Cannondale CAAD10 Ultegra   £1999.99

9/10

An excellent bike for the money. If you are looking for an all-rounder at this price, you'd be mad not to consider the CAAD10 seriously.

Weight 7800g   Contact  www.cannondale.com

by John Whittington   December 16, 2011  

'High performance aluminium is back' say the folks at Canondale and after riding the CAAD10, I'd be inclined to agree. Canondale are experts at the aluminium road bike, producing favourites among those looking for a capable race machine without the price tag of a top-level carbon option. The CAAD 10 is the latest incarnation, available in various finishing kits. We put the Ultegra version through its paces.

The pleasant matt black finish of our test bike could lead you to believe you've accidentally been sent a carbon bike. Black is timeless, avoiding any current colour fashions for a bike which will look good whatever the latest fashion. Smoothed welds add to the illusion and with the carbon FSA SLK cranks, the CAAD 10 is a great looking bike which would embarrass many more pricey carbon offerings.

Frame stiffness is certainly on par with many mid-level carbon bikes. From my first pedal strokes I was taken back by the efficiency of the power transfer. Oversized BB30 bottom brackets have previously been reserved for high performance carbon frames but Canondale have designed one into the CAAD10. By pressing the bearings directly into the frame, larger bearings and crank axles can be used which, along with the reduced leverage, creates an improved transfer of power. BB30 requires a high level of machining but, as the creators of the standard, it is no surprise that Cannondale have integrated it into the CAAD10.

Cannondale's tube design also plays a role in the strong performance of this aluminium frame, their classic large diameter creating much of the strength. The top tube is oval to quash lateral flex (it's slightly hourglass in profile too, helping to prevent any knee banging), providing a sharp and responsive feel.

The top tube leads out to widened seatstays. Apparently taking from the design of Cannondale's Flash hardtail mountain bike - a model that's intended to deliver plenty of comfort - the seatstays are narrow but widely spaced while the chainstays are assymetric with a more bulbous design. This all comes together to allow a little bit of vertical flex when you ride over bumps but minimal side to side movement. In other words, the back end provides the classic 'vertically compliant/laterally stiff' combo that most manufacturers are keen to shout about.

Topping off the frameset is indeed some carbon... and the fork is full carbon all the way from the steerer down to the dropouts. Cannondale have designed the fork to aid shock absorption without increasing the length of the wheelbase, so they've offset the dropout slightly to the rear of the fork leg. As for the handling, it's razor sharp without any noticeable flex when you're riding out of the saddle or carving through fast turns.

What's the ride like overall? As I mentioned, the CAAD10 is very stiff and responsive but doesn't leave you aching as the miles/kilometres tick away. Because of that, it is a perfect option for those who want a bike they can throw around a circuit race and also take on a five-hour ride on the weekend. It's a good climber and descending is a joy. The lively handling means you can change your line quickly while the stiffness of both the frame and the fok means you can fire it through downhill turns with speed and accuracy.

The Ultegra groupet, second in the Shimano hierarchy after Dura-Ace, is similar to the frame in that it provides high performance for a lot less money than top-of-the-line counterparts. Whilst hood shapes are a thing of preference, the Ultegra's offer a large, comfortable base for your hand and the shifting provided by the levers is crisp and smooth. Cannondale's own C3 cockpit parts may not be as flash as branded components but they do the job well enough. They're solid. Taken as a whole with all the other kit, you really can't expect much more at this price.

Mavic Askium wheels round things off. As Mavic's entry-level choice they might not blow you away with their level of performance but they include cartridge bearings and bladed spokes and they're made with Mavic's reliable build quality. These are certainly a very capable set of wheels for the money and, of course, you can always boost performance still further by swapping them out for something lighter at some point in the future. The Mavic Askion tyres proved prefectly competent over the test period too, and they come with good puncture resistance which is a definite bonus. Oh, and Prologo Scratch saddle was a wise selection. At the racier end of the spectrum, the stiff but comfortable construction complements the feel of the bike.

