Cannondale 2003

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There’s a whole bunch of new and revised stuff from Cannondale for next year. Kicking off is the new Lefty Max TPC+ fork, found on Gemini and Jekyll full sus bikes. Travel is up to a freeride-friendly 130mm (a gnat’s over 5in) and control is provided by TPC+ damping co-developed by Cannondale and Manitou. It’s interesting to see the two companies working together, although not altogether surprising after Cannondale’s DH team dropped their own fork in favour of Manitou’s Dorado. The new fork is claimed to weigh 2kg (4.5lb), a competitive weight for a 130mm travel fork. It’s got separate external controls for compression and rebound damping, while the titanium coil spring has adjustable preload.

Entry level Cannondale Gemini 900
Entry level Cannondale Gemini 900

Cannondale’s Gemini freeridey full susser was popular with the press and riders last year, and for 2003 the existing Gemini 1000 and 2000 have been joined by a lower priced Gemini 900. Obviously ‘lower priced’ isn’t necessarily the same as ‘cheap’, and the 900 will still take a £2,299 bite out of your wallet. You’re getting the same frame as the higher-priced bikes, although as per usual the high-end frame comes with components that are perfectly competent but generally a notch below what you’d expect for the money. Still, a 1.5in steerer Manitou Breakout fork, Deore/XT transmission and Hayes HFX-9 discs isn’t too shabby. The Gemini 1000 gets the new Lefty Max TPC+ fork, Magura Marta discs and an LX/XT transmission for £2,799. Top of the line is the 2000 with a more overtly hardcore spec including a twin crown Marzocchi Super T fork and Mavic Deemax wheels. We’re not sure we’ll see all that many 2000s around, though, at £3,199.

Fully loaded Cannondale Scalpel Team
Fully loaded Cannondale Scalpel Team

The unique Scalpel flexy-stay XC full sus racer has had something of an overhaul for 2003. Depending on which bit of the press release you read the frame has lost either 140 or 121g. The savings come from a new one-piece carbon fibre reinforced plastic seatstay design, a new hourglass shaped head tube (compatible with OnePointFive and HeadShok forks), a thinner walled seat tube, a new one-piece shock linkage, new forged dropouts and a new bottom bracket shell. We’re also delighted to see that the joint between the seat tube and seat mast/shock mount has been smoothed out, getting rid of the rather unsightly lump of last year’s bike. Entry level (again something of a relative term) for the Scalpel is the 800 at £2,199 with Super Fatty Ultra DL fork, Deore/XT transmission and Magura Louise brakes. Top of the tree at a startling £4,999 is the fully-loaded Scalpel Team. Lefty Carbon ELO fork, Hollowgram Si cranks and bottom bracket, XTR transmission and disc brakes and Mavic CrossMax SL wheels complete something of a wish-list package. As you might hope…

Cannondale Jekyll gets more travel
Cannondale Jekyll gets more travel

For those looking for a bit more suspension oomph than the Scalpel’s 2.5in without going all the way to the Gemini may be looking at the ‘all-mountain’ Jekyll. Revisions here include a travel boost to five and a bit inches on the higher-specced bikes, a redesigned shock mount that’s compatible with coil shocks (as now specced on the cheaper bikes) and hourglass head tube (again OnePointFive compatible). Coil shock compatibility has let Cannondale drop the price of the entry level Jekyll to £1,149 which is pretty cheap by the standards of Cannondale full suspension bikes. The top-spec Jekyll is, however, still ‘reassuringly expensive’ at £3,999.

New tubing for top-end hardtails
New tubing for top-end hardtails

Over in the world of hardtails, Cannondale have conjured up a new frame for the top two models, the F3000SL and F1000SL. You’re no-one in the bike industry these days if you don’t have your own proprietary aluminium tubing, and Cannondale’s is called Optimo. The new frame is 86g lighter than the existing CAAD5 frame, according to Cannondale, primarily down to a new machined head tube and bottom bracket shell and new forged dropouts. The F1000SL is £1,799 with (deep breath) HeadShok Super Fatty Ultra DL fork, LX/XTR transmission and Magura Marta brakes. The F3000SL has a HeadShok Lefty Carbon ELO fork, XTR gubbinses and Mavic CrossMax SL wheels at £3,499.

1FG – wonder what that stands for?
1FG – wonder what that stands for?

Those of a sensitive disposition should look away now, for Cannondale have two singlespeeds in the range for 2003. We dare only guess what the ’1FG’ moniker stands for, but the frame looks quite swanky. There’s a mix of Optimo and 6061-T6 tubes for a claimed frame weight of 3.2lb. Like On-One’s EBB Inbreds, Cannondale have gone for vertical dropouts and a tandem-style eccentric bottom bracket to provide chain tension, avoiding wheel slippage problems and simplifying rear disc mounting. And yes, there’s a bottle opener built in to the dropout, although it’s on the drive side presumably to avoid heat from the rear disc adversely affecting beer performance. You have a choice of fully rigid or HeadShok equipped models, although those for whom the chief appeal of one-geared bikes is low cost may be disappointed – the rigid bike is £899, the HeadShok one £1,499.

That’s about it for ‘Dale’s mountain line-up. Road and other stuff coming soon…

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Next up in *MTB

Rocky Mountain RM7