Cannondale have always been one of the go-to brands for high performance cyclo-cross bikes. The CAADX is still a lightweight all-terrain flyer but gets slightly less aggressive geometry and a full fixture list to create a great value bike with an appetite for anything.
Highs: Excellent lightweight frame and fork with well thought out kit package that delivers both versatility and value for money
Lows: Very few, as long as you don’t want disc brakes. And alloy will never feel as smooth as steel
Buy if: You want a fast and faithful weekday bike that’s still great fun on road or off at the weekend
Cannondale have been making oversized aluminium frames for longer than anyone else still in business, and those 30-odd years of experience are showcased in the CAADX frame. The ‘raw’ burnished finish with trademark smooth welds under gloss lacquer certainly looks striking.
Features like the guides on the head tube to stop cable rub, hydroformed top tube – using fluid to form the shape – and stays tapering down to smooth dropouts all underline the classy feel of the chassis, and both the frame and fork are light, at 1,543g and 620g respectively (54cm size).
The BB30 cranks with press-fit bearings give an extremely positive feel for snap acceleration. The 46/36-tooth chainset is typically tight cyclo-cross gearing, which is great for encouraging spinning on training rides. While it’s not light, the Shimano 105 transmission offers great workhorse value, and the complete bike weight (9.34kg) is still competitive.
The Maddux rims were an unknown quantity but they handled a fair old beating. A full 32-spoke, two-cross wheel build adds failsafe strength. The semi-slick Continental tyres are also a great choice for an all-rounder. They’re smooth enough to make a tangible difference on smooth tarmac sections, with less noise and noticeably faster rolling speed. They’re still surprisingly grippy off-road, though, as long as it’s not too wet.
While the Cannondale is no steel smoothie, the tyres are fat enough to make it a comfortable distance cruiser and reduce rattle on rougher trails. The rough ‘crêpe paper’ texture on the bar tape enhances grip, and the wide-arm Tektro brakes work better than most cantilevers. A stout fork and shortish stem keep things quick and responsive so you can easily feather cornering traction when it starts to fade.
While the CAADX isn’t stable enough for fully laden lugging, mudguard and rack mounts mean it’s as happy taking essentials down rainy streets or over the hills as it is lining up on a local park startline. It's light and responsive enough to race on or put a pep in your winter training; agile, confident and communicative enough to be a lot of fun on light off-road trails; and comfortable enough to cut buzz on railway ballast trails or back lanes.
This article was originally published in Cycling Plus magazine.