In this article, I’ll guide you through a comparison between the Cannondale Synapse and Cervelo Caledonia; both popular road bikes among cyclists.
I’ll walk through the Cannondale Synapse and Cervelo Caledonia models lineup, their specifications, and retail pricing (USD). I’ll explain the carbon fiber technology used (Cannondale BallisTec vs ), and unique frameset features for each bike.
The goal is to help you get a better understanding before you make your final purchasing decision.
|Cannondale Synapse||Cervelo Caledonia|
|Type of bike||Endurance||Endurance|
|Frame material||BallisTec carbon||Cervelo carbon|
|Frame sizes||48, 51, 54, 56, 58, 61||44, 48, 51, 54, 56, 58, 61|
|Groupset||Shimano, SRAM (12-speed)||Shimano, SRAM (12-speed)|
|Brakes||Hydraulic disc||Hydraulic disc|
|Cabling||External||Internal (Caledonia 5)|
|Price (USD)||$4,500 to $9,050||$4,700 to $11,500|
The Cannondale Synapse is for those looking for endurance bike geometry.
Compared to its elder sibling, the Cannondale SuperSix EVO, the Cannondale Synapse hasn’t had any major design changes in recent years. It still features a traditional frame design with the non dropped seat stays with a maximum tire size of 32c, and disc only.
As an endurance bike, the Cannondale Synapse doesn’t use top-of-the-line Hi-MOD framesets. In 2023, Cannondale streamlined the Synapse model from five to three, all with disc brakes and electronic shifting only.
|Model||Frame material||Groupset||Wheelset||Retail price (USD)|
|Cannondale Synapse Carbon 1 RLE||BallisTec carbon||Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 (R9200)||HollowGram 45 SL KNØT||$9,050|
|Cannondale Synapse Carbon Ltd RLE||BallisTec carbon||Shimano GRX Di2 (11s)||HollowGram 45 SL KNØT||$7,050|
|Cannondale Synapse Carbon 2 LE||BallisTec carbon||Shimano 105 Di2 (R7100)||DT Swiss R470||$4,500|
Cannondale Synapse vs others
The Cervélo Caledonia is an endurance bike for comfort and long-distance riding over tarmac, backroads, and smooth, hardpacked gravels.
Compared to the Cervélo R5 and S5, the Cervélo Caledonia has a much more relaxed geometry with a higher stack and shorter reach. This puts the rider in a more upright position for comfort rather than aero. Cervélo Caledonia 5 and Caledonia share the same carbon fiber and frame geometry and can take tires up to 34mm wide.
The major difference between the Cervélo Caledonia 5 and Caledonia is in aerodynamics.
- Cervélo Caledonia 5 has a better aerodynamics profile with a slimmer head tube, cleaner front end with internal cable routing, and a D-shaped seatpost.
- Cervélo Caledonia has a more traditional look with a rounder head tube with external cabling and round (27.2mm) seatpost.
Here are all the available Cervélo Caledonia 5 and Caledonia models and builds.
|Model||Frame material||Groupset||Wheelset||Retail price (USD)|
|Cervelo Caledonia 5||Carbon||Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 (R9200)||Reserve 40/44||$11,500|
|Cervelo Caledonia 5||Carbon||SRAM Red eTap AXS||Reserve 40/44||$11,500|
|Cervelo Caledonia 5||Carbon||Shimano Ultegra Di2 (R8100)||Reserve 40/44||$8,500|
|Cervelo Caledonia 5||Carbon||SRAM Force eTap AXS||Reserve 40/44||$8,500|
|Cervelo Caledonia 5||Carbon||SRAM Rival eTap AXS||Fulcrum Racing 600 DB||$6,000|
|Cervelo Caledonia||Carbon||Shimano Ultegra Di2 (R8100)||Fulcrum Racing 900 DB||$5,500|
|Cervelo Caledonia||Carbon||SRAM Rival eTap AXS||Fulcrum Racing 900 DB||$4,700|
|Cervelo Caledonia||Carbon||Shimano Ultegra (R8000)||DT Swiss E1850||$3,600|
Cannondale vs Cervelo carbon fiber
Cannondale BallisTec Carbon
Cannondale BallisTec is a proprietary carbon fiber construction technique used to manufacture Cannondale bicycle frames.
