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Cannondale unveils disc-brake cyclocross prototype at 2011 Colorado races

2011 Cannondale cyclocross prototype, Tim Johnson's new steed
Tim Johnson is the only member of the Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld.com team that has a disc-brake bike at the moment. It remains to be seen if he'll use it this weekend. Photo: Nick Legan

In a strong move in what we at VeloNews think is the right direction, Cannondale will unveil its new SuperX disc prototype frame at the UCI cyclocrosses this weekend in Colorado.

Cannondale made its newest bike available to ’cross veteran Tim Johnson for this weekend’s races. With a recent snow in Boulder and temperatures in the 50s expected, conditions could be sloppy; a perfect opportunity to use the new bike.

The SuperX disc frame uses an entirely new rear triangle designed for the loads of disc brakes. Dropout spacing is 135mm in a nod towards the industry standard for mountain bikes and the post mounts are designed for use with a 140mm rotor.

Frame weight for the prototype isn’t finalized, but Cannondale’s Michael De Leon cleverly said, “It will not be lighter than the current Super X before the first lap. After mud build-up on standard calipers it might be.”

Fork weight is finalized, though, at 450 grams. It also incorporates post mounts optimized for 140mm rotors. Of course, adapters can be used both on the frame and fork to accommodate larger rotors.

“I’ve been pushing for this for years,” said Cyclocrossworld’s Stu Thorne.

To help keep weight as low as possible, Thorne and his mechanics used XX rotors instead of the all-steel rotors that usually come with Avid’s BB7 mechanical calipers. The team will play with rotor and pad compounds, but for now “the brake pads are organic. I got ’em at Whole Foods,” joked Thorne.

Johnson has two of the prototypes at his disposal and when VeloNews showed up, one of them was outfitted with Dugast Typhoons, the other with Rhinos. Zipp built all the disc wheels using 303 rims and White Industries hubs. Both of Johnson’s bikes were under 17 pounds, with the Typhoons being slightly lighter.

That’s only a half-pound penalty between Johnson’s rim-brake bike and the new prototype.

Thorne also said that cable routing and possibly even rear caliper mounting may change on prototypes to come.

Disc brakes are nothing new for Cannondale ’cross bikes, though. As far back as 2003, the Bethel, Connecticut-based manufacturer had an aluminum cyclocross bike with disc brakes. Cannondale also helped lead the way in mountain bikes, making its own brakes for its 1998 lineup.

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