Cannondale recently launched two new bikes in Gran Canaria, and on the road from Las Palmas airport to our hotel we had a serious case of deja vu. We soon realised that we’d been here before for the Manitou R7 product launch. All we could remember from that trip was that the food was good and there was an abundance of nightlife. We dumped our bags, ate like kings and then hit all the old spots. Three for the price of one beers were flowing, and after several cheap rounds even the complementary schnapps started to taste pretty good.
The next morning we had a 9am presentation for the new all-mountain 130mm travel Rize. Through half-closed eyes the Rize looked similar to the Scalpel, albeit with pivots instead of carbon flex stays. Cannondale still uses carbon seatstays on the Rize but it is the oversized aluminium chainstays that make it the stiffest bike that Cannondale has ever produced. The main pivot is now on the seat tube so the swingarm is more than 10 per cent shorter than the elevated design on the Prophet and Rush, offering a significant improvement in swingarm stiffness.
Also, because of the new pivot location, Cannondale is now singing the praises of asymmetric chainstays, while in the past symmetry was king — ultimately it is about creating space for the front mech. A less obvious aspect of the Rize frame is the one-piece forged bottom bracket, main pivot and seat tube assembly. Not only does this improve the strength of the aluminium, it also eliminates welds in high-stress areas and guarantees good bottom bracket and pivot alignment. Cannondale has dubbed it the “backbone technology” and all Rize models feature the new BB30 shell. All three top models share the same monocoque carbon front ends with different spec Lefty forks, while the entry-level bikes have full aluminium front triangles and conventional forks. After a short ride on a Rize 2 Carbon with a seriously under-sprung fork we headed back to the hotel, and watched fireworks after dinner to mark the start of the carnival.
This was going to be a major street party, so in order to have a good excuse to duck out of the evening festivities before sunrise, get good light for photos and avoid another PowerPoint presentation, we arranged an early morning photoshoot on the Moto.
Razzing the Moto
Our 6am alarm call came way too soon but our timely return from the photoshoot couldn’t have been better, as the world’s mtb media were clambering onto the bus to get shuttled to the top of the mountain. Ideally, we’d have gone to bed to get some much needed sleep, but we were still in carnival mode and decided that 45 minutes of shut-eye on the uplift would be more than enough. On leaving the bus, one of the American journalists emptied the contents of his stomach onto the road muttering something about travel-sickness. Obviously this had nothing to do with the fact that we left him in a club at 4am — when he was just getting warmed up.
Anyway, the ride from there to the coast was amazing, with a good mix of steep shoots, high-speed flowing sections and lots and lots of ultra rocky singletrack. The sub-30lb, 160mm travel Moto was just the ticket for this big mountain adventure and having to focus on the trail was just what the doctor ordered to clear our heads. Within seconds of razzing the Moto it reminded us of the Gemini with its ease of manoeuvrability and fun factor. It also shared its tall bottom bracket, so we ran the shock with extra sag to keep it in check. Overall the weight distribution and sizing of the Moto felt better balanced than the longer travel Perp but it’s hard to give a true assessment of its suspension performance as the trails were 10 times rockier than anything we’d ridden in the UK.
What we can tell you is that it pedals amazingly well for a 160mm bike; just be careful not to reach for the ProPedal lever on the Fox DHX Air shock while riding, as the Hatchet Drive linkage nearly had the tip of our finger off.
At 27lb the Moto Carbon Ultimate has Cannondale laying claim to the lightest 160mm travel bike on the market. The Rize will be available in March/April while the Moto will follow at the end of May. We’ll bring you a detailed account of both bikes and how they handle, when sober as soon as production models become available for test. www.cannondale.com
The Rize Carbon 1 £5,199 (23.5lb); Carbon 2 £3,999 (24.6lb); Carbon 3 £2,799 (27.3lb); Rize 4 £1,999 (27.9lb); Rize 5 £1,399 (30lb)