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I want a late 80s/early 90s Cannondale

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I want a late 80s/early 90s Cannondale

Old 12-31-20, 03:44 PM
  #1  
palisader
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I want a late 80s/early 90s Cannondale

Specifically the R series. Really hoping to get one with a 3.0 frame. Those bikes are just so pretty. However, what do y'all think? There are some in my area for around $300-600, though they're the lower end models (SR500), and I'm not sure if I should be spilling that much for a used aluminum frame. Is it safe to bike one of those after 30 years, even without cracks or the like on the frame? Also I plan on biking on pavement, but by no means freshly paved roads. Will it hold up against the smaller bumps of worn pavement? Thanks!
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Old 12-31-20, 04:57 PM
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I have to say if I was looking for a bike in that age group, it would be steel, but as the saying goes “the heart wants what the heart wants”.

look carefully at every joint and paint scratch.
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Old 12-31-20, 05:29 PM
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For another perspective, after nearly 40 years of riding and racing high-end Italian, English, and American steel bikes, I bought my first aluminum bike in 2005 and consigned my remaining steel bikes to the basement. The five bikes currently in active rotation are all aluminum, including a 1995 Cannondale H300 hybrid I bought last weekend to use as my winter and rain bike.

If the Cannondale that you're considering buying hasn't been crashed or otherwise damaged, it should last at least as long as any comparable steel bike. In support of that claim, see the link to a 1992 frame fatigue test below. Spoiler: the only frames that survived the test were a Cannondale, another aluminum frame from the European bike manufacturer Principia, and a Trek carbon fiber frame. None of the steel or titanium frames survived testing.

12 High-End Frames in the EFBe Fatigue Test
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Old 12-31-20, 05:46 PM
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Originally Posted by palisader View Post
Specifically the R series. Really hoping to get one with a 3.0 frame. Those bikes are just so pretty. However, what do y'all think? There are some in my area for around $300-600, though they're the lower end models (SR500), and I'm not sure if I should be spilling that much for a used aluminum frame. Is it safe to bike one of those after 30 years, even without cracks or the like on the frame? Also I plan on biking on pavement, but by no means freshly paved roads. Will it hold up against the smaller bumps of worn pavement? Thanks!
I assume when you say there are some in your area for $300-600, you are talking about a complete bike. For a 3.0 frame it would have to be NOS or in perfect (unridden) condition for me to pay that. But with that said, there were some pretty special variants of the 3.0's in the criterium (steep frame angles) or road racing variants with sometimes stunning colors or nude polished aluminum that often times would really pop visually considering the oversized seat and chainstays. The 2.8 series was an evolution worth looking at as well that then morphed into the "CAAD" series which every iteration of had design innovations making them all very interesting (and potentially collectible as far as I'm concerned).

The 3.0 might max out at a 25 mm tire which would mean that you might have to plan ahead to make sure your wheelset was especially compliant on rough surfaces. I would say to get a responsive lightweight tubular wheelset with some better tubular tires to maximize your ride. Or, if you are riding clinchers, I would says since you are likely limited to 25 mm maximum width to get some "open tubular" designed tires such as Challenge Strada 320's or any of the Veloflex or Vittoria Open tubulars with the high thread count casing. You could then run them with latex inner tubes and moderate your tire pressure down a bit. Cannondales will challenge you to eliminate every possible source of vibration/oscillation so having headset bearings properly set for example is very important too.
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Old 12-31-20, 07:29 PM
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I’ve been riding an ‘88 criterium with a steel fork for decades. It is a great bike, and it is dropout width limited, but I haven’t be able to replace it. Maybe someday... I have always wanted a titanium frame.

I never warmed up to the Series 2.8 or 3.0 with the cantilever rear dropouts. Regardless of the marketing, I’ve always understood it to be a fallout of the Klein lawsuit on the seat stays. Obviously Cannondale dropped them as soon as they had the legal opportunity and never looked back.

If I were going for an older Cannondale, I wouldn’t go any further back than a 1997.

