Cannondale launch new 2011 models: big year for Cyclo-Cross
Utterly gorgeous and super light SuperX 950g carbon frame is the highlight for us but there is plenty more to like
Cannondale threw open their warehouse doors in Poole, Dorset this week for an open-house where the bike shops and journalists could preview what's coming soon for the new model year.
Interestingly, at this early stage with the big shows in Friedrichshafen and London still to come and production on some models still getting started, it was an opportunity for Cannondale to test out some hunches on colour schemes.
At least one model, the new CAAD10 Dura-Ace, got everyone so excited in a new stealthy black finish that Cannondale spontaneously decided to start taking orders in that scheme where they had initally thought a perfectly lovely red combo otherwise seen on the 105 version would be the choice.
We weren't paying attention to that particular conversation because we were already stealing out of the door to photograph their magnificent new SuperX (say 'Super Cross') carbon-fibre bike.
Using the same ballistic-grade carbon-fibre as their top-end Flash mountain bike - which Cannondale like to tell everyone has to be accounted for as it's sourced from the defense industry and that it's otherwise used for very expensive baseball bats - it's sufficiently tough to take the expected clattering as well as being light enough to bring the frame weight in at 950g.
Apart from the flagship £3,500 SRAM Red model shown above right, there is a Shimano Ultegra-equipped option at £2,400. Also with a super stiff BB30 bottom bracket assembly and Ultegra components is an aluminium version called CAADX for £1,400.
Redefining the word 'purposeful' the new SuperX carbon frame claims to be as tough as you like and weighs 950 grams.
With our Mr. Sensible hats on, we are strangely excited by a 105-equipped option of the aluminium CAADX bike, shown below, in a clear-lacquered finish. For a penny under £1,000, we can see this being a popular choice for Ride-To-Work-Scheme buyers.
CAADX, a new £1,000 aluminium 'cross model that you could race but is more likely to be popular as a light and reliable daily hack.
Plus, there's a Tiagra version of CAADX for £900 which will allow you to squeeze a rack, lights and mudguards into the £1,000 budget. On these two lower-priced, non-BB30 models, of course, there are bosses for everything practical which is the clue that Cannondale have been keeping a close eye on the burgeoning do-it-all commuting market.
Back to that black CAAD10, the latest version of the legendary welded aluminium frame-formerly-known-as CAADs-1-thru-9 (Cannondale Advanced Aluminium Design, we'll be testing you later) is now made from a subtly different 6000-series alloy that together with all sorts of clever shaping jiggery-pokery means that the weight is now down 200g to 1,150g "in size 56, all painted" as Cannondale are keen to stress.
Notable marks to distinguish it are the enormously flared bottom of the down tube where it meets the new tapered 1.125 to 1.25" headtube. Plus it has straight seatstays, which Cannondale assure us are going to be as plush to ride as the old CAAD9 'hourglass' stays. Yes, we have booked our test bike.
Highlight of the CAAD10 options for us is the red 105-kitted model for £1,300 but there are also Shimano Dura-Ace parts built on (in the aforementioned stealth-fighter black) for £2,500 or with Ultegra for £1,900.
Yikes, straight and slim seat stays on an aluminium Cannondale; what next? The new CAAD10 has lost 230 grams.
The venerable 6061-aluminium CAAD8 is still in the 'Elite' part of the Cannondale road range, all built up with three different models under £1,000, which means that there are some well-priced, full-on race bikes, although this racing frame has a slightly longer head tube and shorter top tube in any given size for a tad more comfort.
Top of the Elite racers is the Super Six HIMOD 900 gram carbon-fibre frame in various wallet-busting guises but we already knew about that one and its luridly fluoro green (and then pink) success at the Giro d'Italia for the superbly drilled Liquigas-Doimo pro team with Ivan Basso at the head.
What is new is the Super Six which replaces the Six Carbon with a weight reduction of 200g down to 1050g. It appears to incorporate all the clever shapes from the HIMOD but without quite such high-modulus carbon and therefore less cost.
There are Super Six models with Dura-Ace and Ultegra components but the option that's already got the shops buzzing and journos fighting over the first road test is the new 105 version which this year in its 2010 guise was praised to the skies in Cycling Weekly and elsewhere besides. With the same £1,800 price and the much-improved Shimano 105 parts, we are very much looking forward to riding it.
Cannondale Super Six 105 £1,800. A success in 2010 already but now 200g lighter and the much-improved Shimano 105 will surely make this a contender for bike of the year again.
If the 'Elite' bikes are intended for no-holds-barred road racing, the 'Performance' models otherwise called Synapse are all shaped in the current 'sportive' mode for fast riding but with comfort to the fore.
The top HIMOD and CRB versions of Synapse mirror the performance and weight of their Super Six counterparts but with longer head tubes and shorter top tubes for prices ranging from £5,000 for a Dura-Ace-based package down to £1,700 for the new SRAM Apex components.
The big change, though, for Synapse this coming year is a U-turn for Cannondale where, having dropped the aluminium frames and completely misread the need for sub-1,000 sportive bikes, they're now back with 105, Tiagra or Sora-based specs for £1,000, £850 and £700 respectively.
Women will be pleased to see that the men's models are well mirrored in so-called 'Feminine' models for equivalent prices. It's a simplified range, sure enough, but Cannondale have thankfully avoided painting them in overly 'girly' colours which will please many women, and men also who just happen to need the smaller size or shorter top tube. The 44cm £700 Synapse ALU Sora and and £850 Synapse ALU Tiagra models might just get a few parents of aspiring racers excited.
There's more by Stuart Bowers in next Thursday's Cycling Weekly magazine.