Cannondale has always been considered a premium brand with most of its mountain bike models in the mid-to-upper end of the price scale. But that was then. Now, more will be able to join the Cannondale family with the introduction of the Rush.
– Photos: Dino Lloyd
It takes a bit of getting used to seeing a Cannondale without a Lefty fork, but that’s one of the ways that Cannondale has been able to trim the costs on the Rush, which is essentially a three-model range of aluminium frame dual-suss bikes specced to race marathons and stage races.
Cannondale started out by perfecting aluminium frames back when most South Africans thought mountain biking was an extreme sport only, so the material is one the brand is very familiar with. Cannondale uses ‘double pass’ welds for its 6061 aluminium, which it claims allows for the building of lighter and stronger frames than those that have more aesthetically pleasing, smooth welds. The Rush has similar geometry to Cannondale’s racing thoroughbred Scalpel, but tweaked to offer a slightly slacker head angle (70 degrees) to deliver more stability and control on steep descents and over rough surfaces. The Rush has a simple, single-pivot swingarm with a linkage-activated shock driven by the seatstays, which pivot above the rear axle. The spec is clearly made for long term reliability and abuse, rather than a race snake performance. Noticeable straight away are the Shimano Deore cranks, sure not as bling as SLX or XT, but they do the job just as well and are actually Hollowtech II tech. Other areas show a similar line of thinking, a Shadow Plus rear derailleur mated to an SLX cassette shows a pattern of keeping performance up with reliability and within an economic scale. The standard Deore brakes are becoming a typically specced feature on many sub-R40K dual suss bikes and are known for good performance. The Stan’s Rapid rims came with rim tape pre installed, so converting to tubeless was just a case of buying sealant and inflating the tyres (we ‘ghettoed’ the tubeless valves from existing old inner tubes).
Interestingly, we found that the remote CTD setup only had a lever for the fork, which we felt fine with. Most times we find that the remote setup that simultaneously adjusts front and rear takes a lot of finessing to setup properly.
Our first test model came with Kenda Honey Badger (rear) and Nevegal (front) tyres, which we were testing. Shimano SLX, Deore and XT parts make up the groupset, which includes a 2×10 crankset and a 180mm front brake rotor, both key factors on a stage-race bike in our opinion. Cannondale’s own alloy bars, stem, seatpost and saddle make up the cockpit.
We first test rode the Rush 1 at the 2014 FNB Wines2Whales three-day stage race, which ensured we had a good variety of terrain and gradients on which to get a real feel for the bike’s capability as a stage racer. We also test rode it on various trails in Gauteng. We were impressed with the bike’s firm, balanced feel. It feels like it has a low centre of gravity offering that reassuringly planted feel on descents and through fast, tight turns. The mechanically simple rear end just works and we never once felt compromised. We rode with the shock mostly on the Trail setting, but opened it fully on some fast, longer descents and loved how it maintained its stability. At 13kg it’s not feather light, but it’s not heavy either and we found it to be an efficient climber in the Climb setting on the rear shock. There was adequate fork up front for us to be confident in the bike’s tracking and traction. The tapered headtube, front through-axle and reasonably wide 700mm bars left us feeling well in control, although a wider bar (720mm) would be a better option for bigger riders. The 2×10 gearing (11–36; 38/24) was adequate to tackle even the steepest climbs and find a rhythm and the larger 180mm rotor on the front no doubt minimised the fatigue and stress that comes with braking (there’s a fair bit of descending and cornering for those that haven’t done the Wines2Whales event). Cornering was predictable and stable. In fact, we felt this bike handled corners as well as any other bike we’ve tested that costs twice the price. The Kenda Honey Badger tyres hooked up well overall. The Nevegal on the front may be a little heavy, but it’s got the grip of a gecko on the rougher surfaces.
For a bottle cage though, a side-entry design would be a good option as the frame doesn’t leave much room at all for a regular 600ml bottle and we found ours constantly got in the way of the shock.
Don’t be deceived by the Rush’s lack of sparkle in the looks department. It’s a well-built, evenly-balanced, great-handling bike with a sensible parts spec that’s ideal for stage-race commitment or a quick trail dash. At 30k it’s very well-priced and offers a firm trail feel that will appeal to most riders wanting to push themselves a bit more on technical sections. It’s not racy, but it’s a bike that most would find very suitable for stage racing due. At this price, we think it’s game changer in the South African stage-race/marathon bike market.
SIZES: XS, S, M (tested), L
TOP TUBE LENGTH: 591mm
SEAT TUBE LENGTH: 445mm
HEAD TUBE ANGLE: 70.0 degrees
SEAT TUBE ANGLE: 73.5 degrees
CHAINSTAY LENGTH: 454mm
PRICE: R30 000
COLOURS: Matt Black with Grey Detail
FRAME: 6061 Alloy
WEIGHT: 13.41Kg (Tubeless with pedals)
FORK: Fox Float CTD, 100mm travel, 15mm thru-axle
SHOCK: Fox EVO CTD (100mm)
SHIFTERS: Shimano SLX Trigger
FRONT DERAILLER: Shimano Deore (2×10)
REAR DERAILLER: Shimano XT, Shadow Plus
CRANKSET: Shimano Deore Hollowtech (38/24)
BRAKESET: Shimano Deore, Front Rotor 180mm, Rear Rotor 160mm
WHEELS: Stan’s ZTR Rapid Rims, Formula Hubs, Stainless Butted Spokes (32 hole)
TYRES: Schwalbe Racing Ralph Performance 29×2.1
OTHERS: Cannondale C3 flat 6061 double-butted alloy 700mm handlebars, Cannondale C4 6 Degree Rise Alloy Stem, Cannondale C3, 31.6 x 350MM Alloy Seatpost, Cannondale Stage 3 Saddle
CONTACT: www.cannondale.com; 021 691 0110
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*Originally published in TREAD Issue 33, 2015 – All rights reserved