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Bike we like: Cannondale CAAD Optimo

12 Apr 2017

A great-value, versatile all-round roadie from the American masters of aluminium

Buy the Cannondale CAAD Optimo from Westbrook Cycles here

What is it?

We’ve long been fans of Cannondale’s CAAD range at Cyclist – light, stiff and fast alloy bikes that score highly for versatility and value.

So we were very keen to get our hands on the latest addition, the CAAD Optimo, which Cannondale describes as ‘a killer first performance road bike or great training/ back-up bike’.

Launched late last year to replace the CAAD 8 in the line-up, this is not just an update of its predecessor, but a totally new bike that borrows much of the technology that went into making its high-end big brother the CAAD 12.

Tell me more about the frame

The Optima is built using Cannondale’s C2 SmartForm alloy, with tubes shaped and profiled for an optimum blend of strength, low weight and stiffness, joined together with strong double-pass welds, while the SAVE ‘micro-suspension’ technology uses engineered flex in the frame to reduce vibrations for a smoother ride.

On the road, this translates into a bike that responds well to rider inputs, aided by well-balanced geometry that offers the sharp handling benefits of a short wheelbase combined with stability provided by a relatively relaxed 73.1-degree head angle and low bottom bracket.

Simply put, it’s easy to ride, and lots of fun!

It’s versatile, too. The use of disc brakes means there’s no bridge between the seatstays at the rear, but mounting points for an optional bridge allow the fitting of mudguards, while front mudguard points are neatly concealed on the inside of the full-carbon fork.

So while this could be a great bike for fast summer sportives, it’ll happily see you through winter training duties, too.

What about the components?

Cannondale’s SI (System Integration) approach means a holistic approach to bike design that gets frame and components working together in perfect harmony.

Shimano’s excellent 105 shifters and front and rear mechs are complemented by an FSA chainset, while TRP’s Spyre-C are is about as good as a mechanical disc-brake system gets: easy to set-up and adjust, and – unlike most cable-actuated disc brakes – the calliper operates both pads for powerful and controlled braking.

The 160mm rotor at the front further enhances stopping power, while a standard 140mm rotor is used at the rear.

Wheels are Maddux disc-specific rims with a fashionably plump profile (24mm external width, 26mm depth), laced to reliable Formula hubs with 28 (front) and 32 (rear) spokes.

By doing away with a braking track, wheel rims can be built lighter and shaped for improved aerodynamics.

Fitted to them are good-value, reliable Schwalbe Lugano Active Line tyres, with Kevlar puncture protection. Their 25mm width complement the bike’s other comfort-giving qualities nicely.

How much will it set me back?

We reckon the CAAD Optimo 105 model you see here is fantastic value at £1,199, but there’s also a Tiagra-specced option at £999.

Both come in eight sizes ranging from a tiny 48 up to an extra-large 63. Meaning no matter what size you are, you should find a bike that fits.


Cannondale CAAD Optimo
Frame CAAD Optimo SmartForm C2 alloy; Cannondale Ultra carbon fork, 1-1/8in to 1-1/4in steerer
Groupset Shimano 105 5800
Brakes TRP Spyre-C
Chainset FSA Gossamer, 50/34
Cassette Shimano 105, 11-28
Bars Cannondale C3 compact, butted 6061 alloy
Stem Cannondale C3 alloy
Seatpost Cannondale C3 alloy, 27.2mm
Wheels Maddux RD 2.0 rims, Formula CX-20/CS-22 hubs
Saddle Cannondale Stage Ergo
Weight 9.62kg (size 56)

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