While road bike owners could hardly be said to be short of tech, gizmos and whizz-bang features, the not-so-humble bicycle has long lagged behind cars technologically, especially when it comes to safety features. That’s perhaps not surprising, given that since the dynamo fell out of fashion, bikes have lacked a built-in power source. With the new Synapse and its SmartSense system, however, Cannondale has moved the road bike firmly into the 21st century.
The Synapse is one of the most exciting developments ever in bike technology. What Cannondale has created here is a bike that anyone can love. It’s packed with features that are attractive to newcomers and those formerly wary of cycling, but with its light weight and serious appearance, even the most hardened MAMIL – that’s ‘middle-aged man in Lycra’, if you didn’t know – is unlikely to turn their nose up at it.
SmartSense brings features that car users have long enjoyed to a bike for the first time. Yes, some of them could be added before, via various accessories but on the Synapse, everything is integrated on the bike and customisable via the Cannondale smartphone app and powered by a single power source.
Look past the tech and the fifth-generation Synapse also happens to be a supremely versatile vehicle. It can serve as an endurance road bike, but can also crush your daily commute, and even take on gravel paths at the weekend. It is, as Cannondale puts it, ‘the one bike to rule them all’.
But hey, let’s not look past the tech at this point. This is T3, after all. Here are our favourite, most car-like parts of the Cannondale Synapse.
1. It springs into life as you approach it
Keyless entry and ignition are commonplace in today’s cars but highly unusual on bikes, for obvious reasons. The Synapse changes all that because it has its own, super compact and lightweight power source, and an app. With the app installed on your phone and paired with your new steed, the Synapse can detect your approach via the miracle of Bluetooth. Instantly the SmartSense system powers up and the lights turn on as if to bid you hello. Switching on your front and rear lights by hand is so last century.
2. All-day lights
LEDs have quietly revolutionised every element of lighting in our lives, and bike lights are no exception. Where once lights that were permanently on as an all-day safety feature were limited to expensive German automobiles, now the Synapse can offer the same. Especially in winter, it’s incredibly useful to have all-day lighting to make you more visible on Britain’s mean streets – and mean gravel trails, in the case of the ultra-versatile Synapse.
3. Built-in radar
Built in conjunction with Garmin, selected Synapse models include Varia rear radar. While a car’s radar is largely limited to alerting you – via an increasingly annoying series of beeps – that you are getting too near the hedge while reversing out of your driveway, Varia helps make cyclists feel a lot safer on the road. The Varia constantly scans for rear approaching traffic and alerts you via audible and visual signals on your phone or the bike’s display. It’s so sophisticated, it can actually tell you the speed and distance of what’s approaching, and even the number of cars, if there are multiple vehicles.
4. Adaptive lighting
Designed using the expert assistance of Lezyne, the Synapse’s lighting incorporates sensors to adapt to ambient lighting conditions. So a low, energy-saving light by day becomes a bright – up to 350 lumens – floodlight in the dark. The rear illumination can also serve as a brake light, and both lights are naturally waterproof and fully STVZO compliant. Das ist gut.
5. A complete smart system built in
Cannondale has kicked off the SmartSense revolution by focussing on lighting and rear protection, so you don’t have to keep looking over your shoulder to see what’s lurking behind you. It’s worth noting that the battery can also be removed from the bike for charging and also to serve as a USB-C charger for your phone and other devices.
That’s not the end of the story, though. With a series of junction boxes incorporated into its wiring system, SmartSense is also potentially expandable, via future upgrades, into a complete on-bike digital ecosystem. How cool is that?
Cannondale Synapse: pricing
The new Cannondale Synapse will be available in 4 carbon models, priced £2,400 to £9,000 ($2,400 to $9,000 in the USA) in sizes 48 to 61.
SmartSense will be featured on carbon models 1, 2, and 3 with a selection of radar, lights and electronic shifting denoted by R, L and E in the model name.
- For more information on the all-new Synapse visit www.cannondale.com
- Find out more about SmartSense
- Find out more about the Cannondale app
- Join the Cannondale ride at YouTube and on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram