Cannondale Synapse Neo

Nev

Esteemed Pedelecer
May 1, 2018
548
531
60
North Wales
I will feed back my thoughts when I have got a few miles under my belt on it. The bike is heavier than what I would have ideally liked, but it's probably about 7 or 8 kg lighter than my e-mtb. I do like the active line motor, although the CX motor in the mtb is not exactly loud I can still hear it at times. I couldn't hear the active line at all (it was windy today though) so it will be interesting to see how quiet it is in still conditions.

The bike has 22 gears, and I got up all the hills I tried today in either tour or sport mode, and the lowest gear I went down to was about 3rd or 4th. So I think in first gear and turbo mode I will be able to get up any hill I come across on my usual routes.

I live in a very hilly area, and the thing that had been stopping me getting a pedelec type racing bike was that I would not be able to ride some of the very hilly runs that I often do on my CX equipped mtb.
 

Nev

Esteemed Pedelecer
May 1, 2018
548
531
60
North Wales
Nice work, congratulations. I feel a little bit responsible.........and jealous!
Lol, yes I shall blame you if it all goes pair shaped. Seriously I am really glad you brought my attention to it. As soon as I saw the pic and read the specification I thought this was probably exactly the type of bike I had been looking for over the last 6 months.

Unfortunately it does not look as though I will be able to use the battery from the Neo in my MTB. Even though they are both 500 wh, the shop didn't think they would fit. I have had a quick look at this and I think they are right, so that's a bit disappointing but that was just a bonus really. It wasn't the reason for buying the bike.
 
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nightrider

Pedelecer
Sep 11, 2014
42
19
64
hope you get a lot of enjoyment nev,just to ask although 18.5kg in weight do you find it light and responsive, and have you tried it with power off.
 

Nev

Esteemed Pedelecer
May 1, 2018
548
531
60
North Wales
Hi nightrider, I think the bike feels fairly light to me but that's mainly because for the last 10 months I have done over 3000 miles on a 25 kg e-mtb. I suspect if I had been riding a 10 or 12 kg bike then the Neo would feel fairly heavy. It was great putting it in the back of my car. I nearly get a hernia every time I put my e-mtb in the car. The 7 or 8 kg weight saving over the mtb made it much easier to get in and out of the car.

I tried it yesterday with the motor off but only for a couple of hundred metres and it felt easy to peddle. I was already doing about 15 mph and the road was fairly flat at the time so it was not a really good test of what its like to ride with the motor off.

When the weather improves in the next few days (its stopped raining at the moment but roads are soaking wet) I will take it out for a good run. I will try it on some steep hills, try it in all the modes and with the motor off and also try it at above cut off speeds.

I am too risk averse to consider fitting a dongle to it, as knowing my luck the first time I did this I would be involved in a serious accident and then have the book thrown at me.

One of the main reasons for buying the bike is that I am hoping to see the following improvement of around 3 to 4 mph over the e-mtb, for the same level of my physical effort. As an example on the flat and no wind or with a slight tail wind I can do around 18 mph on the e-mtb without putting in a lot of effort ie. I can hold a conversation with someone if I needed to. I am hoping with the Neo to up this speed to around 21 or 22 mph but maintaining the same kind of effort as previously.
 

Nev

Esteemed Pedelecer
May 1, 2018
548
531
60
North Wales
Due to the bad weather I have not done many miles on the Neo (less than 10), but here are a few more of my thoughts. Taking off with the motor off is quite hard work. Although not as difficult as my e-mtb it is still a fair bit more difficult than a conventional bike. I would not want to ride the bike without any assistance, but it would certainly be possible to ride it home if I had ran out of battery or the motor had packed in.

The acceleration from standstill or from very low speed is really good, there is a noticeable improvement between the neo and my e-mtb. The Neo is about 8 kg lighter than my e-mtb so that's about an 8% improvement in acceleration (credit to vfr400 for this information) and the lower rolling resistance probably means the Neo is about 10% quicker when taking off.

I've done a few more hills now but have not yet tackled any really long and steep ones in my area. So far I have been really pleased with the Neos hill climbing ability. I struggle on hills and I was worried a pedelec racing bike would not be powerful enough to assist my up steep hills. The Neo has actually been better on hills that I anticipated so I am extremely happy about that.

The motor, although not totally silent is definitely quieter than the Bosch CX fitted to my mtb. I also can't notice when it stops assisting when riding above the cut off speed limit. Having said that I often can't tell when this happens with the CX motor too.

