We review so much kit for RoadCyclingUK that sometimes it’s easy to forget that we just enjoy riding bikes too. And, like everyone, we have a few bits of kit or bikes that we just adore. This new series gives us a chance to show you what we spend our money on or choose to ride long after the review period has finished, and talk a little about our all-time favourites…
A few years ago, I decided I wanted a bike that I could both test kit on but also commute on without worrying about the general wear and tear that brings. At the time I was riding to work and back in the centre of Bristol via Gloucester Road, and anyone who’s lived or worked there knows that Gloucester Road at rush hour is a pretty crazy place.
So I decided that anything full carbon would be tantamount to madness, but I still wanted something relatively light and aggressive that ideally wouldn’t break the bank either. Plus, I wanted a frameset rather than a full bike, as I already had a groupset to put on it. In the end it basically came down to a choice between either Canyon’s Ultimate AL or a Cannondale CAAD10. I chose the CAAD10 for two reasons: firstly, Cannondale’s track record of making superb aluminium bikes and secondly, because I thought it looked better. And that counts for a lot. Obviously.
And it is very much a frameset to me. I’ve had so many different wheels, cranksets, groupsets, and so much finishing kit on it that it’s difficult to say what the preferred setup actually is. But it’s been a fantastic base from which to test kit and has been amazingly durable through all kinds of weather. It’s also survived a few minor crashes and the wear and tear of three years of commuting almost every week day, as well as being employed on countless evening and weekend rides. It’s now scratched, got a few dents on the frame and the paint is chipped in a couple of places but it won’t be going anywhere until it’s totally unrideable.
And that’s part of the beauty of aluminium, of course. I’ve banged on about it plenty on the site over the last little while, but the extra element of durability that you get with aluminium means that it’s far from dead as a frame material, and it can provide a really stiff, responsive ride, too. For example, I have a noticeable dent in one of the seatstays of my CAAD10 that’s been there for about a year, and the bike still rides as well as ever. Had it been a carbon frame, the crash (or whatever it was, I’m honestly not too sure) that caused that dent may have been terminal. Metal dents, carbon cracks. This is by no means a way of saying that metal is superior to carbon, but from my point of view if you’re planning on commuting or doing anything that might subject a bike to anything higher than a nominal level of wear and tear, then it makes metal my favoured frame material.
And far aside from my stubborn attachment to it, the CAAD10 does ride wonderfully well. Besides the fact that the frame weights in at just over a kilo – meaning you can build it into a genuinely light bike should you so wish – it just does everything well. Sure, it’s probably a little harsher than a Cannondale SuperSix Evo, but then again it’s also significantly cheaper and having ridden the cobbles of Flanders on my CAAD10 last year for a few days I can tell you that it’s more than comfortable enough for that. And anyway, tyre/pressure choice is a far more important choice when it comes down to it.
As it currently stands, the CAAD10 is off the road awaiting new headset bearings, but it’ll be back in action soon. Kit-wise, it’s currently equipped with a full Campagnolo Chorus groupset, Zipp alloy finishing kit (Service Course SL seatpost and stem, SL-70 bars), a Fizik Arione R3 saddle and Campagnolo Shamal Ultra wheels. But it’s been through a huge amount of changes over the years, and will no doubt be getting shuffled about again in the near future.