Cannondale was one of the pioneers of oversized aluminium bike frames. Its 2014 CAAD 10 can trace its evolution directly back to the first ever oversized alloy frames ever by a top-level pro team, Saeco back in 1997.
- BUY IF... You want an outstanding alloy all-rounder that'll shame a lot of carbon options
The frame is impressively light, making it clear that Cannondale hasn't been neglecting its CAAD bikes following the success of its carbon bikes. In fact the top tube – which wraps around the seat tube – resembles that of Cannondale's composite bikes. Similarly the full carbon fork's dropouts are off-set to increase damping without disturbing handling. The SAVE stays are flattened to absorb shocks and there's a skinny seatpost for the same reason.
The CAAD's Prologo Kappa saddle suits the bike well. Its rubberised coating prevents you from slipping about when you're pumping the power against a gradient. From there it's a clear connection through the press-fit BB30 bottom bracket – a Cannondale development – straight to the road.
While the wheelbase is short for a 56cm frame and the angles are relatively steep, the CAAD never feels nervous or sketchy even on greasy, leafy descents. The smoothing effect of the SAVE fork and rear end actually gives the bike a tangible traction advantage in terms of road connection. It also helps the CAAD flow across rough sections remarkably well for an alloy bike, and there's no doubting its reputation as one of the best metal frames available is richly deserved.
The Shimanowheels are the perfect complement to the Cannondale ride too, underlining the frame's character with decent power response and tracking accuracy as well as notably smooth-rolling, user-serviceable bearings.
The CAAD 10 is relatively expensive, however. If you're fine investing in premium frame with a view to upgrading the 'Dale is worth it, but in terms of the overall package, it's not as good value as other bikes on the market.