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The company was founded in 1971 by Joe Montgomery to manufacture backpacks and bags for camping and later bicycle trailers for bicycle touring. Today, Cannondale produces many different types of high-end bicycles, many of which are still hand made in USA, specializing in aluminum (rather than steel, titanium or carbon fiber) frames, a technology in which they were pioneers. The name of the company was taken from the Cannondale Metro North train station in Wilton, Connecticut.
In the late 1990s Cannondale attempted to move into the motorsports business, producing a line of off-road motorcycles and all-terrain vehicles. According to an interview with Cannondale Communications Director, Tom Armstrong, the company was unable to drive down the cost of their motor vehicles fast enough. Sales took off when the company was still losing money on each motorbike they shipped. This gap drove the company to seek bankruptcy protection in 2003, and to sell off the motorsport division. Cannondale's bicycle division was purchased in 2003 by Pegasus Capital Advisors, which supported the company's renewed focus on bicycle production. In February 2008, Cannondale was purchased from Pegasus Capital Advisors by Dorel Industries. In April 2009 it was announced that all production would be transferred to Taiwan.
Stockholders lost all their money invested.
Originally a privately-held company, Cannondale became a $22 million IPO in 1995. The business continued as a publicly traded company until declaring bankruptcy on January 29, 2003. Cannondale's full assets were then purchased at auction by Pegasus Partners II, L.P.. The motor-sports IP, manufacturing equipment and inventory were quickly sold off as the company returned its focus to bicycle manufacture. In March 2007, Cannondale announced that basketball superstar LeBron James had become an owner of the company.
In February 2008, Dorel Industries, a diversified consumer products company, announced the purchase of Cannondale from Pegasus for approximately $200 million. Dorel is a Canadian distributor of bicycles made in Taiwan and the People's Republic of China for sale under many historic U.S. cycle brands, including Schwinn, Mongoose, Roadmaster, and GT.
Cannondale began manufacturing aluminum racing and touring frames in 1983, with mountain bike frames added later. The earlier models sported oversized aluminum tubes for increased stiffness, resulting in frames that were super-stiff and super-efficient. Later, carbon fiber composite frames were developed.
2008 Manufactured ModelsEdit
Full Suspension (Soft Tail)Edit
CAAD design and manufacturingEdit
The first road frame from Cannondale was produced in 1983. It sold for $350 and included the frame and fork. The fork was steel with helical reinforcement ribs inside the steel steering tube. The frame was instantly recognized for the oversized down tube and enlarged head tube. The seatstays and chainstays were ovalized to reduce flex. Unlike steel frames, there were no lugs: the aluminum tubes were mitered, hand welded, and then heat treated.
The first frames were available in two colors: red and white, and painted with DuPont Imron paint. Cannondale achieved the distinction and goal of becoming the first high volume producer of aluminum frames, at a time when only steel frames were mass produced and aluminum was hand made in low volumes.
Cannondale marketed subsequent frames with the CAAD designation (for "Cannondale Advanced Aluminum Design"). The CAAD4 model introduced S-bend aluminum seat stays for improved comfort.
The Six13 model, which was introduced in 2004, uses carbon tube sections in the main triangle but still employs aluminum rear triangles. This arrangement is contrary to the usual industry practice of using carbon stay inserts and aluminum front triangle tubes. It should also be noted that the Union Cycliste Internationale has established a 6.8 kg (14.97 lb) minimum weight limit. Cannondale advertised this light weight frameset with the slogan "Legalize my Cannondale". In reality, only the smallest size (50 cm) of bike actually approached the 6.8 kg limit. Some in the bicycle industry considered this to be a creative marketing effort because Six13 frames in fact weighed the same as or more than competing frames from other manufacturers.
The current generation of Cannondale aluminum frame in the 2007 model year is known as CAAD9. CAAD9 is the continued evolution of Cannondale's welded aluminum frame design. CAAD9 has reduced weight and increased stiffness over last year's CAAD8 design.
