With so much invested into manipulating aluminium tubes, manufacturers are compelled to keep pushing the envelope just that little bit further with every model year, as evidenced by the latest Cannondale CAAD 10. Its 6069 aluminium frame is smoothly welded and beautifully put together, with every inch of tubing subjected to some sort of manipulation process.
Besides the massively supersized head tube to down tube interface, the CAAD 9's curved seatstays have been straightened and made beefier; shot into either side of the seat tube with an unusually wide stance, they produce a stouter ride than previously… maybe a little more than desired, actually, despite the shock absorption claims of Cannondale's SAVE design concept. But nothing a wise choice of wheel, seatpost and saddle can't help.
Our high-spec test bike with Shimano Dura-Ace costs £2,499, but the Ultegra-equipped CAAD 10 comes in at £1,899, with the same frame, and Mavic Aksium wheels instead of the Shimano RS80 hoops here. Otherwise it's much the same, with a Fizik Arione saddle on a carbon seatpost, and an FSA SL-K Light carbon crank feeding power through a stout BB30 bottom bracket.
We flung the CAAD 10 headfirst into the first aggressive big group ride we could and, suffice to say, when you've got to reel in riders and force your way through to the front of the peloton, this is the bike to do it on. The Cannondale has excellent handling, with 'sweet spot' geometry for quick and nimble fun. Flicking through switchbacks, out-of-saddle efforts, or changing line midway through a bend were all made easy, with the bike working with you rather than against: like the best of dance partners.
Underneath the Shimano superkit, the CAAD 10 is up there with the best aluminium frames you can get, ready to hit the races, club rides, sportives, or whatever you can throw it at. While current market trends might lead certain camps to begin writing off metals as a future frame material, don't do so just yet. Aluminium, we're convinced, has still got legs.
This article was originally published in Cycling Plus magazine.