Verdict

Some people might be turned off by the sight of an aluminium frame when searching for a bike these days, especially at the £2,000 price point where carbon is a distinct possibility... but that's because there's a widely held misconception that a carbon bike will always out-rank an aluminium one. The CAAD10 is a 2012 aluminium design that outperforms many of the carbon bikes against which it competes. Shimano Ultergra components and BB30 FSA SLK cranks are perfect choices for someone who wants their bike to do everything from weekend club runs to sportives and a little racing.

road.cc test report

Make and model: Cannondale Caad10 Ultegra

Size tested: Charcoal - 56cm

About the bike

State the frame and fork material and method of construction. List the components used to build up the bike.

Frame: Large diameter aluminium construction with smoothed hydro welds. Narrow seatstays provide some relief over road bumps and they're widely space to stop side-to-side flex.

Fork: Full carbon, dropouts to steerer.

Components: FSA SLK BB30 Crankset (standard or compact), full Ultegra groupset, OEM Canondale finishing parts, Mavic Askium wheels, Mavic Askion tyre, Prologo Scratch saddle.

Tell us what the bike is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about the bike?

Aimed more at the racing side I'd say, given the geometry. A relatively short head tube might turn away some less flexible all-day riders and it sits in Canondale's 'Elite' road line.

High performance aluminium is what this biek goes for and it hits the mark, offering a ride that's better than a lot of carbon frames at the same price point.

Frame and fork

Overall rating for frame and fork
 
9/10

Tell us about the build quality and finish of the frame and fork?

Frame finish is excellent, smoothed welds hide the metal construction, tube shapes are pleasing to the eye. The all-carbon fork is similarly impressive for the price.

Tell us about the materials used in the frame and fork?

Aluminium frame. Full-carbon fork.

Tell us about the geometry of the frame and fork?

More on the racing side with short head tube and a short wheelbase creating a reactive bike.

How was the bike in terms of height and reach? How did it compare to other bikes of the same stated size?

Reach was comfortable for me and similar to other 56cm bikes I've ridden. The height feels and looks more like a 57cm - in my experience, most Cannondales do. I had no problems creating a comfortable position though.

Riding the bike

Was the bike comfortable to ride? Tell us how you felt about the ride quality.

Great ride, stiff and responsive but comfortable, I didn't feel the parts of the road I didn't want to.

Did the bike feel stiff in the right places? Did any part of the bike feel too stiff or too flexible?

Yes it was neither too stiff or too flexible; a real Goldilocks situation.

How did the bike transfer power? Did it feel efficient?

Yes, thanks mainly to the BB30 bottom bracket, I think.

Was there any toe-clip overlap with the front wheel? If so, was it a problem?

Not for me, no.

How would you describe the steering? Was it lively, neutral or unresponsive? Lively, but not on the edge.

Tell us some more about the handling. How did the bike feel overall? Did it do particular things well or badly?

The handling is certainly one of the bikes pluses, descending on it was a charm.

Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's comfort? would you recommend any changes?

Prologo Scratch saddle is a great complement to the bike's handling. You could upgrade the standard Canondale cockpit parts over time but they do the job.

Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's stiffness? Would you recommend any changes?

The dimensions of the tubes and the geometry have been tailored to give stiffness.

Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's efficiency? Would you recommend any changes?

The complete Ultegra groupset, other than the BB30 FSA SLK cranks, is excellent. It is similar in performance to the more expensive Dura-Ace with only a marginal weight penalty.

Rate the bike for efficiency of power transfer:
 
10/10

BB30 BB and FSA SLK cranks feel excellent.

Rate the bike for acceleration:
 
8/10
Rate the bike for sprinting:
 
9/10
Rate the bike for high speed stability:
 
9/10
Rate the bike for cruising speed stability:
 
9/10
Rate the bike for low speed stability:
 
7/10
Rate the bike for flat cornering:
 
8/10
Rate the bike for cornering on descents:
 
9/10

A joy

Rate the bike for climbing:
 
8/10

The drivetrain

Rate the drivetrain for durability:
 
8/10
Rate the drivetrain for weight:
 
7/10
Rate the drivetrain for value:
 
9/10

Tell us some more about the drivetrain. Anything you particularly did or didn't like? Any components which didn't work well together?

