Cannondale CAAD10 Force
The CAAD10 won our Editors’ Choice award in 2012, and the ride has only improved. (Photo by Kent Pell) “You were cooking! We carved those last few turns so fast.” We’d just dropped down the last half of the descent of Mount Lemmon outside of Tucson, Arizona. The ride was part of our annual Editors’ Choice trip, and now the group was sitting at a coffee shop under vine-wrapped vigas, bench racing, unwinding, enjoying a postride nosh, and contemplating the rest of the day’s riding. I’d scored the Cannondale CAAD10 for the last five miles off the mountain. The climb up had been interesting while not mind-blowing in terms of what the bikes could do, but the blazing descent back to town really gave us a feel for the mettle of the machines. The CAAD10 was intuitive—an able dance partner as the road dropped and the turns linked together faster and sooner. Even through the high-speed saddle about halfway down, with a blazing-hot crosswind, the bike was a steady roller, staying on course. What You Need to Know •You might not believe it’s aluminum •Turns on a dime at speed •Race-worthy but affordable •Has been a Bicycling Editors’ Choice Winner Weight: 16.1LBS (54cm) Price: $2,820 Info: cannondale.com Double-Duty Before Cannondale made bikes, it made touring gear like the plastic Baby Bugger trailer—which also made a heck of a beer cooler. In’91, I towed a Bugger filled with frosty beverages for the full length of the Five Boro Tour in NYC. The CAAD10 won that round in the Editors’ Choice competition in one of my favorite categories: recreational road, a catchall term we use for jack-of-all-trades bikes, ones that offer fantastic rides and excellent handling with work-a-day pricing and components. These bikes offer great value, without being cheap in any way. On that trip, the CAAD10 had done something else that was remarkable: It changed a few riders’ perceptions of what an aluminum bike could be. All of the testers passed the bike off to the next with their own way of saying, “Holy mackerel, I can’t believe this is aluminum.” (The CAAD10 does have a carbon fork.) It upended the common belief that oversize aluminum is harsh, chattery, and stiff. The CAAD10 was and is refined and elegant, ushering in a new appreciation of the material. The CAAD10 we loved in 2012 has been through a few updates since. For instance, it’s now Di2-compatible, so the same frame can run mechanical (like on my tester) or electronic drive-trains. But it remains one of the best bargains around. The CAAD10 I tested is outfitted with SRAM Force 22 components, Cannondale’s Hollowgram Si crank, and FSA Energy wheels. Yet the price jumped only $800 over the SRAM Rival-equipped bike we tested in Tucson. Taking into account inflation, the update to an 11-speed drivetrain, and better cranks, this CAAD10 is an even better value than the last. The ride is top-notch: The CAAD10 smoothed rough pavement, cornered crisply, and transferred power efficiently. When I rode it on my home roads in eastern Pennsylvania—a patchwork of farm roads, rolling hills, and the valleys in between, with dirt and broken pavement galore—I was even more impressed with this version than the last. The massive front end provides a solid platform from which to launch a sprint. Cannondale’s SAVE seatstays soak up chatter, keeping me fresh rather than letting road imperfections beat me to hell. (Photo by Kent Pell) I like to hand my test bikes around for feedback from different riders. In this instance, the CAAD10 found its way to a few of my most trusted evaluators, and also a relatively new rider looking for an entry into the sport. As on that Arizona trip, all of the testers responded favorably to the ride, likening it to higher-end models, including carbon offerings. The newbie said that he probably wouldn’t have considered aluminum as an option, but is not ruling it out anymore. Weight-wise, there are no concessions: At 16.1 pounds for a 54cm, the CAAD10 is in the same realm as higher-priced bikes. And it’s versatile enough to evolve with your riding style. To make it an all-rounder, there is clearance for 25mm tires; it can also serve as an affordable and durable race bike. The CAAD10 is available in men’s and women’s geometries, and there are disc versions, too. Prices range from entry level to the blinged-out CAAD10 Black Inc. Disc at $4,330. Whichever model you choose, be assured that you’re getting a great ride and saving some serious dough.