First look: Cannondale's 16.56lb Flash Carbon hardtail

The carbon weight war, taken to new lows

After 18 months of development, Cannondale are introducing the 16.56lb Flash Carbon Ultimate hardtail, a dramatic departure for the Connecticut company known for fat aluminium tubes and full-suspension rigs.

Taking a page from the development of their race-proven, full-suspension Scalpel, Cannondale's aim with the Flash was to create the lightest, stiffest and strongest – it comes with a lifetime warranty and no rider weight limit – carbon hardtail on the market.

The 950g Flash Carbon frame uses the same high modulus carbon layup seen on Cannondale's SuperSix road frames, raced by Team Liquigas.

The continuous top tube/seatstay junction saves weight and adds stiffness, while the seatstays are straight – a major departure from the hourglass shaped stays found across the board at Cannondale for the past decade. Research and development director Chris Peck says this has been done to boost lateral stiffness for improved rear wheel tracking.

The chainstays – as well as the 27.2mm diameter carbon seatpost – feature Cannondale's Synapse Active Vibration Elimination (SAVE) technology, which is designed to dampen trail buzz without taking away lateral stiffness. The dropouts and disc brake mounts are alloy, not carbon, due to the intense heat created under braking.

The Flash Carbon has a BB30 oversized bottom bracket shell, and comes with Cannondale's Hollowgram SL crankset – the lightest on the market – and Lefty monoblade suspension fork.

We gave the Flash Carbon 2 a shakedown ride in Park City, Utah. First impressions? Plenty of comfort and performance packed into a technologically advanced frame which will certainly force Cannondale's competitors to revisit the carbon hardtail design approach. We're especially looking forward to the 29er version.

The Flash Carbon platform will come in three spec and pricing models:

Flash Carbon 2

  • Lefty Speed Carbon DLR 110
  • DT Swiss XCR 1.5 wheelset
  • FSA V-Drive BB30 44/32/22 crankset
  • SRAM X-7 shifters, X-9 rear derailleur
  • Avid Elixir R disc brakes
  • US$3,749

Flash Carbon 1

  • Lefty Speed Carbon SL 110
  • Shimano XTR wheelset
  • FSA K-Force Light BB30 44/32/22 crankset
  • Shimano XTR shifters/derailleurs
  • Shimano XTR disc brakes
  • US$6,399

Flash Carbon Ultimate

  • Lefty Speed Carbon SL 110
  • DT Swiss XCR 1.2 carbon wheelset
  • Schwalbe Furious Fred 26 x 2.1 EVO folding tyres
  • Cannondale Hollowgram SL BB30 42/28-tooth crankset w/ custom spider for SRAM XX
  • SRAM XX groupset
  • Fizik Antares carbon-rail saddle
  • US$9,599

Availability will be November 2009 for the 26-inch wheeled version pictured above, although MonaVie-Cannondale racers Tinker Juarez and Jeremiah Bishop will most likely race on pre-production models this season. A 29-inch version (below), the choice of many marathon racers, will be available in December.

Flash Carbon 29er 2

  • Lefty 29er Carbon DLR 80
  • DT Swiss X470 29er rims
  • FSA V-Drive BB30 44/32/22 crankset
  • SRAM X-7 shifters, X-9 rear derailleur
  • Avid Elixir R disc brakes
  • Price: TBC

Flash Carbon 29er 1

  • Lefty 29er Carbon SL 80
  • Stan’s ZTR Arch 29er rims and DT Swiss 240S rear hub
  • FSA Afterburner BB30 44/32/22 crankset w/ carbon spider
  • SRAM X-0 shifters, X-0 rear derailleur
  • Avid Elixir CR carbon disc brakes
  • Price: TBC

For more information, visit www.cannondale.com.

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