I had always believed that all of the buzz surrounding frame materials and geometry was pretty much marketing hype. Before I got so intimately involved with cycling as a major component of what I am, I would read the critiques and scoff mildly saying something like 'yeah right'.
My first awakening was the learning experience I had when I first mounted my then new Cannondale R700 SI Triple, Dale! He was a truly trustworthy and reliable steed that carried my sorry butt all over hell and back. And he did it in style and with alacrity. He also did it with extremely efficient energy delivery to the road. I pedaled he moved forward, no bull, no hesitance, no loss or lag. But he did it with a certain harshness of ride that could contribute to fatigue. You felt literally every piece of crushed stone in the road. But we became friends none the less and I love the old boy.
Then came the accident! I called Cannondale and mentioned the serious ding in my top tube and together we decided that strong down-hills and out of saddle pedaling were just too intense to risk in view of the compromised frame integrity and that it was time to replace Dale as a serious over the road bike. Then in the next breath, they mentioned their frame swap program. If you have purchased a Cannondale bike, and you want either to upgrade your frame, or as in my case have had a crash and need to, they have a frame upgrade policy which allows you to purchase a new frame at a substantial savings. After some discussion, I went for the SIX13 Team Edition.
The SIX13 is Cannondale's top of the line Carbon Fibre/Aluminum competition frame. I have test ridden other carbon offerings from other manufacturers and honestly, I was not impressed. I found many of them (but far from all) to be soft, spongy, and squirrely in terms of holding the line. Especially in comparison to my R700's bullet straight tracking. All this being said, I opted for the carbon Cannondale Six13. I am not disappointed!
At this point in time I would have to guess that I have ridden this frame about 500 Miles, 275 of which rolled beneath my wheels in one weekend. As I rode from Maryland to New York my new bike (built up from salvaged parts from Dale and new parts as where needed) navigated potholes, railroad crossings, newly oiled macadam, construction debris, gravel, mud, dust, dirt, wet pavement, car parts, blowouts, and dead critter road pizzas. And, it did it all in marvelous smooth comfort and absolute directional security. The road feel on this frame is a strange mix. I find the ride on the straight and level to be soft and smooth as a nice beach cruiser with slick tires. There is zero road buzz. Yet, I have absolute traction feel. I can and do drive this frame much harder into corners then my old Cannondale, with complete control and confidence. It tracks like a rigid aluminum frame, but it rides like carbon.
In terms of energy delivery, this bike is hot, there is no lag or hesitancy, the bike explodes from underneath you with the slightest pedal torque. I am a flats rider, I hate hills, but the SIX13 eats hills for lunch! I climbed hills better than I ever did before and in the hands of a decent hill climber this frame would rocket. There is simply no energy loss, there is no frame flex when you are out of the saddle.
In a brilliant design move Cannondale retained their aluminum Wishbone seat stay design but they moved the rear wheel closer to the seat post (kind of ala a tri offering) and thus drove the still aluminum seat tube to a more vertical configuration. So your entire power delivery system bottom bracket and rear triangle are all a single aluminum triangle of strength! I haven't measured, but I think they also beefed up the chainstays for better power conservation. This is a better power delivery system than I deserve.
The top tube and down tube are carbon fiber with the steerer tube and butts being aluminum. The finish I selected is clear so that we could show you the connections between the aluminum and carbon, which are beautifully integrated. The frame is delivered with Carbon fork, steerer and headsets. I also opted for a carbon fiber seatpost.
It is said that the perfect design for a competitive vehicle is "just enough and no more." In automobile circles, the perfect race car finishes first and disintegrates as it crosses the finish line. Otherwise it is over designed. But this competition vehicle is designed to last!
Now here is the one, and thus far only "quirk?" I have to mention, and I do so with reservation as I am not certain yet as to the cause. In a rapid downhill, if one foolishly decides to take a waterbottle break, removing one hand from the bars induces a noticeable rhythmic wander. Replacing both hands on the bars eliminates it immediately. Is this a result of "minimal functional design" in terms of rigidity or is it the rider? Is it the frame, the fork, or the wheels?
These are the original OEM wheels from the R700 and although they were trued prior to this ride, the possibility exists that they could be the cause of the wandering. and I stress again, this mild oscillation is eminently controllable, but it is there, and again simply replacing the second hand renders the tracking rock solid once again.
Other than that, what can I say? I guess it shows that I am excited and extremely happy with this frame! Thank you Cannondale for a superb ride! Amen!
Ed. Note: I have subsequently upgraded the wheelset from the Original Mavics to a custom hand-built DT wheelset, built to order by
David Fike of "The Peloton". These featherweights feature DT Swiss spokes and hubs and have all but eliminated all tentativeness in handling (Like there was any? Really!). I have truly discovered what this frame is about!