Wednesday, September 16, 2015

How The Other Half Rolls

Many electrons are wasted around here on the bikes that yours truly, Grand Pooh-bah of The Cycle (the ugly dude in the photo to the right) rides, but it's been a while since I've featured the cycle stylings of my long-suffering spouse. Thus, I give you... the little Cannondale:

This is a v1.2 photo, after I'd already given it some love in the form of flat pedals (replacing clipless), new grips, new tires, new saddle, some lights, fenders, a bottle cage, and (of course) a bell. The previous owner had clearly ridden it a lot but taken good care of it -- all the things that are usually hurting on a 20-year-old bike (like those vintage Grip Shifts) were just fine.

This is a gen-yoo-wine Made in Bedford, Pennsylvania Cannondale from the mid-1990s, welded from big ol' aluminum tubes, natch. The thing I find neat about it from a bike-nerd perspective is that funky front end... on a mountain bike, Cannondale called that extra triangle the Killer V configuration. It was designed to provide more standover clearance, eventually to make space for a suspension fork, and generally, just to look cool. On a hybrid like this one, it doesn't get a snazzy marketing name, but it ticks the "standover clearance" and "looks cool" boxes, at least to my eye. Our tandem has a similar front end, and my delicate dangly bits appreciate it every time I have to stand over the big bike at a stop.

I toured the Cannondale factory as a Pennsylvania shop rat just before the turn of the century and was able to see how they could rapidly prototype oddball designs like this... draw it up in CAD in the morning, a computer-controlled laser cutter slices exactly the right miters into the right tubes, pass those tubes off to a welder, and by the end of the day, you have a rideable frame. If it doesn't work out, start over again tomorrow. It's a far cry from those "Designed" in the U.S.A. companies (including the Cannondale of today) who have to send their blueprints overseas and wait for the shipping container to bring the results across an ocean.

(Ranty aside: If it seems like I kinda talk about Cannondale in the past tense, that's how I see them after Dorel shut down Bedford. As far as I'm concerned, if it didn't come out of Pennsylvania, it ain't a Cannondale. Neener neener neener.)

But enough harumphing, and back to the bike at hand. Here's some action-shot proof that my tandem stoker does more than just stoke tandem (at least until she sees that I've put a slightly silly picture of her on the blog and tells me I have to take it down):


This is v2.0, after she determined that the reach to the stock flat bars was a bit too much Swapped those out for some inexpensive riser bars with some sweep, and the smile tells you the verdict. (Apologies to the bike photo nerds for not capturing the drive side of the bike, or the bike in its entirety... when you're being buzzed by a crazy woman in a parking lot, you take what you can get.)

Perfection was not attained, however, until v2.1, with the addition of a key accessory:

Big ol' basket? Check. The bike's now functional, and just as stylish as its pilot.

(If you were sucked into the Cannondale company/history nerdery above, is a great resource, with a catalog archive going all the way back to 1973 when they only made backpacks, bike touring bags, and bike trailers.)

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