Cannondale CAAD13: Alloy, aero, and more comfortable

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We speculated a few months ago that Cannondale was planning to release the next iteration of its long-standing CAAD aluminium performance range. Today, the CAAD13 is official.

According to Cannondale, the new CAAD13 is a worthy tribute to the periodic table’s 13th element (aluminium), and compared to the CAAD12, that material is worked to provide reduced drag, greater comfort and easier servicing, all while keeping the weight unchanged. And where we’ve seen a number of brands commit solely to disc brakes for 2020, followers of #savetherimbrake will breathe a sigh of relief – the CAAD13 will be available in both brake variants.

However, let’s pour one out in memory of horizontal top tubes, round tube shapes and regular seatposts – the new CAAD13 has moved on. We’re yet to get our hands on a CAAD13 for review, so in the meantime, here are the key details you should know.

It’s an alloy version of the new Supersix Evo

Just as the CAAD12 did with the previous Supersix, the CAAD13 has plenty in common with the newly announced 2020 SuperSix Evo. If you haven’t seen the new SuperSix Evo, go check out James Huang’s write-up. It goes into great detail about many of the elements that were carried over to the CAAD13.

Using the same 6069 aluminium blend as the CAAD10 and CAAD12, the CAAD13 now sports the SuperSix’s truncated airfoil tube shapes, something Cannondale says offers “over 30% reduction in drag over traditional round tubes”. Similarly, the down tube gets the same dual-position water bottle mounting, allowing a lower and more sheltered position if running a single bottle, or a traditional placement if going the distance.

D-shaped post, dropped stays and a sloping top tube – it’s all about aiding comfort.

The CAAD13 is also the first time the CAAD series has moved to an integrated frame, fork, and seatpost design. Notably, the seatpost is the same D-shaped Knot27 post that’s used on the new SuperSix, and it, too, is held in place with an integrated wedge binder. Add in the newly dropped seat stays – which assist in aerodynamics and seat tube compliance – and Cannondale states the CAAD13 offers double the seated compliance of the not-so-jarring CAAD12. According to Cannondale, “the myth of carbon fiber’s comfort advantage over aluminium is effectively over.”

Tyre clearance has been given a subtle boost, moving up to 30c from 28c, at least for the disc version. Cannondale has said the rim brake model is limited to 28c rubber, but its move to direct-mount rim brakes could mean that certain brake callipers allow room for additional width. Up front, each model of the CAAD13 features the same full carbon fork.

Mavic’s Speed Release thru-axle system helps to make wheel changes easier and faster.

Nothing aged the CAAD12 Disc more than its use of a quick release at the rear wheel. The CAAD13 Disc moves to 12mm thru-axles front and rear, specifically using Mavic’s Speed Release system, the same as the SuperSix. This design uses an open dropout on the disc side which allows the wheel to be removed without having to pull the thru-axle out of the hub – simply unscrew it and drop the wheel. The design works with almost all existing thru-axle wheels and has the potential to be faster than a quick release. The rim brake version sticks with quick-release dropouts.

And just as the CAAD12 and former SuperSix shared identical geometry, the CAAD13 shares the same overhauled geometry as the new SuperSix Evo. This sees the previously available nine frame sizes drop to eight (spanning 44 to 62cm), and with it, stack and reach numbers are made a little less aggressive and more linear across the size range. All except the smallest 44cm size are given the same 58mm trail figure, achieved by using two different fork rakes across the size range.

The CAAD13’s geometry is identical to the new SuperSix Evo.

If you’re someone that’s smiling with glee about the fact there’s a rim-brake version, you may be angered to hear the CAAD’s traditional horizontal top tube has been replaced with one that slopes slightly. Function trumps form on this one, and it’s a move that creates a stiffer, lighter and more comfortable (due to greater exposed seatpost length) riding bike.

Elements unique to the CAAD13

Cannondale has brushed over the weight of the CAAD13, simply stating that it weighs the same as the CAAD12. A 56cm rim-brake CAAD12 frame is quoted at 1,098g, while the disc version is 1,094g. Comparatively, the new SuperSix Hi-Mod Disc is just 866g (+389g fork) in the same size, while the standard SuperSix Evo Disc frame is quoted at 999g (+436g fork), and the rim-brake version is 976g (+368g fork). Cannondale’s full carbon Knot27 seatpost, as found on the top-tier CAAD13 Disc Force eTap AXS, is quoted at 162g.

The CAAD13 is set up to handle either electronic or mechanical shifting, and to do so more easily than the CAAD12.

Clearly, the CAAD13 shares plenty with its carbon sibling, but it does offer a few key differences. None is more notable than the use of a standard head tube design with no space provided for hiding the cables or brake hoses that run between the handlebar and frame. Instead, the CAAD13 uses an interchangeable port at the top of the down tube that allows for easier cable routing and clean swaps between mechanical and electronic setups. Cannondale has stated that internal cable routing is improved compared to the CAAD12 (a low bar to jump).

Bottom bracket systems have long been a contentious topic with Cannondale bikes, and they’re certainly not going to dampen the debate with the CAAD13. Yep, it uses the same BB30a system as several other Cannondale bikes. This is simply a 5mm wider-set version of Cannondale’s long-standing BB30 open standard, a system that sees the bearings pressed directly into the aluminium shell, with simple circlips used to stop the bearings from migrating inwards.

Like many users, I’ve had mixed results with keeping the system quiet, and hopefully, for Cannondale’s sake, it doesn’t dictate buying decisions.

A bolt-on bridge allows the mounting of full-length fenders.

Those living in wet climates should high-five themselves as both rim- and disc-brake versions offer dedicated fender mounts. In both cases, a removable brake bridge is provided for mounting the rear fender.

Models and pricing

With three disc-brake versions, two rim-brake versions, and one of each for the women-specific CAAD13, it’s somewhat surprising to see just how few options there are in the new range. Those options are even slimmer for certain countries, such as Australia. And sorry, there are no frameset-only options, at least not at launch.

Most notable about the CAAD13 range is how closely it’s priced to the new SuperSix Evo carbon range. For example, the similarly equipped Cannondale SuperSix Disc Force eTap AXS is priced at US$6,500 / AU$7,500 – just US$750 more than the equivalent CAAD13 or, weirdly, an identical price in Australia. The SuperSix Disc 105 is US$2,750 / AU$3,900, compared to US$2,100 / AU$3,199 for the CAAD13.

All models feature 28c Vittoria Rubino rubber and a minimum of an 11-30T cassette. Bikes should be available for purchase within the next week.

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