The BallisTec carbon technology utilizes advanced engineering and construction methods to create frames that balance strength, stiffness, and weight. It involves the precise layering and placement of carbon fiber sheets, which are impregnated with epoxy resin and then molded under high pressure and temperature.
The BallisTec carbon is available in three grades.
- BallisTec LAB71 is Cannondale’s latest advancement in carbon construction. Also known as the Series 0 carbon, LAB71 is designed to be the lightest and most advanced, taking over from the Hi-MOD carbon. LAB71 frameset delivers exceptional performance, weight reduction, and overall ride quality.
- BallisTec Hi-MOD stands for High-Modulus, which refers to using high-modulus carbon fibers in the frame. This results in a stiffer and lighter structure, providing enhanced power transfer and a more responsive ride feel. Hi-MOD carbon frames are designed for riders who prioritize performance, stiffness, and weight savings.
- BallisTec is the standard carbon in Cannondale’s frames, which offers a balance of weight, stiffness, and durability at more affordable prices.
Cervelo doesn’t publicly release information about the types of carbon fiber used on their road bikes.
From my observation of the current Cervelo bikes lineups, there are at least two carbon fiber grades used.
- Highest grade. Cervelo R5 and S5 could be using the highest carbon fiber grade of all the models. These are pure race bikes used by the pros and would likely have the best carbon fiber available at Cervelo.
- Mid-grade. Cervelo Caledonia and Soloist could be using a mid-level carbon and heavier fiber grade of all the models. These are endurance bikes that prioritize comfort over stiffness. So it’s not a surprise to see a lower-grade carbon fiber being used here.
Frameset technologies and innovations
Cannondale Synapse and Cervelo Caledonia framesets incorporate advanced technologies to enhance their bikes’ performance and ride characteristics.
Here’s an overview of the technologies used in each bike model.
|BallisTec carbon construction||A proprietary manufacturing technology that uses meticulously woven carbon fiber material to create strong and lightweight bike frames.|
The goal is to maximize the stiffness-to-weight ratio, providing riders with a responsive and efficient ride experience.
Available in three grades; BallisTec LAB71, BallisTec Hi-MOD, and BallisTec.
|SAVE technology||SAVE stands for Synapse Active Vibration Elimination, and it is implemented in various bike components, including the frame, fork, seatpost, and handlebar.|
The primary goal of SAVE technology is to absorb and dampen road vibrations, which can lead to rider fatigue and discomfort, especially during long rides on rough or uneven surfaces.
|Aero Cable Management||The Aero Cable Management feature on the Cervélo Caledonia 5 enhances the bike’s aerodynamics without compromising usability or performance. The frame, fork, ST31 (carbon) or ST32 (alloy) stem, and AB09 handlebars are meticulously designed to conceal brake hoses and shifter cables from the wind. |
The Cervélo Caledonia doesn’t have the Aero Cable Management and has external cable routing.
|Performance Fit||The beauty of the Cervélo Caledonia 5 lies in Cervélo’s Performance Fit. The stem and two bearing caps allow a choice between a more aggressive 7mm or relaxed 22mm stack without needing any spacers.|
|34mm tire clearance||The 34mm tire clearance makes the Cervélo Caledonia a versatile endurance bike, especially in fitting wider tires for rougher terrains.|
|Integrated mounts||The 34mm tire clearance increases Caledonia’s versatility, especially in fitting wider tires for rougher terrains.|
Bernard Lu has 7+ years of experience working in a bicycle shop, overseeing the retail and workshop operations. He’s a qualified bicycle mechanic who understands a cyclist’s needs and speaks the same cycling lingo.
If you meet him at the cafe, he will happily talk to you for hours about all the intricacies of bikes and cycling tech. Just buy him a coffee next time you see him.