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If you know anything about Cannondale, you know that they consistently think outside of the box. Consistently early to the innovation game, Cannondale was one of the first big companies with big aluminum tubing, the BB30 bottom bracket standard for oversized crank spindles (whether you like it or not), and the only company to use the Lefty fork. Based around a single fork leg, the Lefty promises excellent small bump compliance, low weight, and superior stiffness to the competition. New for 2019 is the Cannondale Lefty Ocho fork, the first single-sided single crown fork on the market.
The Lefty Ocho is available in two versions, the Ocho Carbon and the Ocho Alloy, and only on the Cannondale F-Si hardtail mountain bike (for now). This 100 mm travel fork compares nicely to the top dog Fox 32 Stepcast fork, as well as the Rockshox SID; at 1446g for the carbon fork (1735g alloy) it offers comparable weight to the Stepcast fork and is actually lighter than the SID. Lefty Ocho’s trump card, however, is that Cannondale claims the Ocho as the stiffest XC fork around, with the least amount of friction around.
Specifically, Cannondale claim that the Lefty Ocho design reduces dynamic friction (during movement) by 75%, and static friction is cut by a whopping 141% compared to a Rockshox SID or a Fox 32 Stepcast fork. Big deal, especially for Lefty aficionados. They do this by using a single, keyed, triangle stanchion (as opposed to the four-sided shape of before). The triangle rolls on four sets of needle bearings (as opposed to the three of before). This design is inherently heavier, but the result is a fork that is smoother and more compliant throughout the suspension travel.
Cannondale has also overhauled the damper, and have done so for the better. They’ve brought in one of the minds behind the latest tech with the Rockshox Pike fork, meaning a closed damper design that closely resembles that of other brands that they call their Performance Piston. Volume tokens are newly available. No pioneering here, but instead an eye toward what’s reliable and proven to work. They’ve geared it toward quality low-speed compression; as cross country bike riders spend more time in technical and sloppy riding, suppleness is key. The Lefty offers incrementally tunable compression instead of the typical three position lockout, and combined with the mechanical remote lockout makes for a fork that more tunable and user-friendly than ever.
There’s plenty of other details with the new Lefty that make a substantial difference. The traditional Lefty Ocho’s fork guard is made of carbon fiber and features an integrated hose clamp. The single crown profile uses a standard tapered steerer, making the fork usable on just about any mountain bike (unlike before). The fork itself is slightly less stiff than the outgoing Lefty 2.0, which Cannondale says makes for a fork that tracks better through rough terrain without sacrificing the direct steering Lefty is known for.
Currently the Cannondale Lefty Ocho fork is available on the new Cannondale F-Si cross country hardtail, and not yet available aftermarket. What can be said, however, is that this is a significant release for Cannondale: a fork that weighs the same as the very lightest forks, but is smoother and stiffer than the competition. No easy task, but if anyone is up to the task, it’s Cannondale.
Cannondale is well-known in the cycling world for aluminum know-how and innovation. They produce one of the first aluminum frame in 1983, and continued to refine their processes in both road and mountain biking. They backed this innovation by being the first American frame manufacturer to equip a pro European road cycling team (Saeco), featuring Mario Cipollini. This development continued into carbon fiber, making Cannondale road bikes some of the best road bikes available on the market at any price point.
While speed and performance became synonymous with the Cannondale name through their aluminum frames, the torch today is carried by the Cannondale SuperSix Evo road bike. For years, the models like the Cannondale SuperSix Evo Dura Ace has been the choice for anyone looking for an aggressive, race-ready road bike. They’ve stuck with external cable routing for ease of use and low weight, as well as traditional frame geometry, but everything else makes it one of the best road bikes on the market today. With medium-modulus and hi-mod frames available, as well as disc and rim brake models available, there is assuredly a SuperSix Evo for anyone looking to go as fast as they can down the road.
The other torch-bearer, and the top of the aluminum road bike hierarchy goes to the Cannondale CAAD12 road bike. The aluminum-framed CAAD12 (and the rest of the CAAD line) has a rich heritage of perennially winning every comparison test it participates in. That’s thanks to its unique combination of affordability, excellent stiffness, and surprising comfort, all while punching way above its weight class, with the Cannondale CAAD12 Ultegra as a model example. Few bikes can claim to have the adoration as well founded as this bike.
For those not looking to go as fast as possible down the road, there is the Cannondale Synapse endurance road bike. What makes models like the Cannondale Synapse Carbon Disc RED eTap so remarkable is how easily Cannondale have combined the elite performance of the SuperSix Evo, with a slightly more “just right” feel that encourages riders to rider even further. Further, every frame size get its own rider-appropriate carbon layup and tube dimensions. It also receives three different fork steerer and head tube diameters with three different fork offsets to ensure that every rider enjoys the same ride-feel and handling, regardless of size.
Cannondale offers a wide range of bikes for riders looking for performance at every price point. It comes down to a matter of what kind of personality wanted. Make no doubt about it, Cannondale has a wide range of road bikes derived from racing technology and know-how.
Let’s be honest: mountain bikes are not the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about Cannondale. With visions of high-performance American road bikes raced by Italian heavyweights, it’s no wonder that Cannondale mountain bikes are more overlooked than they ought to be. With an impressive combination of efficiency, low weight, and outright fun imbued into every model, there is absolutely a Cannondale mountain bike for everyone, regardless of style of riding.
