caadx-105 … a story of buying a new bike

I bought a bike.

(Actually, I bought it a couple of weeks ago, I just got busy, was over in Brussels, and the weather was grey – not so good for photographing my new baby.)

Once I realised there was nothing holding me back from spending (for me) sizable quantities of euros on a new bike, and that I could have exactly the bike I wanted … I spent quite some time. Looking, reading, comparing, more reading, learning, narrowing my choices down.

The first decision was that my new bike would be a Cyclocross model. Looks like a road bike, weighs about as much as a road bike, have you ever seen a road bike pretend to be a cross-country runner (except perhaps in A Weekend in Hell)? Not a road bike.

The first bike to grab my attention (and I looked at scores) was the Raleigh RX 1.0. Nice. I couldn’t find any shops in Germany, let alone Berlin selling Raleigh though. The I started looking at Focus’ Cyclocross bikes. And about the same time discovered the magic number 105.

With my old baby (stolen!), I became quite attached to gear, and knew enough about components to be able to glance at a bike and know if I’d want to purloin it. That was the mountain bike world though. Road bikes were and are a different world; and as for cyclocross… A pretty frame is … well, pretty – but components are are the reason the same frame dressed differently can triple in price.

So … Shimano 105. I have a soft spot for Shimano. The first bike I bought was a ten-speed from them; My last bike was decked out in XT componentry and I had SPDs and the shoes to go with them. Much more reading … I kept stumbling across That’s What She Said About Your Bike, and ended up looking at a lot of bikes from there as well as deciding if it didn’t have Shimano 105 it wasn’t going to get bought. (And I probably couldn’t go up a groupset in price anyway.)

I looked at Trek, BMC, Cube, even tried to find Klein (sadly no longer). I went into so many bike shops in Berlin (which are mostly – around 90% – for the city commuter people; very sensible, very heavy). I looked at uuhh sooo many websites. I discovered Drössiger, and of course, Cannondale.

I was often thwarted.

My first choice after the lack of a Raleigh to test was a Drössiger CCA10.2C or 3C. Bah! No one in Berlin had any in stock. I particularly liked the black frame, and Cannondale’s CAADX had a similarly beautiful matt-black model. Not with 105 though. I thought maybe I could have the frame built with the 105 components – typical, going straight past off-the-shelf and to the ‘Can you build it in black… -er?’ department of pleasing me.

Yes!

er … no …

Yes! But not till Jan/Feb next year. Alternately you could die and be reincarnated and it should be ready thereafter.

Arrival! Followed by more decisions.

I found a bike shop in Berlin. I am possessed with a singular, obsessional loyalty to where I buy things from. If I was a dog (yuck), I would be the type that latches on with teeth to the underbelly of a farm animal and hang there, swinging, jaws locked, paws off the ground, well past the point I should detach. The other aspect of irrationality, likely based in some quite coherent unconscious process is how much I like the shop the moment I walk in. A bit like buying a bottle of wine because the label is well-designed and uses a nice font.

I found radkom on a (I think) forum where someone was asking where to find a road bike shop in Berlin amidst all the afore-mentioned city tourer sensible fahrräder. A few names came up, though I didn’t go into all of them, so likely there are others that could have won my heart and bank account(s). I shall plug them here and say they are most excellent!

I read a lot about frame sizes and fittings. My last bike was small, fast, responsive like a slightly-too independent and frisky mountain goat, indeed often I just needed to point her in the general direction and she’d do the riding – especially when drunk. But I’d never bought that frame for the fit; it was the only one in the shop and my first ride on it was out the door after paying.

Doing things ‘properly’ then… I had a choice of a 58cm or 61cm frame. Probably a 59.5 would have been perfect, but there was nothing between these two. And I am ahem… ‘blessed’ with stupidly long legs, a torso that could fit someone 20cm smaller and not look out of proportion and arms while long certainly not in the vicinity of an appropriate accompaniment for my legs. Which means when the seat to pedal ratio fits, the handlebars are teasing me with their distance, even if I shove the seat right forward.

Hey ho! 58, 61, 58, 61, 58 again, 61… 58… ooh! snappy fast and hello! do you know my friend? she was a mountain goat… 61… 61… … … ok, 61. Really I could have gone either way. Somehow though I decided on the slightly larger frame, mainly because I thought that after 2 hours on the smaller, I might feeling a little cramped.

I got some pedals too. Not Shimano SPDs, though they are probably on the near-future list. And waiting to get some shoes because there’s nothing like riding clipped into feel completely at one with my bike.

All of which is to say, I bought a 2011 Cannondale CAADX 105 61cm in brushed aluminium, which makes it looks uncannily like my last darling, even down to the black forks – which this time are uuuhhh… drool! Carbon Blades! And the rear cassette! Ten sprockets from 11 to 25 teeth, with the two front rings giving a total of 20 gears – considering my last bike only had 24 once I upgraded and that was with three rings on the front, I’m utterly in lust. And finally I get to experience shifters and brakes in one, riding on the hoods. Oh, and I can lift it above my head with one hand.

I haven’t been riding it much yet, and very slow when I do, but she is beautiful. And once I get shoes and other pieces, I will take up cyclocross. Mud, rain, snow, wet, cold? Sounds like fun!

2 things said …

  1. Thanks for article and especially the pics. Far better than any other pics I have seen. I own a Cube x-race pro ’11 62cm and if I did not get it at a bargain I would have considered this Cannondale. Now looking for a quality bike for the Mrs and they make this in a 44cm! Great, top of the short list.

    • Hi Seb, you’re welcome. I was also looking at the Drössiger cyclocross bikes, which I think are quite comparable. I’m going to write a review in a month or so after I’ve spent a bit more time on my bike, but would say this at the moment: I probably could have bought the smaller frame and been just as comfortable. If she’s planning on not riding more than a couple of hours at a time or racing, I think a smaller frame would be better. The gear setup is brilliant and makes you ride fast; I’m still learning to ride it as opposed to remembering how I rode my old Marin, but it wants to go fast. Only thing I find a bit annoying is brake judder with the carbon forks.