John
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Old 12-31-20, 09:31 PM
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Is there any reason why you specify 'late 80s to early 90's'? If I were you I would look for a mid 90's to early 2000's Cannondale with carbon forks. They have the same styling as the earlier bikes with the fat round tubing, but come with carbon forks which helps dampen the road buzz.
I got a R500 with 650c wheels for my son. It's a pretty bike.
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Old 12-31-20, 11:25 PM
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I have no idea what the roads look look where you are, but the poorest paved roads where I live would send me looking for something else than a late '80s or early '90s Cannondale road frame. They often don't have room even for a 700 x 25 tire let alone a 700 x 28 tire that would soften the blows transmitted by those extremely stiff frames. before buying one, find out how wide a tire you can use
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Old 01-01-21, 06:00 AM
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Apparently there are a few people who still believe the myth that aluminum bikes are inherently more punishing to ride.

As Sheldon Brown said, years ago:

"Did you know that:

  • Aluminum frames have a harsh ride?
  • Titanium frames are soft and whippy?
  • Steel frames go soft with age, but they have a nicer ride quality?
  • England's Queen Elizabeth is a kingpin of the international drug trade?
All of the above statements are equally false."

And, as Mario Cipollini said, even earlier:


Last anecdote: when Miguel Indurain retired from racing and Pinarello took back all his bikes, he asked around the pro peloton for recommendations of a bike to buy. It came down to a choice between a Colnago and a Cannondale. He bought the Cannondale.

I remember our area Cannondale sales rep chortling over the report of the bike purchase. He said, "We'd have been happy to give him one of our bikes if he'd asked!"
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Old 01-01-21, 06:06 AM
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https://chicago.craigslist.org/chc/b...237399730.html
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Old 01-01-21, 06:09 AM
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I've ridden steel bikes most of my life. I bought a 1985 Cannondale ST 400 a few years back. It was their "sports touring" model so it can take a 700 x 32c tire. It's a heck of a bike. It has a long wheelbase (42 inches) but is very responsive and stable. It's a great bike.


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Old 01-01-21, 06:51 AM
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My favorite old school Cdale is the Caad9. The last of the USA made frames. Before that model it is certainly the cantilevered drop out 3.0. Not practical for anything other than fast riding and racing due to tire fit limitations, but just a plain ol' cool design and super stiff to the point of not exactly all day comfort.
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Old 01-01-21, 07:44 AM
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Originally Posted by Trakhak View Post
Apparently there are a few people who still believe the myth that aluminum bikes are inherently more punishing to ride.

As Sheldon Brown said, years ago:

"Did you know that:

  • Aluminum frames have a harsh ride?
  • Titanium frames are soft and whippy?
  • Steel frames go soft with age, but they have a nicer ride quality?
  • England's Queen Elizabeth is a kingpin of the international drug trade?
All of the above statements are equally false."

And, as Mario Cipollini said, even earlier:

Cannondale - is best bike!

Last anecdote: when Miguel Indurain retired from racing and Pinarello took back all his bikes, he asked around the pro peloton for recommendations of a bike to buy. It came down to a choice between a Colnago and a Cannondale. He bought the Cannondale.

I remember our area Cannondale sales rep chortling over the report of the bike purchase. He said, "We'd have been happy to give him one of our bikes if he'd asked!"
Very entertaining, slightly antiquated take on how oversized aluminum bikes are not necessarily harsh. And I am a fan! I love my R1000 CAAD3 it is one of my fastest bikes, most responsive and reasonably comfortable. But is it stiff? Well,... yes! Is this a good thing or a bad thing? The answer to that question is up to the individual rider of course.

Cannondale always innovated and their designs steadily evolved for decades. I never actually rode one of the cantilevered seat stay frames but I would tend to believe that they really were harsh.

As for the stereotype that titanium frames are soft and whippy.... well, that perception is also based in past riders’ actual experiences. Now I have a lovely Veritas compact titanium road frame with oversized top and down tubes that is very stiff and amazingly compliant at the same time - quite a magic trick by the builder. But this is where matching the right frame to the right rider requires a proper synergy. A bad match is a bad match. The folks who reject a stiff Cannondale after owning one and saying they moved on and never looked back have legit reasons for forming that opinion.

