1. The most important thing about buying a new bike is to make sure it fits. The only way you'll know if the bike is right for you is to size up the bike and make sure that the bike's geometry matches your body's geometry. Ask questions and do some research.
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2. If possible, try to find a shop that will let you demo the bike on real dirt. Five minutes in a parking lot won't cut it. You wouldn't buy a car without a real world test drive, and a bike should be no different.
3. Don't belive the hype. Just because your favorite rider or best friend rides a certain bike, that doesn't mean that's the best one for you. Have an open mind and be realistic about your needs and ability.
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  1. #1
    HRP
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    Recommended upgrades for my CDALE F3 Caffeine

    Hi guys; I recently purchased an 09 CDALE F3 (caffeine frame). The seller bought it new for his wife and she only used it twice. Needless to say, the bike is in perfect conditions.

    I used to BMX back in the day and had quite a few 20" BMX bikes (GT's, Kuwahara, Mongoose, ETC). This is my first experience with Cannondale and I really like it. I just want to make it "my own" by upgrading some of the components. As of right now I use it to commute to work during the week (around 6 miles round-trip) and I take it to the trails during the weekends. What would you guys recommend as my first upgrades?

    Thanks in advance.

    Here are the specs:

    Cannondale F3 frameset
    Size M
    Frame Caffeine
    Frame material aluminum
    Front Suspension HeadShok Super Fatty w/ DLR, 80 mm
    Rear Suspension N/A
    Cannondale F3 wheels
    Tires "Kenda Nevegal foldable, 26 x 2.1"""
    Rims Jalco Disc X320, 32 hole
    Hubs Shimano M475
    Spokes DT Swiss Champion
    Cannondale F3 drivetrain
    Shifters SRAM X-7 Trigger
    Front Derailleur Shimano Deore
    Rear Derailleur SRAM X-7
    Crank Shimano FC-M521, 22/32/44
    Cassette Shimano HG50, 11-32
    Pedals Crank Brothers Smarty
    Cannondale F3 components
    Saddle Cannondale CO2
    Seat Post Cannondale Alloy
    Handlebars Cannondale C3 650 mm, 20 mm rise
    Stem Cannondale XC3 HeadShok, 31.8 mm
    Headset Cannondale HeadShok Si
    Brakeset Avid Juicy 3, 160/160 mm




  2. #2
    Fat-tired Roadie
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    With any bike worth owning, it's worth getting the fit right. Often, that means a new stem. Sometimes, new handlebars or a new seat post.

    I notice you have crank brothers pedals with covers. So either some clipless pedal shoes or some nice flat pedals.

    Every rider doesn't get along with every saddle.

    When you've done that stuff, just get some cool-looking grips and ride the bike for a while.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  3. #3
    Former C-Dale addict
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    Quote Originally Posted by AndrwSwitch View Post
    With any bike worth owning, it's worth getting the fit right. Often, that means a new stem. Sometimes, new handlebars or a new seat post.

    I notice you have crank brothers pedals with covers. So either some clipless pedal shoes or some nice flat pedals.

    Every rider doesn't get along with every saddle.

    When you've done that stuff, just get some cool-looking grips and ride the bike for a while.
    ^ Listen to the man, for he is wise.

    I'd also consider a SRAM chain 971/991 and some extra quicklinks, as Shimano chains are a PITA to disassemble / repair on the trail. (Gotta punch pin and replace with new break-off pin. With SRAM, it's as easy as pinch and push)
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  4. #4
    Save Jesus
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    I would first learn bike fit, setup, and maintenance, so that you understand everything well. I don't think you need to upgrade anything yet, unless it annoys you, like uncomfy saddle or grips.

  5. #5
    HRP
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    -I already have a pair of Shimano M162's.

    - I was going to buy the same bike last year (2011) model and I went to my LBS and they helped me with the fitting. This one feels very comfortable. I already went for a 20 mile ride last weekend and I really like the way it feels. I'm 5'11" / 170 with average proportions so I can say it feels right. Maybe some tweaks but that's it. I know my seating position and pedal reach is fine. Dont know much about the arms / stem.

