There are forty (40) major components on a
triathlon bike. That's counting inner tubes, rim strips,
spokes (counted as one component), quick release skewers
and cables- not to mention the frame, fork and wheels.
Forty chances to get it right- or blow it.
In our store it doesn't take much for a company to blow
it. Our standards are high. Ask any sales rep. or product
manager: They hate my guts. "Tom Demerly is an asshole,
he's a perfectionist, he's opinionated, he's type 'A', he's
eccentric and weird". It's all true. In 2002 I wrote
a bike review so scathing (and accurate) a company threatened
to never sell to us again and are still threatening me with
it. But they changed the bike, maybe, to a small degree
because of that review. Oh, I forgot to mention, they say
I'm arrogant too. There's a saying in the bike industry,
"Build a thousand bikes and you're not a bike builder,
but wreck one bike and you're a bike wrecker."
It's a new model year. Another chance for
companies, their product managers and bean counters to screw
up perfectly good bikes with bizarre components and jack
It's also a chance for a select few companies
to get it right. They have 40 chances to make an error on
each bike. The chances of achieving that ephemeral perfection,
that perfect synergy of mechanical union and economic value
But so far one has achieved that (near) perfection.
In grand and sweeping fashion, perhaps for the first time
I have carefully reviewed the 2003 Cannondale
Ironman 2000. My findings are: 39 of the 40 components are
without flaw. The bike is speced, configured, priced and
designed in such a manner that it is not only the best value
I've seen in any triathlon bike for 2003, but the best triathlon
bike spec, design, execution and overall performance of
any triathlon bike I have tested in the last six years.
If this bike fits your body measurements correctly
and suits the terrain you are riding on (more on that
it is a "Best Buy" and a technological manifestation
of perfection. There are 40 parts on this bike: 39 are perfect.
One is just "OK". That's 97.5% perfection. My
issue with the one "problem" boils down to a matter
of opinion- but I will support my opinion, so read on
Saeco team frames ready for
shipment to Italy.
|Before you dismiss this review as merely
an exhaustive attempt to sell Cannondales, let me remind
you: Before our store sells any bike first we have
to buy it. And we can buy any bikes we want. I guarantee
you this, having purchased over 8,000 bicycles in 24
years in the bike industry (my first job was in a bike
shop at 16, I'm 41 now) I am a tough guy to sell a bike
to. I'm pickier than you.
Cannondale has a long history of building
triathlon bikes. According to Cannondale Tech Support man
Tim Corbett at Cannondale HQ in Bethel, Connecticut, the
first triathlon bike to appear in a Cannondale catalog was
the R700 2.8 in 1993. The bike had a steepish 75-degree
seat tube angle and was equipped with Profile Aero 2 handlebars
and Gripshift bar end shifters.
The first Cannondale tri bikes used straight seat
stays and had an exceptionally harsh ride.
The cantilevered dropout design was a failure and
has since been abandoned in favor of more refined
designs used now.
As a triathlon bike, it is a failure by today's
standards, but was advanced then. It was a necessary step
for Cannondale to get to where they are today. The 1993
R700 2.8 suffered from a harsh ride due to an unusual (and
long since abandoned) dropout and seat stay configuration.
The component spec was rough- but as good as available at
the time. It was competing with the new state-of-the-art
in triathlon bikes at the time, Quintana Roo. Triathlon
Guru Dan Empfield was firmly at the helm of Quintana Roo
and making innovations and improvements so fast the big
players like Cannondale simply couldn't adapt quick enough
to keep up with Quintana Roo. In 1993 (and even today) if
you wanted a triathlon bike, a real triathlon bike, you
bought a Quintana Roo. All the rest were pretenders then.
But times have changed. While Cannondale
was adapting, changing and learning how to build the
perfect triathlon bike Quintana Roo reached the apogee
of their business lifespan, had been sold to Hyde
Athletic (Saucony), and then re-sold to American Bicycle
Group. ABG has preserved the essence that is Quintana
Roo and added their gift of titanium fabrication to
the brand. But in the shuffle that is buyouts and
sellouts in the corporate world Cannondale passed
them in the tri bike arms race. During boardroom negotiations
for the Quintana Roo brand name Cannondale was doing
what they do best: Refine, test, refine some more,
test again, get feedback from customers, dealers and
athletes and keep improving. The Cannondales improved
This evolution of Cannondale
triathlon design still had straight seat stays but
more conventional wheel dropouts.