Ultegra with FSA SLK cranks is a high performance combo.

Wheels and tyres

Rate the wheels and tyres for performance:
 
7/10
Rate the wheels and tyres for durability:
 
7/10

Seem to have good puncture protection.

Rate the wheels and tyres for weight:
 
6/10
Rate the wheels and tyres for comfort:
 
8/10
Rate the wheels and tyres for value:
 
9/10

Tell us some more about the wheels and tyres.Did they work well in the conditions you encountered? Would you change the wheels or tyres? If so, what for?

I had no punctures despite it being hedge-trimming season. Sealed bearings and bladed spokes on Mavic entry level wheels create a competent, good-value wheelset. The performance of the tyres is average although there's no great hurry to upgrade them.

Controls

Rate the controls for performance:
 
8/10

Standard Canondale kit

Rate the controls for durability:
 
8/10
Rate the controls for weight:
 
7/10
 
Rate the controls for comfort:
 
7/10
Rate the controls for value:
 
8/10

Tell us some more about the controls. Any particularly good or bad components? How would the controls work for larger or smaller riders?

Most people tend to get on well with Ultegra ergonomics, the large hoods creating a good platform for your hands.

Anything else you want to say about the componentry? Comment on any other components (good or bad)

FSA BB30 cranks are a nice addition to an already well-speccedd bike.

Your summary

Did you enjoy riding the bike? Yes

Would you consider buying the bike? Yes

Would you recommend the bike to a friend? Yes

Rate the bike overall for performance:
 
9/10
Rate the bike overall for value:
 
9/10

Anything further to say about the bike in conclusion?

An excellent bike for the price. If you are looking at bikes in this price range, you'd be mad not to consider the CAAD10 seriously.

Overall rating: 9/10

About the tester

Age: 23  Height: 184cm  Weight: 66kg

I usually ride: Orbea Onix (Carbon) - Summer, Orbea Asphalt (Alu) - Winter  My best bike is: Orbea Alma G10

I've been riding for: Under 5 years  I ride: Every day  I would class myself as: Semi pro

I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo cross, club rides, mtb,

 

16 user comments

Oldest firstNewest firstBest rated

Got to disagree about the welds I am afraid, I have a "made in the USA" CAAD 9 and the welds are much neater looking than those in your photo's. However that aside, my dale compares well to budget carbon (my other summer getting the miles in bike is a 2009 Boardman team carbon.) Love them both Smile

onward ever onward

bikecellar's picture

posted by bikecellar [224 posts]
16th December 2011 - 13:58

12 Likes

All those spacers under the stem! Is the tester kidding himself about what size he is?

posted by jamtartman [33 posts]
16th December 2011 - 14:26

12 Likes

Probably just wants to be a bit more upright - my stem is like that.

Last night I would have considered trading a very loud baby for a really nice bike.

posted by notfastenough [3198 posts]
16th December 2011 - 14:50

9 Likes

I am 1cm taller than him and ride a 58 CAAD10. And if anything, it needs a longer stem on it. Maybe I am a gorilla or something.

posted by jamtartman [33 posts]
16th December 2011 - 15:12

13 Likes

Mat, who's riding the bike in the pics, isn't John, who tested the bike. Mat is 190cm. Interestingly though, he does quite often ride a 56. He's all legs.

Dave Atkinson's picture

posted by Dave Atkinson [7385 posts]
16th December 2011 - 15:37

14 Likes

jamtartman wrote:
All those spacers under the stem! Is the tester kidding himself about what size he is?

John, who tested the bike had the stem/spacers round the other way when he rode it… he brought it back a couple of days ago, bike is sitting by my desk now.

