Interbike 2010 Tech Gallery – Cannondale goes back to the future with CAAD10 aluminum road frame

Parting the sea of carbon with a progressive new metal model

Cannondale CAAD10
The CAAD10 was just one of several impressive engineering feats Cannondale displayed at the Eurobike show in early September.

Cannondale was one of several significant absentees on the Interbike show floor this year. But that doesn’t mean they’ve been slacking in terms of product development. We’re already super impressed with the new SuperX ’cross bike, first shown at Eurobike and raced under the lights at Cross Vegas. Now it’s time for a look at the new, all-aluminum CAAD10 road bike.

That’s right, the boys in Bethel haven’t given up on good old heavy metal (but trust us, the CAAD10 is one of the lightest aluminum bikes you can buy). Unfortunately we missed an invite to test ride the new CAAD10 road frame a day after Interbike broke camp in Vegas. But luckily we caught the bike at Cannondale’s gargantuan green display a few weeks ago at Eurobike.

Cannondale’s global product marketing manager Murray Washburn filled us in on the metal revolution and the decision to push forward with another premium aluminum road frame. He said that last year, sales of the CAAD9 road bike blew up. Despite the overwhelming popularity of carbon fiber frames, “In 2010 sales of high-end aluminum skyrocketed,” said Washburn. He reminded us that Cannondale had several models of the CAAD9 ranging in spec from Dura-Ace to 105. “If you build a good bike and show the value, people go for it,” he said. Cannondale’s goal is to provide the intangible road feel and rigidity of a metal bike at a competitive weight and price.

Cannondale CAAD10
The new CAAD10 head tube shaped required a new carbon fork for an optimal blend of stiffness and strength.

If that’s the case, the new CAAD10 could be a blockbuster. According to Washburn the new frame weighs about 1150 grams, slicing about 200 grams from the CAAD9 (which weighed roughly 1350 grams). Not only that, it’s built with all the modern design features we normally associate with trendy carbon bikes. The head tube tapers from a 1-1/4th inch lower bearing to 1-1/8th upper, a design which required an all-new full-carbon fork. The seatstays and chainstays are shaped very similarly to Cannondale’s modern carbon bikes, slimmed and flattened in the style of their SAVE vibration absorbing design. And naturally, it’s got a huge down tube and BB30 bottom bracket.

How is all this possible? Washburn said that modern aluminum tube forming techniques and a new alloy permitted the weight savings. The CAAD10 is built from a new 6069 aluminum alloy. A three-step process of manipulating tube shape and thickness allowed Cannondale engineers to optimize the structure for maximum strength with minimum weight. Basically, it’s now possible to render in aluminum the sophisticated tube shapes pioneered in carbon fiber frames. One benefit is the lighter weight; another is an 11-percent boost in stiffness, according to Washburn.

The CAAD10 replaces last year’s CAAD9 entirely. It will be available in four trim levels: Shimano Dura-Ace for $4350, an Ultegra model at $2150, and Shimano 105 for $1500, plus one for $1800 with SRAM Rival. The upper end Dura-Ace version is anodized matte black to save a few grams, while the rest are painted.

Check out the gallery for photos, and stay tuned – we’ve got loads of Interbike tech still to cover all this week.