A good view of the old (mid '90s) straight seat stay
The new curved seat stay design facilitates much greater
ride comfort and strength: An enormous improvement.
Other triathlon bike builders came and went.
Felt got a foothold, lost it, then came back swinging with
renewed product, capital and dedication two years ago. Cervelo
gently put their foot in the door some years ago, then kicked
it off the hinges with their incredible, basically flawless
designs- the Ferrari of the triathlon bike world. Now the
triathlon bike market is divided among the major players:
The inventors, Quintana Roo; The workhorses, Cannondale;
The innovators and artisans, Cervelo; and the come-back
kings, Felt. The remainder of the business is divided among
suppliers like Kestrel, Softride and other great companies
like Litespeed who specialize in one material or one type
In 1996/97, Cannondale took a giant leap forward:
They began providing bikes to a top European professional
cycling team, Saeco/Cannondale. Cannondale was the first
U.S. bike manufacturer to sponsor a European pro team. How
has this benefited their triathlon bike program? The experience
Cannondale gained in sponsorship with the Saeco Pro Team
was applied to future bike designs, road and triathlon.
The bikes became more comfortable, stronger, lighter and
more aerodynamic. Frames and rider positions were tested
in the Pininfarina wind tunnel in Turin, Italy. More importantly,
they were tested in the real world. Races were won and lost,
materials and designs were changed. Cannondale accomplished
what would take most companies at least a decade to achieve
(if they ever did) in three model years. In the same way
Ferrari, Porsche and Honda develop their high-end road cars
(on the Formula 1, LeMans and Indy Car circuits) Cannondale
refined their triathlon and road bikes. The results are
obvious. The only other U.S. manufacturers to do this have
been Trek and ABG (Litespeed/ Quintana Roo). Of those two,
only ABG (Litespeed/Quintana Roo) has demonstrated a commitment
to triathlon bikes and truly benefited from their triathlon
sponsorships with Litespeed and QR. Trek paid lip service
to triathlon bikes for a couple seasons, but has since essentially
dropped their triathlon efforts, this year offering a (distant)
version of the time trial bike used by Lance Armstrong in
the Tour de France. Compared to both these companies Cannondale's
racing development program seems to have yielded superior
results on the sales floor (and at the races) for consumers.
Despite his sensational, flamboyant persona, Mario
Cippolini and his Saeco team helped Cannondale development
|Cannondale vaulted forward. The company
was listed on the NASDAQ stock exchange (NASDAQ symbol:
BIKE) and raised additional capitol for greater production
capacity and research and development including new
product categories such as motorsport, which later proved
to be a white elephant. Their 2002 fiscal year sales
were $156.7 million, an increase of 6.7% during a year
when most other companies were floundering. After announcing
earnings in 2002 the stock shot up over 31% in a single
day. The company remains entirely committed to U.S.
frame manufacturing and employed 863 people at the end
of summer 2002. By contrast one other highly recognizable
triathlon bike manufacturer has 1 (that's right, one)
employee answering the phone in their sales department.
If he's in the bathroom or at lunch, they are basically
out of operation. Every other major player in triathlon
bikes relies to some degree on off-shore frame production
(Cannondale only sources components off shore), a situation
that became critical during the 2002 September/October
U.S. West Coast port lock-out.
What does this Harvard MBA stuff mean to you?
Cannondale is real: Spend a couple thousand dollars on a
Cannondale and they will be there in five years. Through
reorganization, failed ideas and turbulent times Cannondale
has proven that. The company has intrinsic value. They have
history; experience and support their customers. They've
done their homework. That is how they got where they are
today. They can supply bikes at the height of the season
and get them here reliably in four days. If you have a warranty
issue on Friday morning (before a major race) chances are
I can have you on a new bike by Friday afternoon. That Friday
afternoon. The ownership experience doesn't get any better
In January of 2003 Cannondale fell victim
to the pitfalls of the post 9/11 economy and that most vicious
of corporate afflictions: Ambition. Cannondale's attempt
to enter the motorsports market put an enormous drain on
the profitable bike operation. Being a publicly held company
there was additional pressure to demonstrate the stratospheric
(and unrealistic) growth seen in the late '90s among NASDAQ
home run hitters. Most of those are gone, but Cannondale
remains. By December of 2002 the cash drain from the unprofitable
motorsports division became so severe Cannondale was forced
to reorganize under Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Only 53% of the
company was affected- the U.S. motorsports and bicycle division.