I don't have a HR monitor or power monitor to make some reliable tests so I have to go by feel, but having said that it seems that when riding above cut off speed I'm traveling at around 3 mph faster than I would be on my e-mtb for the same level of effort.

I think its unlikely I would be able to keep up with a fit group of roadies traveling along and averaging around 20 mph but I don't think I would be as far behind them as I would be on my e-mtb.

So far I am overall extremely pleased with the bike, both its acceleration and hill climbing ability has been better than I expected, if the weather next week is better I will try it out on some long and steep hills (plenty of those here in North Wales).
 
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Nev

Esteemed Pedelecer
May 1, 2018
548
531
60
North Wales
I've now done just over 100 miles on the Neo so can provide a bit more feedback to the forum. I've ridden up most of the hills that I usually ride up in my area and the Bosch Active Line Plus motor has been absolutely fine on all of them.

The motor is not as powerful as the CX motor on my mtb (50 Nm as opposed to 75Nm) but for on road riding I don't think it needs to be.

I read on another forum recently about someone who had bought an Orbea Gain saying that they wished the law would allow assisting up to about 18 mph, as the group he went out with often tended to ride at that speed. Due to health issues he found it difficult to ride the Gain at that speed.

Unfortunately he would have exactly the same problem with the Neo, once the motor switches off (happens at around 16.8 mph), then you do have to peddle a fairly heavy (18 kg) bike. I am fortunate in that I can go quite well on the flat and so would probably be able to keep with a group averaging say 18 mph. Not sure if I could do the same if they were averaging 2 or 3 mph faster though, I suspect I would then really struggle.

I have found that once I get over cut off speed, say 18 mph I can keep this going without too much difficulty and the momentum will typically get me over slight bumps in the road without having to drop the speed down and rely on the motor for assistance.

Usually on my e-mtb over a 100 miles on my normal routes I will probably be about 50/50 in respect of the amount of people that pass me on bikes (unassisted racers) and the amount of bikes I pass (unassisted none racer type bikes).

Over the last 100 miles its 100/0 no one has passed me and I have passed quite a few bikes including a few racer type bikes. The Neo is quite stealthy looking and the motor is very quiet so I don't think the guys on the racing bikes knew I was on an assisted bike. Having said that on most occasions I was above cut off speed when I passed them.

This will not last, an averagely fit club rider on a racing bike will be able to pass me on the flat or when riding with a decent tail wind, however I will be able to give him a much better run for his money on the Neo than I could on my e-mtb. On a typical out and back ride I will be about 3 mph average speed faster on the Neo than on my e-mtb for the same level of effort on my behalf.

Cannondale say the Neo has a range of 200 km, now range is a difficult subject to bring up and I don't want to say too much about it as it gets very complicated. All I will say is that for someone who is used to doing say unassisted rides or 100 km then they would easily do 200 km on this. For people that are not used to doing fairly long bike rides then you are probably going to give up on the ride due to things like back ache, neck ache or wrist ache before the battery runs out of energy.

All in all I am extremely happy with the Neo it does exactly what I was hoping it would do and I am sure I will get a lot of enjoyment out of it.
 

Nev

Esteemed Pedelecer
May 1, 2018
548
531
60
North Wales
There is a good video here about the difference between conventional and assisted racing bikes, and also about riding with a group with an assisted racing bike.
 

DLB

Finding my (electric) wheels
Mar 24, 2019
14
5
Nice review Nev.
I too have ordered a Cannondale Neo 2 and am expecting delivery in a weeks time.
Really looking forward to trying it out and getting some big rides in.
 

Nev

Esteemed Pedelecer
May 1, 2018
548
531
60
North Wales
Great news DLB I am sure you will enjoy it. If you get a chance feedback to the forum your thoughts on it once you have got some miles in on it. I don't think there are many of them about at the moment but I think people will be very pleased if they take a test ride on one.
 

DLB

Finding my (electric) wheels
Mar 24, 2019
14
5
As soon as I take delivery of it I will post an update.
 

Nev

Esteemed Pedelecer
May 1, 2018
548
531
60
North Wales
Something I have forgotten to add about the Neo, considering its a racing bike, its much more comfortable to ride than I was expecting. If any of you are like me and rode racing bikes 20 plus years ago and remember how uncomfortable they were then I have some good news for you.

