This is Cannondale’s entry-level road bike. It’s right at the foot of a giddying range that tops out with the SuperSix EVO, which is over 12 times more expensive.
Intended to be a first step on that heady route to the very pinnacle of road cycling, the CAAD8 is, according to Cannondale, “designed to turn people into cyclists”.
Cannondale has three decades of experience with aluminium tubing to draw on, so the CAAD8 certainly ought to be able to live up to the US firm’s claims. Furthermore, Cannondale says it actually shares its tubeset shaping with the SuperSix EVO.
To make it novice friendly, it has a slightly longer head tube than its pricy carbon cousin for a more upright rider position, and the head tube is also machined externally to save a few grams – Cannondale says its weight ?is class-leading.
The CAAD8 frame and its Shimano 2300 groupset ought to have a lot in common, both of them being budget versions of something much more expensive and desirable but benefiting from the same technology. However, whereas the CAAD8 makes a good fist of being a ‘proper’ road frame, the 2300 components look and feel cheap and nasty.
The shifters have plastic thumb paddles for the upshifts that can’t be reached from the drops. If that’s not silly enough, they are placed just so that when you grip the hoods, they rub the knuckles of your thumbs. Even Sora, Shimano’s bottom ‘series’ groupset doesn’t have these any more. The shifters rattle annoyingly too, and a couple of times the right-hand downshift/brake lever stuck at the limit of its sweep during a shift.
Back to basics
The rest of it is OK if you don’t mind basic eight-speed and an old-fashioned square-taper bottom bracket. The wheels are heavy and contribute to the general feeling of unwieldiness about the CAAD8 2300.
For another £100 the CAAD8 comes with the new version of Sora and for another £200 on top of that it gets 10-speed Shimano Tiagra (though unfortunately the same wheels) and I would suggest that’s where the groupset begins to match the frame’s performance.
To sum up, the CAAD8 2300 is a good frame let down by a groupset that has limitations even for novices. The advertised metamorphosis worked in reverse for me - it turned me from a cyclist into a jaded person with sore thumbs.