A white knight called The Pegasus Group took financial control
of Cannondale's domestic bike operations and infused millions
of dollars that had been bled away by the hemorrhaging motorsports
division. Cannondale has emerged as a privately held U.S.
The results of the bankruptcy have been minimal.
There was a two week interruption in normal Cannondale operations.
Regular production resumed on February 14, 2003. The Pegasus
Group was committed to finding a new corporate (private)
owner by the end of March. The consensus was that Cannondale
dealers and owners would never notice the changes. As of
this writing, that appears to be the case.
The Saeco Professional Cycling
Team and Cannondale conducted
wind tunnel testing of bike and rider in Italy.
This history brings us to the 2003 Cannondale
Ironman 2000. The bike uses the tried and true Cannondale
CAAD5 (Cannondale Advanced Aluminum Design version 5) triathlon
frame and aero fork. This frame and fork has remained essentially
unchanged for three model years. As well it should- it is
outstanding. The CAAD5 frame and fork are the direct result
of Saeco-Cannondale experience and sponsorship of elite
triathletes like '97 Ironman winner Thomas Hellriegel. Hellriegel
blazed to the fastest bike split in Kona in '02 at 4:34:00
on a Cannondale.
What sets Cannondale frames
apart from all other aluminum triathlon frames is their
manufacturing process. Cannondale starts with a heat-treated
6061 T6 aluminum tube set. The tubes are TIG-welded together
in a similar manner to most other manufacturers. This is
where the similarity ends. Once the welds are complete a
hand finishing process smoothes the welds on the Cannondale
frames at each joint. The combination of the heat generated
from the welding process and the grinding done during the
smoothing process creates a large "heat affected zone"
where the joint is actually weakened. This requires Cannondale's
unique second heat treating process. The welded, smoothed
frame is then heat treated as a unit in a process exclusive
to Cannondale. The process is closely guarded. Guests on
tour at the Cannondale factory are not allowed in the heat-treating
room. The purpose of smoothing the weld beads is not aesthetic,
it is structural. An engineer will tell you the distinct
edges of an unfinished weld bead are "stress raisers",
or a point where cracks can get a start and spread or "propagate".
Cannondale has removed these stress raisers and improved
the strength of their frames over other brands of aluminum
bikes by over 30%. That's huge.
Frame quality is the the second best
reason to buy a
bike (fit is first). These welds are second to none in the
industry, hand made and hand finished in the U.S.
For 2003 the Ironman 2000 wears a component
group second to none in performance and value. If you think
that's a cliché', I invite you to get out your spreadsheets
and compare. We did. The components are a good mix of performance
where you really need it and value where it makes sense.
The Ironman 2000 sells for about $2399.00. Carefully go
nut to bolt with everything else out there within a couple
hundred dollars in either direction and you'll see nothing
else is as nice or makes as much sense. No one else has
the double heat-treated, smoothed weld bead frame.
The Ironman 2000 uses Shimano Dura-Ace 9 speed
bar-end shifters with a Shimano Dura-Ace rear derailleur.
The rest of the bike is essentially Shimano Ultegra. In
the hierarchy of prices Shimano Ultegra is positioned below
Dura-Ace, but the performance is still there. Up-specing
the rear derailleur from Ultegra to Dura-Ace provides faster,
more powerful shifting in the rear where you shift most.
It also upgrades your derailleur bushing to sealed bearings
(as opposed to one bushing on Ultegra) and saves 20 grams.
The Dura-Ace rear derailleur features a plastic "push
plate" that facilitates smoother, faster, lighter feeling
shifts. The derailleur can shift with lighter cable tension,
making the shifting action easier and faster. Most riders
will be able to detect the difference in shift quality between
Dura-Ace and Ultegra. It isn't subtle. It's an upgrade that
makes sense. Keeping the Shimano Ultegra components on the
rest of the bike also makes sense since it keeps the bike
well below $2500.
In addition to an outstanding
frame, the no-nonesense component
specifications like this Shimano Ultegra crank, chainrings
derailleur make the the Ironman 2000 a dependable bike and
value. Ultegra crank, bottom bracket and chainrings insure
shifting every time. No cheap aftermarket, off-brand cranks
downgraded derailleurs here.
A word about components in general. First
of all, don't shop for a bike by components. I know that
sounds like a contradiction. Components are interchangeable.
