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Old 08-08-14, 09:57 PM   #1
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A tiny Cannondale for the tiny lady in my life

Just thought I'd share my latest acquisition, as I haven't really had occasion to do so before. It's not THAT vintage, but I think it's old enough to not warrant posting in the road forum. A little background: I've been trying to get my better half to ride with me for the last 2 years. She finally caved last year, and said that she wanted a bike. However, she insisted that she wanted a mountain bike instead of a road bike, as many people our age who remember cycling in their youth are wont to do. I went out and found her an appropriately sized Diamondback Outlook, which she proceeded not to ride. Come this year, she showed more interest and we started going on little jaunts together. The farthest she's done is 10 miles, and really seemed to struggle at times.

I chalked this up to her being a beginner, until I happened to pick her bike up while flipping it over to do a quick true of a wheel. Good golly was that thing heavy! It dawned on me then that although the bike seemed alright to me (comparable to my first adult bike), part of the issue was that my 100 pound 4'11 lady was chugging along on a 30+ pound bike! So, I decided to mention this to her and she seemed a little more receptive of the idea of a road bike. Not quite accepting, but she didn't shoot it down and gave me an ambiguous "maybe". Methinks that perhaps she's starting to lose that image of road bikes being uncool that I remember being so prevalent when we were kids.

Today, I finally found a bike for her. It is what appears to be a sparsely ridden 1996 Cannondale R500 Compact, with 650C wheels and a 47 cm size. Didn't get a fantastic deal on it, but still less than it looks to be worth. I can't quite figure it out, but the paint (Wild Orchid to Mako Blue fade) appears to have only been an option in 1995 when the compact wasn't an option according to the catalogs. Regardless, I'm excited to dig into it tomorrow and start working it over to make it ready to ride. She'll be returning from a trip to see her family in Iowa next week, and I will try my best to be ready to surprise her with it. Here's to hoping she falls in love with road riding and we get to spend many miles together!

Here it is as purchased:











And here's a comparison shot with my 48cm ST400:




Thanks for looking!

Last edited by awfulwaffle; 08-09-14 at 11:14 PM. Reason: Updated pictures
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Old 08-08-14, 10:20 PM   #2
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! But given her weight and that bike, I'd suggest trying low tire pressure, like 70psi, for a more comfortable ride.
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Old 08-08-14, 10:28 PM   #3
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! But given her weight and that bike, I'd suggest trying low tire pressure, like 70psi, for a more comfortable ride.
Excellent suggestion! I've heard these older aluminum C'Dale frames have a reputation of being so stiff they vibrate your fillings out on rough roads. Perhaps a new set of tires is in order, as the 650x20c Conti GPs don't look like they've got a whole lot of comfortable in them
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Old 08-08-14, 10:37 PM   #4
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It looks correct for a smaller rider!

Ignore the midget bike jokes. Seriously, this Cannondale will serve your your SO well for years to come. I agree a new set of tires is a desirable upgrade and also be sure to upgrade the alloy fork to a carbon fork. It will make the ride plush.
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Old 08-09-14, 03:09 AM   #5
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awfulwaffle, The smallest sizes were 650 equipped. For '96 the wheel size was available with the larger frames. I would try to find a larger tire and run 70-80 PSI. I put 15K miles on an aluminum forked '96 and it wasn't harsh at all with a 23-622 (700C) tire.

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Old 08-09-14, 05:51 AM   #6
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awfulwaffle, The smallest sizes were 650 equipped. For '96 the wheel size was available with the larger frames. I would try to find a larger tire and run 70-80 PSI. I put 15K miles on an aluminum forked '96 and it wasn't harsh at all with a 23-622 (700C) tire.

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Don't let the old rumors about a harsh ride even come into the conversation with your SO. I've been riding my '93 R600 (aluminum fork and same style frame) quite a bit lately and have never found it uncomfortable. In comparison, I pulled out my steel '83 Paramount for yesterday's ride on a route I take regularly, and was surprised that it transmitted more vibrations to the handlebars.

Of course I know nothing about shorter wheel based bikes, being 6'1" and over 200lbs. That might make a difference, but I believe bumping up to 25mm+ wide tires (go as large as will fit) and running at a lower PSI could make for a very smooth ride.
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Old 08-09-14, 06:07 AM   #7
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Excellent suggestion! I've heard these older aluminum C'Dale frames have a reputation of being so stiff they vibrate your fillings out on rough roads. Perhaps a new set of tires is in order, as the 650x20c Conti GPs don't look like they've got a whole lot of comfortable in them
Have you read my thread on "my cannondale criterium series is killing me"?
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Old 08-09-14, 08:18 AM   #8
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That's great, the the brifters will make a huge difference to someone who's either going to be afraid or just not want to remove their hands from the bars to shift.

