My Rides: the Cannondale

old school Cannondale R300

old school Cannondale R300

I proudly present the bike that took me across Iowa: my Cannondale R300. Originally purchased off of fleaBay back in 2003 for $125 plus shipping, this bike has been one of the trustiest rides I’ve had the pleasure of sitting on. And I’ve sat on a lot of things ridden a lot of bikes.

While I don’t have an exact birthdate on this ride, the downtube shitters, Sora hubs and Cannondale 2.7 aluminum frame seem to put it in a mid to late-90s vintage (this one’s from 1993), which is impressive considering the super-stiff aluminum frame has seen more miles than your mom during her “Hells Angels” phase and hasn’t cracked yet (knocking on wood as we speak). Even though the ride can become a little arthritic over longer distances — according to an unsubstantiated archival forum thread, the head engineer at Cannondale at the time was something of “a stiffness nut” and was obsessed with engineering both the bike’s geometry and the materials to achieve it — the bike’s weight, responsiveness and handling more than make up for it. While this thing may be better suited to crits through IC than long-range touring (even though the downtube shifters would probably get you laughed off a race course today), it can handle both with aplomb.

You may have noticed a few peculiar items in the photo above — namely, that the handlebars are not taped and that the front wheel is actually a newer Mavic. After moving from Cedar Falls, Iowa, which has a surprising amount of gorgeous, well maintained bike trails to Iowa City, Iowa, which suprisingly does not, the R300 spent a good amount of time in my shed while my Trek FX took the lion’s share of the work. A few months back after getting a flat on the Trek and needing another bike for a jaunt downtown, I rediscovered the Cannondale squeezed into the back of the shed, looking at me forelornly like it was about to ask for more gruel. I knew I had to save it while it still had a little life left in it.

Of course, after years of being jockied around by a broke college kid, it was apparent the bike needed some TLC before it would be back in fighting shape. The shfits were lose and unreliable — god save you if you tried to attack up a hill or mash the gears — and the rims were absolutely shot to hell. So, against my better judgment — this was an emotional decision, I’ll admit, not a rational one, considering the age of the frame — I sunk some money into a set of OEM Aksium Mavic rims, a new 8-speed cassette (an upgrade from the R300’s original 7) and chain, updated aluminum handlebars and a new set of Hutchinson tires. The photo above shows off the front wheel and the new handlebars, although the original rear wheel remains for the time being (the new Mavic freehub body was damaged in shipping, and I’m currently waiting for its replacement).

I’m currently in the process of installing and restoring the bike to its former glory, but there’s still a lot to do — it needs all new cabling, as it looks like it hasn’t been changed or cleaned since it was first installed, and the bearings in the headset need to be regreased. But soon enough this racer will be back on the streets, tearing up the pavement to any number of small, outlying towns — Hills, North Liberty, Solon? Who knows where we’ll go.



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