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.