Congratulations! I hope you have better luck getting your wife out an about than I have!
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Old 08-09-14, 10:58 AM   #9
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Thanks for the kind words and advice, everyone! It's great to hear that the ride isn't as harsh as the rumors made it out to be. Now I just have to find a source of wider 650c tires. Looks like my options are all 23mm currently (which I think I'll settle for), but I'll keep on looking! In the meantime, I think I'll have her try out the tires that are on the bike at lower pressure with the knowledge that we can get her something a little more comfortable if it's too harsh.

@OldsCOOL I had skimmed it briefly before, but after looking at it in more detail it looks like there's a lot of folks saying their road geometry 'Dales ride just fine. That's encouraging

On a side note, I love the way yours turned out. I recently discovered that the chainstays on my road bike are misaligned, and have been looking out for a similar frame to pop up in my size at a reasonable price. Fingers crossed!

Last edited by awfulwaffle; 08-09-14 at 11:20 AM.
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Old 08-09-14, 11:59 AM   #10
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Thanks for the kind words and advice, everyone! It's great to hear that the ride isn't as harsh as the rumors made it out to be. Now I just have to find a source of wider 650c tires. Looks like my options are all 23mm currently (which I think I'll settle for), but I'll keep on looking! In the meantime, I think I'll have her try out the tires that are on the bike at lower pressure with the knowledge that we can get her something a little more comfortable if it's too harsh.

@OldsCOOL I had skimmed it briefly before, but after looking at it in more detail it looks like there's a lot of folks saying their road geometry 'Dales ride just fine. That's encouraging

On a side note, I love the way yours turned out. I recently discovered that the chainstays on my road bike are misaligned, and have been looking out for a similar frame to pop up in my size at a reasonable price. Fingers crossed!
Thanx for the encouragement! Cannondale "R" framesets are out there. Keep an eye on the ISO thread.
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Old 08-09-14, 12:47 PM   #11
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I recently discovered that the chainstays on my road bike are misaligned, and have been looking out for a similar frame to pop up in my size at a reasonable price. Fingers crossed!
If the road bike with misaligned chainstays is the Cannondale 1990 ST400 and if you bought new from a bike dealer, it's worth showing to a Cannondale dealer. If they can confirm the misalignment and if it's clear that the bike was misaligned when you bought it, you might be eligible for a warranty replacement frame. (Cannondale's lifetime frame warranty comes with various disclaimers, but factory misalignment not a grey area.)

The likelihood of your wife taking to road bike riding is about 50/50, given the facts you provided (although it's fair to say that that beautiful little Cannondale might sweeten the pot a bit). If you'd like to improve those odds, proceed as follows:

Resist the urge to take her out immediately on long rides in the hope that she'll automatically become as enthusiastic about riding as you are.

For the first several rides, take her to a beautiful area with no traffic and no hills. Multiple-use paths might be OK, depending on how crowded they are.

Road bike brakes feel very strange to the uninitiated. Have her get used to the brakes by having her do a gentle stop and start every couple of minutes at first; otherwise, keep the instructions to the bare minimum.

Let her know how the integrated shifters work, but don't turn it into a lecture about the mechanics and philosophy of gear use. If she uses only the right shifter for the first six months, that's fine. A lot of people never use the left shifter.

Keep the first half-dozen rides slow and short (15 minutes maximum). If you can park near a restaurant, coffee shop, etc., that she enjoys, make that the destination at the end of the ride.

Don't suggest increasing the length of the rides until she becomes more comfortable with the bike. In fact, wait until she comes up with the idea.

That's the plan. No guarantees, but it has been known to work with, e.g., men whose wives are bike enthusiasts and want to turn the husband into a tandem partner.

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Old 08-09-14, 01:05 PM   #12
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@Trakhak I guess I'm a bit younger than my posts made me sound, if I had purchased the ST400 brand new I would have done so a few months after I was conceived (not to mention in a nation where American products were generally unavailable) The bike with misaligned stays is the Gravity Liberty. My first inclination was to just chalk it up to it being a Bikes Direct frame, but I have several reasons (that are OT for this thread) to believe that I may have been responsible. I'll say that full power standing efforts on a trainer and 200 lbs of me on top of the bike may have had something to do with it.

As for the the rest of your post, that's great advice that sounds like it's got a good shot of working. I was intending to take it as slow/easy/short as she wants to go, though my impatient nature has made this difficult in the past. Very good points regarding the brakes and shifter action as well, as she's only used to a flat bar bike with grip shifters. Thankfully, we've got quite a number of trails, and a couple of beaches that are bike accessible that she enjoys going to. Perhaps those can be our first practice routes and destinations! Thanks again for taking the time
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Old 08-09-14, 01:23 PM   #13
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@awfulwaffle - I'm so excited that you did this and that it's gonna be a surprise. The color is gorgeous! Don't ask me why, but when I first saw of it I thought of the Salsa Gel Cork bar tape in "MAGENTA"! Here's a link:

Universal Cycles -- Salsa Gel Cork Tape - Magenta

I know that would make it way out there color wise, but, for some who may not be "purists", having "fun" bar tape is nice. Personalizes it. For me, bar tape is like earrings or lipstick - something to add "spice" and can easily be changed out and isn't too expensive.

