Eric reviews the Cannondale CAAD 12:
What to do when the N+1 urge strikes, where N= the number of bikes currently owned. I don’t just jump in to what I consider a big ticket item until I’m tired of looking through multiple websites, physical examples and talking to people for their opinion. It was time, time to upgrade my entry-level road bike to something more fitting of the style of riding I’ve grown to love. My first road bike took me places far and wide; physically, geographically and on several other areas that needed exploring. I really enjoyed that bike, but more so I wanted to go faster, farther and hang with a group of riders I normally only see from a distance, as I tried to hang on to a wheel during the group rides. That’s what started the process.
I spoke with TC at Action Bikes and Outdoors about the brands they represent in the shop and I also looked at a half dozen other brands that seem to capture what I was after. TC was in no hurry to put me on a bike that he just wanted to sell, rather he wanted to be sure he understood what I was after, price point, group set upgrade, more aggressive frame posture, a lighter bike, a stiffer and more responsive ride.
It was time. So after a few days of website scrutiny, reading gear reviews online and in magazines and talking to a few riders I set my sights on the Cannondale CAAD 12, outfitted with Shimano’s proven 105 group set. The CAAD 12 comes in 7 possible models from the 105 gruppo, up to their top shelf offering the CAAD 12 Black Inc. A few models come fitted with disc brakes, all are made of Cannondale’s superior aluminum tubes , SmartFormed 6069 Alloy, SPEED SAVE, BB30, Di2 Ready with a Speed Save BallisTec full carbon fork collared by a tapered head tube all set in a race geometry that isn’t a torture rack.
The 105 gruppo is at the bottom of the model range but don’t be fooled. This bike jumps when asked, the BB30 bottom bracket translates a great deal of pedaling effort into forward motion, the frame design, from years of testing and real life application is far more than you would expect. The 105’s shifting is crisp, dependable and encourages the rider to push faster and further. Cannondale delivers a great package with some finer touches such as Mavic’s Aksium complete wheel set. The gearing comes in 52/36 up front and an 11 speed 11-28 cassette in an attempt to satisfy a wide audience of riders who want to climb and ride in a pace line. Internal cabling is standard on all CAAD 12 models and ticked off one of the boxes near the top of my demands. Lastly the color, I have a CAAD X, the cyclocross model in Cannondale’s black and white paint scheme so I was hoping for an option to the primer grey and they delivered. Team Color has a glossy, slightly metallic black as the base color with a metallic grey on the down tube, seat stays and the underside of the top tube. Cannondale’s pro peloton racing team’s signature green covers the fork and seat tube along with some branding graphics.
Lastly, the saddle, a Selle Royal won’t be seen in the professional ranks but I can tell you it’s not a leather clad brick or a couch cushion. It’s light, flexes and doesn’t seem to need a break in period.
After talking it all over with TC, who seemed ready to ride along with me on the maiden voyage, the bike arrived less than a week later and during that time a few notable publications named this particular CAAD 12 105 the 2016 Bike of the Year. Now I feel pretty smart riding this bike around and look forward to years of enjoyment and keeping up during the group rides.