    - It has a shimano chain with a power link. The chain is in pretty good condition.

    The one thing I'd like to have is a bit more suspension travel. The fatty is still in good condition like I said but what would be an alternative down the road? I like the leftys but its a lot of money for just that upgrade. It looks like its better to buy a Cannondale that comes with it already.

    Thanks again

  6. #6
    Fat-tired Roadie
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    If you go to 100mm, IME you won't really feel like you've got more travel. But you'll notice the change in head angle. If you want a slacker head angle, fine, do it. If you like the way the bike handles now, leave it alone, and when it comes up, replace the fork with something with the same axle-crown length. I don't know if Cannondale uses their axle-crown length as efficiently with a Headshok as most companies with conventional forks do. A lot of Cannondale's weird forks are supposed to compare favorably with the conventional ones because of some stiffness they're forced to add to a couple aspects of the design by having one thing that telescopes instead of two. So there may certainly be upgrades possible from what you've got, but really do your research. Don't just shoot from the hip and spend a bunch of money, then find out the Headshok's actually better. Learn to tune it. Good suspension tuning is huge.

    If you go bigger, you may start running into durability issues. You don't have a warranty to void, but you would if you did. The handling also gets weirder and weirder, and harder and harder to predict. Some people are fine with what it does, but I can't imagine doing it to one of my bikes on purpose.

    You can actually have almost any fork you want, in terms of being compatible with the frame. Talk to a dealer about Cannondale's weird head tube size. I think (I don't own a Cannondale, so take this for what it's worth) that the inside diameter will accept a standard 1.5" headset. There are headsets to adapt that down, or adapt down just the top cup.

    When I killed my last suspension fork, I did a little research and decided that if I was going to spend money on an aftermarket fork, it needed to be a RS Recon Gold, equivalent, or better. I know the RS line slightly better than other lines, just because they're ubiquitous. For whatever reason, I've actually managed not to own a RS fork since 2001 or so.

    If your arms, hands, or back starts to bother you, check out either Sheldon Brown's article on pain or Peter White's article on fit. I think both are great resources. For me, 20 miles (assuming mountain biking) is more than enough to make any fit problems show up. So you're probably at least good enough there.

    Anyway, it sounds like you're best off getting some cool-looking locking grips and calling it a day. If you're commuting on the bike, another thing to consider would be some nicer wheels and some slick tires. Put the slicks on the current wheels, swap the current wheels for the fancy ones, and then kick yourself if you give in to marketing and buy something stupid. Note that a serviceable older road bike costs less than a new set of wheels, tires, cassette and rotors.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  7. #7
    HRP
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    I was looking at the easton's EA70 XC.

    Are those a good upgrade?
    They're asking me about front/rear axle size. How do I know that?

    I'd like to get another set of wheels like you mention just to commute to work and be able to swap them out for my weekend trail fun.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by HRP View Post
    I was looking at the easton's EA70 XC.

    Are those a good upgrade?
    They're asking me about front/rear axle size. How do I know that?

    I'd like to get another set of wheels like you mention just to commute to work and be able to swap them out for my weekend trail fun.
    Have you looked at Mavic Crossmax ST... They are very strong and weigh about 200 grams less than the Easton wheelset. It looks like you have 9mm QR front and back which all Crossmax ST's convert to. Check fleabay for 2011 models as I have seen sets selling in the $3-400 price range new.
    Killing it with close inspection.

  9. #9
    HRP
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    And the wheelset comes with hubs and everything?

  10. #10
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    If you commute I would consider some faster tires or at the least a quicker rear tire.

