Showing an admirable lack of respect for bike industry convention, Cannondale has just launched a pair of new bike ranges that will actually be on sale from, well, now (although the spendier models are a few weeks away). Makes a welcome change for seeing bikes in July that don’t reach the shops until the following March…
The Moto is Cannondale’s entry into the lightweight-but-sturdy all-mountain category – think Specialized Enduro SL or Trek Remedy. Cannondale claims that the Moto is the lightest 160mm travel bike on the market, with a claimed frame weight of 2,875g (6.3lb). As you might have guessed, it’s a carbon fibre frame, with the suspension linkages being carbon too.
Linkages? Yes, Cannondale has dropped the simple layout of the outgoing Prophet models in favour of a design that’s still a robust single-pivot swingarm but now drives the shock via an arrangement of linkages. It’s a similar idea to what Commencal and others are doing, and makes a lot of sense – you get the rigidity and reliability of a big swingarm with one big main pivot but can also tune the leverage on the shock throughout the stroke by tweaking the pivot positions.
Cannondale calls the Moto’s linkage layout the Hatchet Drive (because the horizontal link and the rocker arm bit look a little like a small axe, if you squint a bit and use your imagination). The interesting part of it is that the bottom of the shock mounts to the swingarm rather than the main triangle, giving another degree of freedom with which to manipulate those all-important rate curves and also saving some weight by avoiding another beefed-up section of the main frame – the swingarm would have had a cross brace just there even if the shock was mounted somewhere else.
The swingarm is aluminium, using oversized but lightweight tubing in traditional Cannondale style. It’s asymmetric, with the drive-side chainstay being a little higher to clear the chainrings and front mech. It’s also got a bigger pivot bearing on the non-drive side – the drive side one is as big as it can be and still fit down inside the chainrings. Interchangeable dropouts mean that the frame should be futureproofed against new rear axle standards.
You can tell by the volume of the front end that Cannondale has put a lot of effort into coming up with a stiff chassis. Up front there’s the “Diablo” head tube, so called because it’s 66.6mm in diamter. You’ve got to be a bit suspicious about dimensions that appear to have been chosen because they lend themselves to a marketing angle, but big is good. It takes 1.5in steerer forks, either RockShox Lyric or various flavours of Fox 36 depending on how much money you’re spending.
The big headtube merges into an equally big downtube, with the Hatchet Drive rocker being attached to a wide-stanced mount that’s intended to push shock forces towards the head tube and bottom bracket, areas of the frame that are already strong. At the BB, a pair of carbon plates sandwich the BB shell and main swingarm pivot to additionally stiffen this critical area.
The Moto will be available in four sizes and four models, starting with the 33.4lb Moto Carbon 3 at £2,699 and going all the way up to the wallet-threatening Carbon Ultimate at £4,499. That hill of money does get you a 27.5lb, 160mm travel bike, though. All models will be available in the UK from the end of May and will carry a lifetime warranty.
Cannondale’s other new bike is the Rize. At first glance it doesn’t look as interesting a proposition as the Moto – in profile it’s got a lot in common with the Scalpel, except with actual pivots rather than flexy stays. But at 130mm of travel and prices starting at £1,399, we expect it’ll actually be the bigger-selling of the two new bikes.
With Cannondale’s Hollowgram SL cranks and Lefty Carbon PBR fork on board, the company is playing the System Integration card heavily with the Rize. Cannondale describe it as having “the lightest ‘system’ weight in its class”, having added the weights of the frame, fork, cranks, BB, headset, stem, shock and front hub together to get 4,736g (10.5lb). Quoted weight for frame and shock (a somewhat easier-to-compare metric) is 2,340g (5.2lb) for the carbon fibre model.
There are certain similarities between the Moto and Rize in the headtube/downtube area, but elsewhere the construction is markedly different. Cannondale has used its SystemSix carbon/aluminium co-moulding process to combine a 3D forged aluminium section (comprising the BB30 Si bottom bracket, swingarm pivot and seat tube) with the carbon fibre top, down and head tubes.
Hanging off the back is an aluminium swingarm. Once again, it’s asymmetric, with the drive-side stay dropped to clear the chainrings. The stays themselves are rectangular in section (bringing to mind the “Mudcutter” stays from Cannondales of many years ago), with carbon fibre seatstays driving the shock via a swinglink on the seat tube.
Perhaps confusingly, Cannondale is billing the Rize as “all-mountain” too, so clearly we’re now dividing AM into, er, some other subgenres. As we mentioned earlier, the Rize will be somewhat more affordable than the Moto, with two aluminium-framed models – Rize 4 at £1,999 and Rize 5 at £1,399 – on sale now. The three carbon bikes will arrive in the middle of April, with the range topping out with the Rize Carbon 1 at a mighty £5,199. It weighs a claimed 23.5lb, though, thus matching Gary Fisher’s Hifi Pro Carbon despite having an extra 10mm of travel at each end.
Find out more at www.cannondale.com.All pics © www.smithpic.com