Cannondale '99: A Sneak Peek

Coda Discbrake
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There's a joke in the bike industry that companies should drop one year's line because new product is coming out so early, the years are becoming meaningless. Case(s) in point; the big bike companies' 1999 product introductions, one of which The Zone visited a couple weeks ago in lovely Big Bear, California.

"The new FR700, with triple-double 100mm Moto FR fork coupled with long (120mm) travel in the rear is ...the coolest rig in their quiver..."
Cannondale unveiled its new '99 goods to most of the big-wig magazine editors (present company excepted) to coincide with the Big Bear Downhill World Cup event here at Snow Summit. It was a chance to see some new stuff and wonder aloud why lime green is back as a “cool” color... but I digress.

Staged in locations like Utah (GT), Northern Cal (Specialized) and Idaho (Trek/Fisher/Klein), sneak peeks are a tradition in this industry — a chance to schmooze with product mangers, ride some clean new bikes before anyone else and sit through enthusiastic seminars with aforementioned product managers. All in all, a great way to get some work done whilst mountain biking.

The Goods
The most exciting development on the bike front is disc brakes. That's right, disc brakes are not only going to eventually replace the cantilever, but are (according to their marketing director) the only new product capable of driving you consumers back into the bike shop where you belong. Cannondale's ready with their cool new Coda CD brake, a closed hydraulic system which boasts no-dragging, no-bleeding easily adjustable stoppers for several of their new bikes. They won't be cheap, but work well and are only a couple hundred grams heavier than XT cantis. Oh yeah, they cost $358, and you'll need a Coda hub for $92-$140.

"And wonder aloud why lime green is back as a "cool" color..."
Freeride bikes also continue to rock the C'dale product line. The new FR700, with triple-double 100mm Moto FR fork coupled with long (120mm) travel in the rear is - in this humble reporter's opinion - the coolest rig in their quiver and can be equipped with Hayes cable-actuated disc brakes in the 900 model. The mango-colored frame is quite sweet. Look for a test here in a few months...

Also new for hardtail weight-weenies is the new CAAD4 frame currently winning WC races under Alison Sydor and Cadel Evans. It's lighter than the vaunted CAAD3 but will still last (according to the machine) 10 years under a 250 lb. rider who rides 2500 miles a year. Comes in a bitchin' blue - with discs, and a new XXL size will be available.

raven The Raven
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The Raven, that aluminum framed uber-bike sheathed in carbon fiber skin, has some new clearcoat colors for '99, disc brake mounts and is still a 24 lb. FS bike at price points which have dropped up to $1000 on certain models. The freeride model will, however, set you back $3,500 clams.

Headshok suspension is also hot on the list of new goodies, with several interchangeable damping cartridges and travel from 60mm on the Fatty to 80mm on the Super Fatty - available on every bike except one low-end rigid. The double-clamp forks for the freeride bikes and Ravens are evolving as they slide on little roller bearings for stiction-free travel.

duds The Duds
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Cannondale also showed off some nice new duds which Zoners will appreciate, with a new Terra line of shorts and shirts. The blues, browns and retro look of these baggies and v-necks are - so the research indicates - “what the kids are going for these days.” Watch out for the new Stealth Bomber short - it's a $100 baggy short with a cool Swiss fabric. Also big on the C-company's list is women's garb, so if you (as a woman) or your girlfriend wants to look good but get the same techie features as us manly-men, check out their new “Sport” line this fall.

While not filled with major innovations for '99, the Cannondale product line does in fact show that - at least for this American-built niche player - a continued commitment to developing new products (like disc brakes) and refining the already-innovative (Raven). With funky-ass FS designs and a $500 base model, their look and prices aren't for everyone. But for the rest of us it's nice to see such workmanship and glossy fat aluminum tubes, so on the Mountain Zone Cali richter-scale, we'll give the new product a 7.6 - enough to knock shit over without killing anyone.

— Ari Cheren, Mountain Zone Correspondent
Ari Cheren covers NORBA races for the Mountain Zone and somehow has it in his head that he knows product as well.

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