Tony Farrelly's picture

posted by Tony Farrelly [4143 posts]
16th December 2011 - 16:40

11 Likes

I was just about to comment 'nice to see someone set up compact bars properly for a change' - but I gather from the above that the testers sorted that. See so many product photos with the bottom of the drops parallel to the ground which does nothing to support your hands evenly.

G-bitch's picture

posted by G-bitch [306 posts]
16th December 2011 - 18:46

16 Likes

Would be interested to know how it compared to the tester's normal ride Orbea Onix - I vacillated between these 2 bikes for ages and went for the Onix in the end. Very happy with it but there's a guy on my regular route on a CAAD10 and I do still get pangs... it looks so FAST.

posted by msw [126 posts]
16th December 2011 - 20:13

13 Likes

+1 on the bars set up.. many ''snappers'' like the old school set up where it was de rigeur to have drops lower straight section parallel with the road.. and a real good wrist twist when you had your hands on the hoods..

posted by PATMAC [21 posts]
16th December 2011 - 21:41

13 Likes

Hi,

I'm 186cm and tested this baby last month;
I could have ridden the 56 or 58cm.

I think he'd be fine with the 56cm as I nearly went for
this myself but my shoulders too upright so 58 (57.5TT)
suited me.

I doubt RoadCC want to start sawing the steerer when they
are using a demo bike! When other testers want their hands on it!

Great review as I've come back from carbon and wanted a
smoother Alu frame with less road buzz than other Alu frames.

Use the wheels for winter but shift for some nice light sportive wheels to knock off 500g

Or go on a diet yourself Wink

I like my bike but it needs a hidden 25cc motor Smile

Fish_n_Chips's picture

posted by Fish_n_Chips [325 posts]
17th December 2011 - 12:58

12 Likes

I saw the caad10 2012 in a bike shop and i loved it´s looks. The 105 equipped black model had an fsa-gossamer crankset on it that harmonizes very well with the rest of the black caad10. Has anybody said yet how much of a beauty it is?
I test-rode the bike and went for it. The changes on the original setup i made were elite wheels instead of the shimanos and an ultegra 11-28 cog-set instead of the 12-27 105 cog-set.
I also changed the prologo saddle for my selle italia and chose keo carbon pedals. With two black aluminum bottle cages the caad10 weighs about 8,2 kgs.
The only thing i still have to adapt ist he handlebar for the bike came with a 46cm handlebar that is to wide for me. This will be done in the first service. And then i´ll fuzz around with spacers and saddle position.
What i like about my new bike ist hat it is light and very responsive. It rides smoothley and safely. It´s fun to ride it and the ride is silent, less noisy than some other aluminum or carbon bikes that i test-rode.
In spite of the trin seat stays it´s still an aluminum frame and (especially due to the selle italia slr-xp?) i feel a lot more of the road than on my classic steel bike, more than i had expected.
The „wireless“105 does a great job and i am very happy with it. The only thing is that the levers feel a bit knobby – or did the assembly line just do a bad job? I´ll see, when the steerer is changed for a narrower one, maybe the local mechanic can do a better job.
The bike came with schwalbe luganos and i´m not convinced of their performance yet. I feel unsafe on wet surfaces, felt safer with other tires (tufo cs33 special, schwalbe 4 seasons).
The first two rides i didn´t feel easy in fast turns, now i´m getting to know the handling of the bike and my trust in it´s bend-behaviour starts to grow. Yet in very narrow, very slow turns there is a point where the bike „comes faster round the corner“ than i expect it to. Will get used to that too i presume.
And as far as the frame-size discussion here: that depends on your individual physiology and likes/disklikes. I’m 1,83 m average legs and body. I think the 56 frame is perfect for me. Anyone interested should go and test-ride the bike.
By the way: in austria you´ve only got shimano-options whereas in the u.s. they also offer a sram rival equipped model (in light blue or silver).
Now way, i love the beautiful paintjob of my black caad10. ALTHOUGH and this is my only complaint: the mechanic dropped an allen key from less than 10 inches and it fell on the top tube. Hit a tiny little bit of paint from the tube, enough to see the aluminum underneath. That´s a shame! What a bad varnish! – Hey, why didn´t they anodize it in the first place? It´s made from aluminum, isn´t it?

posted by quijote [1 posts]
21st December 2011 - 20:50

13 Likes

I've had one of these for a couple of months, and have now covered enough ground on it to have a view. I've had alloy, steel, ti and carbon bikes in the past, but keep coming back to alloy for the combination of lightness and road feedback.

