Sunday, July 08, 2018


When bikes like this Cannondale come in, I feel like a veterinarian in Jurassic Park:
Early versions of a new phase of technology automatically look primitive and weird, like the bones of a giant sloth. As the bike industry moved aggressively toward disc brakes and a full commitment to suspension, each of their experiments looked futuristic for about a week. Once a format settles down, the changes become more subtle. All high end bikes are on a conveyor belt of obsolescence, but the critical differences are easier to overlook until you need to fix something.

Cannondale liked to invent their own stuff. Their technical curiosity is laudable, even if their results might not have been. To boldly go where no one has gone before...except for several other innovators who did it better. But beyond one company's specific early mutations, the products of the entire era are more abandoned than the the more settled technology of 1970s ten-speeds. Companies vied for control of the market with implications of exclusivity. For instance, the Coda brake fluid bottle calls it  a race-proven synthetic blend. They don't say whether it is glycol or mineral oil, implying that it could be some third thing that you can only get from them. Years later, the mechanic trying to decide which juice and bleed kit to use gets no help from the label. Forum posts on line indicate that it's mineral oil. Fortunately, I did not have to bleed them. Chasing air bubbles is a finicky, fiddly, time-eating task.

The rotors are held on the hubs with only four bolts. Good luck finding parts for that.

The crank has an aftermarket bash guard, an accessory that came and went and came again.
Crank manufacturers have embraced the concept now, so they are common. The crank shown here also exhibits the five-bolt, 58-94 BCD that was briefly everywhere, and now is almost nowhere.

This bike was over the threshold of the new age, but only barely. The equipment has evolved as mountain biking has split into subcategories. From a common ancestor, the genus has spawned numerous species. Each one requires habitat in which to flourish, and riders with money on which to feed.

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