At A Glance
When the Flash was delivered to the office the courier hung about to see what was in the box as he was convinced it was empty!Buy XC Bikes on
With a flourish the Cannondale Flash was pulled from the box and even the courier could see that this bike is a bit special.
It is beautifully made and Cannondale have clearly used all their road frame knowledge in the design, it is fair to say that we were positively salivating at the prospect of getting out on it.
Cannondale have worked their road bike magic on the Flash frame, up front they sport a 1.5’’ headtube that has their superb carbon Lefty Speed DLR 110mm Solo Air fork plugged into it. The down tube is pretty normal and drops down to the BB30 cradle that is super stiff. The top tube is anything but normal as it approaches the seat tube it flattens out and continues on with the seat tube rising up through it, it then splits to form the seat stays that are impossibly thin and they also flatten out briefly before reshaping and plunging to the drop outs, the chain stays are also very thin for a mountain bike which all helps Cannondale achieve a stunningly low frame weight whilst being extremely stiff, there is no rider weight limit.
Cannondale stick to their fast yet comfortable geometry, the head angle is 70.1º, seat angle 73.5º, effective top tube is 585mm with those skinny chainstays coming in at 427mm, the wheelbase is 1081mm and the BB sits low at 295mm.
Sram X-0 grip shifters are not an everyday sight but they work and are light, a Shimano XT front mech shifts the chain on the custom FSA Afterburner that sports a carbon spider and X-0 rear mech sits at the back.
Brakes are Avid Elixir CR; the wheels are DT Swiss XCR 1.4 and have Schwalbe Racing Ralph 2.1 treads.
Up front a 100mm Si System integration stem keeps a firm hold on a gorgeous set of FSA SL-K carbon straight bars that are 625mm wide.
A Fizik Tundra saddle sits on a rather special SAVE seat post that also has a flattened section which is designed to flex as much as 40mm to take the edge of rough trails.
Our medium size bike weighed in at 20.5lbs without pedals on our scales.
On The Trail
All the flaring of the tubes is designed to allow a bit of give in the vertical plane at the same time as ensuring that the frame is super stiff laterally.
Within 5 minutes it was clear that Cannondale have achieved their goal.
The Flash is exceptionally light and it looks so vulnerable that it may take a while to build up the confidence to really push it hard but when you do you will be amazed.
The first trip out on the Flash was a woodland ride that took in about 20 miles of nothing but flat singletrack with plenty of rooty sections that need to be pedalled through. It took 2 fettles to get the Lefty just right and then it was hammer time and boy can you hammer this bike, it is pinned to ground with oodles of grip which is just as well because it was being flicked into corners at some pretty hairy speeds.
With confidence in the bike growing it got treated to some ‘I wonder if I can ride it up that’ action and it climbed some very rough loose sections that can only normally be cleared on a well set up full bouncer, traction is tenacious!
At the races it just flies, if you have been knocking on the door of top ten places but just coming up short this bike could well be the machine that will get you into the spotlight.
Not only will the Flash go up anything it is far, far better than it has any right to be coming down. The frame does smooth out trail buzz but it also takes the sting out of what would normally be jarring rough ground descents, it is not a full susser but it can clear sections as well as one if you have the skills to pilot it.
Light, fast, light, smooth….. Oh and it really is beautiful too…
Cost is an issue with the Flash and even though it is capable of things it should not be it is still an unadulterated race bike so it will not suit everybody.
The Cannondale is a wonderful feat of engineering that sets a new benchmark for carbon hardtails.
It is a stunning bike to look at and I find myself running my hands over it as I walk by, it also rides like a dream and will make you faster.
If you can justify the expense buy one, if you cannot justify the expense but think you might get away with it buy one….Buy XC Bikes on
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This review was in Issue 6 of IMB.For more information visit Cannondale Bicycles
By Nigel GarroodNigel Garrood was one of the instigators of the IMB project and has been with us since the very beginning. This loveable rogue has more stories than the Bible and is known to enjoy a beer or two. On the bike, he’s fast and loose and often puts younger riders to shame. Equally he’s been known to suffer from the odd crash and carries the scars to prove it. He was once referred to as being a robot sent from the future to save us all!