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The Cannondale That Won My Heart, 1986 SR 500

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The Cannondale That Won My Heart, 1986 SR 500

Old 01-06-09, 02:50 PM
  #1  
bigwoo
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The Cannondale That Won My Heart, 1986 SR 500

It's strange, the bikes that we sometimes get attached to.....
My initial intention for this '86 SR500 was to dust it off and turn it into THE dedicated rain/freezing rain/light flurries commuter for my ride to work. I did after all have that old super light, low profile pair of fenders hanging in the basement.....
I told myself that I should feel no regrets or guilt about utilizing an aluminum machine in super wet,damp, and generally awful conditions... "If I can get those fenders to clear, it is a done deal.....I'm not going to get attached to this bike; I will lube it but not have to worry about keeping it clean... I don't need a TT/ Crit bike; I already have steel race bikes...... Aluminum is a really harsh ride......I am super picky about a tight cockpit and I don't like anything but 56cm frames so this 58cm will be all wrong.....You've got too many road bikes.....Derby will probably remain supremely consistent and destroy this Co just like they did with so many other good bike Co's......." etc...

The deal was done; I would show this bike no mercy and so it would be....
And then one sunny morning I was speaking with my friend Jon from Grinderbikes about my intentions for it and he looked me straight in the eye's and said "Hey Man, when was the last time that you lost a steel frame to moist/damp conditions...? You've been riding them forever and that has never happened. Plus, this is one of the cool one's that was baked in the pizza oven they used....Look at those beefy stays....They accelerate like a rocket."

For the next several days I took the bike out around the City Park and Wash Park circuits of Denver and did balls-to-the-wall sprint laps. I also used it to commute through the gritty city, dodging busses and inner city cabs. The bike truly is a rocket and the original full Shimano 600 group performs fantastically. I love the Nitto stem (But I love all Nitto stems). And though the 600 hubs are filthy, along with the drivetrain, they are velvety smooth and fast as a laser. The bike is not terribly harsh at all and is quite nice to ride; It often makes me smile at higher speeds. After nearly 2 weeks of trying to talk myself out of it, I just don't have the heart to thrash this machine. I guess that I have another project waiting for me....

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Old 01-06-09, 03:01 PM
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Gorgeous. I love that color. I myself would love to have an aluminum bike, but, steel has my heart too much right now.
-Gene-
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Old 01-06-09, 03:05 PM
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those early cannondales are great bikes. especially with the steel forks. i had a '90 criterium edition with an aluminum fork. super fast but could never get comfortable with it. if i ever come across one of an earlier vintage with the stock steel fork i will snatch it up without a second thought.

also you mentioned liking a tight cockpit- cannondale's 58 is probably more like a 56 top tube i believe. have you measured it?
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Old 01-06-09, 03:15 PM
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Thanks for the compliment Gene, RE: steel bikes, that is EXACTLY what I was saying to myself when I dragged this out of the basement... My guess is that the effects of aluminum on a riders' body are somewhat influenced by how much the individual rider weighs; I am 6' 198 lb and this bike does not shock the heck out of me on longer rides...

Delicious, you are correct. It is a nice, tight 56cm top tube... I'm very impressed w/ the geometry on this old girl...

It is very, very, very mindblowing to look at the dreamy wishlist of parts that Canny was spec'ing their machines with in 1986: https://www.vintagecannondale.com/year/1986/1986.pdf

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Old 01-06-09, 04:18 PM
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I too love the old Cannondales......I've got a 56cm frame that same color sitting in the parts room waiting for it's day. My GF rides a Black Lightning (with the alloy fork) and previously had a SR500 with the steel fork that she loved 'til somebody T-boned her on it. The frame was unscathed even though both wheels were tacoed and the bars were bent terribly. Great bikes even though they do kinda lack the romance of a handmade lugged steel frame......Still looking for a 52cm for myself!
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Old 01-06-09, 04:57 PM
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I would be interested in hearing from any of the 80's Canny employees.... I've never spoken with any of their employees, but have heard that there was a "Artisan/family" atmosphere back then, much like our family experienced working for Trek-Waterloo, WI in the early 80's.... I'm sure those days are long gone....
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Old 01-06-09, 08:24 PM
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I had that bike too in '86. For me (and a few other guys said the same thing), it consistantly felt like I was riding with a flat tire. But others loved it. I knew a few Cat 2 racers who said the same thing. Bizarre. I think when you are used to the little tiny bumps and folds on the road like you would on Columbus or Reynolds tubing, that "Cadillac" feel of Cannondales was foreign.