A high school friend I really looked up to let me ride his Teledyne Titan titanium bike and he rode my Masi Gran Criterium one day. I had lusted after the Teledyne Titanium prior to that. After the ride, I came away unimpressed, deeply disappointed really. That titanium bike was truly “soft and whippy”. I mean the designers were on to something but the frame builders copied the tubing sizes from a steel bike without engineering it for stiffness and the end result was a wet noodle, really!
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Old 01-01-21, 07:45 AM
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Originally Posted by TiHabanero View Post
My favorite old school Cdale is the Caad9. The last of the USA made frames. Before that model it is certainly the cantilevered drop out 3.0. Not practical for anything other than fast riding and racing due to tire fit limitations, but just a plain ol' cool design and super stiff to the point of not exactly all day comfort.
Great post, needing only one clarification: super stiffness is a quality that the Cannondale criterium-geometry frames share with all criterium-geometry steel frames.

And the "aluminum frames are punishing to ride" myth probably started there. Up to the mid-1980s, the few ultra-short-wheelbase road bikes ridden in the U.S. were, almost exclusively, built up from very expensive Italian framesets and very expensive Italian component groups and used by racers. But then Cannondale introduced their comparatively affordable criterium bikes (complete bikes, that is, not framesets) at a time when many riders were deciding to move up from their generic sport touring bikes to something offering higher performance. Many of them bought Cannondale crit bikes.

It's not surprising that they found the handling of the Cannondales, which were essentially track bikes with brakes and gears added, to be disconcerting fast and unforgiving. And it's understandable that some people associate the ride of a criterium-geometry Cannondale with its being an aluminum frame, but they're mistaken. It's the geometry, not the frame material, that determines how the bike rides.
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Old 01-01-21, 08:45 AM
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Funny story. In the early 90's I desperately wanted a Cannondale. It was my 13 year old dream.

I have had a lot of bikes since then.

My dad never forgot the Cannondale.

He'll show me a new flyrod and say "it's the Cannondale of flyrods".
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Old 01-01-21, 09:21 AM
  #15  
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I understand the affliction. Something like this is easy to admire. Not mine, client wheeled it in. It originally belonged to someone in the family; someone who never rode it.

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Old 01-01-21, 10:22 AM
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The issue with that bike is the Suntour drivetrain. Converting it to Shimano would cost more than the bike.

John
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Old 01-01-21, 10:46 AM
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IMHO, the USA-made (pre-06) 'Dales are some of the best finished 'mass-market' bikes ever made. The welding is damn near seamless. I wouldn't be any more wary of a vintage Cannondale than any other 30+ year old bike.
One thing to note, if you're shopping used'Dales is that they used the same frame across different models, just with different components; so if you're planning on fitting updated wheels and components, there's no frame difference between, say an
​R500, 600, or 900
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Old 01-01-21, 12:47 PM
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Originally Posted by 70sSanO View Post
The issue with that bike is the Suntour drivetrain. Converting it to Shimano would cost more than the bike.

John
You would not like my 1999 Cannondale R1000 CAAD3 then.


That’s the R1000 on the far right. Drivetrain is 8x3 SunTour.
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Old 01-01-21, 02:15 PM
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Originally Posted by masi61 View Post
You would not like my 1999 Cannondale R1000 CAAD3 then.


That’s the R1000 on the far right. Drivetrain is 8x3 SunTour.
Probably not. And not because it is a 3x8. I imagine the selections of Suntour 8 speed cassettes are a bit thin.

John
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Old 01-01-21, 02:25 PM
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Originally Posted by 70sSanO View Post
Probably not. And not because it is a 3x8. I imagine the selections of Suntour 8 speed cassettes are a bit thin.

John
That would be correct. I used a 7-speed “AP” 1st gen Accushift cassette 12-26 and I dismembered a Microdrive 8 speed cassette to insert the 18 tooth cog and spacer into the stack to mount up correctly on the Superbe Pro 8 speed cassette freehub.



Still can’t really see the cassette. Here the bike is an 8x2. The XC Pro Microdrive short cage rear derailleur has hard, positive shifts with the indexed Command shift levers.



Here’s the photo I was looking for...

