comparison of hardtail aluminium hardtail frames cannondale ever made- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1

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    comparison of hardtail aluminium hardtail frames cannondale ever made

    hi guys..just wanted to know how do all the frames match up against each other since the start of cannondale..

    co2, caffeine, optimo, furio, furio-x...etc and all the caad frames.

    Which one is the lightest?

    strongest?

    and which has the best wielding finishing?

    cheers.

    thks in advance.

  2. #2
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    Optimo was the best. Even though I cracked the chainstay on mine, it was the best riding frame. Best welds, best lines, best paint. Alot of money went into those.

  3. #3
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    hmmm.interesting.

    interesting thread..i'd like to know the order of frames as well.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by frenchbulldog
    interesting thread..i'd like to know the order of frames as well.

    3.0 late 80's-early 90's
    CAAD1,2,3 early 90s-1998
    CAAD41999-2001
    CAAD5 2001-2003
    Optimo 2003-2007
    Caffeine 2007-present

    There was overlap in some models but the CAAD2, CAAD3, CAAD4, CAAD5, Optimo and Caffeine in their time were the highest level of frame that Cannondale offered in aluminum hardtail for that year.

    Sprinkled in there under CAAD5 and Optimo were less expensive frames like the Furio or the CO2 under the Caffeine.

    The CAAD3 or CAAD4 probably had the longest run as a production model. After it's debut in 1999 or so in the F4000, F3000 series, over the coming years it was slowly trickled down to the F900. Stayed in production a looooong time.

  5. #5
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    upssss

    hmmm..interesting.

    So how does the furio, furio-x and co 2 match up against each other?

    less expensive meaning they are not so light and inferior welding right?

    making it a less desirable frame?

  6. #6
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    All my opinions:

    The Optimo were the nicest, light, stiff but not rough like earlier CAAD models. It was actually the last Cannondale hardtail frame that was the top of the line, then it was the Carbon Taurine. The CAAD5 were also pretty nice, CAAD4 were much less comfy. As for the Furios, they were not as light, they were cheaper to make and still nice but they were not as high end as the Optimo. Caffeines were pretty good too but still not as high-end as the Optimo were, they were mid-range in the Cannondale hardtail line-up. CO2 didn't have the same construction quality, apparent in the welds. They're the entry-level Cannondale hardtails. That doesn't make them bad frames though, just not as nice as other higher-end Cannondales, heavier, not as smooth welds...

    Now for 2010, the alloy hardtails are all pretty much brand new. I haven't seen them in person but they look very nice. The Flash alloy as some nice features and looks like an improvement over the Caffeines. The Trail frames take a lot of features of the Flash but at a lower price point, it still seems to be a good ride...

    DAN.GEROUS.NET : MOUNTAIN BIKING : CYCLOCROSS : ROAD :

  7. #7
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    The CAAD4 was really stiff to the point of unconfortable for me at least, I wasn't fit enough for the bike. I borrowed an Optimo for a ride once and I have to agree with the others, I remember it was a nice ride compared to my CAAD4 and the frame was a piece of art.

    The real question is, how's the ride (Optimo) compared to a Carbon frame?

  8. #8
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    Where do the old Delta V's fit in to all this?
    '15 Cannondale Trigger 27.5 Carbon 2
    '05 Prophet 1000
    '09 F3
    '93 Delta V 700
    '08 F6 Lefty (son's)

  9. #9
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    I believe the front triangle of my 06 Scalpel is an Optimo.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dan Gerous
    All my opinions:

    The Optimo were the nicest, light, stiff but not rough like earlier CAAD models. It was actually the last Cannondale hardtail frame that was the top of the line, then it was the Carbon Taurine. The CAAD5 were also pretty nice, CAAD4 were much less comfy. As for the Furios, they were not as light, they were cheaper to make and still nice but they were not as high end as the Optimo. Caffeines were pretty good too but still not as high-end as the Optimo were, they were mid-range in the Cannondale hardtail line-up. CO2 didn't have the same construction quality, apparent in the welds. They're the entry-level Cannondale hardtails. That doesn't make them bad frames though, just not as nice as other higher-end Cannondales, heavier, not as smooth welds...

