In some ways, it’s relatively easy for the big bike brands to make an impressive bike for $10,000 — it’s quite difficult to produce an all-around performing machine for $1,000. Cannondale pulls this off quite remarkably with the CAAD8 7 Sora.
Our test riders all commented on how balanced the ride was: responsive when pedaling yet comfortable over rough roads; easy to steer yet not nervous; a comfortable yet not too squishy saddle and handlebar tape.
Cannondale made its name with aluminum roads bikes decades ago, and their legacy continues at this price point.
This bike ranked well in our “Best Road Bikes Under $1,000” test.
Ride and handling: A comfortable halfway point between racy and relaxed
Some bike companies opt for ‘relaxed’ geometry on their road bikes at this price, figuring that newer riders don’t want or need Tour de France geometry that requires catlike flexibility. But going too far in the other direction can put riders so far upright that handling is compromised. The Cannondale CAAD8 7 Sora strikes the perfect balance of racy and relaxed.
All our testers raved about how well this bike rode, whether on steep hills, fast descents or bumpy, dirt roads.
Frame: Aluminum heritage, race-geometry trickle down
Redesigned for 2012, the Cannondale CAAD8 7 Sora feature similar geometry to the brand’s high-end race bikes, but with a slightly taller head tube. Like three of the other seven bikes in our “Best Road Bikes Under $1,000” test, the Cannondale has a 170mm head tube (in a 56cm size).
What this means is that your handlebars won’t be super low, but you can still enjoy nimble handling.
Beefy, asymmetric chain stays offer great power transfer, while ‘hourglass’ chainstays that soak up some of the road vibration before it hits your backside.
The frame comes in black or red.
Equipment: Solid house brand plus Shimano parts
The Cannondale CAAD8 7 Sora has Shimano Sora shifters and derailleurs. The Sora shifters feature a thumb push button to downshift, and the brake lever swings sideways to upshift.
Cannondale uses their own brand of components, C4, for the seatpost, brakes, handlebar and stem. While not the sexiest of labels, the aluminum parts all fit and perform well.
As with all the bikes in the “Best Road Bikes Under $1,000” test, the F85 features a compact 50/34 crank (a standard crank has bigger 53/39 chain rings). The cassette is 12-26.
Chain rings and cassette cogs have an inverse relationship: bigger chain rings mean more gear, more speed and more effort, while bigger cassette cogs mean a smaller gear, less speed but less effort – especially when going uphill.
With a 34-26 low gear, the Cannondale can get you up all the steepest of hills without a lung-busting effort.
Our set of Maddux RS 3.0 wheels were slightly out of round and true — but if you’re buying from a bike shop, this would likely be remedied before you ever saw the bike. In any event, the wheels come with good quality Schwalbe tires.