It was ten weeks before the 2001 Northeast Aids Ride that I signed on to do the ride. In the ten weeks that followed, I prepared my Old Royce Union 10 speed by lubing the chain and bearings with old crankcase oil. I prepared my gear by getting new laces for an old pair of sneakers! I went out and bought a pump, some spare tubes, some biking shorts and shirts, I padded the handlebars and called myself ready. Well we made it.
However along the way, it took me until day three to figure out how the other guys and gals on road bikes were shifting gears. It was then that I realized I was working at a technology deficit here. So I contacted a buddy of mine that had crossed the country a few times on bike back and I asked him, "Hey what kinda bike should I buy?"
"Well, Cannondales have always been good to me, and besides they're made in America to boot!" Matt replied. Did I mention he works in the Pentagon? So I started the search. I rapidly concluded that it was not simply a matter of what you bought but, more importantly, where you bought! To make a rather long story a little shorter, I wound up deciding upon a Cannondale R700 SI Triple. A triple for the granny gear, (since hills were my least favorite part, and frankly the only spot where old Royce let me down). Cannondale for the name and recommendation of my friend, and the 700 because it offered better running gear, but not the best, which seems to emphasize lightness over durability. I chose the Bike Junky as the dealer simply because I didn't know jack sh-t about bikes so I needed someone I could rely upon to know what was what! And that is how I wound up with My aluminum frame road rocket!
If you have read the review of my Old Royce, you got the sense of how attuned I am to the feel of the bicycle beneath me as I ride. If there is one overriding quality about the Cannondale, I would have to say that it is the degree to which the bike seems to disappear! Ok the ride is much harsher than a steel frame bike. But, once you get used to it, it falls more appropriately into the area of what sports car enthusiasts like to refer to as "road feel." Which is the way the condition of the road surface is transmitted to you through your body contact points. You feel the sandy, rough, slippery, or wet. You get the sense that you know how the bike will react to your maneuvers. This is really a good thing!
But as I said earlier, the bike actually disappears from your awareness as an entity. The sense I get is that, yes I am pedaling, yes I can feel the road, yes I occasionally shift, but all these things flow seamlessly from the road to my body and mind. Shifting is effortless and almost subconscious. Done correctly, meaning in the right part of your cadence/effort curve, up-shifts and down-shifts are without any appreciable effort or cadence disruption. Downhills are secure and almost even overconfident. You can accumulate speed very quickly and you feel very confident about your ability to handle it. But, you must remain aware of that unpredictable variable, the folks in the gas burners! Barring that 50 mph plus is very doable, and very comfortable.
OK, the factory saddle never made it out of the shop! The Terry seating that Doug from the Bike Junky recommended now sits on my Burley Tandem, and I once again settled on a Specialized Body Geometry Comfort Plus. The seat just works for me! Reviewed separately.
Now the one drawback that I feel exists, I do not know where to hang it, cause wise. There is this subtle, almost unnoticeable (except that I do) lateral instability moving to the left side only. If you run over a rut or a road seam that roughly parallels your course of travel, there is this brief little lurchy thing that happens that does not happen if you are mounting the rut to the right. Now it is not the kind of thing that causes a problem, or even a diminishing of control. It is just different moving left or right under very specific circumstances. I don't know if it is the asymmetrical spoke patterns left and right on the rear wheel, or perhaps slightly different frame compliance, but whatever it is, I noticed it. I also live with it so how bad could it be? It just gives you something to wonder about as you pedal along.
I mentioned before the price point of the 700 and the running gear, that the next level up was lighter, pricier, and additionally more fragile. As it was, both Candice's 500, and my 700 wound up needing to have the deraillures trued up during the AIDS Ride. The feeling was that they probably got bent during rack storage. When you purchase a high end road bike with expensive running gear it is presumed that this device will get a lot of TLC. It is NOT DESIGNED to be tossed in the back of a pickup truck and carted around sloshing in the back. It is a delicate device prone to damage if not properly handled and (OK) pampered. If you want something you can bang around a little, you might want to look into a touring bike, which basically differs from the road version in being a little beefier, aka heavier, and utilizes mountain bike running gear, also a bit heavier but a whole lot less delicate. Weight only really matters in sprinting, so unless you want to drop everyone off the line, you really don't pay for the weight that much once it's moving. You will lose more weight as you consume the water in your bottles than you will gain from the beefier components!
Since I plunked down my very hard earned dollars, the 700 series has slipped down a bit on the snob hierarchy of models, so I would guess that the bike is an even better deal now than it was when I bought it. Would I buy it again? Most definitely, I love the bike!
overall I rate this bike a 9 out of 10
durability of running gear against Charity ride bike rack bangs 7
Shifting rear 10 (when aligned and not bumped out of alignment in a charity
Shifting front 8 (seems to take a great deal of lever throw to shift down,
up is no problem. I have seem many reviews of Tiagra derailluers which
slammed the product. Personally it has Never failed me and never gone out