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Old 01-01-21, 03:40 PM
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Originally Posted by bikemig View Post
I've ridden steel bikes most of my life. I bought a 1985 Cannondale ST 400 a few years back. It was their "sports touring" model so it can take a 700 x 32c tire. It's a heck of a bike. It has a long wheelbase (42 inches) but is very responsive and stable. It's a great bike.
I'm still new to bikes, so I must ask: is it really much slower than the criterium geometry/racing style bike? I'm sure it's a marketing thing, but is the difference appreciable between this and a more aggressive frame?

Beautiful bike btw!
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Old 01-01-21, 04:12 PM
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Originally Posted by palisader View Post
I'm still new to bikes, so I must ask: is it really much slower than the criterium geometry/racing style bike? I'm sure it's a marketing thing, but is the difference appreciable between this and a more aggressive frame?

Beautiful bike btw!
I've owned and raced a number of track bikes, crit-geometry, and standard road geometry bikes as well as owning sport touring, hybrid, and mountain bikes over the years. Among them, the track and criterium bikes are by far the quickest-handling bikes---think short-wheelbase sports car---and are extremely stable, too, since they're optimized for high-speed, elbow-to-elbow racing conditions.

The ride of a criterium-geometry racing bike is an acquirable taste, but those bikes aren't exactly relaxing to ride and can be, as mentioned earlier in this thread, a bit fatiguing for long rides. The heyday of the criterium bike (whether steel or aluminum) didn't last much past the end of the '80s, and most manufacturers of racing bikes now produce road racing bikes that offer moderately fast handling and reasonable long-distance comfort.
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Old 01-01-21, 04:34 PM
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Originally Posted by palisader View Post
I'm still new to bikes, so I must ask: is it really much slower than the criterium geometry/racing style bike? I'm sure it's a marketing thing, but is the difference appreciable between this and a more aggressive frame?

Beautiful bike btw!
Well it's the rider that matters whether a bike is "slow" or "fast." This bike has the relaxed geometry of an old school touring bike (42 inch wheelbase, 18 inch stays) but is more responsive than a steel bike would be with a similar geometry (I own a 1982 Reynolds 531 Trek with very similar geometry). I've ridden my share of racing bikes. This bike is not that responsive but it's a steady bike and reasonably quick handling. I like it for long distance rides since it has a triple crank, 3 water bottle braze ons, and I'm running 32c tires.
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Old 01-01-21, 04:38 PM
  #24  
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Originally Posted by palisader View Post
I'm still new to bikes, so I must ask: is it really much slower than the criterium geometry/racing style bike? I'm sure it's a marketing thing, but is the difference appreciable between this and a more aggressive frame?

Beautiful bike btw!
Of you're referring to the ST touring bikes, depending on the year, some of the ST series of bikes used 27" tires, and changed to 700c during later years. Don't know what year had each.

Lighter high performance tire are usually 700c and more widely available in numerous models. Not sure what is made currently in 27".
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Old 01-01-21, 04:53 PM
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When I started racing in my mid 40's as a master I was riding my 1973 Raleigh Professional which I had bought brand new. If you want to do many races, crits are pretty much unavoidable. Initially, I had much more trouble hanging in in road races, even flat ones than crits. In fact, in my very first crit I snagged a 3rd place podium. My Professional, despite having fairly relaxed geometry, was a great bike for criteriums. It could hold its line through corners as well as any bike I have owned and on rough pavement its compliant frame allowed me to corner much faster than guys on their super stiff crit bikes which left them skittering sideways as I carved through on my flexy Raleigh. Stiffness is not only about frame material. The stiffest bike I own is my steel Bertrand touring bike, it is very unpleasant too ride with 700 x 23 tires, but because it is a touring bike it has room for the much wider 700 x 32 tires that I ride it with currently.My reluctance to ride an earlier Cannnondale road frame has nothing to do with the frame material, those guys pretty much wrote a lot of the early chapters of the book on building reliable, long lasting aluminum bicycle frames. If you want to buy a bike with a really stiff frame, close tire clearances limiting you to narrow tires will make for a bike that will not be enjoyable to ride on poorly paved roads
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