The Cannondale Fat CAAD 1 is every bit as fancy as it is fat

...and of course it gets a Lefty fork

All the big brands offer a fat bike now, don't they? Well, before this model Cannondale didn't, and so the £2,600/US$3,730 Fat CAAD1 is actually a pretty important introduction for the firm.

Typically for Cannondale, the Fat CAAD1 stands out among its competition even at a distance – well, if you're looking at it from the right direction that is. 

Related: The Fat Bike Trend

That's because, just like it did with the Slate gravel bike, Cannondale has once again found an alternative application for its signature one-legged Lefty fork. Dubbed the Lefty Olaf, it's an air-sprung offering with 100mm of travel and uses Cannondale's latest generation PBR damper.

Related: Scott Addict Gravel, Cannondale Slate and more at Eurobike preview

At the top of the fork leg there's a rebound adjuster dial as long as Cannondale's 'push to climb' compression switch. The Lefty Olaf also gets a bespoke crown which, along with it being necessary to provide the clearance for the huge 4in tyres, also allows Cannondale to switch to a 60mm offset figure, and that's important. 

The lefty olaf is designed specifically for the task at hand:
The lefty olaf is designed specifically for the task at hand:

You see, the large contact patches and heavy rotational mass mean that fat bikes can often lack agility, particularly at lower speeds. Many manufacturers address that by simply steepening the head angle of the bike, which works but will also impact negatively on a bikes stability at speed.

Cannondale's approach pairs a fork with an unusually high offset figure to a frame with a relatively slack head angle. The high offset fork reduces the the trail figure, meaning more responsive handling at lower speeds, this paired with the comparatively slacker head angle aims to bring the best of both worlds - a bike that handles well at low and high speeds.

Related: Pushing the limits of fork offset: an experiment

Let's move on to the Fat CAAD's frame. The CAAD acronym has its strongest connotations with the road bike world where it signifies Cannondale's most premium alloy frames, and this fat bike is made of the same stuff.

Along with developing geometry that's specific for the purpose, Cannondale has paid particular attention to the Q factor of the Fat CAAD frame. Thanks to a unique XL version of its BB30 bottom bracket and custom offset chainrings on its own-brand Si crankset, this bike boasts the lowest Q-factor values on the market say Cannondale – your knees could well thank you for that one day.

The fat caad is cannondale's debut into the fat bike market:
The fat caad is cannondale's debut into the fat bike market:

Aside from that dedicated crankset, the 1x transmission is trusty SRAM X1 kit. The Fat CAAD rolls on MuleFut 80 SL rims from Sun Ringle, and these wrapped in monstrous 4.8in versions of Schwalbe's Jumbo Jim rubber. These extra-wide treads get Schwalbe's cut-resistant sidewalls and are ready to go tubeless when you are.

You also get SRAM's Guide hydraulic discs at both ends and a selection of Cannondale own-brand finishing kit. You don't get a dropper off of the shelf, but the frame is fully compatible with internally routed droppers.A more affordable version of the Fat CAAD sans Lefty and 1x transmission is also available for £1,600/US$2,130.

So, how fat is the fatty? According to our scales it's a smidge over 32lb / 14.5kg.

It took Cannondale long enough to come out with this one, and we hope its team have got it right. Now all that is left is to start riding it in anger – and we will do, so stay tuned for a full review.

Oli Woodman

Section Editor, UK
With more than 10 years of experience riding mountain bikes, Oli knows the good from the bad when it comes to gear. He's a total bike nerd and loves few things more than fettling with spangly riding bits. Also, he seems to have a talent for crashing hard but emerging unscathed.
  • Discipline: Mountain
  • Preferred Terrain: Loamy singletrack
  • Current Bikes: Marin Pine Mountain, Pinnacle Dolomite
  • Dream Bike: Honda RN01
  • Beer of Choice: Corona
  • Location: Bristol, UK

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