Stop comparing components and start comparing bike fit and
frame quality. If you find your dream bike but it doesn't
have the derailleurs, shifters and brakes you want, or you
don't like the crank, it easier to change those than make
changes to the frame. When you buy a bike you're predominantly
buying a frame and fork- the components are largely generic
and interchangeable. You can have the best components money
can buy, but if the bike doesn't fit you it won't provide
optimal performance: You wasted your money. Shop for frame
quality and fit first, they are most important.
From Shimano 105 to Shimano Dura-Ace they
all provide at least good performance. The biggest difference
is in the frame and fork and how the bike fits your body.
Having said that, we did a survey of our returning
customers after Ironman Wisconsin 2002. We asked five customers
who bought bikes from us (two Litespeeds, two Cannondales
and one Cervelo) how their bikes performed during Ironman
Wisconsin. Our store set-up 23 bikes for Ironman Wisconsin
and we learned a lot about preparing bikes specifically
for that course. Each of the five customers surveyed had
their bikes tuned up by us within three weeks prior to Ironman
Wisconsin. We asked each customer the same questions about
how their bikes performed. Two customers were on Shimano
Dura-Ace components throughout, one was on Shimano Ultegra
and the other two were on Shimano 105 components but with
Shimano Tiagra front derailleurs. We test rode each bike
prior to the customers' departure for Ironman Wisconsin
to verify their mechanical integrity.
Although the Profile Carbon Strike
bars are adjustable to
almost any position, we feel they are heavy and complex.
What we learned from our customers who did
Ironman Wisconsin 2002 on these bikes was they all had basically
good component performance with two notable exceptions.
Each of the five surveyed said they had excellent rear shifting
performance. Two of the five reported they "Had trouble
with their front derailleur". Both of those two had
Shimano 105 cranks and Shimano Tiagra front derailleurs.
They mentioned it was difficult to shift the chain from
the small chainring up to the large chainring and one dropped
her chain to the inside as she shifted from the large ring
down to the small ring. Neither knew the position of their
chain on the rear cog when they experienced the problems,
a critical aspect of front derailleur performance. Ironman
Wisconsin is a somewhat unique course in that it has lots
of short, steep climbs, necessitating frequent front changes
to maintain the light cadence you need to keep your legs
fresh at Ironman distance. For this reason it is an excellent
testing ground for front derailleur shifting performance.
This bottom bracket was removed from
a triathlete's bike
that was bound for Ironman. It was so worn it needed replacement.
The Cannondale Ironman 2000 uses a sealed cartridge bearing
Shimano Ultegra bottom bracket which requires almost no
maintenance- an excellent choice for triathletes.
The lesson learned is that front derailleur
performance can be highly dependent on component selection.
The cranks, bottom bracket, chainrings, front derailleur,
front derailleur mounting to the frame and cable installation
are all critical to the performance of the front derailleur,
in addition to a precisely aligned frame with a stiff seat
tube and bottom bracket. Bikes with Shimano Tiagra front
derailleurs, shifted by Shimano Dura-Ace bar-end shifters
on Shimano 105 cranks with Shimano SG brand chainrings did
shift adequately under light use (flat to rolling courses,
not much front shifting required), but were not up to our
standards for race performance on a course with frequent
The 2003 Cannondale Ironman 2000 uses a Shimano
Ultegra crank and Shimano SG chainrings with a Shimano Ultegra
front derailleur. This combination assures excellent, accurate
and repeatable front shifting even on the most demanding
terrain if the athlete has practiced their shifting technique.
This is the best front derailleur, chainring, crank and
shifter spec available at this price point. Only a few bikes
share this, including the excellent Cervelo P2K. Any frame
can be built to this specification, but usually at additional
cost. Cannondale also includes a Shimano Ultegra bottom
bracket with sealed cartridge bearings. We consider this
more appropriate for most triathletes than even a Dura-Ace
bottom bracket since the Dura-Ace unit, although lighter,
uses fragile alloy cups and a relatively complex bearing/roller
bearing assembly that can be maintenance intensive. From
our experience triathletes are best off on equipment that
avoids exotic maintenance.
In 2003 a lot of bikes use combinations of
brands of shifters, front derailleurs and most notably cranks.
