The 2021 Cannondale CAAD Optimo gets dropped stays and mudguard mounts but not discs

Entry-level aluminium road bike updated and refined

Cannondale CAAD Optimo 1

Cannondale has updated its entry-level CAAD Optimo aluminium road bike for 2021, adopting dropped seatstays and adding mudguard (fender) mounts for practicality.

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Pitched as a “champagne experience for lemonade money”, the CAAD Optimo is rim brake-only and ranges from £800 / $1000 for a bike with Shimano Claris up to £1,200 / $1,500 for a Shimano 105-based build.

2021 Cannondale CAAD Optimo: more practical, more refined

Cannondale CAAD Optimo 1 front 3/4
The CAAD Optimo is an attractive entry-level bike with a mixture of modern and traditional features.
Cannondale

Like the premium CAAD13 before it, the new CAAD Optimo has moved to dropped seatstays, bike designers’ favourite way to boost rear-end comfort and lateral stiffness all at once.

Cannondale says the bike has “finely engineered flex zones” at the back to absorb road vibration.

Despite being the cheapest model in the brand’s range, the Optimo features a full carbon fork with a tapered steerer – many bikes at this price point get an alloy steerer bonded to carbon legs, increasing weight.

The frame is made from ‘SmartForm C2 Alloy’, which Cannondale differentiates from the higher-spec CAAD13’s ‘C1 Premium Alloy’, although the precise merits of the two levels are not divulged.

Racy geometry and rim brakes all the way

While the price bracket means the new Optimo will naturally appeal to beginners, its geometry is racy, with virtually identical stack and reach figures to the CAAD13 – a size 54cm measures up at 555mm and 384mm respectively.

That’s markedly more aggressive than the Specialized Allez, another benchmark aluminium bike, but very similar to the Trek Emonda ALR, meaning the Cannondale is also likely to appeal to riders looking to try their hand at racing.

Incidentally, while Cannondale sells some bikes in separate men’s and women’s models, the CAAD Optimo is considered unisex.

It might come as a surprise that the CAAD Optimo is rim brake-only, at a time when some brands are ditching traditional brakes entirely in favour of disc brakes, but it’s one way Cannondale can keep costs down.

As we’ve said many times here on BikeRadar, there’s nothing wrong with rim brakes, but if you must have discs, the CAAD13 is the next step up.

Despite the absence of discs, the revamped CAAD Optimo is a chunk more expensive than its predecessor, in keeping with the increased prices we’ve seen across the bike industry that result from supply issues as well as, in the UK, added costs relating to Brexit.

The new bike is expected to be on sale around August this year, though it’s already available for pre-order at a few shops. We’re expecting to lay hands on a test bike in the near future, so look out for a full review.

Cannondale CAAD Optimo prices and specs

CAAD Optimo 1

Cannondale CAAD Optimo 1
Cannondale CAAD Optimo 1.
Cannondale
  • Groupset: Shimano 105, FSA Gossamer cranks
  • Wheels: RS 2.0 aluminium clincher
  • Price: £1,200 / $1,500

CAAD Optimo 2

Cannondale CAAD Optimo 2
Cannondale CAAD Optimo 2.
Cannondale
  • Groupset: Shimano Tiagra, FSA Omega ME cranks
  • Wheels: RS 3.0 aluminium clincher
  • Price: £1,050 / $1,300

CAAD Optimo 3

Cannondale CAAD Optimo 3
Cannondale CAAD Optimo 3.
Cannondale
  • Groupset: Shimano Sora, FSA Vero cranks
  • Wheels: RS 3.0 aluminium clincher
  • Price: £N/A / $1,100

CAAD Optimo 4

Cannondale CAAD Optimo 4
Cannondale CAAD Optimo 4.
Cannondale
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  • Groupset: Shimano Claris, FSA Tempo cranks
  • Wheels: RS 3.0 aluminium clincher
  • Price: £800 / $1,000