    Sent from my cm_tenderloin using Tapatalk 2

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by HRP View Post
    And the wheelset comes with hubs and everything?
    Yep. They are not your standard mix and match wheelset. All the parts are specific to them. The advantage to this is that they are very robust given their weight. I have two sets and have never had to true them. Their only weak point is the freehub. It requires cleaning and relubing every 3-500 miles. It takes about 10 minutes to do it. The 2012 model has a new style freehub which is suppose to be significantly better (and compatible with the new 142x12 standard) but you are looking at ~$700 for a set. The 2011 models have dropped in price drastically because of the redeisgn for '12. Currently, the cheapest I am seeing the '11 model on fleabay is for $478 but if you keep an eye out I am sure you can get a set for less than that.

    You will still need to buy another set of brake rotors, cassette and obviously tires to be able to swap wheelsets. Shimano SLX cassettes are a good value.
    Killing it with close inspection.

  12. #12
    HRP
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    I will definitely buy rotors, cassette and tires because the plan is to have tires for my commute and another set for the trails.

    Those wheels are 24 spoke wheels. How strong are those (generally) compared to the 36-32 spoke wheels?

  13. #13
    clown question, bro
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    Aside from the suggestion of a new wheelset so you can swap out easily for commuting, I would honestly say fight urge to upgrade for as long as possible unless you're looking at something like grips or seat (assuming the fit is good as it is) if you don't find the ones on there comfortable. Once the bug to upgrade hits, it hits hard and it hits... umm... expensively?

    Srsly though, that's a better first MTB than the vast majority pick up.
    Quote Originally Posted by Ilikebmx999 View Post
    Are we just ignoring balls? Lol

  14. #14
    HRP
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    I haven't gotten there yet and I hope I dont for a while because I know the wife will not be happy.

    Thanks!

  15. #15
    Fat-tired Roadie
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    IMHO, wheels with less than 32 spokes are stupid.

    Spokes don't weigh much. So you don't cut a lot of weight. But fewer spokes means more tension on each. If the rim's not heavier, they crack it. If it is heavier, it defeats the purpose of fewer spokes.

    I don't know what you have to spend on wheels. I bought some from these guys last summer, because much as I try not to, sometimes I give in to wanting upgrades. (And don't need to use my birthday present on a deferred maintenance thing.)

    Mountain - Bicycle Wheel Warehouse

    Their hubs and rims are reasonably well reviewed, but I went with major-brand parts. Great wheels.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  16. #16
    clown question, bro
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    Quote Originally Posted by AndrwSwitch View Post
    IMHO, wheels with less than 32 spokes are stupid.

    Spokes don't weigh much. So you don't cut a lot of weight. But fewer spokes means more tension on each. If the rim's not heavier, they crack it. If it is heavier, it defeats the purpose of fewer spokes.

    I don't know what you have to spend on wheels. I bought some from these guys last summer, because much as I try not to, sometimes I give in to wanting upgrades. (And don't need to use my birthday present on a deferred maintenance thing.)

    Mountain - Bicycle Wheel Warehouse

    Their hubs and rims are reasonably well reviewed, but I went with major-brand parts. Great wheels.

    I picked these ones up about a year ago: Mountain - Clearance - Sun DS1-XC XT Disc - Bicycle Wheel Warehouse

    For the price, they're a decent weight, use XT hubs, and I've always (back to BMXing days) had nothing but good things to say about Sun rims.

    Oh, and they're really inexpensive, too.
    Quote Originally Posted by Ilikebmx999 View Post
    Are we just ignoring balls? Lol

  17. #17
    Fat-tired Roadie
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    ^^^
    I have almost exactly the same thing. I found some with DT 370 hubs on their clearance forum.

    TBH, you may have done better. I had to rebuild the freehub the other day. And it looks like there are some proprietary tools involved in swapping bearings. Engagement is super-positive, though, and after repacking, they're whisper quiet.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  18. #18
    HRP
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    I found these three. I'm comfortable spending $400 on wheels as long as they are good wheels of course. My question is; are wheels standard fit? (other than 26" of course). I keep looking at the different axle sizes.

