REVIEW: 2019 Cannondale SystemSixBy Dick Drummond I’ve always been gun-shy about riding aero road bikes because most of the ones that I have ridden or owned have never quite hit the mark. For the most part, they were uncomfortable to ride for over 90 minutes. But after reading a few reviews on the SystemSix I decided to give it a try. I called Sean, my Cannondale rep, and he had the SystemSix Hi-MOD Ultegra Di2 delivered to me in sunny Florida for some vacation riding. I am six foot one and the demo he sent me was a 58 cm. I am not a super easy fit as my legs are a bit long but the stack and reach worked out perfectly. Overall, the frame itself is quite clean-looking and all the lines flow together. All of the brake lines and Di2 wires are run completely internal to the frame. Looking from the side you can certainly tell that it is aero, and from the front of the bike it looks quite narrow.
Specs and Components Some of the specs and components on the SystemSix really stand out and are worth elaborating on a little bit. The KNØT SystemBar is a clean-looking, integrated bar and stem system that allows up to 8 degrees of pitch adjustment. I was able to adjust the bars and hoods to the perfect position quickly and easily. The adjustment bolts seem well thought-out and easily accessible. The HollowGram KNØT64 wheels are 64 mm-deep carbon rims laced with DT Swiss Aerolite spokes. The HollowGram KNØT hubs are Cannondale with DT Swiss internals for the rear hub. My demo was rolling on Continental GP 4000 28 mm tires. A unique aspect of this bike is that it comes equipped with a Power2Max NG Eco power meter. I can’t comment on this product as it is not turned on until the customer pays an activation fee. On the demo it was not activated. A pre-equipped power meter will appeal to some, but paying $8k and then another $500 for activating the unit may be a bit much for others. Another nice touch to the bike is the Prologo Dimension Tirox saddle. Saddle fit is very personal, but I found the Dimension well-constructed. It provided very even pressure when I was seated and really pushing it.
Riding Impressions I had the bike for a week and was able to put just under 300 miles on it. Florida riding is particularly well-suited to the SystemSix. I’ve often heard people talk about a bike being fast and I usually think, “Sure it is.” Of the many bikes I’ve ridden over the years, this is the first one that I can say is actually faster. We go to the same area in Florida every year and through Strava I have a good idea of what I am capable of. Simply put, my times were faster on the SystemSix. On top of that, the System Six made me want to ride fast because even after two and a half to three hours in the saddle, I was still comfortable. This kind of experience on an aero bike is a new phenomenon for me. One of my impressions riding at above 25 mph is that it was relatively easy to hold the speed. I even rode a few fast group rides which pushed me way beyond my comfort zone, but I was able to hang in there even when speeds exceeded 30 mph for prolonged periods of time. Even though I was unable to ride hills in Florida, there was plenty of wind. I’m not sure how Cannondale’s designers did it, but even in 15 mph cross winds, the bike stayed quite stable. This was perhaps one of the most surprising revelations. I would tense up, getting ready to fight the wind, but the SystemSix would slice right through it. It’s a really well-executed bike—comfortable, fast, and quiet. Every day that I rode the bike, I looked forward to getting on it and riding.