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Cannondale Frame Design Evolution

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Cannondale Frame Design Evolution

Old 04-03-19, 08:12 AM
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Lemond1985
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Cannondale Frame Design Evolution

I have an '88 Criterium Series that's my current go-to road bike. Absolutely love it.



I have upgraded everything on it from the original Shimano 600 components, and added a straight steel fork, which was polished and then painted clear with Spraymax 2k Clear Glamour. Sort of a poor man's chroming job.

Great bike, but I have been wondering what Cannondale did with some of their later aluminum frames, performance-wise. The one I have now is as perfect as I could ever ask for, but I see some pretty reasonably-priced CAAD versions, some of which originally sold for $4,000 or more when new. I'm curious whether these new versions perform any better than my current frame.

So my question is, did Cannondale improve the performance of these frames appreciably during the 90's and 2000's?
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Old 04-03-19, 08:40 AM
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Originally Posted by Lemond1985 View Post

So my question is, did Cannondale improve the performance of these frames appreciably during the 90's and 2000's?
Yes
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Old 04-03-19, 09:22 AM
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Originally Posted by Lemond1985 View Post

Great bike, but I have been wondering what Cannondale did with some of their later aluminum frames, performance-wise. The one I have now is as perfect as I could ever ask for, but I see some pretty reasonably-priced CAAD versions, some of which originally sold for $4,000 or more when new. I'm curious whether these new versions perform any better than my current frame.
?
Originally Posted by noodle soup View Post
Yes
And to elaborate... Cannondale's new alloy frames are much lighter, much more forgiving, and still stiff in the right places. So, like noodler said, the current frames are considerably better.
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Old 04-03-19, 01:41 PM
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Originally Posted by Lemond1985 View Post
I have an '88 Criterium Series that's my current go-to road bike. Absolutely love it.



I have upgraded everything on it from the original Shimano 600 components, and added a straight steel fork, which was polished and then painted clear with Spraymax 2k Clear Glamour. Sort of a poor man's chroming job.

Great bike, but I have been wondering what Cannondale did with some of their later aluminum frames, performance-wise. The one I have now is as perfect as I could ever ask for, but I see some pretty reasonably-priced CAAD versions, some of which originally sold for $4,000 or more when new. I'm curious whether these new versions perform any better than my current frame.

So my question is, did Cannondale improve the performance of these frames appreciably during the 90's and 2000's?
Absolutely! I would say the CAAD4 was the biggest improvement for Cannondale. Then the migration to Carbon.
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Old 04-03-19, 05:12 PM
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The legendary Caad9, last of the USA production, is an improvement in ride quality over the previous Caad frames. The Caad10 is perhaps the game changer for aluminum frames as Cdale really did create an all day ride that lends itself to racing quite nicely.
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Old 04-03-19, 06:17 PM
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I have the same Criterium frame, but with 105. Itís converted to single speed now since the derailleur hanger broke. Itís my daily commuter and I love it.

I bought a CAAD10 105 after the hanger incident. Itís a genuine upgrade. Iíve done multiple centuries with no soreness after. The carbon fork softens the ride up nicely, without sacrificing the quick response and handling. Itís everything thatís good about the Criterium, with the added benefit of 20 years of learning how to do it better.
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Old 04-03-19, 06:25 PM
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Thanks for the info. It just seems amazing that Cannondale could do much to improve these frames. Hopefully the steep seat and head tube angles are still there, that's half the fun right there.

Should be able to pick up a CAAD model locally fairly easily, I see quite a few for sale on CL. And since they're not vintage steel, a lot of buyers of those type of bikes tend to ignore them, so they sit around for a while as the price keeps getting reduced.
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Old 04-03-19, 08:23 PM
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Originally Posted by Lemond1985 View Post
Thanks for the info. It just seems amazing that Cannondale could do much to improve these frames. Hopefully the steep seat and head tube angles are still there, that's half the fun right there.

Should be able to pick up a CAAD model locally fairly easily, I see quite a few for sale on CL. And since they're not vintage steel, a lot of buyers of those type of bikes tend to ignore them, so they sit around for a while as the price keeps getting reduced.
Well 20-30 years of incremental improvements adds up. The rear triangle on my CAAD is definitely more compliant, and the handling is a lot better on rough descents. Edit: but all the time with, as you say, the steep angles that make it so much fun to ride.

I have to say, though, if I had money for a bike, and I had to choose between upgrading the group/wheels on a Criterium or buying a CAAD with a compromise build kit, Iíd have to think long and hard about it.

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Old 04-03-19, 09:10 PM
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CAAD3 frames showed up first on mountain bikes in 1996. The key to it was a very large, thin down tube. At the crank it was shaped into the "power pyramid" which made the bb very stiff, and at the head tube it was tapered down to the right diameter to blend in. The 1997 road bikes got that, skinny seat tubes, and a carbon fork. The other two tubes were butted. CAAD4 in 1999 brought thinner chain stays, shaped seat stays. At the same time they were making cool house brand components like the Hollowgram cranks. The frames kept improving from there as the aluminum got better and the design got tweaks. This probably kept them out of the carbon frame business for another couple generations of bikes.

At the same time they were bankrupting themselves trying to make motorcycles.
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