Today I rode the Cannondale CAAD 10 3- Ultegra build and what follows is my review on this outstanding bike. The spec for the bike is good except the Mavic Aksium wheels. That is a really low level of wheel being paired up with an Ultegra component group. I am also not a big fan of the Mavic Ksyrium family of wheels. I believe they are ride too harsh for the recreational or even avid cyclist. I would recommend they use a Shimano wheel like an RS-20 on the Ultegra build. Cannondale uses the RS-80 wheelset (one of the best values and best performing wheels at any price point) on the Dura-Ace equipped bike. But aside from the wheels this is one kick-ass bike. The best compliment I can give the bike is that you forget you are riding an Aluminum frame. The CAAD 10 is so smooth you think you are riding a carbon bike. Keep in mind tires and tire pressure make a significant improvement or detriment to your ride quality. Riding 25 mm tires and lower pressure on high end tires can tame the harshness of just about any stiff riding frame. Tires and wheels are by far the most important component combination to dial in your ride quality.
The ride today was almost 50 miles with 4,600 feet of gain. The elevation gain came from one long hard climb from Lucerne Valley up Hwy 18. The descent on the 18 to Lucerne Valley had a lot of switchbacks with very steep sections. I was having so much fun descending I didn’t take pictures but there were caution signs of 11% and 16% grades. The descent was a very good test of the handling characteristics of the CAAD 10. New for 2011 is the 1.5″ bearing on the bottom of the head tube. The bike tracks great into a hard corner. Some of the caution signs were for 10 mph with extreme banking and I was going at least twice that speed. Even though it was my first time on the CAAD 10 and my first time descending this mountain I had total confidence to ride the bike and test it’s limits.
Once the fun descent was over it was time to climb. The bike was equipped with a compact crank 50/34 chainrings 12-25 cassette– and that was a good thing. The grades were very steep. The CAAD 10 climbed beautifully. It was so stiff and yet very comfortable. I was completely surprised and impressed with the CAAD 10.
In my opinion, the CAAD 10 puts lower end carbon bikes to shame and I dare say mid grade carbon bikes as well. Additionally, I don’t know of any other Aluminum frame that can hold a candle to the CAAD 10. I thoroughly enjoyed the bike. I had lots of fun surging and sprinting on the CAAD 10!! And there you have it my review on the 2011 Cannondale CAAD 10. Honestly, this bike is a great value at any price but the best value is the CAAD 10 4 with Rival. Don’t get me wrong I love Shimano components however the Rival bike is well equipped and has a SRAM Force crankset. The CAAD 10 4 is only $300 more than the Shimano 105 bike. By the way, while I understand some of you might be nostalgic about having the “Handmade in the USA” logos on your bike — don’t! The CAAD 10 version is the best CAAD model Cannondale has ever made!
On the Epictrain goodness scale I rate it a 4.5 out of 5 stars. (a perfect 5 would be awarded if the Mavic Aksium wheels were replaced with better wheels)