FSA and Truvativ are supplying many bike brands with cranks
and chainrings in 2003. We have ridden them and used them
in the real world. Most of them can be adjusted to deliver
adequate front shifting performance, but do operate as quickly
or smoothly with a minimum of adjustment as does a complete
Shimano front transmission assembly. This is understandable
as the Shimano mechanisms are designed as a unified system
at the same facility by the same engineers to work together
as a unit. When separate companies have to make the bottom
bracket, crank, front derailleur and even chain rings it
is difficult for everyone to be on the same "sheet
of music" so the components work together perfectly.
This is not to say the FSA and Truvativ equipped bikes are
bad, they are configured to reach certain price specifications
and do so, offering the consumer a viable alternative to
expensive Shimano brand components. Like automotive design
legend Carrol Shelby said, "Speed costs money, how
fast do you want to go?"
Another view of the old cantilever dropout from the
And the new dropout design which is lighter, stronger,
stiffer much more dependable.
While we discourage people from buying a bike
based on component spec (fit is much more important) it
is worth considering in this package. The shift quality
on the front of the Cannondale Ironman 2000 is outstanding,
second to none. If you are doing hilly events like Ironman
Wisconsin, Lake Placid, Canada, etc. this is something to
think about. If you are a beginner who wants a minimum of
component hassles and are will to pay a few extra dollars
for it- this is a good place to put your money.
Spending a few extra bucks up front is worth
it in the long run to get the good stuff that really works.
The rest of the component spec on the
Ironman 2000 is equally without flaw. Brake calipers are
genuine Shimano Ultegra. They work great- no problems ever.
You may never think about how important
seatpost head is until you don't have one. The excellent
seatpost on the Ironman 2000 permits infinite angular
adjustment of the Selle San Marco Azoto Triathlon
saddle, our best triathlon saddle.
The seatpost is a Cannondale micro-adjust
post with no annoying serrations to prevent you from adjusting
your saddle angle to perfection. This seatpost is easy to
adjust and holds adjustments securely. The saddle is the
state-of-the-art Selle San Marco Azoto Triathlon, the best
triathlon saddle made. Read our detailed review here.
The stem and base bars are excellent quality
as are the brake levers, a lightweight lever with no return
spring. Brake cable installation is very important on this
braking system to insure good lever feel. The cable and
housings must be cut to precise length (not too long, not
too short) and have the housing ends precisely ground flat
and smooth on a grinder. It is critical to use a durable
cable lubricant inside the housings and be sure the inner
cables are spotlessly clean upon installation. We like the
cables supplied, we're not big fans of Flak Jacket, Gore
or other PTFE "slick" style brake cables. For
triathletes, good quality stainless brake cables with meticulously
prepared lined housings are always best.
Carbon fiber head tube spacers
are OK if you are only
using 2.5-5mm of spacing. If you need more than
5mm of head tube spacing we recommend alloy
as the carbon spacers tend to compress and produce
"creeking" noises. Personally, I prefer aluminum
spacers in all applications but many customers
like the "look" of carbon.
The headset spacers supplied with the bike
are carbon fiber. You may or may not have to use spacers
depending on your body measurements. We have had problems
with carbon fiber headset spacers. When more than 1 centimeter
of carbon fiber spacers are used the spacers tend to compress
and bulge out causing the headset adjustment to marginally
change (loosen) and produce a creaking noise. For any height
above 1 centimeter we recommend alloy headset spacers as
they are non-compressible.
The Spinergy Xaero Lite wheels and
Cannondale Carbon fiber
fork improve ride quality, increase strength and save weight.
The wheels add substantial value to the entire bike package.
The wheels on the Ironman 2000 are another
home run. The Spinergy Xaero Lite wheels used on the Ironman
2000 are the best training wheels available in my opinion,
and a decent race wheel as well. These wheels sell for $699.99,
so they add substantial value to the bike. They weigh only
1450 grams for a pair of 650c clinchers. That compares to
Zipp 404 650c clinchers that weigh 1465 grams per pair at
$1195.00 and Zipp 303 650c clinchers that weigh in at 1543
grams (weights quoted were obtained from Zipp directly via
phone) for $1095.00.
The Spinergy Xaero Lite uses the unique PBO
fiber spoke. The spoke is flexible and can actually be tied
in a knot, unlike conventional wire spokes. PBO stands for
Phenylene Benz Obisoxazole, the material used in the spokes.
