With a quarter of a century of experience, Cannondale pretty much wrote the book on aluminium frames.
The CAAD frame has heritage, with the likes of Mario Cipollini involved in its evolution, and Grand Tour triumphs in its palmares after Cunego rode one to victory in the 2004 Giro. What was once a world-beating range topper is now available to you, just above entry-level pricing.
There was a phase in Cannondale’s history when its frames became overly stiff and harsh. The CAAD 9 came later, after the necessary tweaks, and from our previous tests, we think, became one of the best frames it has ever produced. Its lively feel makes your legs feel like they’re always on a good day as it surges forward from your input, but the harshness has gone.
You don’t feel beaten up by the Cannondale CAAD 9, yet it feels rock solid, as you accelerate or climb.
The sculpted seatstays play their part but mostly it’s a successful partnership of design and materials.
If we have one complaint, it’s that the welds look like someone has stuck chewing gum around the tube junctions. The super-smooth, almost fillet brazed, appearance of Cannondale’s frames has been lost, presumably to save some cost.
It’s business as usual with a collection of own-brand finishing kit, but that’s a Cannondale trait and has never been cause for concern. The quality is on the money, although a short stem may need exchanging. Fizik’s Arione saddle is top end, and a bonus on a bike of this price.
Cannondale has not let the level of spec drop below what the frame deserves.
Shimano 105 performs as good for 2009 as Dura-Ace a few years back, so it serves the bike well. For just another £299, you can have a full Ultegra-equipped version, which is absurd value.
CANNONDALE CAAD 9 105 COMPACT: SPEC
Distributor Cannondale, www.cannondale.com
Frame CAAD 9
Fork Cannondale Ultra Carbon
Size range 48, 50, 52, 54, 56, 58, 60 and 63cm
Weight 19.1lb (8.6kg)
Groupset Shimano 105
Gear ratios 50/34 with 12-27 cassette
Wheels Shimano RS10
Tyres Vittoria Zaffiro 700 x 23c
Bars Cannondale C3
Stem Cannondale C4
Seatpost Cannondale C3
Saddle Fizik Arione
If you want speed and efficiency then the Cannondale CAAD 9 105 Compact is a top choice. It is a true all-rounder. Certainly if you had a pair of ‘best’ wheels to slot in for special occasions, you could transform this bike into something even more impressive for racing.