Cannondale has won numerous design awards including the "Publisher's Award for Innovation" from Bicycling Magazine, "Technological Development of the Year Award" from VeloNews magazine, ""Best Of What's New" award from Popular Science, "Best New Products of the Year Award" from Business Week, "Design Recognition Award" from ID magazine, "Computer-Aided Design Award" from Design News magazine, and a "Design and Engineering Award" from Popular Mechanics.
Cannondale mountain bikes have captured 11 World Championships, 17 World Cup Series overall titles, 16 National Championships, and two Olympic medals as well as overall victory in the Cape Epic stage race. The company's road racing bikes have won 11 stages at the Tour de France, 27 stages at the Giro d'Italia, two Giro d'Italia overall victories, a Professional World Championship title, and two Italian National Championships. Cannondale sponsors the Siemens mobile/Cannondale and Saeco/Cannondale road racing teams, and selected regional amateur teams.
2004 witnessed the launch of Cannondale's Six13, a composite carbon/alloy frame that featured an alloy head tube, staysets, and bottom bracket junction mechanically and chemically bonded to carbon seat, down, and top tubes. This was the company's first use of structural carbon composite material, and subsequent variants of the Six13 have used one to three carbon tubes depending on the price point of the model and the model year. Later, the Six13 line was expanded to include the Slice triathlon/time trial bike which employed similar alloy/carbon joinery with aerodynamically tapered tubes.
In 2005, Cannondale announced its first all-carbon frame: the "Synapse." At the time, Cannondale lacked the stateside facilities needed to produce such a frame. This fact, and Cannondale's decision to maintain the Synapse as its value-priced carbon model, ensured that all Synapse frames have been produced for Cannondale by an Asian carbon specialist.
Cannondale's SystemSix, which debuted in 2007, represented a more committed embrace of structural carbon than the company's previous flagship roadbike, the Six13. The new bike's entire front triangle, including the oversized asymmetrical head tube, was fabricated from carbon fiber. Furthermore, Cannondale's Pennsylvania factory was upgraded with carbon storage, cutting, and layup equipment in order to prepare the company's workers and physical plant for the SystemSix's more complex carbon assemblies.
The new equipment also provided the infrastructure needed to produce full carbon frames, which debuted on the SuperSix race bike.
As of 2008, Cannondale's carbon/alloy road frames include the Six13 and the SystemSix. The company's full carbon road offerings include several variants of the Synapse and the SuperSix, Cannondale's first U.S. manufactured carbon road model. The use of the numbers 6 and 13 in the model names is in reference to the atomic numbers of carbon and aluminum, the materials used to make the frames.
Cannondale also offers several carbon variants of its hardtail and full suspension mountain bikes.
Cannondale has also developed a suspension fork called the Lefty. It started with the "Headshok" (aka "Fatty") forks. It uses 88 needle bearings to reduce friction for smooth travel with the bearings telescoping inside the steerer tube of the fork. This eliminates flexing of the fork legs and also eliminates static friction, which must be overcome before the fork begins to travel.
The "Lefty" is an unusual looking fork because it only has a left side or blade. It uses the same technology as the Headshok, but desire for greater amounts of travel led to the movement of the telescoping unit off to the side to allow room for the travel. It also allowed for more mud clearance as opposed to traditional forks designs. The Lefty is now seen on many of Cannondale's high-end models, such as all the Scalpels, Rizes, and the expensive models in F series, both cross-country lines. Continual efforts at weight reduction have provided models with a carbon fiber upper tube and a titanium spindle. The titanium spindle was later replaced with a lighter and stiffer forged aluminum version. The carbon fiber upper continues to be used on the highest end Lefties.
To date one of the main drawbacks of the Lefty fork is the price, which is significantly more than traditional design dual stanchion forks. The availability of repair and rebuild components and experienced service technicians for Cannondale forks is much less widespread than Fox, Manitou and Marzocchi designs. This continues to limit the Lefty to mid and high end bikes. Use of a Lefty fork also limits a rider's choice of stem, headset and front wheel, all but forcing them to use Cannondale house brand parts, or Cannondale-specific parts made by another company. Lefty forks are also only compatible with disc brakes. One of the unintended benefits of the Lefty fork was that riders could change an inner tube or tire with the wheel still mounted on the bike.
