, meaning that it could have better climbing traction over the other Synapse bikes.
Stack / Reach
All the Synapse bicycles we compare have the same stack measurement of 570mm. This stack measurement is within the typical range of most road bikes, creating a bent-over position that lends to the aerodynamics of the bike without creating an uncomfortable position for endurance biking.
There are slight differences in the reach, though, with the Synapse Carbon 105 having the shortest measurement and the Synapse Disc Tiagra having the longest. The Carbon 105, then, will position you more upright than the Tiagra and may give you better control on downhill descents. But, the Carbon 105 might also sacrifice some aerodynamics for a more comfortable position.
The Synapse geometry is laser-focused on endurance comfort, which explains why the wheelbase measurements are quite long compared to sprinting-focused road bikes. The Cannondale CAAD8 series, for example, is designed for entry-level road racing, and its 978mm wheelbase makes them quick and responsive.
The Synapse bikes, on the other hand, have a long wheelbase that requires less movement of the pedals for more comfort on long rides. Even the Carbon 105, which has the shortest measurement, has a long enough wheelbase that fits the bill for endurance cyclists.
Head Tube Angle
The heat tube angles of these bikes vary slightly, but slight differences can make an impact on road bikes. The Ultegra Di2 and both Dura-Ace Synapse models have the slackest angle of 71.7°. This angle can make the bikes slightly more difficult to steer, but can also give you a more stable feeling at high speeds, which is essential for endurance riding and preventing rider fatigue.
The Cannondale Synapse line has a broad range of prices, but that’s because each model offers advantageous upgrades to riders. The most affordable bike in our comparison is the Cannondale Synapse Disc Tiagra, with the aluminum alloy frame creating much of the massive price difference of the higher-end models. You’ll still benefit from a Shimano Tiagra drivetrain and Cannondale’s SAVE frame design, but you may not get the most comfortable ride in the Synapse line.
For a higher price tag, you’ll get a stiff carbon frame and upgrades in the Shimano drivetrains, wheelsets, and more, with the $9999 Hi-MOD Disc Dura-ACE boasting components that can give you the smoothest ride possible for hours of riding.
None of the Synapse bikes offer any components that will make you feel like you’re not getting enough for your money. Even the low-budget Synapse Disc Tiagra has Shimano Tiagra shifters and brakes, which is the company’s highest level of components on its most affordable tier. You’ll still get ten speeds to prevent rough gaps between gears and Vittoria Zaffiro tires to improve stiffness and shock absorption.
Each of the higher-end Synapse models offers more than their predecessors regarding drivetrains, tires, rims, crankset, or frame, or a combination of these components. The Carbon 105, for example, has Cannondale's BallisTec Carbon frame with SAVE technology, while the Hi-MOD Disc Dura-Ace boasts the BallisTec Hi-MOD Carbon with SAVE technology, which gives it the ultimate stiffness over other bikes in the series.