This article compares the Cannondale SystemSix and Cervelo S5.
I’ll help you understand the bike model lineups, specifications, and suggested retail prices in USD. I’ll explain the carbon fiber technology (Cannondale BallisTec and ) and innovative frameset technologies on each bike.
The objective is to provide you with a clearer understanding of Cannondale SystemSix and Cervelo S5.
|Cannondale SystemSix||Cervelo S5|
|Type of bike||Aero||Aero|
|Frame material||BallisTec Hi-Mod carbon||Cervelo carbon|
|Frame sizes||47, 51, 54, 56, 58, 60, 62||48, 51, 54, 56, 58|
|Groupset||Shimano (12-speed)||Shimano, SRAM (12-speed)|
|Brakes||Hydraulic disc||Hydraulic disc|
|Price (USD)||$13,050||$9,000 to $13,000|
The Cannondale SystemSix is the latest addition to the road bike lineup. It’s designed as an all-out aero bike with a 100% focus on speed.
The engineers designed the Cannondale SystemSix based on a six-part system (hence the name); the integration of frame, fork, seat post, handlebar, stem, and wheels in a package to maximize aerodynamic advantages. All cables are routed internally via the two-piece carbon Cannondale Knot SystemBar for all Cannondale SystemSix models.
In 2023, Cannondale streamlined its SystemSix offerings from five to only one model with the Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 (R9200) groupset.
|Model||Frame material||Groupset||Wheelset||Retail price (USD)|
|Cannondale SystemSix Hi-MOD||Hi-MOD carbon||Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 (R9200)||HollowGram 64 SL KNØT||$13,050|
Cannondale System Six vs others
The Cervélo S5 is all about aerodynamic performance and maximizing speed.
This can be seen throughout the frame’s design. Most road cyclists would concur that the Cervélo S5 is among their top choice for an aero road bike. They come with 25mm tires, but the frame allows up to 30mm.
The Cervélo S5 has a very aggressive frame geometry, placing the rider much lower on the bike and reducing their frontal area. A size 54 Cervélo S5 has a 13mm lower stack and 6mm longer reach than a size 54 S-Series (discontinued in 2022). The Cervélo S5 has an extended seat tube cutout; a close-fitting curve in the seat tube fully shields the rear wheel’s leading edge.
The Cervélo S5 is available in a complete bike setup or frameset only.
|Model||Frame material||Groupset||Wheelset||Retail price (USD)|
|Cervelo S5||Carbon||Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 (R9200)||Reserve 52/63||$13,000|
|Cervelo S5||Carbon||SRAM Red eTap AXS||Reserve 52/63||$13,000|
|Cervelo S5||Carbon||Shimano Ultegra Di2 (R8100)||Reserve 52/63||$9,000|
|Cervelo S5||Carbon||SRAM Force eTap AXS||Reserve 52/63||$9,000|
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 SystemSix and Cervelo S5 framesets incorporate advanced technologies to enhance their bikes’ performance and ride characteristics.
Here’s an overview of the technologies used in each bike model.
Cannondale System Six
|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
|Speed of Six||A comprehensive system consisting of frame, fork, seatpost, handlebar, stem, and wheels to minimize drag.|
|Customized airfoils||Tailored airfoil shapes for each frame section to reduce drag across various wind angles and increase aerodynamic efficiency.|
|V-stem||The V-stem was launched in 2018 with the previous generation S5. It was controversial at that time as there was nothing like that on the market before.|
Cervélo wanted to route the shifting cables and brake hoses internally, but the bend between the handlebar and stem could have a negative effect on mechanical shifting performance. Hence, the Cervélo engineers designed a V-shaped stem to minimize the bend.
Today, the Cervélo S5 is available only in electronic shifting builds, but the V-stem design remains. It’s now part of the S5’s identity.
|HB14 carbon handlebar||The HB14 carbon handlebars are designed specifically for the S5’s V-stem. It’s available in 380, 400, 420 and 440mm.|
|34mm tire clearance||The tire clearance for the S5 is a massive 34mm, which is very wide for an aero bike.|
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.