Thursday, March 27, 2008

Encore

Regardless of Cannondale's new seat at the Pacific table, one aspect is undeniable: the years under the Pegasus umbrella have led to some impressive developments in material technologies. The result is big leaps in the Cannondale product range and a trickle down of technologies to the lower price points.

I have been nothing short of astonished by the functionality and performance of my CAAD8. The most salient is the CAAD8's return on investment. The bike rides so wonderfully that it's hard to believe I paid hundreds, not thousands, of dollars for it. Therein lies the reason I have so much trouble moving on from it. I have no reason to replace it other than it's beginning to look dated and I have a fear (from my years in retail) of riding an oversized Al bike into its golden years. Aluminum has a tendency to throw in the towel when it's had enough and, if you miss its early tell-tale signs, the final curtain can prove to be pretty scary.

Based on my three joyous seasons aboard the CAAD8, buying another Cannondale seems like the obvious choice.

For the 2008 season, I plan to launch my mid-pack domination aboard Cannondale's newest and most advanced machine: the SuperSix. Hailing from Bedford, PA, the SuperSix is Cannondale's first full-carbon offering made in the good 'ol U.S. of A. Like all Cannondales, the pricing is reasonable and, if you look hard enough, there are deals to be found. My SuperSix arrived dressed in summer whites which is 2008's equivalent to 2006's natural (dress) weave. I wasn't given a choice for color, but I'm more than willing to live with the blanc. A company really has to miss the mark for a white product not to equate to PRO.

Although I only have a thousand miles on the new bike, its strengths are beginning to show. A walk around the SuperSix reveals some cool features:

BB30 specification - Negated by the use of Cannondale's threaded insert and the SRAM Red crankset, this is BKW's first brush with the future of BBs. Maybe it was a mistake not to use the SI crankset from Cannondale, but hey, the Red cranks look so damn nice and means I don't have to pop for the SIs.

1.5" head tube tapering to 1.125" - This modification seems to be all the rage in the carbon bike world, and it's intended to stiffen up the front end, especially under hard corning. A cool feature for feature's sake, but I don't recall the 1.125" head tube of the CAAD8 being overly flexy.


Super skinny seat stays a la Cervelo R3 - When paired with carbon, this has already proven to be a comfy addition. Again, the CAAD8 was extremely comfortable for an oversized Al bike, but the addition of carbon has helped to soak up the high frequency road buzz and low frequency bigger hits giving the Six a distinctively carbon bike feel, not a wooden feel like some, but rather the "magic carpet" feel that only high-quality carbon bikes can deliver.


Wickedly oversized down tube - The thick down tube, which when compared to the CAAD8, illustrates the control bike designers have over the cycling public's aesthetic tastes. When comparing the SuperSix to the current crop of carbon bikes, the downtube size is par for the course and does not seem the least bit out of place. Set the bike next to an elegant steel machine and the difference presents itself like ZaZa Gabor during a traffic stop.

With all of the surface area on the down tube, Cannondale's lawyers felt it was an ideal place to throw down the disclaimers, striking with a fury equal to the legalese of a McDonald's coffee cup. Taking their cues from loopholes of the mattress industry, the decal rests deep under the clear coat, assuring it is never removed, even by owner.


Since we're going to mix it up a bit with a full carbon rig, why not throw in a few other tweaks, like the SRAM Red group. The Red group began its season aboard the CAAD8 and with 1,000 miles of CA roads, roller time, and full-on crappy weather abuse, it has proven to be an amazing follow up effort from the gang at SRAM. I am especially fond of the lever reach adjustment, a feature Shimano and Campagnolo have ignored. With the adjustment dial tweaked, the levers are positioned optimally for use with the Newton Shallow Drops. Returning to a Campy hood may prove to be a challenge.

Greg will rest easier knowing that BKW has approved the purchase of a saddle with a touch of white and, although not entirely white, it will compliment the mandatory rule of summer tape. Thanks Greg!

In the hoop department, my loyalties stay with Mavic and, for 2008, I couldn't say no to the Ksyrium SL Premiums. I've been waiting with baited breath for Mavic to make a return to the all-black of 2000. It took all of my will to leave Interbike last year without the display wheels under my jacket. For the warmer months, the Cosmic Carbone PROs make their third appearance, this time sans MP3 program. Cross your fingers that the carbon wheel Karma is strong this season.

The SuperSix appears to be a refined CAAD8, incorporating the good and improving on the few weak areas. The Red group was love at first assembly and I trust it will only get better from here. Stay tuned for some further thoughts as the season goes on and the mileage goes up.

26 comments:

jason said...

"an amazing sophomoric attempt from the gang at SRAM."

Sophomore is a US English idiomatic term used to describe a second effort, instance or release

"sophomoric" means "pretentious, bombastic, inflated in style or manner; immature, crude, superficial" (according to the Oxford English Dictionary). It appears to be most likely formed from Greek "sophos", meaning "wise", and "moros" meaning "foolish"

-Sorry... Love your stuff

Radio Freddy said...

Jason - I guess one could argue either. Thanks for dropping by.

- RF

Anonymous said...

The only problem with white (I've a 'tricolore' frame) is that it shows the road dirt - as it looks like you've discovered!

Oh for that summer weather...

Radio Freddy said...

It has been a while since I had a white bike. The road dirt is ever present. No matter how much I work to keep it clean, it always looks ridden. As you have said, "Oh for that summer weather..." I keep waiting.

oompaloompa said...

whoa,
full size frame pump.

only a nicely mounted polar watch hrm no powermeter

seat bag

nice retro touches on a pro ride.

would love to see the rest of your stable profiled in its as I ride it state.

Chris said...

