Cannondale '99: A Sneak Peek
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.
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.
|"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..."
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 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.
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
||"And wonder aloud why lime green is back as a "cool"
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.
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.
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
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.