Bikes like the Cannondale Quick Carbon 2 can be confusing, interesting and inspiring all at the same time. It's not a road bike, a hybrid or a mountain bike in the way those tags are usually used, but it incorporates some of the best aspects of all three. The fact that Cannondale UK's Quick range spans 11 bikes split into three distinct groupings would seem to suggest that Cannondale have bags of confidence in the basic idea, but could it be that £1,500 is pushing the boundaries a bit?
The Carbon 2 is the most expensive bike in the Quick range and the only one with a carbon frameset (Carbon G2 frame and fork) that’s being brought to the UK. If you like the idea of the complete bike set-up but don't really feel a need for carbon and hydraulic disc brakes then you could opt for an otherwise similarly specced aluminium framed Quick SL 1 at £999.99. Other less lavish models bearing more in common with other hybrids go all the way down to £449.99.
Cannondale's marketing spiel lists the Quick Carbon as a bike that “blurs the line between upright recreational comfort and thrilling road bike speed.” First impressions are that this is exactly what it does. The lightweight carbon frame boasts many of the design and performance features of Cannondale's purist road bikes, the gearing is certainly road bike, and the whole package weighs in at just under 23lb (10.5kg). The riser handlebar and hydraulic disc brakes are where it differs radically from other purist road bikes, with 700 x 32c tyres doubtless adding an extra touch of comfort without necessarily detracting from speed.
The frame is a beautifully clean-moulded affair with the sort of smooth curved lines that you instantly want to touch. The slimline 'SAVE' seatstays and long extension of seat post should add extra comfort at the back end, and the very generous standover clearance of the frame will undoubtedly please many of the riders the Quick series is aimed at. Utility purposes are served well by two sets of bottle bosses plus rack and mudguard eyelets. The rear disc calliper is tucked in between the seatstays and chainstays, well clear of rack or guard stays. The gear cables and disc hoses are routed all the way through the frame and fork, leaving clean lines throughout, but giving easy access for re-routing via a weatherproof hatch under the bottom bracket.
Several riders passing first opinions simply said they'd get some STI levers and a dropped bar and make it into a 'proper' road bike. But that's sort of missing the point. For a start, the Cannondale Helix 6 hydraulic brakes mean you'd either need to downgrade to cable discs or upgrade the complete drivetrain to Ultegra electronic plus hydraulics: in terms of price sensibilities you'd probably opt for the downgrade to cable discs. But, either way, we'll be reviewing the bike for what it is, rather than what it could be.
The 2 x 10 drivetrain matches Shimano Tiagra under-bar shifters operating a Tiagra front mech and a 105 rear, a 12-30 tooth cassette plus an FSA 50/34 crankset in an oversized (BB30) press-fit bottom bracket. The Element Xero C3 CX wheels used a twinned spoke (12 x 12) design that has a pretty good reputation in terms of stiffness and durability.
Attention to the finishing detail of the componentry looks excellent. The 24in low rise handlebar is probably about right for most urban riders, the grips are comfy well shaped bolt-on affairs and the Cannondale branded stem, seat post and saddle are all decent offerings. Simple wide, flat pedals are provided but we suspect a lot of riders would upgrade to their own pedal choice.
On the surface, this would seem to be a good option for someone unhindered by price constraints but unconvinced by, or ill at ease with, the drop handlebar approach. We know plenty of riders like that, some with back issues, others who simply prefer a relatively upright ride posture. We're looking forward to doing a few roughly timed laps of our favourite hilly road loops, 'roughly' because a bike with a riser MTB style handlebar is not really meant for flat backed Chris Froome-looking-at-stems hammering. Full test report coming soon.