I can't say much about the newer Cannondales, but my past experience was not good. I sold/worked on them in a shop for over 5 years in the early 90's. They were terrible: Improperly aligned, frames broke on a regular basis and rattled the hell out of your bones. One thing I can say is they took care of their customers. Very good customer service. But after all the issues I saw, I said I will never own a Cannondale, and I haven't. Maybe they did get their act together, or maybe you don't know any difference? I have friends that have ridden the newer ones and gone onto other bikes and been happy they did.

Anonymous said...

Nice to see there is an appreciation for Cannondale bikes. I had a model 2.7, which is a pre CAAD-X model. Last year it was around 15 years old and it developed a crack around the seat tube/top tube joint. I put between 6 to 10 thousand miles per year on that thing. I took it to a local dealer and they replaced it with a brand new CAA9 with no hassles at all.
I know that it is not as nice riding as today's carbon bikes, but for the money, I am very happy. Its very light, and very strong, and for me, it serves its purpose very well.

Anonymous said...

Congrats on your new SuperSix.

Regarding the summer tape rule, what if you live in a region of the U.S. that has spring/summer type weather nine months out of the year. Can you sport it outside of Memorial and Labor days?

Also, where did you get the personalized frame sticker? Very PRO.

--MR

gary watts said...

White bar tape=Fizik, end of story. Heck, I'll ride it in the winter!

Joachim said...

Conratulations!
The seat stays are beautiful, especially when coupled with huge chain stays.Think I might replace my trusty Six13 with one of those.
I assembled a SuperSix for a customer the other day, with SRAM Red-gruppo, Zipp Zedtech 303, Zipp crankset, Zipp bars etc. The dog's bollocks, but not very reasonably priced. As for the allegedly poor quality, I've not seen much of that during my seven (post-2000)years at a fairly large Cannondale retailer. Au contraire, and I've loved every Cannondale I've had.

Feel It: The Factory Rider said...

great bike-
keep up the good bike selection from cannondale. american too.

Anonymous said...

you should know better from your "years in retail":

reading this post made me feel as if i were overhearing one of my shop's salespeople selling a bike to a customer. complete with mindless parroting of the catalog text, misuse of words, and an overall lack of critical distance/self-awareness.

at some points you sound like a rep from cannondale, for pete's sake.

don't be a shill, man. that's not PRO at all.

Radio Freddy said...

Anon - I guess my years in retail have taken their toll. At least I didn't say it was laterally stiff and vertically compliant. - RF

Anonymous said...

OK, Now I'm being picky but Bedford, CT doesn't exist. Cannondale USA is in Bedford, PA. Cannondale HQ is in Bethel CT.

Radio Freddy said...

Anon - tweaked it. sorry for the typo. - RF

part-timer said...

Congrats on the new ride......very nice....good choice going with the SRAM Red stuff too!
What really caught my eye though was the Radio Freddy decal on the top tube. Cool.
Keep up the great work. I love reading your stuff!

Anonymous said...

great post. love the blog... so please indulge my envy/question: how do you squeeze in the riding time? ~1000 miles by march 2008 (even if you are in warm climate)? given your writings, i imagine that you are somewhere between 30 and 45 with a day job and assorted other distractions. just looking for any insights into finding more time on the bike.... in any event, keep up the great work!

thefutureofamerica said...

As long as people are making corrections - I got mocked on the BSNYC comments a few weeks back for referring to 'baited' breath. It's actually 'bated' breath as in 'the maiden's breath was abated due to her nervousness in waiting for her gentleman caller to arrive.' Not as in 'the maiden baited her breath with perfume and mints in order that she make a stunning impression upon her gentleman caller's arrival.'

Dan said...

To the "anonymous" accusing BKW of shilling for C'Dale...

Come on man. Why can't someone share their positive opinions? Being PRO is about riding what you like and what works for you regardless the marketing hype or cache of the brand. Would you accuse the man of shilling if he wrote a glowing review of a blinged out Time or BMC? Or is it just because he's lauding a bike mortals can afford, that's readily available in most cities across the country? Being PRO doesn't have to be about being elitist...ride what you love, love what you've got.

Sev said...

Clean the bike for press/marketing picturess maybe? No... Why would you do that... Sev.

Anonymous said...

When an aluminum frame gives up the ghost, Cannondale is in the "team car" with a replacement which is nice. I race a Optimo cross frame and can't imagine anything happening to it (structurally). Just inspires a little confidence as these things are not cheap.

f1junkie said...

Hello Freddy!

As with most folks, just wanted to say I really enjoy your blog. It's inspired me to create a blog of my own, and I have a long way to go! I want to know if there is a way I can contact you through e-mail - I have a project involving your BKW logo and would like to have your approval before I start. Please e-mail me at

dave_yee (at) hotmail.com

Thanks in advance from Canada.

ants said...

Question: Was wondering why you did get the r-sys wheel? Too bleeding edge perhaps? Cheers.

Keep up the good work!

P.S. I found your blog after searching for reviews on the VXR Proteam... I already had one at this stage (from a warranty from my old VXR) but wanted to know what people thought. I did not have a choice in colo[u]r either...

Hoodooguru said...

Please do tell, what are these "warning signs" of Alu failure? I have a Devinci Santiago and a Storck Vision Light, both full Alu and love them both.

Love the blog btw, keep up the good work.

Anonymous said...

I just got my caad9 and I was glad I did when I heard they got bought by pacific. A few months ago, I billeted a couple of healthnet riders who had nothing but good things to say about their bikes.

Anonymous said...

So, is it really made in the USA. Talking to Scott over at IBIS. Extremely very few carbon bikes are made outside of Asia. Has C'dale been working on carbon in secret for a few years? How did they develop the production expertise I wonder. If the made in the USA is true, it would be great to have a carbon USA alternative to the Trek Live Wrong.

Cheers,
dudedinator