What's Cool In Road Cycling

Cannondale SIX13: Spied & Tried

When the new Six13 started to make the buzz we were as curious as the next PEZ-Reader, so thanks to Javi of Cannondale Spain, we got hooked up for a preview and ride of the only Six13 in that country.

We didn’t have the bike long enough for our usual PEZ-worthy evaluation, but we did get a decent impression of what this bike is all about.

What Exactly IS The Six13?
Listen up! The “Six” stands for carbon’s number in the periodic table of elements. Remember that thing from science class? And the “13” is the atomic number for aluminum. Cannondale tells us that the Six13: “mates carbon fiber top, down and seat tubes with welded aluminum joint clusters and a welded aluminum rear triangle.” I know, bikes made from both aluminum and carbon fiber are no biggie, but this is not your typical aluminum frame with a carbon seatstay or seatstay/chainstay combo. One diff is they use a construction process that actually expands the carbon tubes into the aluminum lugs, causing the carbon to join with the alu in a mechanical bond through openings in the aluminum. It looks cool and functions to make the joints stiffer.

The Cannondale uses shaped carbon fiber tubes in the main triangle (top tube, down tube, and seat tube.)

Aluminum lugs and an aluminum head tube join these carbon tubes. Note there are no badges over the holes as this is not a for sale unit.

The rear triangle is all aluminum (Yes, all aluminum). Cannondale has gone to great lengths to design a very rigid, yet compliant, rear triangle out of a metal known for its “Unforgiveness”. The chain stays are pretty large and, being aluminum, they transfer power very well. The seat stays employ not only an “S” bend to be compliant but they’ve been submitted to additional forming to be even more comfortable and are spaced wide enough to help remain stiff.

One other new thing about this bike is the full carbon fork. “Full” means everything on this is carbon fiber – even the dropouts.

At first I really didn’t expect this bike to be much different than my current carbon/aluminum ride. However, even on the first spin around the block I was impressed. This bike jumps well. Yeah, I know it has a lot do with the motor, but when riding the Six13 I felt like more of the energy spent pushing the pedals was being transferred into forward motion than on my current bike. The Six13 accelerates like a rocket. It made my usual traffic light drag races on the way out of the city a blast. This is partly do the oversized aluminum chain stays and the fact that the down tube is almost as wide as the BB. There is very little flex down low so power transfer is maximized…

The next thing I noticed was the smoothness of the ride. The frame, thanks to the carbon tubes in the main triangle seems to absorb vibration much better than an all Aluminum bike. I rode it on some cobble stone sections and was very pleased.

Cannondale has not jumped on the compact frame bandwagon, instead presenting a straight up standard frame with a fairly neutral geometry (which is probably why it also rides fairly stable). The best part about all of this is that Cannondale produces this bike in 12 sizes, from 48cm to 63cm, so you should find a fit without sacrificing the feel and handling.

There were also a couple things I would have changed about some of the components this bike came with, but most of us will kit this bike up to personal tastes anyway. The FSA Wing Pro handlebars and Zonda wheel set weren’t my faves, but the bike still rode well, and gave me a good feeling of stability, comfort, and quickness.

Cannondale has made much “to do” about the weight of this bike – claimed at under 15 pounds for Simoni’s bike at the Giro. Our’s weighed in at 17.5 for the full bike (without pedals), but that was due to heavy components – your bike could be lighter without too much effort.

In the end, how did I feel about this bike? I liked it a lot, and would probably have liked it even more, had it come to me in a size smaller and I had been able to get a race or two in on it.
Cannondale has built a very good performer that begs to be ridden.

For more info visit: www.leagalizemycannondale.com

Bike Specs as tested
Frame: Six13 Si
Fork: Cannondale Slice Premium
Wheels: Campagnolo Zonda
Tires: Michelin Pro Race (Hutchinson Fusion according to official spec)
Pedals: Not included
Cranks: FSA Pro Team Issue (Octalink), 39-53
Bottom Bracket: Shimano Octalink
Chain: Campagnolo 10spd
Rear Cassette: Campagnolo Centaur, 12-25
Front Derailluer: Campagnolo Centaur
Rear Derailluer: Campagnolo Centaur
Shifters/Brake Levers: Campagnolo Centaur
Brakes: Campagnolo Record
Handlebar: FSA Pro Wing
Stem: FSA OS 140 XTC w/Carbon Cap
Headset: FSA Carbon
Saddle: Fi’zi:k Arione
Seatpost: Cannondale Wind

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