Cannondale Synapse vs Trek Domane: A Comparison of Endurance Road Bikes

Endurance road bikes are a category of bikes that are designed for long-distance riding on various road surfaces. They combine the speed and efficiency of racing bikes with the comfort and stability of touring bikes. They typically have features such as wider tires, disc brakes, relaxed geometry, and suspension systems to enhance the ride quality and performance.

Cannondale Synapse and Trek Domane are two of the most popular and acclaimed series of endurance road bikes in the market. They have been praised by cyclists and reviewers alike for their versatility, durability, and innovation. However, they also have some distinct differences that make them suitable for different types of riders and preferences.

In this article, we will compare and contrast the main features and benefits of Cannondale Synapse and Trek Domane, based on the web search results we found. We will look at their frame material and geometry, groupset and brakes, and advanced technologies. We will also highlight their strengths and weaknesses, and give a recommendation based on the rider’s needs and goals.

The purpose of this article is to help you decide which bike series is best for you, whether you are a beginner or an expert, a casual or a competitive rider, a budget or a premium buyer. By the end of this article, you will have a better understanding of the differences and similarities between Cannondale Synapse and Trek Domane, and hopefully, you will be able to make an informed choice.

High Level Comparison

FeatureCannondale SynapseTrek Domane
Frame MaterialBallisTec carbon or SmartForm C2 alloyOCLV carbon or 100 Series Alpha Aluminum
Frame GeometryMore aggressive, lower stack and longer reachMore relaxed, higher stack and shorter reach
GroupsetShimano Claris to SRAM Red eTap AXS, 2x drivetrains, electronic shifting optionsShimano Claris to SRAM Force eTap AXS, 1x or 2x drivetrains, electronic shifting options
BrakesDisc brakes on all modelsDisc brakes on most models, rim brakes on some models
Wheels and TiresClearance for up to 35mm tires, 30mm tires as standard, tubeless-ready wheelsClearance for up to 38mm tires, 32mm tires as standard, tubeless-ready wheels
Advanced TechnologiesSAVE micro-suspension, Power PyramidIsoSpeed decouplers, Project One

Our Recommendation

For Beginners

If you are new to cycling, or you want to upgrade from a basic bike to a more advanced one, you may want to look for an endurance road bike that is affordable, reliable, and easy to use. You may not need the most high-end components or technologies, but you still want a bike that can offer you a smooth and enjoyable ride.

For the beginner, we recommend the Trek Domane AL 3 Gen 3. This bike has an aluminum frame that is light, stiff, and strong, and a carbon fork that absorbs road vibrations and improves handling. It has a Shimano Claris 8-speed groupset that provides smooth and reliable shifting, and Tektro C550 dual-pivot rim brakes that offer good stopping power and control. It has Bontrager Affinity aluminum wheels and 32mm tires that are tubeless-ready and can handle different road surfaces. It also has an IsoSpeed decoupler in the seat tube that isolates the rider from road bumps and increases comfort.

The Trek Domane AL 3 Gen 3 is a great entry-level endurance road bike that can give you a taste of what this category of bikes can offer. It is also one of the most affordable models in the Domane series, with a price of $1,130.

For Casual Riders

If you are a casual rider, or you want to ride for fun and fitness, you may want to look for an endurance road bike that is comfortable, versatile, and durable. You may not care about the speed or performance of the bike, but you still want a bike that can offer you a pleasant and satisfying ride.

For the casual rider, we recommend the Cannondale Synapse AL 2. This bike has an aluminum frame that is light, stiff, and strong, and a carbon fork that absorbs road vibrations and improves handling. It has a Shimano Claris 8-speed groupset that provides smooth and reliable shifting, and disc brakes that offer better stopping power, modulation, and all-weather performance than rim brakes. It has RD 2.0 aluminum wheels and 30mm tires that are tubeless-ready and can handle different road surfaces. It also has SAVE micro-suspension, which is a system of flex zones in the frame, fork, seatpost, and handlebar that reduce fatigue and increase comfort.

The Cannondale Synapse AL 2 is a great mid-range endurance road bike that can offer you a comfortable and versatile ride. It is also one of the most durable models in the Synapse series, with a frame that can withstand impacts and a groupset that can last for years. It has a price of $2,400.

