Cannondale Rush HI-MOD 2 £2200

Old skool design with modern carbon twist

BikeRadar score 3.5/5

Cannondale’s suspension designs may have moved on to linkage-activated shocks and even electronic damping, but a dose of tried-and-tested simplicity lives on in the form of the Rush twins – single-pivot swingarm bikes sharing a carbon mainframe and 110mm of rear travel.

The Rush 2 isn’t a bike that will suit gear-heads or the weight obsessed, but it’s capable of plastering a grin on any rider’s face with the minimum of fuss, it’s easy to live with and there’s very little that can go wrong. And that’s got to be worth something.

Ride & handling: Trademark single-pivot joy by the bucketload

With a 120mm-travel Fox Float RL fork taking prime position up front, there’s no doubt that the Rush is ready for a whole lot more than smooth, groomed race courses.

It let us play to our heart’s content on climbs; stand up and attempt to get things moving by mashing the pedals and we went nowhere fast but staying seated and pedalling smoothly pulls the rear wheel into the hill beneath you and had it snaking its way up loose and rooted sections without a second thought.

Roll over the top and you experience the Rush’s second party trick: it’s an absolute speed freak. We found it picked up pace horrifyingly quickly; it’s light enough to be skittery and felt a little wandery in ruts, so shouldn’t sit into the trail as well as it does, but it nailed each and every compression to a T and the end result was pure, eye-watering speed.

So much so that we found ourselves in some serious trouble coming into tricky sections far faster than we’d anticipated and without the means to extricate ourselves with ‘only’ the 120mm fork up front. We soon learnt to be a little wary of the Rush’s flighty ways, though, and worked out when to back off.

It’s more loftable than its bulky appearance might lead you to believe and the light front end coupled with a dinstinctly playful 68-degree head angle led to some rather un-racerly behaviour over trail centre rollers.

Frame: Super-stiff backbone and proven single-pivot suspension work well together

A single-pivot swingarm in the year 2010? What are Cannondale’s designers thinking? Surely a design principle that’s 20 years old is an expensive anachronism on today’s trails? Well no, actually.

Here’s what a single-pivot bike doesn’t have: a fancy axle path. Sure, there’s no ‘virtual’ pivot or tweaked shock leverage ratio, but then it also doesn’t have a plethora of bushes and pivots to wear or twist. In short, it’s simple and it works, getting you out on the trail with the minimum of faffing about.

Cannondale’s engineers haven’t simply bolted a swingarm to the back of any old frame and thrown a shock on to connect the two. The Rush 2’s feeling of implacable fluidity is as much down to the impressive torsional rigidity of its high-modulus carbon monocoque main triangle as is it is down to Fox’s impressive and well proven rear shock technology.

This carbon front end provides as solid a backbone to hang the rest of the componentry off as you could wish for. With its huge 1.5in headset and massive BB30 bottom bracket mount, the Rush 2’s mainframe screams rigidity, making for a confidence-inspiring ride.

The massive girth of the top tube is a constant reminder of just how stiff the Rush 2’s backbone is. With the oversized bottom bracket and head tube, you’ll be hard pushed to notice anything in the way of twist or whip from the ‘Dale. It may not be the lightest bike in its class, but it’s undoubtedly one of the most firmly planted when the hits are coming thick and fast.

What about that rear end then? Well, it patters along happily enough at any speed, particularly with the rear shock’s ProPedal compression damping turned off. It can’t match the best of its foes for sheer ground-hugging traction on technical climbs, but more than makes up for it on descents with a beguiling and addictive sense of can-do.

Equipment: Not the best value spec, but it all works well enough

Cannondale's bikes tend to offer a less appealing on-paper spec per pound of your hard-earned cash, which is a legacy of theirs ‘made in the US’ heritage. The Rush 2 is competing with better specced bikes, but none of the downgrades is worth losing sleep over.

The Shimano-hubbed, Mavic-rimmed wheelset isn’t the lightest around but works just fine, which pretty much sums up the rest of the kit too. A pair of Fox shocks front and rear rounds out a value-biased package.

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