end uses Cannondale’s Speed SAVE design, created by oval-shaped sections of the round seat stays and chainstays that
allow them to flex slightly. This same technology is integrated
into the seat tube and is further aided by the small-diameter,
WHICH COMPONENTS STAND OUT?
Despite Cannondale’s Lefty fork being introduced 13 years
ago, the distinct look still draws comments from inquisitive riders. For 2013, the Lefty has seen some significant updates.
While most of the improvements are internal, riders will notice
that the old-school rubber fork boot is absent. In its place is a
moto-inspired guard that protects a new, rounded fork stanchion.
Cannondale’s OPI stem with a 15-degree drop and C2 alloy,
26.8-inch bars give the front end a low and wide stance that
The 2x10 drivetrain is a mix of SRAM and
Shimano components and is perfectly suited for the
lightweight race bike. The Shimano XT Shadow
Plus rear derailleur is a nice touch.
HOW DOES IT PERFORM?
Moving out: The simplicity of dialing in a hard-
tail is always a nice change from the routine of get-
ting a full-suspension bike set up perfectly. Thanks
to Cannondale’s new Lefty fork design, setting sag is
much easier than before. The stanchion is now
exposed, and a rubber O-ring lets you measure the sag
by yourself as with other forks on the market.
The position on the F29 is what you would expect from a
race-oriented bike. The top tube feels on the long side and is
designed to put the rider in an aggressive position for hammer-
ing the pedals.
Climbing: At 23. 5 pounds and as laterally stiff as a road bike,
the F29 encourages putting the hammer down on climbs. The
chainstays are fairly short and help the bike feel snappy, especially out of the saddle. The longer top tube kept our knees
clear of the bars—a solid combination.
Where hardtails often lose the edge against their fully suspended counterparts is on rough climbs. Our local trails consist
of a few climbs that are downright painful to climb on a hardtail thanks to our saddle-wearing, four-legged friends. As much
as we shudder at the thought of riding those climbs, they
offered a great proving ground for Cannondale’s SAVE micro-suspension technology.
We were stoked with the results. The F29 is surprisingly
smooth for a hardtail. This is not to say that large, square-edge
bumps simply disappeared under our wheels. Nope, the old art
of hovering over the saddle still applies. The difference is that
the small chatter you encounter is damped significantly.
Cornering: With the F29, Cannondale wanted to create a
bike that rolled like a 29er but handled like a 26er. The steep,
71-degree head angle kept the handling sharp enough to whip
around switchbacks with ease, but never felt nervous descending at speed.
January 2013 / MOUN TAIN BIKE AC TION 79
While full-suspension bikes have become popular in cross-country racing, hardtails still have an impor- tant place in the world of mountain biking. They
are easy to maintain, incredibly efficient on fast and smooth
trails, cost less than their full-suspension counterparts, and
can teach valuable skills by forcing riders to choose their
lines carefully. Cannondale’s F29 may look like a simple and
straightforward hardtail, but there is more going on than
meets the eye.
WHO IS IT MADE FOR?
The F29 is for the cross-country racer who wants a lightweight, efficient race bike that can dice it out on the weekends without draining the bank account. This bike would
also work for trail riders who contend with fast, flowy trails
or ones with extended climbs where a light weight bike can
make all the difference.
WHAT IS IT MADE FROM?
Constructed of Cannondale’s proprietary Ballis Tec
Carbon, the F29 Carbon shares much of its DNA with
Cannondale’s high-end road offerings. This material uses
high-strength, impact-resistant fibers and resins along with
strands of stiffer, more brittle fibers that run continuously
from front to rear to fine-tune the ride quality. The F29 3
features Cannondale’s second-tier F-frame, which uses a
higher percentage of “intermediate-modulus” fibers, making
it slightly heavier but more cost-effective than the frame
found on the Ultimate and 1 models.
While the carbon material may be slightly different, the
mold remains the same. The F29 is built to be laterally stiff,
thanks to a 1.5-inch head tube, an oversized downtube and a
BB30 bottom bracket.
However, instead of simply building the stiffest bike possible, Cannondale worked to make the bike vertically compliant to take the edge off of stinging hits on the trail. The rear
Cannondale’s Serious Race Bike With A Soft Side
Cannondale F29 3