I did eventually sell it and got another rad Cannondale but a MTB. It was a really good racer and those Ringle parts back then were the rage.

With that said, I see a CAAD 9 on ebay my size in just a frameset....hmmmm and I have xmas bonus money from work.....
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Old 01-06-09, 08:25 PM
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I also like early Cannondales.
I would love to find an early touring bike to add to my collection.
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Old 01-06-09, 08:46 PM
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I'm looking for a older steel lugged frame to make a fixed but I sure wouldn't mid coming across a older Cannondale instead (as long as it is not original warranting it be left as it started life).

I love my 1995 T700 that serves as my DD. I do not find the ride harsh at all. I think were some of the complaint of the aluminum frames comes from is the thin diameter tubes that most manufactures use. I think the larger diameter tubes the Cannondales use along with the steel forks take some of the harshness out of them. It does ride different then steel but I wouldn't say its worse...just different.
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Old 01-06-09, 10:21 PM
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Originally Posted by bigwoo View Post
Thanks for the compliment Gene, RE: steel bikes, that is EXACTLY what I was saying to myself when I dragged this out of the basement... My guess is that the effects of aluminum on a riders' body are somewhat influenced by how much the individual rider weighs; I am 6' 198 lb and this bike does not shock the heck out of me on longer rides...

Delicious, you are correct. It is a nice, tight 56cm top tube... I'm very impressed w/ the geometry on this old girl...

It is very, very, very mindblowing to look at the dreamy wishlist of parts that Canny was spec'ing their machines with in 1986: https://www.vintagecannondale.com/year/1986/1986.pdf
I had one exactly like this in a 56. and I used it to race Crits. It was dressed in Suntour sprint. I still have the parts, but I sold the bike and wheels a long time ago.
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Old 01-06-09, 10:52 PM
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I have an 86 SR600, built up with Sun Tour Superbe Pro with index rear. I love this bike and still ride it a fair amount. It is a 56 frame, and in beautiful condition.

Take a look, I would sell it.

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Old 01-06-09, 11:08 PM
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Originally Posted by triplebutted View Post
I had that bike too in '86. For me (and a few other guys said the same thing), it consistantly felt like I was riding with a flat tire. But others loved it. I knew a few Cat 2 racers who said the same thing. Bizarre. I think when you are used to the little tiny bumps and folds on the road like you would on Columbus or Reynolds tubing, that "Cadillac" feel of Cannondales was foreign.

I did eventually sell it and got another rad Cannondale but a MTB. It was a really good racer and those Ringle parts back then were the rage.

With that said, I see a CAAD 9 on ebay my size in just a frameset....hmmmm and I have xmas bonus money from work.....
When riding on somewhat bumpy roads, I've had to stop and check if my tires were flat on my CAAD9. Heh.

It happens without fail on one road, but I did get a flat on that road once, so it might have something to do with that. Never happens anywhere else haha.
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Old 01-06-09, 11:08 PM
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I have an 86 SR500 I updated and ride every weekend I really like the ol Cannondale AL frames also.
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Old 01-06-09, 11:25 PM
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Originally Posted by JTGraphics View Post
I have an 86 SR500 I updated and ride every weekend I really like the ol Cannondale AL frames also.
Now that is a sharp looking bike (almost literally) . Especially with the aero fork and Arione saddle.
-Gene-
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Old 01-06-09, 11:41 PM
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I have an old '84 or '85 Cannondale Race frame. As I recall, it was one of the first racing frames that they had put out, and I think I got it because I had some connections with one of the top dealers here in L.A. at the time. (Prior to that they were mostly putting out the touring frames). I don't think it even had a model number at the time, it was just called "the racing frame." In fact, they didn't even file down the welds at first. They just left them all beefed up and painted over them. I had it built up with Suntour Superbe and an SR triple crank. It was pretty fast, and was my double-century bike.

