Cannondale Touring 2 review£1,000.00

American giant returns to its touring bike roots

BikeRadar score3.5/5

Cannondale is best known for its aluminium road bikes and exotic racing machines. But its very first bike was actually a tourer – and our tester rode his (later stolen) Cannondale tourer 3000 miles in three months in four continents back in the day, and rarely stops talking about it…

The 2017 Touring 2 comes with a triple chainset, a rare sight these days, although on bikes made for versatility and practicality they still make sense. 

On a bike weighing 12kg the third chainring’s extra weight is neither here nor there, though depending on what you’re planning on using the bike for, we don’t feel that Cannondale has made the most of going triple. It has paired the Sora 50/39/30 chainset with an 11-30 cassette. For a lot of day-to-day use, leisure riding and commuting this’ll be absolutely fine, but the whopping 50x11 top gear is probably overkill 90 per cent of the time. 

The 30x30 bottom is low enough for most eventualities, but if you’re touring heavily laden and reach the foot of a long or steep hill, you could find yourself pushing. 

If any rides like that are pencilled in to your diary, we’d consider swapping the chainset for a 44/32/22, dropping the bottom gear hugely, or maybe a ‘halfway-house’ 48/36/26 like the Ridgeback.

Shifting isn’t quite as slick as with Shimano’s more expensive groupsets, and this Sora also has the cables dangling untidily in front of the bar, but it never missed a shift. 

The compact frame, slim seatpost, wide tyres and good contact points keep things comfortable
The compact frame, slim seatpost, wide tyres and good contact points keep things comfortable

The Promax Render R mechanical disc brakes offered good control in all weather conditions. True, mechanical discs can’t match hydraulics for all-out power, but cables are easier to deal with than hydraulic fluid if things go kaput, especially in the back of beyond.

The wheels are built for practicality, comfort and toughness. The tyres are real beasts, the super-wide and ultra-tough Marathon Plus from Schwalbe; the 40mm width may be slightly excessive for daily use, and we’d be tempted to drop down to 35 or even 32mm unless your roads are spectacularly poor or you’re regularly carrying kitchen sink-type loads. 

In our experience the Schwalbes are very durable, even if they can be a struggle to fit, and a quality tyre on an affordable bike is always welcome. As is the fact that the British 2017 Touring 2, like its American equivalent, now comes with a 25kg-capacity rear rack. And though it doesn’t come with mudguards, there’s loads of clearance to fit them even with the 40mm Schwalbes.

Schwalbe Marathon tyres are tough as old boots but difficult to fit
Schwalbe Marathon tyres are tough as old boots but difficult to fit

The geometry lives up to the touring name. Compared with the Trek CrossRip 1, the Cannondale has a longer wheelbase, shorter top-tube and longer head-tube. With angles within half a degree of each other, this makes the ’Dale more leisurely, more stable and with a more upright riding position – and ideal for most types of non-speedy riding.

The compact frame, slim seatpost, wide tyres and good contact points keeps things comfortable even on long days out, and the frame handles loads like they’re not there. True, if your riding leans towards steep hills, high mountains or expeditions, the gearing may hold the Cannondale Touring 2 back, but for everything else it hits the sweetspot nicely.

This article was originally published in Cycling Plus magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.

Simon has been cycling for as long as he can remember, and more seriously since his time at university in the Dark Ages (the 1980s). This has taken in time trialling, duathlon and triathlon and he has toured extensively in Asia and Australasia, including riding solo 2900km from Cairns to Melbourne. He now mainly rides as a long-distance commuter and leisure/fitness rider. He has been testing bikes and working for Cycling Plus in various capacities for nearly 20 years.
  • Age: 53
  • Height: 175cm / 5'9
  • Weight: 75kg /165lb
  • Waist: 33in
  • Discipline: Road, touring, commuting
  • Current Bikes: Rose SL3000, Hewitt steel tourer
  • Beer of Choice: Samuel Adams Boston Lager
  • Location: Bath, UK

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