Anyway, keep us posted.
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Old 08-09-14, 08:44 PM   #14
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FWIW: I think the widest tire available in 650C is the 650 x 28C Terry Tellus: Amazon.com : Terry TellusTire 650x28 w /Puncture Protection Black : Bike Tires : Sports & Outdoors . Oddly, this isn't listed in the Terry catalog. Maybe they're not making them anymore.
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Old 08-09-14, 10:56 PM   #15
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Nice acquisition. We have the same bike in a 1998. My son rides it.
We are very happy with it.
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Old 08-09-14, 11:18 PM   #16
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@Velocivixen Thanks for the suggestion! I had been mulling over what color tape to use, though I wonder if it would be better to let her pick. That magenta does look like it'd fit in a strange sort of way.

@Jeff Wills It's funny you should mention that. I was talking with the fella at the LBS today when I was buying cables and brake shoes and whatnot, and he showed me those very tires on QBP as the biggest one they could get for the wheel. Now the question is whether or not the RSX brakes will clear them. Looks like they've got plenty of room, but I've never seen a 28 mm tire in person. Doesn't look like the 32 on my ST400 would clear, so it may be tight.

@AAZ Kinda flowing from the previous part of my post, what size tires does your son use?

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Old 08-09-14, 11:43 PM   #17
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@awfulwaffle - great idea to let her pick since it will be right at the front of the cockpit. So many colors to choose from.

As an aside, I ended up running over to Universal Cycles and bought it for myself!
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Old 08-09-14, 11:45 PM   #18
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Sweet bike. My 13 year old daughter does not like drop bars. "They are just not cool dad". She had a very heavy mountain bike. Here is her very cool converted Cannondale. Not as tiny as yours but close. My daughter loves it. Her bat out of hell bike. None of her friends can keep up with her.
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Old 08-10-14, 06:12 AM   #19
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@AAZ Kinda flowing from the previous part of my post, what size tires does your son use?
650c x 23
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Old 08-10-14, 07:39 AM   #20
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I sold an identical frame not long ago to a BF member, including a Kestrel EMS fork for it. I'm actually looking for another one around that size, 48-50cm, for a lady in Mount Horeb, WI. Great bikes for smaller riders, and a whole lot closer to value than a $1500 entry-level WSD.
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Old 08-10-14, 09:35 AM   #21
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I briefly had an early 90s Cannondale R800, it caused me nothing but pain. In hindsight I should have substituted a carbon fork, but sold it instead.
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Old 08-10-14, 10:54 AM   #22
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I sold an identical frame not long ago to a BF member, including a Kestrel EMS fork for it. I'm actually looking for another one around that size, 48-50cm, for a lady in Mount Horeb, WI. Great bikes for smaller riders, and a whole lot closer to value than a $1500 entry-level WSD.
Not sure if I can post an auction, but there's a teal 48cm ST frameset on ebay currently. Free shipping, and the price isn't bad. Was entertaining the idea of snagging it, but thinking I'd like something more responsive if I'm going to transfer parts from my road bike.
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Old 08-10-14, 03:06 PM   #23
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@awfulwaffle, that bike looks great as it is. One thing concerns me, and that is that the handlebars appear to have huge drop and huge reach. She may do best with handlebars with short reach and short drop.
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Old 08-10-14, 03:16 PM   #24
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@noglider Thanks! Aside from the front shifter I've got pulled halfway apart and soaking in solvent (sticky old lubricant, imagine that!), I was intending to leave everything be save for some regular maintenance/tune-up stuff.

That's a valid point you made regarding the handlebars. Looking at them after you pointed out the long reach and deep drops, they also seem like they'll be a bit wide for her. I wonder if it may be best to leave the bars, along with the rest of the contact points on the bike, until the missus is back in town and can play a part in the decisions.
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Old 08-10-14, 03:24 PM   #25
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Sweet bike. My 13 year old daughter does not like drop bars. "They are just not cool dad". She had a very heavy mountain bike. Here is her very cool converted Cannondale. Not as tiny as yours but close. My daughter loves it. Her bat out of hell bike. None of her friends can keep up with her.
Excellent save, Steve. By the way, your daughter might enjoy having real platform pedals. The pedals in the photo, which were designed for use with toe clips, usually hang so that the uncomfortably lumpy surface of the bottom of the pedal is uppermost when used sans clips.
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