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Cannondale CAAD 10 Rival Disc review

1 Dec 2015
Verdict:

Former winner of an aluminium bike group test, does it stack up with disc brakes?

Cyclist Rating: 
Price: 
£1,800
For 
Top alloy frame as you'd expect from Cannondale
Against 
Not as exciting as the non-disc version

When we reviewed the Cannondale CAAD10 Racing Edition in issue six (of Bikes Etc), we were blown away by its low weight, incredible power delivery and excellent spec. For the exact same price as that bike, Cannondale also produces the super-swish disc brake-equipped Rival Disc. Already a BikesEtc test winner, does it live up to the standards set by its rim-braked brother? We took it for a spin to see how it compares…

Cannondale CAAD 10 Rival head tube

Frame

Adding disc brakes isn’t quite as easy as adding the right mounting points, but to look at the CAAD10 Disc frame, it’s remarkable how close it is to the non-disc version, right down to the arch still being in place between the seatstays where the rear brake would normally go. The CAAD10 frame is aluminium, a material Cannondale is uniquely associated with thanks to its light, race-winning frames from the late ’90s and early 2000s. It uses a post mount for the rear brake, tucked inside the rear triangle, which means only the chainstays experience additional braking forces, allowing the seatstays to remain slender, aiding comfort. It’s also interesting to see that in the pursuit of comfort – not aluminium’s strong point – Cannondale has stuck with its 1.125 to 1.25in tapered steerer tube rather than going to the more common (and one assumes stiffer) 1.5in tapered fork. The additional forces associated with placing a powerful hydraulic brake at the end of a fork leg could have been a good excuse to move to the popular fatter standard, but Cannondale hasn’t, in the name of reducing rider fatigue. The same can be said of the seat tube, which hosts a 27.2mm seatpost rather than something oversized – this will flex slightly more than something of a larger diameter.

Components

SRAM’s 22-speed Rival is likely the most affordable hydraulic groupset. The lever hoods look undeniably huge but in the hand, they’re actually not much bigger than Shimano’s mechanical hydro shifters. The tall top part is necessary to house a hydraulic reservoir, and out riding, it actually feels good, providing an additional hand position and making a normal hand position feel secure – where we’d normally reach for the drops on descents, we’re less inclined to on SRAM’s. Gear shifts are accurate, but the shifting action requires noticeably more force than Shimano. This could be a bad thing, but over rough roads, you know where you stand – you’re not going to make any unexpected miss-shifts. Cannondale’s own-brand finishing kit is all very good quality, largely unchanged from the equipment supplied on the Racing Edition, with the exception of the handlebars, which here are a shallow ergonomic drop rather than a traditional round drop.

Cannondale CAAD 10 Rival disc brake

Wheels

Our demo bike came supplied with Fulcrum Racing Sport DB wheels, a package only available when supplied as part of a complete bike. They use a semi-deep, fairly wide rim to give the tyres a good profile, and six-bolt disc hubs, which bizarrely use 21 spokes front and rear. So that means seven spokes laced radially on the non-disc side on the front, and 14 spokes on the disc side, laced in a traditional crossed pattern to help resist the powerful braking forces emanating around the hub. At the back, the sides are reversed, so the drive side gets crossed spokes, while the disc side gets radial spokes. We’re more used to seeing crossed spokes on both sides with disc wheels, to resist pedalling and braking forces, but we had no problems.

The ride

Cannondale CAAD 10 Rival rear wheel

When we tested the rim-braked CAAD10 Racing Edition, we loved just how purposeful it was – it had Racing in its name and racing in its blood, and every component felt chosen specifically for that purpose. Having had such a good experience on that bike, it’s inevitable that it’s what we’re comparing this bike to. Because that bike was so focussed, it brought home that the CAAD10 Rival Disc really isn’t. So while we enjoyed our time on it, it left us feeling conflicted. For example, road racing is still a no-no on disc brake bikes, so why keep remnants of the non-disc bike, such as the arch between the seatstays that boost stiffness, but possibly also harshness? The addition of discs makes a bike feel immediately more resilient, like you should be able to ride gravel roads no problem, but with the tyres downgraded from (brilliant) Schwalbe Ones to (cheap) Schwalbe Luganos, we flatted the second we deviated off the road and on to a traffic-free gravel cycle path. It almost felt that with the upgrade to discs, the bike had actually become less versatile. It still felt fast – very fast – and stiff, and for £1,800, it’s great value, and certainly a good choice for serious sportive riders. The only disappointment was, having had our minds blown by the Racing Edition, how familiar it felt – just like a good, normal bike.

Frame - Top alloy frame as you'd expect from Cannondale - 8/10

Components - SRAM's hydraulic Rival groupset performs well - 8/10

Wheels - Surprisingly low spoke count but reliable - 8/10

The ride - Good, but not as exciting as the non-disc verion - 8/10

Geometry

Geometry chart
Claimed Measured
Top Tube (TT) 560mm 560mm
Seat Tube (ST) 570mm
Down Tube (DT) 602mm
Fork Length (FL) 375mm
Head Tube (HT) 155mm 155mm
Head Angle (HA) 73.0° 71.5°
Seat Angle (SA) 73.5° 73°
Wheelbase (WB) 993mm 997mm
BB drop (BB) 69mm 71mm

Spec

Cannondale CAAD10 Disc
Frame CAAD10 Disc, Smartformed 6069 Alloy, BB30, full carbon disc fork 1.125-1.25 tapered steerer
Groupset SRAM Rival Hydraulic 22
Brakes SRAM Rival
Chainset FSA Gossamer Pro BB30, 52/36
Cassette SRAM, 11-28
Bars Cannondale C3 butted 6061 alloy, compact
Stem Cannondale C2 6061 alloy
Seatpost Cannondale C3 alloy
Wheels Fulcrum Racing Sport DB
Tyres Schwalbe Lugano, 25c
Saddle Prologo Kappa Evo STNL
Contact cannondale.com

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