Cannondale Synapse NEO Review (Updated 2020)

June 10, 2020

Cannondale Synapse Neo
Our Rating - 4.5/5
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The Cannondale Synapse NEO is an electric gravel bike that offers great comfort and control over long and difficult trips in the saddle. It boasts an array of high-performance specs that are suited for riders who require motor assist without losing the feeling of riding a traditional bike!

Cannondale Synapse NEO - In-Depth Review

One of the major criticisms that many traditional cyclists have about e-bikes, especially the “road” versions, is that they simply don’t resemble real bikes. Generally, there’s been very little integration of traditional components, which are not exactly inspiring. Not to mention ride and performance qualities that feel sluggish and unbalanced!

However, this criticism does not apply when it comes to describing the Cannondale Synapse NEO!

This interesting e-bike from Cannondale looks like a traditional bike and promises an “authentic” biking experience. In this review, we put the Synapse NEO in the spotlight and consider the various specs and overall performance to determine just how good it is!


Key Specs

Weight

40 Lbs. 9.6 Oz.

Frame 

SmartForm C1 Alloy, Carbon Fork

Tire Size

2.6 Inches

Motor

Bosch Performance Line CX 250W

Battery

500 Watt Hours, Lithium-Ion Battery

Range

Up To 150km (93miles)

Max Speed

20 Mph

Brakes

Shimano 105 Hydro Disc, 160/160mm RT70 Rotors

Now that we’ve seen how the Cannondale Synapse Neo looks on paper, lets us have a closer look at the specs.

Frame

The Cannondale Synapse NEO is held together by a SmartForm C1 frame that makes for a sturdy construction. The bike is well constructed, thanks to a combination of Out-Front geometry, BallisTec carbon fork, and SAVE Micro-suspension that delivers a smooth and inspiring cruise on the trail.

Bike controller on the bike

At first glance, the Synapse NEO looks just like a “traditional” gravel bike. The battery has been integrated into the frame and sits inside the downtube to leave you with a seamless bike design. Apart from the oversized downtube and enlarged bottom bracket, the untrained eye will not notice there’s something different about this bicycle. 

You’ll also enjoy the hidden cable routing design of the frame, which not only enhances the seamless appearance but also ensures that you have less clutter to distract you as you grind your way up a climb. Generally, the Synapse NEO offers a true endurance race geometry that positions your body forward enough to go hard yet upright enough to go the distance.

The drop handlebar provides you with multiple handling positions for easy adjustment and the top tube of the frame slants towards the seat tube to make for effortless mounting and dismounting. The frame comes with mounting racks that allow you to increase the bike’s carrying capacity, as well as hidden fender mounts to make it a genuine all year-round machine in all kinds of weather conditions. 

The only downside is that the bike is a little heavy; despite the mid-hub motor positioning that helps to balance weight for stable handling.

Bosch Active Line Plus motor

Motor

This bike is powered by a powerful Bosch Active Line Plus unit, which performs better than previous versions. The generation 3 motor is lighter, smaller, and more efficient to ensure that battery power is conserved. The power is transmitted smoothly to get you to top speeds of 20mph, beyond which the motor assist will instantly cut off.

The motor also runs quietly which is a great benefit. At the center of the handle is a minimalist and ergonomic Purion controller that leaves you with ample handling room for your hands. This controller displays important information pertaining to your ride. It offers five different riding modes giving you the correct support for different terrains.

Included is also an on/off switch on the display’s head unit that allows you to easily move up and down through the modes with the help of +/- buttons. Furthermore, a WALK+ function on the underside of the display works to deliver the needed motor assistance automatically and lets you focus on enjoying the ride. 

Even in the low-assist ECO mode, you still get sufficient torque at 35Nm from the Bosch system and a head start to leave your competition in the dust. The 50Nm you get in TURBO mode makes light work of climbing hills.

Battery

The Bosch Powertube 500Wh battery is a great addition to this bike. On a full charge cycle, the Purion controller indicates an expected range of around 93 miles in ECO mode, which is a great range when you take your bike out for a ride.

However, as you move up from ECO mode through TOUR, SPORT, and TURBO modes, the range drops down to 28 miles, which is still very promising considering you are taking full advantage of the powerful Bosch line motor. Thankfully, the Bosch 4Am charger makes for fast charging when the battery runs out of power. 

Bosch battery on a grey Cannondale bike

The removable battery can also be charged off the bike, which is a great addition to the bike if you have a spare battery to use while the other one continues to charge. 

Brake type

The Synapse NEO is fitted with Shimano 105 hydraulic disc brakes that offer good braking performance in all kinds of weather conditions. You’ll have the confidence to cruise at top speeds on wet road surfaces, as well as descend hills with unrivaled stability.

