Cannondale Taurine 3 review£1,499.00

Cross-country flyer that could give you wings

BikeRadar score4.5/5Find prices on Bicycle Blue Book

The Cannondale Taurine 3 has its eyes firmly on the prize. It’s a race bike, with a good balance between climbing and descending abilities. It holds its line well for a light hardtail and offers lots of upgrade options. The fact that the frame has a lifetime warranty and no rider weight limit makes it a good choice for riders who are bigger and/or have less finesse.

The Taurine 3 is more than £2500 cheaper than Cannondale’s top-end race rocket, the Team. Yet the paint job is not the only thing it shares with its sibling.

 Ride & handling: composed & surefooted

Some light hardtails ping you through rough stuff like pinballs. The Taurine feels a lot more composed, probably because of its super-stiff front end. You can’t float through second-best line choices like you can on full suspension, but the bike doesn’t balk or buck over rocks anything like you’d expect.

Descents are as surefooted as on the trail-influenced Saracen Kili Flyer 1. (We rode The Cannondale alongside the Saracen and the Scott Scale 30). Climbing is better because the bike is a bit lighter and because you sit more naturally into the ‘cross-country attack position’. It doesn’t have quite the uphill pep of the Scott Scale 30, which has a lighter frame and wheelset.

Frame: eminently upgradable

The frame is the same as the Taurine Team’s. If you believe in buying the best frame you can afford to future-proof your upgrade path, then rejoice: you’re getting it here.

That huge head tube looks mismatched with the 1 1/8in steerer of the Fox fork. That’s because it’s designed to accommodate a HeadShok Super Fatty or Lefty fork. Aesthetically a conical spacer washer would look better here. Functionally there’s nothing to fault it – the front end of this Cannondale should be rock-solid.

The other tube profiles reflect their different roles: huge down tube for torsional stiffness, skinnier stays for a small degree of flex. Different wefts and weaves of carbon let the designer play further with the properties of different parts of the bike.

Equipment: solid choices

The Fox 32 F100RL fork is a good choice for a race bike. While you can’t adjust low-speed compression and lockout force on this factory fork, unlike the RLC version, it’s still light, accurate, and nicely damped so that you don’t ricochet off single hits or flounder on stutter bumps. It’s a shame you’ll have to wait for the 2009 fork to get a handlebar lockout, though.

The drivetrain benefits from the new Shadow rear mech. It tucks in close to the wheel so you’re less likely to smash it up on a rock. The cable run is now virtually a straight line, too, instead of a big loop, so there’s less cable friction.

Stopping comes from Avid Juicy Fives with 160mm rotors, which are fine for cross-country. The split lever clamp makes any future cockpit upgrade that bit easier, and these levers even colour-coordinate with the bike. Pimpy!

Wheels use dependable DT Swiss 370 hubs and are shod with Maxxis Monorail tyres. Straight-line rolling performance is good, but while they corner okay they lack bite on more technical cross-country terrain.

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