The Neo is a racing bike but its classed as an Endurance racing bike if you have never heard of that type of bike then join the club, neither had I until very recently. Nowadays there are sub categories of racing bike such as pure racer, gravel bike and endurance bike. They all look similar but on closer inspecting there are a fair few differences.

Most people unless they are experienced bike racers will be better off buying an Endurance type racing bike than a pure racing bike. If you want to know the difference between the two then just google it, you will get a much better explanation than I can provide.

I don't know for sure but I imagine that all e-racing bikes are either endurance bikes or gravel bikes, I doubt any manufacturer would bother making an e-pure racing bike.

Finally another manufacturer has brought out an e-racing bike, it looks really nice. I think it uses the same system as the Orbea Gain. Click on the link below if your interested.

https://www.colnago.com/en/bikes/e64/
 
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DLB

Finding my (electric) wheels
Mar 24, 2019
14
5
As a matter of interest hat pedals did you decide to fit to your bike Nev?
 

Nev

Esteemed Pedelecer
May 1, 2018
548
531
60
North Wales
As a matter of interest hat pedals did you decide to fit to your bike Nev?
I put the same type of pedals that I use on the mountain bike. They have the little sort of spikes on them that dig in slightly to your shoes that stop your feet sliding about on the pedals but you can easily get your feet off the pedals in an emergency.

I was thinking of getting some clipless pedals, I used to use them before over 20 years ago when I used to time trial, but I nearly came unstuck back then a couple of times and only just got my foot unclipped in time to prevent falling over. Now at the age of 60 I doubt I will have the reactions to be able to do that in an emergency and don't want to end up having a silly fall due to not being able to unclip a foot in time.

I have read on this and other forums about people in their 60s switching to clipless and having some nasty accidents. I wont be time trialing on the Neo so didn't think I needed to take the risk.
 
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DLB

Finding my (electric) wheels
Mar 24, 2019
14
5
I’m used to clipless pedals but I do get what you are saying.
I almost came unstuck liars year in West Wales. Downhill very fast and lost control on a bend. Luckily I managed to bail in a ditch with nothing hurt or damaged apart from pride..
I’m probably going to fit Shimano 105 or Shimano Ultegra Carbon Pedals.
Got to pick up some new shoes as well.
 

sjpt

Esteemed Pedelecer
Jun 8, 2018
293
114
I've never tried clipless and never will now (72). I and my wife both find half-clip ideal for our riding, almost all on road with some simple off-road paths. Helps keep the foot on the right part of the pedal; makes it easier to lift the pedal ready for the off, and no risk of getting stuck.
 
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DLB

Finding my (electric) wheels
Mar 24, 2019
14
5
Pedals ordered- Shimano 105 Carbon
Shoes ordered- Sidi Alba Road Shoe
Just waiting for the bike now
 

Nev

Esteemed Pedelecer
May 1, 2018
548
531
60
North Wales
Pedals ordered- Shimano 105 Carbon
Shoes ordered- Sidi Alba Road Shoe
Just waiting for the bike now
Nice one I bet you can't wait for it to arrive now. I've done just over 200 miles now, everything working fine, not had anyone overtake me yet.
 
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soundwave

Esteemed Pedelecer
May 23, 2015
8,920
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Nev

Esteemed Pedelecer
May 1, 2018
548
531
60
North Wales
not had anyone overtake me yet.
I was thinking about this today while I was out riding and I think what is happening is that I am reducing the likelihood of being overtaken by another cyclist, but I am not traveling faster or even as fast as many young fit riders on decent quality racing bikes.

I think the following is what is happening. Imagine I go out for a 10 mile ride from A to B on my e-mtb, and there is a young fit rider following me a fair distance behind also doing the A to B ride. Lets say the young rider is on average riding at 5 mph faster than I am riding on my e-mtb, and lets say the young rider passes me in the last mile of the 10 mile ride.

Now consider this situation, same A to B ride, same young rider behind me the same distance behind as in the first instance but this time I am on my Neo. Now lets say the young rider is on average riding 1.5 mph faster than I am. He will not have caught up with me by the time I have finished the A to B ride.

I am typically riding around 3 to 4 mph on average faster on the Neo than I am on the e-mtb and so this is why I have not been overtaken so far. Sooner or later it will happen because at the start of a ride I will have a young rider closer behind me who will therefore have the opportunity to pass me during the ride.
 
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