In this comparison, I’ll dissect two popular bike models; the Trek Domane vs Cannondale Synapse.
I’ll compare their lineups, bike specifications, and suggested retail prices in USD, then discuss the carbon fiber technology (Trek OCLV and Cannondale BallisTec) and frameset technologies.
The goal is to give you a better understanding of Trek Domane and Cannondale Synapse to help in your decision-making.
|Type of bike||Trek Domane||Cannondale Synapse|
|Type of bike||Endurance||Endurance|
|Frame material||OCLV 800 carbon |
OCLV 500 carbon
|Frame sizes||47, 50, 52, 54, 56, 58, 60, 62||48, 51, 54, 56, 58, 61|
|Groupset||Shimano, SRAM (12-speed)||Shimano, SRAM (12-speed)|
|Brakes||Hydraulic disc||Hydraulic disc|
|Price (USD)||$4,699 to $13,199||$4,500 to $9,050|
The Trek Domane is designed as an all-day endurance bike.
It can also be referred to as all-road as its wider tire clearance of up to 38c can tackle hard-packed gravel and cobblestones like those in the Paris-Roubaix race. Trek built the Isospeed dampening system in the front and rear to achieve this.
There are carbon and aluminum versions of the Domane. The SLR uses the higher grade, OCLV 800 carbon compared to the SL on the standard, OCLV 500 carbon.
The Trek Domane SL and SLR frames are also available separately for those after a custom-built bike.
|Model||Frame material||Groupset||Wheelset||Retail price (USD)|
|Trek Domane SLR 9 AXS||OCLV 800 carbon||SRAM Red eTap AXS||Bontrager Aeolus RSL 37||$13,199|
|Trek Domane SLR 9||OCLV 800 carbon||Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 (R9200)||Bontrager Aeolus RSL 37||$12,749|
|Trek Domane SLR 7 AXS||OCLV 800 carbon||SRAM Force eTap AXS||Bontrager Aeolus Pro 37||$9,699|
|Trek Domane SLR 7||OCLV 800 carbon||Shimano Ultegra Di2 (R8100)||Bontrager Aeolus Pro 37||$8,549|
|Trek Domane SLR 6 AXS||OCLV 800 carbon||SRAM Rival eTap AXS||Bontrager Aeolus Pro 37||$8,399|
|Trek Domane SLR 6||OCLV 800 carbon||Shimano 105 Di2 (R7100)||Bontrager Aeolus Pro 37||$7,999|
|Trek Domane SL 7 AXS||OCLV 500 carbon||SRAM Force eTap AXS||Bontrager Aeolus Pro 37||$7,499|
|Trek Domane SL 7||OCLV 500 carbon||Shimano Ultegra Di2 (R8100)||Bontrager Aeolus Pro 37||$6,829|
|Trek Domane SL 6 AXS||OCLV 500 carbon||SRAM Rival eTap AXS||Bontrager Paradigm Comp 25||$5,299|
|Trek Domane SL 6||OCLV 500 carbon||Shimano 105 Di2 (R7100)||Bontrager Paradigm Comp 25||$4,699|
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
Trek vs Cannondale carbon fiber
Trek OCLV carbon
The OCLV (Optimum Compaction, Low Void) carbon is a proprietary carbon fiber manufacturing technology developed by Trek.
- Optimum Compaction refers to the heat and pressure applied during the curing process to squeeze out excess resin and ensure that the carbon layers are compacted to the optimal density.
- Low Void refers to the goal of reducing microscopic air pockets or voids that can occur in the carbon fiber and create weaknesses.
One of the key advantages of OCLV carbon is its ability to achieve an optimal balance between stiffness, strength, and weight. Trek engineers carefully tune the carbon layup and utilize varying modulus carbon fibers to create stiff frames in certain areas to maximize power transfer while maintaining compliance in other areas to enhance comfort and ride quality.
The OCLV carbon is available in 800 and 500 series.
- OCLV 800 is the highest-grade carbon fiber used by Trek. The carbon modulus is higher in OCLV 800, making it stiffer and lighter. The manufacturing process is more refined, using more advanced carbon and resins, leading to a bike frame that provides top performance levels for stiffness, weight, and strength. OCLV 800 is used in all models with SLR.
- OCLV 500 is a lower-grade carbon but still offers a high level of performance. It has a slightly lower carbon modulus, meaning it’s a bit less stiff and heavier than OCLV 800. OCLV 800 is used in all models with SL.
It’s worth noting that the different OCLV grades don’t only refer to the material itself, but also to the manufacturing techniques used to form the carbon fiber into bike frames. Higher-grade carbon requires more precise manufacturing techniques to take full advantage of its superior material properties.
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.
Frameset technologies and innovations
Trek Domane and Cannondale Synapse framesets incorporate advanced technologies to enhance their bikes’ performance and ride characteristics.
Here’s an overview of the technologies used in each bike model.
|OCLV Carbon||Optimum Compaction, Low Void (OCLV). A carbon fiber technology used in Trek frames. Employs advanced layup techniques and precise carbon compaction to create lightweight, strong frames with a balanced blend of stiffness and compliance.|
Available in two grades; OCLV 800 and 500. A higher number indicates a higher grade carbon.
|H1.5 geometry||Trek’s geometry design that strikes a balance between aggressive racing positioning (H1) and rider comfort (H2). |
H1.5 geometry provides a slightly more relaxed riding position than the racier H1 geometry, making it suitable for a wider range of riders.
|IsoSpeed Technology||An innovative solution for improving rider comfort on rough surfaces. The IsoSpeed decoupler allows the seat tube to flex independently from the rest of the frame, increasing vertical compliance and smoothing road vibrations.|
|Project One||Trek’s customization program that allows riders to create personalized and unique bikes. |
With Project One, riders can customize various aspects of their bikes, including frame color, paint scheme, components, drivetrain, wheels, and other details.
|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.