    Now for 2010, the alloy hardtails are all pretty much brand new. I haven't seen them in person but they look very nice. The Flash alloy as some nice features and looks like an improvement over the Caffeines. The Trail frames take a lot of features of the Flash but at a lower price point, it still seems to be a good ride...
    Dan, thanks for the info. I cant wait to buy a used Optio frame some day....but I can remember choosing my 01' CAAD3 F600 specifically because i wanted a beefier/stronger frame than a CAAD4/5....i remembered In the 1980's seeing alot of Cannondale frames with dents because they dented as easy as a soda can

    Once an SUV pulling out of McDonalds drive-thru didnt see me and nailed me....my CAAD3 F600 left all kinds of dents in the SUV but didnt bend my frame or dent it (the CAAD3 frame was scratched up too) So i believe that if your goal is to have a strong frame then a CAAD3 series is a good choice. I agree its a stiff frame but it does'nt bother me...tho Im now very interested in testing an Optio back to back with my F600, 01'. Did they have a different group of welders for the Optio? im a welder, i know how hard it is to Tig-weld thin-wall tubing aluminum. it takes YEARS of practice....thicker tubing is much easier to weld hence less expertise needed.

  11. #11
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    I rode a couple of C'Dale HT over the years and the one tat stand out ,for me ,is the CAAD5.
    "There is a big difference between kneeling down and bending over" -FZ

  12. #12
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    Just found this it answered my own Q:
    2. What are the specific properties of Optimo?
    Optimo aluminum is a 6000 series alloy that has superior properties to 6061, 6066, and 6069. Compared to 6061, Optimo's proprietary mix contains slightly more silicon and less magnesium, which results in higher ultimate tensile strength and higher elongation. A higher ultimate tensile strength means that Cannondale's engineers can use less material, saving weight while still resulting in a frame that passes Cannondale's industry leading test requirements. The higher elongation makes the welded frame structure less susceptible to fatigue cracks since the material can "stretch" more without initiating the microscopic damage that can grow into cracks.

    Sounds like this aluminum strong as Caad3/4 but much lighter/more flexy.

  13. #13
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    Sounds like an ideal mix. I wonder why they stopped using it - cost to much maybe?

    Or are they still using it? I thought everything (well, Caffeine anyway) was 6061 now but never really paid THAT much attention.
    '15 Cannondale Trigger 27.5 Carbon 2
    '05 Prophet 1000
    '09 F3
    '93 Delta V 700
    '08 F6 Lefty (son's)

  14. #14
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    New question here.

    Quote Originally Posted by apacherider
    3.0 late 80's-early 90's
    CAAD1,2,3 early 90s-1998
    CAAD41999-2001
    CAAD5 2001-2003
    Optimo 2003-2007
    Caffeine 2007-present

    There was overlap in some models but the CAAD2, CAAD3, CAAD4, CAAD5, Optimo and Caffeine in their time were the highest level of frame that Cannondale offered in aluminum hardtail for that year.

    Sprinkled in there under CAAD5 and Optimo were less expensive frames like the Furio or the CO2 under the Caffeine.

    The CAAD3 or CAAD4 probably had the longest run as a production model. After it's debut in 1999 or so in the F4000, F3000 series, over the coming years it was slowly trickled down to the F900. Stayed in production a looooong time.

    Yes, I know this thread is a year old. Regarding the 3.0 frames and the CAAD frames. I had a 1995 F700 with the 3.0 frame (the 2.8 frame was the next step down). The F1000 was the top-end bike then, and the F700 was next. There were no F800 or F900 models back then. When Cannondale switched to the CAAD nomenclature, were they still using the 2.8 and 3.0 frames and just renamed them CAAD2 and 3, or were the CAAD frames completely redesigned? Such as:

    Mountain 2.8 frame = CAAD2 frame
    Mountain 3.0 frame = CAAD3 frame

    Also, when the CAAD frames first came out, as mentioned above, there was only CAAD1,2,3. Were the CAAD4 and 5 frames just improvements to the CAAD3 frame, or were all five CAAD frames (1,2,3,4,5) new designs after 1998?

