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66cm Cannondale CAAD5 First Ride


You could climb through that

SRAM calipers adequate for 120kg

Plenty of room for ‘Dale headbadge

Beefy bottom bracket a bonus

Stem set as low as possible

Clean graphics complete the package

Cannondale CAAD5 66cm, £699 frame and fork, to order, custom paint finish

Well, where to begin?… Firstly, I’m a long-term mountain biker with a preference for the steep and deep.. (Largely stemming from a misspent youth riding anything and everything on a two- wheeler with a very noisy two-stroke motor). Secondly, I’ve never ridden the smooth stuff on anything other than a fat tired machine (from BMX to Cruiser). Thirdly.. Because of my height, nothing in the cycling world ever really fits.. Everything is always a compromise.

So, when I cornered Richard Hallett [there really was no escape – ed.] to discuss the possibility of acquiring something of suitable stature, I was waiting for the list of compromises. Unless, of course, we decided to go the custom route, which, given the expense and the fact that I really only wanted something that would increase my saddle time and potentially enable me to go down hills faster, I wasn’t at this early stage too keen on. There weren’t any. Cannondale’s biggest CAAD 5 frame looked like it would fit, and the rest would surely follow.

First thing I noticed, once the bike was assembled, was the sheer size of the animal! Very few people will ever get their leg over it, let alone climb up to that saddle! (Great; not many will want to take it for a test spin, then!). Next, the weight; astonishingly light! Of course, coming from a world of weighty downhill mtb machines, anything is going to feel light, but even compared to other road bikes we have littered around the office it held up well.

Creeping out onto the road for the first time, feeling like a skyscraper with two wheels, both a long way down, I was quickly astonished by the acceleration you are able to achieve and the efficiency with which your energy produces forward speed on the smooth stuff… (I could find myself liking this). That economy of input instantly had me seeing the appeal of this roadie action! Put your legs in drive and off you go with none of the constant battle to sustain speed that the off road stuff gives you!

The frame itself is very stiff, even given its size, giving one more reason that leg output seemed to go straight to the ground. Quite likely this was helped by the SRAM 180mm cranks, which are the same length that I use on my freeride bike. We did a fair amount of web research into crank length, many suggesting lengths considerably longer than 180mm. However, as the aim of this bike was to see what we could achieve ‘off the shelf’, 180mm is as big as it gets at and, in truth, given that a high cadence is the name of the game, as I’ve been dutifully informed by Mr H, they do seem to be a good fit.

Whilst choosing a groupset, it was suggested I try the Double Tap system from SRAM, which is their first foray into road shifters. I went for a combination of Force levers for the carbon fibre and Rival for the remainder. Having no road reference to compare, I can only say they seem to do a nice job in a good looking, streamlined package that hides cabling well and functions cleanly. The brakes are also fairly reasonable at dragging the beast back from speed, in particular given my weight. Mind you, I did miss the positive feel that a disk brake gives!

Early days yet, but the plan is to get a few kilometres under my wheels over the coming months and work on getting the fit as good as possible, while trying out suitably sturdy bits. It also has to be said there seems to be plenty of roadie etiquette to learn too! Should be interesting!

So am I a convert? Well….. The jury’s still out on that!… First love will always be the rough stuff, but there’s nothing quite like a bit of flat out speed, is there?

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