In fact, I still love my Specialized Allez, my first proper road bike, and the only one that's survived various bike culls along the way. But it dates from 2003 – back when the Allez was the big S's only road bike, though that sounds incredible now. Boy it's a tough ride: it majors on stiffness to a point where any route of more than a couple of hours leaves me aching.

The CAAD10 seems – though I haven't yet ridden them back to back – to have a similar degree of responsiveness and feel to the Allez, but it's unquestionably more comfortable. This is a pretty amazing trick to have pulled off, but when you start to look at the work that's gone into the frame, it becomes clear just how developed the tube shapes are. (It also lacks the Allez's habit of waggling its head at high speed, which is quite a relief.)

The running gear is all good, with a special mention for the SLK carbon crankset. Not so keen on the shape of the shifter hoods, but that's a personal thing; most people like Ultegra.

One final thing to note: as in the review, the head tube's pretty short at 155mm, but it does come with an high 25mm cone, taking the whole assembly to 170mm – pretty standard, I think, for a road bike?

fourstringsisplenty's picture

posted by fourstringsisplenty [67 posts]
29th September 2012 - 7:03

21 Likes

I bought a CAAD10 105 last August and it's generally excellent - very quick, handles well, comfortable over long distances and it has been totally reliable apart from one thing - the BB30.

Put some power down on a hill climb and the BB clicking starts, from then on it just gets worse and worse until it's an embarrassing clanking on every turn of the cranks, even under light pressure. The first time it happened was only 200 miles from new and the shop replaced the BB. After a few hundred miles more, the new one is clanking even more than the previous one did, and it's heading back for repairs again.

Anyone else bought one and had similar problems? Any luck talking directly to Cannondale about it?

contrabland's picture

posted by contrabland [5 posts]
17th January 2013 - 0:07

18 Likes

i got my caad10 last week and it is doing exactly that clanking noise.
it stopped for a couple of days, but now it's back.
not as bad, but definitely back.
feel free to pm me if you want to stey in touch about this

posted by roly [43 posts]
29th January 2013 - 11:57

13 Likes

Hello & yes! I just had my bearings replaced today. I bought my Caad 10 (brand new) about three months ago. So far... the head tube needed re-lube & tighten (popping noises were coming from it), spacer placed in cranks (they were loose, laterally), and now the bearings in my bottom bracket (also BB30). I've been listening to my training partner moan about his bottom bracket for months now. He's on his THIRD set of bearings--same exact bike as mine. It kinda seems like this is a real problem, especially as I look around beyond my bike shop. I haven't even worn out my first rear armadillo yet! but somehow managed to wipe out my bearings?! I don't use a hose to clean my bike. I simply wipe it with a wet cloth. The shop tried to say it was because I was using pressurized water and blasting the grease out of there.

Hopefully Cannondale is getting enough complaints that they may issue a fix of some kind. My shop tells me there's something they can do for me, if I burn another set of bearings in under 4 months.

posted by Cbenson [1 posts]
2nd March 2013 - 9:04

1 Like

Has anyone any thoughts on whether this would make a good sportive bike? I have previously had a Specialized Roubaix Comp SL2 and an 'old style' Scott CR1 Pro, both of which I have found very comfortable over long distances. I am thinking of this alongside the Scott Solace 20 and Rose CGF3000. The Cervelo R3 is tempting but probably out of my price range

posted by laterrehaute [18 posts]
12th May 2014 - 10:15

4 Likes

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