Written by Mark Brusso, Duke’s Cycle Cannondale LapDogs Team Director and Racer.
Since joining the LapDogs Cycling Club back in the spring of 2008 I have been fortunate to be introduced to Cannondale bicycles through Duke’s Cycle . I credit Michael Cranwell for getting me hooked from the start as I noticed he and other racers back in the race team’s early days were racing on them.
Cannondale is my brand, and for a reason. They design with the rider, and function in mind.
When other bike manufacturers are spending time putting gimmicky twists, curves and non functional aesthetic features into bike design, Cannondale is innovating and improving on already fantastic technology. They are constantly refining and improving their processes. They are making bikes stiffer, lighter, stronger, and more efficient. Their technology and innovation is truly light years ahead of other bike manufacturers. Their frame designs are minimalist, but are also some of the most beautiful looking frames in the industry.
My review is on the new Flash 29er Ultimate , which I am currently racing for the 2012 Season.
The Flash 29er Ultimate is a pure race bike, and it is meant to be ridden hard and pushed to the limit.
This year, the Ultimate build features some of the absolute best of the best components available on the market. A full SRAM XX drivetrain including the XX World Cup edition brakes and ENVE Composites wheels and bar. SRAM XX just works, plain and simple, and it works with a bang. The shifting is very aggressive and fast. SRAM is known for this, and the XX is no exception, as both the front and rear derailleurs are equipped with very powerful springs, so shifting is always crisp and precise. The ENVE wheels are super stiff, and roll incredibly well, and look great paired with the white DT Swiss Aerolite spokes. I’ve always loved the DT swiss hubs as they are extremely smooth and easily serviced. The 240 hub on the rear wheel is a workhorse, and I know from experience in racing the 190s from my Flash 26′er, that the star ratchet design is bomb proof. It was nice to have the new Racing Ralph 425 HS tires spec’d on this bike, as they are new, and an improvement on the old Racing Ralph design. As usual, the Racing Ralph is one of the best race tires out there, and is known for it’s smooth rolling resistance, and incredible grip due to the EVO rubber compound technology found in the tires.
Another amazing component of this bike is the S.A.V.E seatpost which is critical in this hardtail’s setup. The deflection of the S.A.V.E is absolutely amazing and is one of the best features on the bike. The S.A.V.E really smooths out the ride, and it’s benefit can only be realized when you jump on a Flash paired with one. It is like having a little bit of suspension on the rear of the bike, without paying the price for weight, and the inefficiency of a soft tail on climbs.
Last but not least, the Lefty Fork . Not just any any Lefty – The Lefty Carbon 29er XLR. The Lefty, in my opinion really is the benchmark of suspension in the bike world. My first two mountain bikes had conventional suspension, and when I purchased my first Cannondale in 2009 (A Scalpel Team), my eyes were opened to a whole new world of what suspension can do. The Lefty is point and shoot.. A punchy climb full of roots? Aim your steering uphill right at those roots, and the Lefty will eat them for breakfast. It will handle corners and descents and washboard double track better than anything out there. The only way to understand it, is to try one and see for yourself. The Ultimate this year comes with a remote lockout which is essential to maximize your climbing efficiency. I use mine all the time, and it is a great feature.
The Ultimate 29′er gets 6 out of 5 stars because it exceeded all my expectations. When I decided to enter the world of 29 inch wheels I was glad I made my decision in choosing this bike.