Back tire of a bike

The Shimano brake levers are also quite responsive and engage smoothly with the slightest pull, ensuring that the bike stops on a dime whenever you need it to.

Rims

This bike rides on RD 2.0, 28-hole pair of wheels that deliver decent performance on the road. These pair well with the WTB exposure tires and remain pretty stable even on testing terrain.

Tires

The 32mm WTB exposure tires are wide enough to offer you a smooth ride on a trail. They feel chunky and comfortable even while clearing slight bumps on the road. Also, their tubeless ready design allows you to ditch the tubes and shed off some weight.

However, we would have preferred that the manufacturer included a reflector strip around them to improve the bike's visibility. Considering that there are no headlights or rear lights on the NEO, it would be unsafe to ride in the dark.

Post-Test Summary: Cannondale Tesoro Neo Pros and Cons

So, what impression does the Cannondale Canvas Neo leave on you?

If you asked us, we think this bike is one of the best bikes available for daily urban use. 

It is full of practical features that are suited for urban operation. From a pair of fenders and lights to a kickstand and incredible carrying capacity, you’ll be able to run your daily errands efficiently.

The powerful motor and battery complement the whole idea of “living life on the fast lane” that is city life. The top speed of the Neo is the fastest you can get from an electric bike and effective brakes have been included to ensure that you never lose control of your ride. 

The only complaint is that the motor can be a little bit noisy. Also, the bike is pretty expensive; you’ll have to dig deep into your pockets to afford it.


What Do I Like about Cannondale Synapse NEO?

Man riding a bike

There are various features on the Cannondale Synapse NEO that give it an edge over the competition. Firstly, the Bosh drive unit delivers a strong yet smooth transmission of power , you will not even notice when the motor kicks in. It is also light, quiet, and drag-free to let you go farther than you’ve ever been.

The powerful battery makes for a long ride on your bike with up to 93 miles of uninterrupted fun on ECO mode. Furthermore, you also have the option to remove the battery and charge it off the bike and use a spare battery to extend your range even further. 

The SAVE micro-suspension technology used on the frame and fork assists to make the ride comfortable even on bumpy and rocky rides while maintaining the bike’s connection to the road. This makes for an overall comfortable ride with improved handling, better control, and all-day comfort.

The frame of the bike offers an endurance race geometry that positions you forward and upright enough to cycle harder and longer without getting easily fatigued. Also, the bike offers a removable seat bridge as well as hidden mudguard mounts.

The hydraulic disc brakes fitted on the Synapse NEO ensure you get superior braking performance on all kinds of road surfaces. The brake levers are also responsive and prove more efficient than mechanical brakes.

This bike sports a stylish and seamless appearance that can be credited to the integrated battery design. Additionally, internal cable routing protects the wires from dirt and water while preventing you legs getting entangled with them as your pedal. 

PROS

  • Seamless frame design
  • Powerful Bosch motor and battery
  • Easy to operate Purion display
  • Hydraulic disc brakes
  • Long range riding

What Don’t I Like about Cannondale Synapse NEO?

There are limited safety features on the Synapse NEO, which might compromise your safety on the road. The manufacturer could have included a bell and front and rear lights for visibility at night.

Overall, this is a heavy bike that you wouldn’t want to be stuck with when the battery power runs out, despite the low and central positioning of the drive unit that offers better handling on the trail. 

Cons

  • A little heavy
  • No lights and bell


Synapse NEO Family

The Cannondale Synapse NEO is one of the three bike models in the NEO family; the NEO 1 (most expensive), NEO 2, and NEO SE. All three models are equipped with the same aluminum frame and carbon fork, as well as a Bosch 250W Active Line motor and 500WH powerpack. The major difference comes in the drivetrain. The NEO 1 uses a Shimano Dura-Ace, a Shimano Ultegra for the NEO 2, and a SRAM Apex drivetrain for the NEO SE. 


Advice to Buyers

The Cannondale Synapse NEO is an electric bike that was built for endurance, efficiency, and comfort. It is equipped to offer you unforgettable moments on the tracks, as well as the power and range to open new frontiers for your biking adventures.

However, this bike doesn’t come cheap! You will need upwards of $3,500 to get your hands on this powerful machine. The good thing is that it offers a great bang for the buck!


Conclusion

All things considered; the Cannondale Synapse NEO is a reliable e-bike with high-performance specs that any enthusiast would love to have on the road. The bike boasts a powerful motor, long-range battery, and comfortable geometry among its many positive attributes.

It makes the perfect choice for those who are looking for an enduring e-bike experience over various terrains. However, you’ll need to add front and rear lights and a bell if you want to ride in low light conditions.

About the author

Emma was born and raised in the UK, studied in Amsterdam (where she discovered her passion for biking), and is currently living in Ohio. Her main passion is cycling, that's why she is always looking for an amazing new e-bike to make her journey even more unforgettable!