Brief Introduction by Lily
I can’t tell you how many times this season people said: “That team with the cool fork!” “You’re doing great *heckle* awesome fork.” “Ohhh I think I remember you by your fork!”
That’s all. Other words by Andrew.
2017 Cannondale Super X – Force 1
Stem: Zipp Service Course SL, 110mm x -6
Bars: Zipp Service Course SL-80, 42cm (c-c)
Crankset: Cannondale HoloGram SI, 42T chainring
Pedals: Crank Brothers Egg Beater
Brakes: Sram HRD, 160mm rotors
Shifters: Sram Force CX1
Deraileur: Sram Force CX1
Cassette: Sram 1170, 11-32
Wheels: HED Ardennes SL Disc Brake Tubulars
Tires: Donnelly PDX
In years past, many manufacturers suggested sizing down from one’s road frame size, but these bikes fit absolutely true to size. Riding the same size frame as my road bike has allowed me to run a 110mm stem to achieve my preferred reach, arguably the optimal stem size for handling. I felt my weight was evenly distributed over the wheels and had zero issues with toe overlap, even with a tight wheelbase.
Cannondale did some innovative things with the geometry of this bike. First, they shortened the chainstays, which brought the rear wheel further under the body and allowed for greater rear wheel traction. This was especially evident on steep climbs and pedaling through loose turns. Second, they slackened the headtube while shortening the trail to offer a bike that is stable at high speeds, yet still nimble at slow speeds. This feature, I’ll admit, I was initially skeptical of.
I had two concerns: first, I was worried the front wheel would be too far out to be properly weighted and second, I was worried the slack headtube would mean sluggish handling in tight corners. After a full calendar of UCI cross racing, I’m happy to report that I was wrong. On fast and technical descents the bike offered excellent confidence by way of a stable front end and seemed to perfectly carve fast sweeping turns. Under those conditions the handling was reminiscent of a MTB. At slow speeds, the front end was surprisingly light and allowed me to easily point the bike where I wanted in order to nail the perfect line. I was also happy to find that the bike hopped barriers and other obstacles quite well. **Insert from Lily: “Same.”** Lastly, 12mm front and rear thru axles kept the wheels feeling stiff and connected, especially because they were bolt-on. Under hard cornering, we never experienced rubbing rotors or tires rubbing against the frame.
Despite shortening the chainstays, the rear wheel had plenty of frame clearance and by eliminating both the chainstay and seatstay bridge, there were no ledges to pack with mud, which kept the bike light on muddy days. The fork offered similar space. As further evidence of the clearance, I often ran 40c gravel tires on training rides and seemed to have room to spare.
A relatively slack seattube and 27.2-carbon post seemed to offer a lot of vertical compliance, which proved tremendously valuable on some of the very bumpy and dry courses we raced early in the year. It was easy to keep the power high while seated on rough terrain and ‘cross back’ was nary an issue. Overall, the bike dissipated vibrations really well and even when I was white-knuckling the bars over chattery terrain, I never experienced any fatigue in my arms. Lastly, a flat-ish top tube made shouldering the bike a less painful experience.
The bikes looked very classic and clean with nearly horizontal top tubes and mostly straight lines. The cables were all internal for more cleanness and a removable front derailleur mount allowed us to remove the vestigial structure and have a clean seattube. The frames featured a very classy and subdued gloss grey finish, with black logos. For some contrast, the forks and chainstays were painted with a crazy pattern of pink and high-vis yellow that garnered endless compliments. With this combination, many thought the bikes were custom painted, a product of our presumed good taste. Thanks for making us look good, Cannondale.
Featured image: Ethan Glading, Major Taylor Cross Cup