Electric bicycles Edit
Cannondale developed a proprietary bottom bracket and crankset technology called Hollowgram which has been featured in its high-end bikes since 2001. The crank and bottom bracket set weigh 80 grams less and are 10% stiffer than Dura-Ace. The hollowgram bottom bracket shell can accept standard 68 mm English-threaded bottom bracket cartridges and external bearing cranksets through the use of an adapter. The aluminum Hollowgram crank is a two piece hollow shell that is bonded with aluminum glue. The Hollowgram bottom bracket axle is also hollow aluminum and oversized.
Cannondale has since made this a free international standard known as BB30. In BB30, the diameter of the bottom bracket spindle is increased from the standard 24mm to 30mm. As a result the inside diameter of the bottom bracket shell is increased to 42mm. This allows a reduction in weight by permitting aluminum to be used as a spindle material instead of the more traditional steel. The larger spindle in addition to the larger bottom bracket shell make for increased stiffness of both the frame and crankset. Perhaps the biggest difference between the BB30 standard and more traditional bottom brackets is the use of pressed-in bearings rather than cartridge or cup bearings. The lack of threads or extra "packaging" creates additional weight savings. Because of the "press fit" needed to hold the bearings, tighter, more precise machining tolerances are needed. One disadvantage BB30 is the harder-to-service nature presented by pressed-in bearings. Another is that there are only a few BB30 cranksets available to consumers, and these are typically high-end.
Cannondale has brought a few concepts to market that have since become accepted industry standards. Cannondale was the first to produce a crankset that uses externally mounted bottom bracket bearings, though they later discontinued this design. External bearings are now the most common type of bottom bracket for mid-level and higher bicycles. In 1992 Cannondale introduced the Headshok and the accompanying over-sized headtube. In 2001 the OnePointFive standard emerged using similar headtube dimensions as the Headshok headtube.
Less successfully, Cannondale MTBs produced in the mid-1990s used the Gary Fisher "Evolution", or 1 1/4" headset standard, in common with Fisher's own bikes and Santana tandems. Although a larger headset seemed technically sound, the industry standardized instead upon the Tioga "Avenger", or 1 1/8" size, and headsets or stems for these bikes are now hard to find. A solution for cherished machines is to fit reducing rings and convert to a 1 1/8" headset, fork and stem.
Cannondale's sponsorship of Division 1 road racing teams began with the Saeco team in the late 1990s, highlighted by Mario Cipollini's four consecutive stage wins in the 1999 Tour de France. The team notably won the Giro d'Italia three times, in 1997 with Ivan Gotti, in 2003 with Gilberto Simoni and 2004 with Damiano Cunego. Saeco became Lampre-Caffita in 2005, and the relationship with Cannondale was severed. In 2007, Cannondale began sponsoring Team Liquigas, and counted a fourth Giro win as Danilo Di Luca rode to victory on a Cannondale SystemSix road bike. They also sponsored Barloworld in 2007 on the Tour de France.
On the mountain biking circuit, Cannondale is a sponsor for the Cannondale-Vredestien (formerly Volvo/Cannondale) racing team, the Bear Naked/Cannondale racing team (formerly SoBe/Cannondale) and various individual 24-hour racers such as Bicycling Hall of Famer and US National 24 hour Champion Tinker Juarez. A large number of notable riders have been sponsored by Cannondale at some point in their career, including world champions Anne-Caroline Chausson and Missy Giove, Olympic Silver medalist (and World Champion) Alison Sydor, Bronze medalist Christoph Sauser, "Flyin" Brian Lopes, Cadel Evans, Kashi Leuchs, Libor "The Bouncing Czech" Karas, Martyn Ashton, Lance Trappe, Aaron Chase, Myles Rockwell, Cédric Gracia, Roel Paulissen, Fredrik Kessiakoff, and Chris Van Dine, who rides for the Cannondale Cut team and demos watch team.
In triathlon racing, Cannondale has sponsored 2005 Ironman world champion Faris Al-Sultan, Dejan Patrčević, Croatian triathlon champion, as well as Sarah Reinertsen, the first amputee woman to finish the Ironman Triathlon, 2004 Paralympics 200 IM gold medalist Rudy Garcia-Tolson.
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