Unfortunately, I haven't ridden it in about fifteen years. I gained some weight as I got older, and busted a few spokes. I promised myself I wouldn't ride it until I broke 200 lbs. again. Fortunately, I plan to do that this year, so I'll get back on it. It's still in great shape.

I'll try to post some pics later in the week.
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Old 01-06-09, 11:52 PM
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I had an early 90's R800 several years ago that had an aluminum fork. The combination of the harsh ride and slightly too small frame size was too much for me so I sold it. It was fast and light, though.
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Old 01-07-09, 05:46 AM
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Great looking Cannondales in this thread! They look like the next generation of collectable bikes. Take care of your classic alu-bike!
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Old 01-07-09, 07:25 AM
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Nice one. Those old c-dales ride too rough for me, though. They'll rattle your teeth.
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Old 01-07-09, 07:41 AM
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'85 SR900 I picked up last week (partial Super Record Group):



I'm a bad father though because I had to take the thing apart and sell the frame in order to keep the Campy bits..
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Old 01-10-09, 12:50 PM
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re-posting of my last year build, my '98 C'dale R4000.









Yes, the saddle is leveled now. This was right after the rebuild, and the saddle was so slick out of the box I was sliding right off the front of it. I know '98 is pushing the bounds of "vintage", but hey, it's still got a threaded steerer. She's really too small for me (58 and I ride a 62) but was my first serious road bike. I just can't see parting with it, and on those days when I really want to hammer there's nothing like a C'Dale frame.
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Old 01-10-09, 05:17 PM
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Originally Posted by delicious View Post
those early cannondales are great bikes. especially with the steel forks. i had a '90 criterium edition with an aluminum fork. super fast but could never get comfortable with it. if i ever come across one of an earlier vintage with the stock steel fork i will snatch it up without a second thought.
also you mentioned liking a tight cockpit- cannondale's 58 is probably more like a 56 top tube i believe. have you measured it?
I have a 56 in yellow in the basement ... a bit beat up from a year of racing. And a 54 in red in the shed, in much better shape.
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Old 01-10-09, 05:20 PM
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Originally Posted by bigwoo View Post
I would be interested in hearing from any of the 80's Canny employees.... I've never spoken with any of their employees, but have heard that there was a "Artisan/family" atmosphere back then, much like our family experienced working for Trek-Waterloo, WI in the early 80's.... I'm sure those days are long gone....
Yes, it was a fun place to work back then. A bunch o' kids figuring things out as we went along.

Originally Posted by Gordo Grande View Post
I have an old '84 or '85 Cannondale Race frame. As I recall, it was one of the first racing frames that they had put out, and I think I got it because I had some connections with one of the top dealers here in L.A. at the time. (Prior to that they were mostly putting out the touring frames). I don't think it even had a model number at the time, it was just called "the racing frame." In fact, they didn't even file down the welds at first. They just left them all beefed up and painted over them.
.
And the rear dropouts had fender eyelets. I have one and my mother-in-law's house with fenders that I turned into my old commuter.
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Old 01-10-09, 06:48 PM
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Originally Posted by ridethecliche View Post
When riding on somewhat bumpy roads, I've had to stop and check if my tires were flat on my CAAD9. Heh.

Ok, that lends weight to a question that I've been meaning to ask for a while. I had a CAAD4 and CAAD5 and although I was completely amazed at how easily they could climb (good lord in heaven!!!), I wasn't man enough to deal with the extreme road vibrations. If I ran over a dime with my 28c tires, I would have known about it. Althouh many people say that CAAD7 was a major improvement in vibration absorption for the rear triangle, I had my doubts. It sounds like not much has changed.
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Old 01-12-09, 09:42 PM
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And today I picked up a 1989 SR600. Price was too good to pass up. Kid need money for a Linear for his CB. Hell I had one in My garage (It was my father-in-laws) and I could have traded it if my wife would have let me.

It needs a tube before I can ride it. Tool around on it this week see if I love it enough that I have to keep it.
His picture. Full Biopace 105 Groupe. Few scrathes here and there but prety good otherwise.
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Old 01-13-09, 10:27 AM
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Originally Posted by JTGraphics View Post
I have an 86 SR500 I updated and ride every weekend I really like the ol Cannondale AL frames also.
That's a nice looking bike. I have an '87 SR 400 with the custom airbrushing, and have been toying with the idea of updating it with modern components for a while.
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