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Unconventional C’dale MTB designs

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Unconventional C’dale MTB designs

Old 08-21-22, 08:09 PM
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Unconventional C’dale MTB designs

I was chatting with a friend about some of Cannondale’s unusual designs - Delta V Frame, Lefty, HeadShox - and I think they are unique and kinda cool looking. My buddy would roll his eyes and say they are solutions looking for a problem. He’s been into road and mountain bikes since the 80’s and has several nifty rides and is biased towards Japan and the US.

I know this is mostly a road bike group but the C’dales have reached a C&V phase so I’m just wondering what y’all think. Clever or novelty?
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Old 08-21-22, 08:43 PM
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Your buddy's right. If he weren't, we'd have seen the industry head down those roads en masse. That these designs were instead consigned to the dustbin of history is telling.

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Old 08-21-22, 09:19 PM
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The original C’dale 24” rear wheel made no sense whatsoever.
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Old 08-22-22, 02:24 AM
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Originally Posted by gugie
The original C’dale 24” rear wheel made no sense whatsoever.
The bikes also had a very high (13" ?) BB height. I think the theory was the BB height and supposed lower gearing and manouveabity with smaller rear wheel was more suited for "east coast" woods riding than a Mountain bike. Back then, many companies were still trying to find out what a MTB should even be.
This is my 1984 SM600 that I built back then and still ride, with some component changes. I love the bike!
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Old 08-22-22, 06:48 AM
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Any C-dale hybrid or MTB with a Head Shok, I stay away from.

Proprietary design with 4 sets of 22 needle bearings to help prevent stiction:

https://vintagecannondale.com/info/headshok/

Anything this old and proprietary means limited or no parts availability today. So if you're riding a frame with a Head Shok and it goes kaput, you don't have a lot of options other than trying to find another Head Shok and swap. No thanks.
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Old 08-22-22, 08:22 AM
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Of the designs I cited, I think one could give a nod to the Delta frame since that did seem to evolve, gaining rear suspension and still using some elements of the top tube configuration thing.

I thought the HeadShok was interesting on paper until I saw what was involved servicing it. Talk about over-engineered.

I still think the Lefty looks cool…🤔
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Old 08-22-22, 10:18 AM
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I just picked up this 1986 SM700. It has the 24” rear wheel and a full, SunTour XC group. I have yet to get it off road.





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Old 08-22-22, 11:17 AM
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The bikes mentioned in the first post are from a period where mountain bike brands were trying all kinds of crazy things. Cannondale was hardly alone




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Old 08-22-22, 12:20 PM
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The big Al tubes were the start of the HUUUGE logos used today
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Old 08-22-22, 12:23 PM
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Originally Posted by Bianchi84
The bikes also had a very high (13" ?) BB height. I think the theory was the BB height and supposed lower gearing and manouveabity with smaller rear wheel was more suited for "east coast" woods riding than a Mountain bike.

Clearance for tree roots, rocks and stumps -- although the 24" rear is kinda counter intuitive for that goal
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Old 08-22-22, 12:25 PM
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I'm a road biker and OLD, so I rarely try anything more challenging than single track on my mountain bikes.
But wow, they tried everything and anything.
If you cozy up to a HeadShok Cannondale, be ready for it to need work, and to do your own work.
1993 DeltaV700


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Old 08-22-22, 12:27 PM
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Originally Posted by Bianchi84
The bikes also had a very high (13" ?) BB height. I think the theory was the BB height and supposed lower gearing and manouveabity with smaller rear wheel was more suited for "east coast" woods riding than a Mountain bike. Back then, many companies were still trying to find out what a MTB should even be.
This is my 1984 SM600 that I built back then and still ride, with some component changes. I love the bike!

24" makes for a stronger wheel too.

Re: the OP's question, I think Cannondale's unique designs are a varying mix of being unique so as to be good for marketing but also having some technical merit. Some have more technical merit than others...
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Old 08-22-22, 12:34 PM
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Originally Posted by RustyJames
I what y’all think. Clever or novelty?

A little bit of both --- the original Super -V 2000 was a bike with serious eye appeal that actually performed -- one of the carbon fiber Ravens would be an interesting wall hanger.


Originally Posted by DorkDisk
The big Al tubes were the start of the HUUUGE logos used today
I was pretty young when i saw my first big tubed 'Dale -- i thought that had to be the trickest thing i had ever seen at the time -- then the next year they rolled out that rear suspension bike - the ESt - alas i could not afford







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Old 08-22-22, 12:37 PM
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Originally Posted by gugie
The original C’dale 24” rear wheel made no sense whatsoever.

Mullets are still a thing even if the wheels have gotten bigger
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Old 08-22-22, 12:52 PM
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Maybe not as extreme as what the op posted, but...

My kid and I have a 1992 M800 and M700. They both have Pepperoni forks. The early ones were recalled because of faulty aluminum steerer tubes cracking. I have yet to remove either to check. I like the thicker fork because it looks proper on those fat frame tubes, and because of the ride it gives(fairly compliant).

Next,the proprietary Force 40 brake routing. In my experience it works on par with standard straddle cable routing, but it is more time consuming to set up. Not a great design...

Last, the M800 is designed with a much higher bottom bracket. It is ok if you plan on stumpjumping or rockhopping, or any other form of riding over crap that would normally leave you high centered.
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Old 08-22-22, 12:57 PM
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I always thought the Killer V frames looked cool (especially the polished ones), but in the medium sizes they only come with one water bottle mount :[

I wouldn't mind an early-to-mid 90's rigid Cannondale, but locally they're expensive.

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Old 08-22-22, 05:32 PM
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the Cannondale / Alex Pong (?) collaboration unveiled technology that is still in play today

I believe a Specialized Future Shock reminds / resembles a Headshok in some ways (?) ... but sits above the head tube (?) ...

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Old 08-22-22, 06:16 PM
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Originally Posted by t2p
I believe a Specialized Future Shock reminds / resembles a Headshok in some ways (?) ... but sits above the head tube (?) ...
Head Shok went through a lot of versions with different internals and the best ones worked much like an air shock for the rear. They always had needle bearing slides. When more travel was needed they used the same mechanism and turned it into the Lefty. There was also a dual leg, dual crown version called Moto that also used the needle bearings on both sides (unlike the bushings on other forks).

Future Shock is similar but simpler. It does have needle bearings but it seems like they are not accessible for maintenance. When they launched it there was no damping and a spurious explanation why it wasn't needed... the next version got damping. The top version has adjustable rebound.
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Old 08-22-22, 09:32 PM
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If it weren't for companies like Cannondale not being afraid to fail, you'd all be riding bikes with a 5' tall front wheel and a 1' tall back wheel
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