The Cannondale SystemSix Hi-Mod was designed with a single goal in mind: to be the fastest and most efficient UCI-compliant race bike. Did Cannondale succeed? And is it enough to emerge as the winner of our aero bike group test? We took a closer look at the new “aero wonder.”

For an overview of the test fleet head to the group test: The best aero bike of 2019 – 3 race machines head-to-head

Cannondale SystemSix Hi-MOD DURA-ACE Di2 | 7,66 kg | 10.499 €

The Cannondale SystemSix Hi-Mod Di2 is a lot different from what we are used to with aero bikes. Cannondale is breaking new ground to achieve the goal of being the fastest UCI-compliant race bike. The angular and jet-like shapes indicate the lengths to which the aerodynamic optimisation has gone. The narrow 23 mm Vittoria tyres on the 32 mm wide rims also look rather unusual, as the rims are considerably wider than the tyres. The next unique feature that catches your eye is the fork that extends into the aerodynamic nose of the head tube. The fork transitions beautifully into the frame, though looks relatively broad and beefy at the transition. When seen from the side, the silhouette of the bike isn’t quite as clean because of the protruding nose on the head tube which houses all cables and brake lines. This integration neatens up the front, but doesn’t really give the appearance of a single unit. The topic of integration obviously was a high priority with every aspect of the bike.

If you like a tuned up Golf III GTi from 2000 with spoilers, you will love the SystemSix – hard, fast, and loud

Cables as well as the Di2 junction box disappear into the frame. It’s location in the down tube makes the Di2 junction box easily accessible. However, we were less impressed with the seat post clamp under the top tube, which is quite difficult to reach with a multitool and you’ll likely end up with unsightly marks on the frame if you try.

It should be noted that the cockpit of the production bike will differ from the test bike we rode. The SystemSix will be delivered with the Cannondale KN0T SystemBar cockpit, which differs significantly from the test bike, with an adjustable handlebar and much better integration. Therefore, the cockpit is not included in this review. The spacers, on the other hand, are production ready, but we would have liked a little more attention detail here. When you angle the steering, you can see through the aero nose from above, which isn’t exactly what we would call sexy. The biggest drawback is the cable routing, which limits the angle to which you can turn the bars.

The Cannondale SystemSix Hi-MOD DURA-ACE Di2 in detail

At € 10,499 the SystemSix is the most affordable bike in the test field, although one can hardly speak of affordability in this price range. Still, you get a lot for your money. The drivetrain consists of a hydraulic Shimano DURA-ACE Di2 R9170 disc groupset with lightweight in-house HollowGram SiSL2 cranks and an integrated Power2Max NG Eco Power Meter. Proven technology, handmade in Germany, offering double-sided power measurement as well as temperature compensation. It is compatible with all available GPS devices and smartphones via ANT+ and Bluetooth connectivity. The 64 mm deep and 32 mm wide HollowGram KN0T64 wheels are tubeless ready and factory-fitted with very narrow 23 mm Vittoria Rubino Speed tyres, thanks to Cannondale’s aero concept. A highlight of the wheels is the speed release mechanism, where the thru-axle only needs to be loosened for you to remove the wheel – no need to completely remove the axle. With a little practice, you’ll be able to change the wheel as quickly as the pros.

Drivetrain Shimano DURA-Ace DI2
Wheels HollowGram KN0T64
Brakes Shimano DURA-ACE 160/140 mm
Tires Vittoria Rubino Pro Speed
Weight 7.66 kg
Price € 10,499

The tube shapes are reminiscent of a time-trial bike
Easy to adjust in theory, but not on the road. Multitools are likely to scratch the frame
“We got Power” – the Power2Max cranks come as standard – but you’ll have to pay extra to unlock their watt meter functions
The generous cross-section offers ample space for the Di2 junction box in down tube
It is a pity that the fork hasn’t got a cover at the top. Besides being able to look into the fork, dirt and dust are likely to collect in this sensitive area.
Super fast wheel changes thanks to the speed release mechanism on the thru-axle

Tuning Tips:

  • wider tyres for more comfort (but the limit is 25 mm)
  • Shimano chainrings for better looks and better shifting performance

The geometry of the Cannondale SystemSix Hi-MOD DURA-ACE Di2

So much for the theory, but how fast is the SystemSix really? The instant you put your feet down on the pedals, you’ll immediately feel the efficiency of the rigid frame, but the first few metres take some powerful pedal strokes to get the bike up to speed. Compared to the Specialized it seems slower and sluggish, which is mainly due to the weight of the bike; both the wheels and the bike are the heaviest of the group.

The 7.66 kg size 56 takes a bit longer to get going, but as soon as you’re on your way, the SystemSix purrs along. Even the hardest braking manoeuvres are no cause for concern, as the rigid frame withstands the braking forces with ease and the DURA-ACE disc brakes once again manage to convince in every aspect. Long corners suit the Cannondale very well and the stability and precise handling will inspire you with confidence. It lacks agility in tighter corners and the limited steering angle makes manoeuvring a challenge.

Helmet POC Ventral | Glasses Alba Optics DELTA | Jersey CHPT3 GIRONA 1.27 Jersey | Bibs CHPT3 GIRONA 1.17 Shorts | Socks The Wonderful Socks #5 | Shoes Specialized S-Works 7 Road

Going uphill, the Cannondale climbs efficiently, though you will feel the inertia and weight of the SystemSix. The combination of 52-36 FSA chainring and 11-28 cassette offers a good compromise between climbing ability and top speed. Optically, and in terms of shifting performance, however, the FSA chainrings, which come standard on aftermarket Power2Max cranks, cannot keep up with the original DURA-ACE chainrings.

According to Cannondale, aerodynamics, efficiency and speed were its central focus in the development of the SystemSix, with comfort clearly falling by the wayside. The stiff frame, the stiff and wide wheels, the aero seat post and also the 23 mm narrow tyres don’t do much for the bike’s comfort. You can feel bumps and blows directly, which dampens the confidence gained by the bike’s stability because it feels like you’re skipping over the ground.

A bike’s aerodynamics is one thing, but the position and aerodynamics of the rider make up a large part of the wind resistance. Comfort helps the rider to maintain an aggressive and aerodynamic position over a long stretch of time. Mortals like us run into problems here since the best and most innovative features are useless if after a short ride your whole body aches. Maybe Tony Martin will have more fun on it next year with EF Education First Drapac p/b Cannondale in 2019 #doublepanzerwagen.


Cannondale promises maximum speed for race days and every day, but unfortunately, that doesn’t play out in reality. The lack of comfort makes you fatigue a lot faster and significantly reduces your confidence and the amount of fun you’ll have on the bike, which at 7.66 kg was the heaviest in the test field. For the speed junkies among us who prefer to ride at the head of the pack, the € 10,499 Cannondale SystemSix Hi-MOD DURA-ACE Di2 offers an aero bike that saves a few watts of wind resistance but doesn’t score high with style or weight. We’re already looking forward to Tony Martin’s first break away attempt with EF Education First Drapac in 2019 #doublepanzerwagen.


– stability
– Power2Max NG Eco Power Meter
– Cannondale’s top-end aerodynamics


– uncomfortable
– slow acceleration
– shifting performance of the FSA Super Chainrings

Uphill | Downhill | Stability | Comfort

For more info head to:

The test fleet

For an overview of the test fleet head to the group test: The best aero bike of 2019 – 3 race machines head-to-head

All bikes in test
Specialized S-Works Venge 2019 | Trek Madone SLR 9 Disc 2019

This article is from GRAN FONDO issue #010

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Words: Photos: Benjamin Topf