The most strikingly obvious thing that sets Cannondale apart is the Lefty fork, which looks more like a strut than anything else. This is due to its distinctive single-sided design that sometimes leaves riders skeptical of its performance. Lefty starts with a dual crown design that distributes steering and impact loads through the entirety of the head tube and steer tube, instead of concentrating forces on a single fork crown like a standard suspension fork. It then couples this to a square stanchion that similarly improves stiffness, and places this stanchion along a set of needle bearings for additional stiffness and overall smoothness. As a package, the Cannondale Lefty fork is inherently stronger, smoother, and lighter than a conventional fork.
Perhaps the face of the Cannondale mountain bike line is the zippy Cannondale Scalpel Si cross country mountain bike, which is given the XXC nomenclature. It is the model of efficiency on the cross country course, with it’s Ai offset design moving the drivetrain 6mm to the left, which allows not only for a stronger wheel, but far shorter chainstays as well. What earns the full-suspension Scalpel Si’s XXC moniker, however, is it’s slack head tube angle and generously raked fork. This gives it responsive handling at low speeds, but doesn’t compromise the high-speed stability the Scalpel Si is known for. The Cannondale F-Si cross country mountain bike follows suit as Cannondale’s hardtail model, built for rapid speed over high-speed sweepers rather than techy rock-strewn trails. It too receives Ai offset as part of Cannondale’s dedication to thinking outside of the box.
Firmly entrenched in Cannondale’s “fun” bracket is the Cannondale Habit and Bad Habit full-suspension trail bikes. Designed as an “if you could only have one bike” mountain bike, models like the Cannondale Habit 3 trail bike are equipped to tackle techy trails, while being light and responsive enough to keep up with traditional cross country bike. It uses 27.5 inch wheels for greater maneuverability, with models like the Cannondale Bad Habit 2 receiving plus-sized 2.8” tires for greater grip and rider confidence. With 130mm of travel available, these bikes prove that big amounts of travel aren’t necessary for big fun.
Up the travel bracket is the Cannondale Trigger all-mountain bike and Cannondale Jekyll enduro bike. The Trigger’s unique combination of a 66 degree headtube angle, stout 420mm chainstays, with a steep seat tube and long reach across the range ensures efficient climbing capability, downhill stability, and baked-in fun all over the trail. It’s 27.5 inch wheels ensure that the Cannondale Trigger 3 is easily maneuverable, while the 150/145mm travel does an impressive job of smoothing out techy terrain. The all-new 2018 Cannondale Jekyll enduro bike strikes an unlikely balance between huge 170mm/165mm travel, best-in-class pedaling efficiency, and sub-30 lb weight without flexiness. The new Gemini shock is novel in it’s Hustle and Flow settings – 165mm travel in one setting and 130mm rear travel for superior climbing ability than nearly any other enduro bike in it’s class.
The Cannondale mountain bike line is oft-underestimated. It runs the gamut of needs, with price ranges that fit everyone. Whether the mountain bike needs to be as fast as a road bike, or it needs to speed down a steep flow trail, Cannondale has a bike for everyone.
One prevalent theme in current bike riding is the idea of pushing the limits of a bicycle’s capabilities. Whether wanting to take road bikes on dirt and gravel, or taking traditional short travel mountain bikes down steeper and steeper trails, riders demand their traditional bikes be pushed to greater limits than before. Cannondale have the answer to this change in focus: their SE (Special Edition) line of bikes. From drop bars to flat bars, Cannondale has an SE model for anyone looking to go push the limit with wider tires, more travel, and a greater sense of adventure.
The SE model range covers both mountain and road bike lines. The lone mountain bike is the Cannondale Scalpel SE, which receives some fairly notable changes from the hard-charging Scalpel Si cross country mountain bike. The Cannondale Scalpel SE 2 gets a bump in travel with 120mm front travel, and 115mm in the rear. The bottom bracket is raised by a few millimeters as result of the suspension change, and the SE receives a slacker 68.5-degree head tube angle to better accommodate the new travel length and trail-oriented use. Other niceties such as wider tires and rims, bigger brake rotors, and a Raceface dropper post indicate that this bike is designed to be a true fast trail slayer. We are extremely excited about these bikes, and make the Scalpel SE better for the kind of riding we like to do.
The Cannondale SE Collection is a bit more expansive, but the overall goal is the same: make the bikes more versatile, more fun, and burlier than their standard counterparts. There are roads of all kids, from porcelain-smooth tarmac to ragged gravel trails, and these bikes are built to ride them all. The Cannondale Synapse Carbon Disc Ultegra SE and Cannondale Synapse Carbon Disc Women’s Apex 1 SE feature tubeless-ready WTB rims and tires, and wide-range gearing in an effort to make the bike more versatile and capable on gravel roads. Meanwhile, the Cannondale SuperX Force 1 SE and Cannondale CAADX 105 SE are equipped with even wider WTB rims and tires, with a one-by drivetrain that features an 11-42 cassette to change the ultimate cyclocross machine into a bike equipped for adventure riding, both on and off-road adventure riding. The Cannondale Touring Apex 1 SE again receives tubeless-ready WTB rims and tires, as well as a requisite 11-42 cassette, making this the idea rig for fire road touring and bikepacking.
More than ever, cyclists want to go just a little bit further than they did the day before, to explore the unbeaten path, and to expand horizons. The SE line is built for those moments. Equipped for more than just the bare minimum, these bikes are perfect for getting the most out of a bike ride.