Cannondale’s RZ series sits between the short-travel race-oriented Scalpel and all-mountain Jekyll. The One Twenty 2 is the second cheapest RZ, scraping in just a smidge under £2,000.
Ride & handling: Offers confident, agile handling at speed but hindered by surplus bulk
There’s something of a paradox about the RZ. The seated riding position is quite forward-set thanks to a steep seat angle, and with weight forward and big bars, it’s light on the helm and happy enough to turn without being unnecessarily flighty. But at just a whisker under 30lb (13.6kg), it’s on the hefty side compared to the competition, and it’s a difference you can feel.
Part of the culprit is the wheel package, particularly the sizable tyres. They’re aggressively treaded and confident on softer surfaces, but they’re also pretty draggy. That extra drag and weight dulls the RZ’s fundamentally lively nature. Once up to speed the Cannondale’s a hoot, and there’s something to be said for a bit of bonus momentum when things get gnarly. Getting it to operating velocity is a bit of a bind though.
There’s certainly scope to lop some weight off the bike, but it’s already quite pricey. On the positive side, the RZ’s got a confidently robust feel thanks largely to the stiff chassis. There’s nothing magical about the suspension setup, but it’s mostly viceless – gibbon-like pedallers might want to make use of the ProPedal platform damping lever on the Fox shock but that’s about it.
Frame: Future-proof chassis, but heavier than it ought to be
Two things are immediately obvious about the One Twenty. First is the ‘Berzerker Green’ paintjob, and second is the dustbin-sized head tube. The RZ is designed around Cannondale’s own Lefty fork, which uses a 1.5in steerer. While the one-legged Lefty is only found on the more expensive 0 and 1 models, the cheaper 2 shares the frame.
Cannondale have taken advantage of the big head tube to get plenty of weld area to the flattened top and down tubes – they don’t look all that massive from the side, but from the cockpit the front end has a confidently substantial air. Continuing the oversized theme is the BB30 bottom bracket. Like the head tube, using the biggest standard available for the bottom bracket means that anything can be fitted in there with suitable adaptors, making the RZ impressively future-proof.
At the back is what’s essentially a single-pivot swingarm with a linkage-driven shock. The chainstays are also substantial and do most of the work in keeping the back end nicely in line – while the slimline seatstays are primarily concerned with driving the swing-link that activates the shock. Although the shock’s slung under the top tube, there’s still room for a pair of conventionally placed bottle bosses (which double up as cable/hose guides). There’s a secondary pair under the down tube if you need to carry two bottles.
Equipment: Merely okay spec for the money, including draggy tyres
The RZ One Twenty 2 comes with a Fox F32 RL fork rather than Cannondale's Lefty. We didn’t feel particularly short-changed. Rather than fit a reducer headset and use a tapered or plain 1.125in fork, Cannondale have specced a 1.5in steerer and appropriate oversized stem. It’s arguably overkill on a trail bike, especially since the fork makes do with a regular quick-release at the other end, but when the head tube’s ready for it, why not?
The transmission on the test bike was a bit of a mongrel, with a 10-speed Shimano SLX cassette and Deore nine-speed chainset and chain. It’s a combination that probably shouldn’t work but actually does, although perhaps not quite as smoothly as we’d like. The Deore setup was a pre-production sample bike anomaly, though – the listed spec has a Shimano M552 DynaSys chainset and 10-speed chain. M552 is Deore level, but doesn’t carry a groupset identity. Adaptor cups enable the Shimano chainset to fit into the RZ’s BB30 bottom bracket shell.
Budgetary concerns make their unwelcome presence felt in the wheels, with Shimano M525 hubs and middleweight Mavic rims. They’re shod with chunky and impressively beknobbled Schwalbe Black Shark tyres. It’s an acceptable but unspectacular spec for the money, although kudos to Cannondale for making sure that the shock and fork are up to scratch, and applying the necessary compromises in areas that are likely to be replaced or upgraded by individuals buying the bike anyway.