I currently have a Cannondale H400 (2001) that's been outfitted with 700x25c slicks, more performance-oriented seat and post, Shimano SPD clipless pedals, and some basic utility odds and ends (rear rack, for example).
Upgrading the tires, pedals, and seat/post really went a long way toward making the ride more enjoyable for me. I hated the old 700x38c slightly-knobby tires, clip pedals, and Selle Royale gel seat (awful!). A good utility bike with a few road performance oriented improvements has been a great companion for a few years.
But I really want something more road oriented. In particular, I have grown to despise the MTB style handlebars on the H400, as well as the twist-grip SRAM shifters. Frankly, aside from the helm (to borrow a sailing term), it's been a good bike for me. Anyway, I happen to like Cannondale's products, so I've been looking at what they currently have to offer in a road bike. I think I've decided on either one of the Synapse or one of the Synapse Sport models.
The Synapse Sport 5 looks to be a good choice; it will still let me mount a rear rack, and provides a road bike feel. But I wonder, is it going to be enough of an upgrade (besides the handlebars) for me to appreciate the difference in performance that it may (or may not) offer beyond the old H400. I do like its "105" componentry, but wonder if it carries too many comfort compromises.
Another alternative would be a Synapse (not a "sport" model). There are a lot of Synapse models to choose from, so that becomes a little more difficult choice. I suppose pricing may come more into play in the general Synapse lineup. The advantages to the Synapse (versus Synapse Sport) seem to be that they're more performance oriented than the Sport models, at the expense of maybe a little comfort. But one of the disadvantages (to me) is that I don't think the standard Synapse frames can accept a rear rack, which is somewhat important to me. Another possible disadvantage could be that to get a Synapse (not Sport) in a price range somewhat similar to the Sport 5, I may end up with lower end components, while gaining a more aggressive riding position.
I guess as a final discussion I ought to explain how I use my bike:
Weekdays: 5 to 10 mile rides either before or after work three or four days a week. Often a part of the ride includes running some errands while getting exercise, without using the car of course. In this regard, a rack is very useful.
Weekends: 30 to 40 miles of recreational (fitness) riding one of my weekend days, along with 5 to 10 miles of errands if they're bicycle-appropriate.
In all, I ride about 70 to 80 miles in an average week. A complaint I have currently is that because of the flat bar, my left hand tends to get a little numb on the longer rides. An observation is that while I bought the H400 thinking I would use it both on-road and for some light trails, I moved to a different city (now Los Angeles) and don't see trails ever. It's all pavement for me now.
So..... Synapse Sport, or Synapse?
Sorry for the long-winded post, but I'd love to hear observations from anyone who has looked into these two bikes before.
If you want to use a rack, and even though you can use hardware like rubber coated P-clips to mount racks to almost any bike, I'd personally feel better mounting a rack onto actual eyelets. To me, then, that's a selling point of the Sport.
The deed's done; today I ordered the Cannondale Synapse Sport 5 in an XL frame. I'll move my Shimano SPD pedals from my old bike over to the new one, and the first time I get a flat I'll probably also move my Armadillos over to the new bike. The rack, bottle cage, light brackets, and computer will also migrate over. The old bike (Cannondale H400) will probably get listed in an auction site.
I expect the new bike within a couple weeks. I'll update the thread when it arrives.