    Mavic Crosstrail Disc Wheelset - Overweight Code C

    Easton EA70 XC Mountain Wheelset - Mountain Bike Wheels / Wheelsets

    Vuelta All Mountain Wheelset - Mountain Bike Wheels / Wheelsets

  19. #19
    Fat-tired Roadie
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    There are a few different axle sizes.

    Until recently, almost all mountain bikes had a 9mm front axle with a quick release and a 10mm rear axle with a quick release.

    There are now a couple of through-axle and bolt-on standards. To be honest, I don't know them that well. I'm a XC hardtail guy, so my bike doesn't need any of them. However, I do know they're not cross-compatible unless otherwise stated.

    I think the Crosstrails would go on your bike. I think they're stupid. I don't think the EA70s or Vueltas would work.

    What kind of trail riding do you do? Wheels-on-the-ground? Lots of jumps and drops?

    Part of how I chose my wheels was that I wanted everyday wheels that I could ride however I wanted to. They're not a super-heavy wheel, since I don't do a ton of jumping, or go big when I do, but I didn't want a race-day wheel either, and I like it that I can go and buy a spoke easily when it comes up.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by HRP View Post
    I will definitely buy rotors, cassette and tires because the plan is to have tires for my commute and another set for the trails.

    Those wheels are 24 spoke wheels. How strong are those (generally) compared to the 36-32 spoke wheels?
    They are not yor average spokes. They are much thicker and made of a propriatary aluminum. I have two Crossmax ST wheelsets. One set is the 2011 model and the other set are 2009 V-brake specific. The 2009 model only has 18 spokes up front and 20 in the rear. I have 1500 miles on the '09's and 700 miles on the '11 and so far they are holding up fine. The rear v-brake set are out of true maybe 1-2mm in the back... or not enough to try and true them and only noticeable because I have V-brakes and can see it much easier than if I had discs. Because the spokes are aluminum I have had the spokes retensioned twice. The V-brake set replaced a stock 32 spoke wheelset that I trashed in less than 200 miles. I am very hard on my wheels and have a lot of confidence in these given the low spoke count. They are also true UST.
    Killing it with close inspection.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by HRP View Post
    I found these three. I'm comfortable spending $400 on wheels as long as they are good wheels of course. My question is; are wheels standard fit? (other than 26" of course). I keep looking at the different axle sizes.

    Mavic Crosstrail Disc Wheelset - Overweight Code C

    Easton EA70 XC Mountain Wheelset - Mountain Bike Wheels / Wheelsets

    Vuelta All Mountain Wheelset - Mountain Bike Wheels / Wheelsets
    Different axle sizes currently on the market:

    Front: 9mm, 15mm, 20mm and lefty specific

    Rear: mainly 135x9 unless you have a freeride rig or high end AM ride. 142x12 was recently introduced and is becoming the new standard for higher end bikes.

    Some wheelsets are convertible. The 2011 Mavic Crossmax ST front can convert from 9mm to 15mm however the 2012 Mavic Crossmax ST front can convert to 9, 15 and 20mm and the back can be converted from 132x9 to 142x12.

    You also need to now that there are two different types of brake rotors: 6 bolt and centerlock. The Mavic Crossride wheelset you listed is a centerlock set with 6 bolt adapters. Like adrewswitch mentioned, low spoke counts are stupid unless, in my opinion, you are looking at Mavic Crossmax wheels. Check out the review section on MTBR before commiting to buy a wheelset.
    Killing it with close inspection.

  22. #22
    Fat-tired Roadie
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    I gotta say that aluminum spokes don't inspire me with confidence. And even the best of spokes are subject to accident when a bike is ridden off-road. I'd just as soon not have something proprietary.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  23. #23
    Rod
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    Like the others have said be careful when you start upgrading.

    When you start upgrading you start to weigh things. When you start to weigh things you realize everything on your bike could be lighter. When realize everything on your bike could be lighter you start buying very light and expensive parts. After you buy light and expensive parts you have ten dollars in the bank account and an upset wife. Don't have an upset and nagging wife. Avoid upgrading!
    There is not much choice between rotten apples.

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