For Competitive Riders

If you are a competitive rider, or you want to ride for speed and performance, you may want to look for an endurance road bike that is fast, efficient, and aerodynamic. You may care about the weight, stiffness, and quality of the bike, and you may want a bike that can offer you an edge over your rivals.

For the competitive rider, we recommend the Cannondale Synapse Carbon 1 RLE. This bike has a carbon frame that is light, stiff, and strong, and a carbon fork that absorbs road vibrations and improves handling. It has a SRAM Red eTap AXS 12-speed groupset that provides fast, precise, and consistent electronic shifting, and SRAM Force eTap AXS hydraulic disc brakes that offer superior stopping power, modulation, and all-weather performance. It has HollowGram 45 SL KNØT carbon wheels and 30mm tires that are tubeless-ready and can offer low rolling resistance and high aerodynamics. It also has Power Pyramid, which is a split seat tube that increases stiffness and pedaling efficiency.

The Cannondale Synapse Carbon 1 RLE is a great high-end endurance road bike that can offer you a fast and efficient ride. It is also one of the most aerodynamic models in the Synapse series, with a frame that reduces drag and a groupset that integrates seamlessly. It has a price of $9,000.

Frame Material and Geometry – Cannondale Synapse vs Trek Domane

The frame material and geometry of a bike affect its performance, comfort, and weight. Different materials have different properties, such as stiffness, strength, durability, and cost. Different geometries have different effects on the rider’s position, aerodynamics, and handling.

Cannondale Synapse

Cannondale Synapse uses BallisTec carbon for its frame, which is a proprietary carbon fiber that is light, stiff, and strong. BallisTec carbon is engineered to optimize the balance between weight reduction and impact resistance, making it suitable for endurance riding. Cannondale also offers an aluminum version of the Synapse, which uses SmartForm C2 alloy, a high-quality aluminum that is also light, stiff, and strong.

Cannondale Synapse has a more aggressive geometry than Trek Domane, with a lower stack and longer reach, for a faster and more aerodynamic position. The Synapse also has a shorter wheelbase and chainstay length, for a more responsive and nimble handling. The Synapse can fit up to 32mm tires, which provide more traction, comfort, and versatility on different road surfaces.

Trek Domane

Trek Domane uses OCLV carbon for its frame, which stands for Optimum Compaction Low Void2. OCLV carbon is also a proprietary carbon fiber that is light, stiff, and strong, but has a more compliant ride quality than BallisTec carbon. OCLV carbon is designed to reduce the amount of space between the layers of carbon, which increases the strength and durability of the frame. Trek also offers an aluminum version of the Domane, which uses 100 Series Alpha Aluminum, a high-performance aluminum that is also light, stiff, and strong.

Trek Domane has a more relaxed geometry than Cannondale Synapse, with a higher stack and shorter reach, for a more upright and comfortable position2. The Domane also has a longer wheelbase and chainstay length, for a more stable and smooth handling. The Domane can fit up to 38mm tires, which provide even more traction, comfort, and versatility on different road surfaces2.

Brakes – Cannondale Synapse vs Trek Domane

Cannondale Synapse

Cannondale Synapse has disc brakes on all models, which provide better stopping power, modulation, and all-weather performance than rim brakes12. Disc brakes use a metal rotor attached to the wheel hub and a hydraulic or mechanical caliper that squeezes the rotor with brake pads. Disc brakes are heavier, more expensive, and harder to adjust than rim brakes, but they also last longer, generate less heat, and work better in wet or muddy conditions.

Cannondale Synapse uses different brands and models of disc brakes, depending on the groupset. For example, the Synapse Carbon 1 RLE has SRAM Force eTap AXS hydraulic disc brakes, while the Synapse Carbon 105 has Shimano 105 hydraulic disc brakes.

Trek Domane

Trek Domane has disc brakes on most models, but also offers rim brakes on some lower-end models34567. Rim brakes use a metal rim as the braking surface and a cable-operated caliper that squeezes the rim with brake pads. Rim brakes are lighter, cheaper, and easier to maintain than disc brakes, but they also have less stopping power, modulation, and all-weather performance.

