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Cannondale CAAD 10 review

Cannondale CAAD 10 review
5 May 2018
Verdict:

This CAAD 10 racing edition is an old school aluminium performance enhancer.

Cyclist Rating: 
Price: 
£1,800
For 
The pinnacle of aluminium frames
Against 
Perhaps a little on the stiff side

In the late nineties and the early noughties, images of pro road racing were dominated by Cannondale’s bright red aluminium race bikes, as ridden by the Saeco team of Mario Cippolini, Giro winner Ivan Gotti and Gilberto Simoni.

With the universal move to carbon fibre amongst the professional ranks, Cannondale’s USP of having the lightest, lairiest and most oversized frames has been lost, but with such a huge pedigree in aluminium, have things moved on since those golden years?

We’ve put the Cannondale CAAD10 to the test to try and find out.

Frame

Cannondale CAAD 10 frame

Cannondale was always known for the smoothness of its welds, and it’s nice to see that’s still the case – the junction between tubes is so smooth you’d be forgiven for thinking the CAAD 10 is carbon.

It’s not, it’s very much aluminium and proud – the surface texture of anodized grey sections showing the material in its best light.

The tubing has been mechanically shaped and hydroformed to radically alter the tube profiles and create a hugely stiff and efficient chassis. Cannondale was the first to introduce BB30 (an oversized BB standard that uses bearings pressed into the frame) so it’s no surprise to find that here.

The head tube is tapered but only from 1.25in to 1.125in, which is narrower than normal, but in keeping with Cannondale’s other models.

The seatstays, and chainstays, are dramatically flattened, narrowed and worked to create what Cannondale calls its Speed Save technology – basically more vertical compliance to absorb road vibration.

Geometry wise, with a 14cm head tube this is clearly a race bike, despite the rather traditional looks. Lastly, the paint job is magnificent.

No camera can do justice to the fluorescent red details that in real life are really quite eye-popping.

Components

Cannondale CAAD 10 sram force

We don’t see a huge amount of SRAM Force used on production bikes, which is a shame as it’s a really good groupset. The brakes in particular are very effective and as a package it’s light, even more so when paired with Cannondale’s own-brand chainset.

Normally we’d turn our noses up at a non-series chainset, but for years Cannondale has been consistently ahead of the curve in chainset tech, and the alloy-armed BB30 Hollowgram Si cranks used here are top notch.

FSA chainrings in 52/36 offer the best compromise between compact climbing performance and pro-style flat speed, especially when paired with an 11-28 cassette.

We were interested to see that Cannondale has fully eschewed fashion with the component choices on the CAAD 10, choosing aluminium bars, stem and seatpost.

What’s more, the bars are traditional round drops, the first we’ve seen on a production bike in years. They are great, and given the racing intent, a good choice, really altering the rider’s position from hoods to drops.

The seatpost too is a nice object and preferable to many cheaper carbon options – and it’s light.

Wheels

Cannondale CAAD 10 wheels

Given that everything else is aluminium, it’s no surprise to find aluminium wheels here. FSA Energy wheels are the lightest aluminium wheels the Italo-Taiwanese brand produces, but that doesn’t mean they’re particularly feathery – the claimed weight is 1,660g.

Either way, they complement the bike’s inherent stiffness nicely and spin up to speed well enough. We’d happily race on them without being worried we were giving the competition an advantage.

The best thing about the wheels is the tyres – Schwalbe Ones are becoming a favourite among the BikesEtc testing brigade.

They roll quickly, grip the road well, and what’s more, they seem pretty resilient too – our first ride included a 5km section along a gravel canal towpath and the Ones coped admirably, not suffering any noticeable cuts.

The ride

Has someone been slipping performance-enhancing drugs into our tea supplies? Rolling along the flat at 35kmh, something was clearly up, and it was unlikely to be the discovery of raw talent.

Having grown up riding and racing on aluminium bikes, we thought the CAAD10 would feel familiar, but it really didn’t: it felt faster and far stiffer than anything we rode back in the day.

The fit is at the racy end of what we’ve come to expect of modern mass-market bikes, and that just compounds the willingness to push forward faster and faster all the time.

‘But wasn’t it uncomfortable on the towpath?’ asked a colleague; the answer was we were going too fast to think much about comfort. And when it comes to racing, the same is true – if your bike feels uncomfortable, you’re not trying hard enough.

The Cannondale CAAD 10 Racing Edition is an unashamedly competitive machine, and it’s hard to imagine a better bike for racing amateur circuit races and typical open road races (which last a maximum of three hours) than this.

The chassis is up there as the pinnacle of aluminium frame engineering but it’s still affordable, much like the rest of the kit. None of it is exotic, but as a package, it makes for a super light, super stiff racing package.

If racing isn’t your thing and you’re looking to do some huge rides, there are more suitable bikes out there, but if pinning a number on and chasing 60 other riders round in circles for an hour is your idea of fun, this is the one.

But be warned, if you can’t win on the CAAD10, you’ll have to look elsewhere for excuses.

Geometry

Geometry chart
Claimed Measured
Top Tube (TT) 545mm 543mm
Seat Tube (ST) 555mm
Down Tube (DT) 593mm
Fork Length (FL) 376mm
Head Tube (HT) 140mm 140mm
Head Angle (HA) 73 72.5
Seat Angle (SA) 73.5 73.2
Wheelbase (WB) 978mm 983mm
BB drop (BB) 69mm 74mm

Specification

Cannondale CAAD 10 Racing Edition
Frame CAAD10 Smart Formed 6069 alu, Speed Save full carbon fork
Groupset SRAM Force 22
Brakes SRAM Force
Chainset Cannondale Hollowgram Si, 52/36
Cassette SRAM 1170, 11-28
Bars Cannondale C2 Classic Shallow
Stem Cannondale C1 Ultralight
Seatpost Cannondale C1 Ultralight
Wheels FSA Energy
Tyres Schwalbe One, 25c
Saddle Prologo Nago Evo
Contact www.cannondale.com

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