The PBO spoke can withstand impacts 25% greater than a traditional
wire wheel and 50% more than comparable high-end products
such as lightweight double butted or bladed spokes. Spinergy's
impact fatigue tests show that a PBO spoked wheel is designed
to be more resistant to repeated impacts than any other
wire wheel design. PBO wheels will need much less truing
and maintenance than other wheel designs. My own tests on
the road confirm this. Ride comfort is also substantially
improved. Xaero Lites ride more comfortably than any other
wheel I've tried. This is a wheel set you can ride every
day on any road, no matter how bad the pavement. You can
dent any rim if you aren't careful, but these are the most
durable wheels you can find. The light weight means they
will accelerate quickly responsively and climb well. These
are the perfect wheels if you only want to own one set of
wheels. They do not replace an aerodynamic race wheel like
a Zipp, Hed or Corima, but you shouldn't train everyday
on a race wheel like those. On a hilly course the Spinergy
Xaero Lites are very good race wheels. On a flat course
the round PBO fiber spokes and shallow rim depth won't match
the performance of Zipps, Heds or Corimas but you need to
spent another $1000 + to get those additional time savings.
Bang for the buck, for most athletes the Xaero Lites will
do everything they need, even on race day.
Now, my one criticism:
The Ironman 2000 uses Profile Carbon Strike
aerobars. These aerobars are highly adjustable and comfortable
to use when adjusted to your taste. My issue with them is
they are comprised of exactly 50 (fifty) different pieces.
They arrive to us in a semi-disassembled condition that
requires extensive assembly of bolts, washers, etc. By comparison
the Syntace C-2 Ultralite aerobar uses a total of 28 separate
components, a 44% reduction in hardware. The C-2 Ultralite
is not adjustable for length and rotational grip angle,
as is the Profile Carbon Strike, but is adjustable for elbow
pad width. For length adjustment the Syntace bars are available
in three sizes (Small, Medium or Large). I like Syntace
better than any aerobar.
Our favorite aerobar: The Syntace C-2. Light, simple
and sold in sizes. Only 28 separate components.
By contrast the adjustable Profile Carbon Strike uses
50 separate bits and pieces(some of the small washers
are not visible). It is heavy, complex and has a lot
to go wrong. Some people favor its adjustablitly however.
(click either photo to enlarge).
Here's the debate: What is the point of adjustable
aerobars? Once you find the place you want them to be adjusted
to you simply leave them adjusted that way. But you still
have to carry around 44% more hardware (and its weight and
vulnerability to failure). It's just more weight and more
things to go wrong. With the Syntace approach you find the
aerobar size that fits you and use that, without the extra
weight of all that adjusting hardware. Perfection isn't
when there is nothing more to add; it's when there is nothing
left to take away.
In fairness, not all the Profile hardware
is required to assemble the bars, as pointed out by Bikesport,
Inc. Manager Mike O'Donnell. "Some of what is in there
are risers and the longer bolts for those risers, so you
wouldn't be using those necessarily". Risers for Syntace
bars are sold separately.
It boils down to your preference. I will argue
the simplicity and reduced weight of the Syntace is better.
You could argue having a greater range of adjustment is
worth the additional weight and complexity. When you think
about it in the grand scheme of the entire bike, this is
a very, very minor concern. We charge $30 to upgrade to
Syntace bars on an Ironman 2000, giving you full credit
for the Profile bars that come off.
What about the ride? I have a Cannondale triathlon
bike, a Multisport 5000 from the 2002 model year. It isn't
for sale. I love that bike. The ride quality is better than
any other aluminum bike I've been on. I have several aluminum
tri bikes, but this is my favorite. I hate to revert to
that stupid cliché used by ride reviewers everywhere,
but it is the perfect combination of stiffness versus comfort.
Super fast on the climbs, handles great and still feels
good after six hours. I love my Cannondale triathlon bike.
What are these bikes best suited for? The
type of triathlons and duathlons we do in Southeastern Michigan:
Flat to rolling terrain, good to horrible pavement. Although
the Cannondale triathlon frames climb better than any triathlon
frame I've tried (owing to their laterally stiff bottom
bracket), they still aren't necessarily perfect on a super
hilly course. Usually you need something different and highly
specialized for very hilly terrain and that is a whole other
article all together. That is also going to depend on your
body measurements- so this will vary from person to person.
This points to the importance of being accurately measured
by someone who knows about triathlon bikes, the courses
you'll be riding and has lots of experience in all of them.
A person with ten triathlons under their belt and a thumbnail
knowledge of fitting is dangerous, they think they know
it all, but they only know enough to screw it up. Our primary
fitter has done over 200 triathlons all over the world including
three Ironmans and measured several thousand cyclists.