    Just wondering in the scheme of things how the frames evolved over the years.

    andy b.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by andy b.
    Were the CAAD4 and 5 frames just improvements to the CAAD3 frame, or were all five CAAD frames (1,2,3,4,5) new designs after 1998?

    Just wondering in the scheme of things how the frames evolved over the years.

    CAAD4 and CAAD5 were incremental improvements over the CAAD3 design. The geometry was the same. Cannondale did some stuff to the CAAD4 to make it lighter, butted the tubes, milled out more of the bottom bracket. The CAAD4 and 5 had a better ride quality that the CAAD3.

    The only difference really between CAAD4 and 5 is that CAAD5 is a disc specific frame. Removing the v brake bosses and such lightened it up a little more.

  16. #16
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    The CAAD 4 and 5 were actually quite different, more different then the difference between the CAAD 3 and 4 and more different than the difference between the CAAD5 and Optimo.

    The CAAD 4 had a big, stiff wishbone style seatstay setup (like most previous CAAD versions) and had a disc mount but also rim brake studs. The CAAD 5 had no rim brake mounts which let them make much lighter seatstays. The CAAD 5 seatstays were thinner and didn't meet until the seat tube which explains why it was so much a smoother ride, they were shaped similar to recent years Cannondale road bike seatstays. The CAAD 5 headtube was also the first to be butted, thicker at the ends, thinner in the center.

    DAN.GEROUS.NET : MOUNTAIN BIKING : CYCLOCROSS : ROAD :

  17. #17
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    since most of my Cdale hardtails never have lasted longer than 2 yrs I've had them all and I never really could feel a difference except the two I have now: 2-3 yr old Caffiene and 2006 team Si optimo (which has lasted since I saved it as a race only bike). the Caffiene's ride from the backend seems to be a bit harsher than the Optimo. It probably has this trait and longevity due to its huge seat stays.

  18. #18
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    Thanks for the replies! Now that you guys are telling me what to look for I definitely see where the CAAD4 and 5 frames had some changes to them compared to the CAAD1-3. I didn't think about the fact that newer manufacturing methods would allow things like butted headtubes and such, but I guess with modern CNC machinery you can do almost anything.

    Oh, and I confused the 2.8 and 3.0 frames in my post above. The 2.8 was the top-end frame at the time and the 3.0 was the mid-range frame. Heck, it WAS 15 or 16 years ago. I still wish I had that F700.

    andy b.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by CabezaShok View Post
    Dan, thanks for the info. I cant wait to buy a used Optio frame some day....but I can remember choosing my 01' CAAD3 F600 specifically because i wanted a beefier/stronger frame than a CAAD4/5....i remembered In the 1980's seeing alot of Cannondale frames with dents because they dented as easy as a soda can

    Once an SUV pulling out of McDonalds drive-thru didnt see me and nailed me....my CAAD3 F600 left all kinds of dents in the SUV but didnt bend my frame or dent it (the CAAD3 frame was scratched up too) So i believe that if your goal is to have a strong frame then a CAAD3 series is a good choice. I agree its a stiff frame but it does'nt bother me...tho Im now very interested in testing an Optio back to back with my F600, 01'. Did they have a different group of welders for the Optio? im a welder, i know how hard it is to Tig-weld thin-wall tubing aluminum. it takes YEARS of practice....thicker tubing is much easier to weld hence less expertise needed.
    The Optimo tubing was only thin, at the center of the tubes. The double-butted tube ends were quite thick. Initially, Cannondale welders apply huge globs of TIG at each tube junction....before passing it on to the grinders, who meticulously whittle-down those globs, resulting in that "smooth" weld look. Testing shows the tubing joins are actually stronger than lugged steel....yet 2/3 lighter, further eliminating the need to add gussets.

    Yes, I LOVE reviving old posts!
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  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dan Gerous View Post
    The CAAD 4 had ... had a disc mount but also rim brake studs. The CAAD 5 had no rim brake mounts ...
    Since we're reviving this, CAAD4 frames did not necessarily have both disc and rim brake mounts. My CAAD4 f600 was disc only.


    Also, my later F-whatever "Dual Assault" frame had both disc and rim mounts.

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