Trek Domane uses different brands and models of disc and rim brakes, depending on the groupset and frame material. For example, the Domane SLR Gen 4 Frameset has flat-mount disc brakes, while the Domane AL 3 Gen 3 has Tektro C550 dual-pivot rim brakes

Wheels and Tires – Cannondale Synapse vs Trek Domane

The wheels and tires of a bike affect its rolling resistance, traction, comfort, and versatility. Different sizes, widths, and materials have different advantages and disadvantages, such as weight, aerodynamics, and durability.

Cannondale Synapse

Cannondale Synapse has clearance for up to 35mm tires, which provide more traction, comfort, and versatility on different road surfaces123. The Synapse comes with 30mm tires as standard, which are wider than most road bikes and offer a smooth and fast ride. The Synapse also has tubeless-ready wheels, which allow the rider to run lower tire pressures without the risk of pinch flats, and reduce the weight and rolling resistance of the wheels.

Cannondale Synapse uses different brands and models of wheels, depending on the groupset and price. For example, the Synapse Carbon 1 RLE has HollowGram 45 SL KNØT carbon wheels, while the Synapse Carbon 105 has RD 2.0 aluminum wheels.

Trek Domane

Trek Domane has clearance for up to 38mm tires, which provide even more traction, comfort, and versatility on different road surfaces. The Domane comes with 32mm tires as standard, which are very wide for a road bike and offer a plush and stable ride. The Domane also has tubeless-ready wheels, which have the same benefits as the Synapse’s wheels.

Trek Domane uses different brands and models of wheels, depending on the groupset, frame material, and price. For example, the Domane SLR Gen 4 Frameset has Bontrager Aeolus RSL 37 carbon wheels, while the Domane AL 3 Gen 3 has Bontrager Affinity aluminum wheels

Groupsets – Cannondale Synapse vs Trek Domane

The groupset of a bike affects its shifting performance, reliability, and weight. Different brands and models have different advantages and disadvantages, such as quality, compatibility, and cost.

Cannondale Synapse

Cannondale Synapse offers a range of groupsets, from Shimano Claris to SRAM Red eTap AXS, with different levels of performance, weight, and price. All Synapse models have 2x drivetrains, which offer more gear range and smoother transitions than 1x drivetrains. The Synapse also has electronic shifting options, which provide faster, more precise, and more consistent shifting than mechanical shifting.

Cannondale Synapse uses different brands and models of groupsets, depending on the frame material and price. For example, the Synapse Carbon 1 RLE has SRAM Red eTap AXS 12-speed groupset, while the Synapse AL 2 has Shimano Claris 8-speed groupset.

Trek Domane

Trek Domane also offers a range of groupsets, from Shimano Claris to SRAM Force eTap AXS, with comparable levels of performance, weight, and price345. Most Domane models have 2x drivetrains, except for the Domane SL 6 AXS and Domane SLR 6 AXS, which have 1x drivetrains. The 1x drivetrains are simpler, lighter, and more reliable than 2x drivetrains, but they have less gear range and bigger jumps between gears. The Domane also has electronic shifting options, which have the same benefits as the Synapse’s electronic shifting options.

Trek Domane uses different brands and models of groupsets, depending on the frame material and price. For example, the Domane SLR 9 has Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 11-speed groupset, while the Domane AL 2 has Shimano Claris 8-speed groupset.

Conclusion

Cannondale Synapse and Trek Domane are both excellent choices for endurance road bikes, but they have different features and benefits that may appeal to different types of riders and preferences. In this article, we compared and contrasted their frame material and geometry, groupset and brakes and wheels and tires. We also recommended a specific bike model for different personas, based on their needs and goals. Whether you are a beginner, a casual rider, or a competitive rider, you can find a bike that suits you from either series.

However, the best way to decide which bike is best for you is to try them out yourself. You can visit the official websites of Cannondale and Trek to learn more about their products, or you can visit your local bike shop to test ride the bikes and get expert advice.

We hope this article helps you make an informed choice and enjoy your ride. Happy cycling!

About the Author

About the Author

Hey, what's up? Ali here. EDM addict, gym rat, and Tame Impala fan of the Cycle Simply Team.