Several customers wondered about the Ironman,
World Triathlon Corporation "M-dot" logo on the
bike. World Triathlon Corporation, the Ironman people, owns
the Ironman name and M-dot icon. If you want to call a product
"Ironman" you have to license the name from them,
and plenty of people have. From breakfast cereal to trash
bags to sports drinks to wrist watches, SUVs and tons of
clothing and accessories for athletes and non-athletes the
Ironman brand is up there with the NFL and the NBA as a
sports marketing label. What does this mean to you? Cannondale
is committed enough to the sport to put money back in. I
asked several insiders what they thought it cost for Cannondale
to put the M-dot Ironman logo on the Ironman series bikes.
Guesses ranged from "Not all that much" to "About
$4 a bike maybe is my guess". Lew Kidder, founder of
Inside Triathlon magazine did tell us that Timex paid "A
buck a watch" for the Ironman Triathlon watches Timex
sells. When we asked Jason Edinger, our Outside Sales Rep.
for Cannondale, how much Cannondale pays for the use of
the M-dot Ironman logo he said "Let me make some calls
to find out
" He told us it is a figure tied to
overall sales that does not impact the price of the bikes,
and that it is primarily a "co-branding" partnership.
It's worth mentioning (again) Cannondale had the fastest
bike split at the 2002 Ironman Triathlon World Championship
in Kona, Hawaii with Thomas Hellriegel's incredible 4:34:00
The "M-dot" Ironman logo
is part of a co-branding partnership
with World Triathlon Corporation. The paint and finish on
Ironman 2000 are extremely high quality. We have not seen
a single paint defect.
One of the benefits of the Ironman name
on the Cannondale bikes is it demonstrates Cannondale's
commitment to the sport: They are putting money back into
triathlon. World Triathlon Corporation is a private company,
but the more successful they are the more events they can
afford to produce. Some people have been sensitive to having
the Ironman logo on their bike when they never plan to do
an Ironman. I think that's stupid. I have a watch that says
"submariner" and I've never been on a submarine.
I have owned shoes named after Olympic events and I've never
been to the Olympics. Maybe you drive a vehicle called an
Explorer. Are you an Explorer? You get the idea. It's a
brand identity that demonstrates Cannondale's commitment
to the sport.
Cannondale has been active in support
of elite triathletes.
German "uberbiker" Thomas Hellriegel has been on
Cannondale for three seasons and got the fastest bike
split at Hawaii in 2002 on a Cannondale.
As for fit: The Cannondale Ironman 2000 has
a moderate to slightly longish top tube length. The top
tubes run longer than Quintana Roo (the shortest in the
industry), a bit longer than Felt and about the same as
Cervelo (also moderate).
Sizes from triathlon bike brands are
hard to compare, as demonstrated by this table:
Frame total seat tube length.
Frame effective seat tube length.
Top tube center to center.
(size name 52cm.)
|Felt DA 650
(size name 52cm.)
(size name 54cm.)
(size name 53cm.)
We independently verified each of these measurements
here in our store, they are the actual dimensions, not the
manufacturer's published ones- this is what the bikes really
More than anything, this points out how important
it is to get measured and buy your bike from a store that
sells each of these brands and specializes in fitting triathlon
bikes. While the size names are within one centimeter of
each other they each fit totally different body dimensions.
How do you know which to buy? You don't. Your bike fitter
does if he has enough experience fitting triathletes, working
with each of the available brands and racing himself. Beware
of posers, one race wonders and "Johnny come lately"
sales guys who have sold a couple triathlon bikes and are
now self-appointed "experts".
The interesting anomaly is the extreme variance
of total seat tube length with the Cannondale. Cannondales
generally have a 13cm. extension of the frame seat tube
above the top tube. This helps improve ride quality by dispersing
road shock over a greater surface area of material. This
is also a big advantage for larger riders, improving lateral
stiffness. For long legs and short torsos this may be an
advantage. Again, it boils down to body measurements.
In the final analysis the Ironman 2000 may
be the single best triathlon bike you can buy dollars for
performance. It will take you from your first triathlon
through your fifth Ironman without having to substitute
any components. The bike can save you from spending well
over a thousand dollars trying to upgrade a bike you paid
just $300 less for. If you understand the true meaning of
value- not false economy but real value and savings, as
well as buying smart the first time; you will consider the
Ironman 2000. If it fits you, it is the closest thing to