a Road Racer
from Glassboro, NJ
Date Reviewed: December 4, 2002
Strengths: Headshok, takes the edge off some really rough courses. Handles like a champ.
Weaknesses: Headshok, there is a trade off for the nice ride, you're climbing and sprinting will suffer with the shok engaged. Also sizing issues. If you ride a 56cm on hte road, you need to get a 54cm. The headshok drastically changes the standover clearance.
As a beginning cyclocross racer, it's only my second year, and having a bad back. This bike meets many needs, it light enough to meet my racing needs and the headshok takes the edge of the aluminum frame, and it is a rigid frame, you can find out by locking out the head shok. Once I set it up to my liking, by swapping stem, Cannondale was nice enough to swap out the standard stem sent for the one I wanted, a +/- 10 degree rise. You'll need it negative to offset the headshok. And swapped out the 48 tooth big ring for a 46, I ain't the most powerful cyclist out there. Once set up the bike was great, handled great, accelerates well enough, if you lock out the fork, it sprints as well as all the rigid bikes out there.
Weaknesses: -stem choice
-could have speced a triple up front, as an option maybe.
-I don't like the colour of the stock tires.
-throw out the stock saddle
I love this bike. Use the cross tires to ride on recreational trails, fire roads, or other hardpack, and you'll feel more confident and fast than on anything else. The shock is effective, and lockout allows rock solid climbing. The components are good, and keep the price from the stratosphere on this beautiful frame. Not as fast as a road bike on the pavement, but I don't seriously race, so I won't miss the 20 second difference after a two hour ride, but I'll feel less beat up and I can do bunny hops when I feel inclined. Not good for technical racky and gnarly ATBing. Duh, it's a 700c wheel drop bar bike. For everything in between, it's the best bike in the world. And, the Cannondale attention detail makes it a beautiful bike.
Bike Setup: Time ATAC Alium pedals
Selle Italia Oktavia saddle
Soon to add seperate wheels (to swap road/cross
a Recreational Rider
from Fair Lawn, NJ
Date Reviewed: January 8, 2002
Strengths: 105 all round, sturdy, strong, fast, agile. Looks cool to boot!
Michellin sprint tires are amazing in mud and good in snow.
Plenty of room for larger tires, fenders, etc.
Weaknesses: Gearing is a little high. I may do a triple conversion, or some tweaking.
The saddle is nice, but anything over 40 miles was painful. I put my old faithful fuji jel seat on and couldn't be happier.
The stem had to be changed, but that is all in the fitting of the bike.
I beat on bikes. Up/down curbs, stairs, potholes, and on dirt trails. I wanted a road bike that I could tour, race, and commute on. I couldn't be happier with my decision.
I have put this bike into the side of a steep hill at some speed, and banged it down stairs. All that it ever needed in ~2000 abusive miles is two rear wheel spokes, and a few straightenings (normal for me). The ride is smooth, even on a rough surface, thanks to the headshock. The biggest benefit of this is realized at high speeds on bumpy roads, esp. in turns. It REALLY helps prevent the whole bike from bouncing out of control. Locking it out is an option, but the ride with road tires is brutal in this configuration. Anyone complaining about bouncing is either too heavy, or not pedaling smoothly. I am 6-0, 165 and don't have any bounce problems unless I am out of the saddle climbing.
It is truly a joy to be able to go down a hill, launch youself at speed over railroad tracks, and not worry that the bike will collapse under you. And on top of that, you just have to switch tires, and you have a capable mountain bike!
Since I was looking for a beefy road bike, I found my match
Similar Products Used: Fuji Ace, and several british brazed steel touring bikes.
Bike Setup: 4in stem in upright configuration, 23c kevlar tires (120psi), speedplay frog ST pedals, trek carrier
a Recreational Rider
from Toronto, ON, Canada
Date Reviewed: October 7, 2001
Strengths: Strong, balanced overall package (Shimano 105 level)
Very firm, easy, and forgiving ride
Weaknesses: Very short stock stem, so short that it is unrideable
Sizing Standover a little bit high
Narrow handle bar (42cm!)
Generic Seatpost that creaks loudly
Comes in at 23.5 lbs.
A little on the heavy side, it would have been ideal if it is around 20 lbs. So that it would be possible for serious rider to upgrade the bike for competitive road cycling.
Feels a little sluggish when going all out
In terms of stock bike, there is none out in the market that is a better bike both in quality and value. This bike has the best standard package out there, with full Shimano 105, except for the rear cassette which is Tiagra. As a beginner, it gives me a lot of room to toy around with the bike, slowly learning the tricks of taking care of a bike, upgrading etc. It doesn't have a pristine Ultegra set that I would not touch at all, and I don't have to suffer through low quality equipment either. The wheels are Mavic CXP 21 with generic Coda hubs. Mounted with a set of very good Michelin Cyclocross Sprint tires. I think it is great that Cannondale paid attention to the wheels and tires because a cyclocross bike with bad handling would be nothing. The tires are amazing! They have already saved me from an accident riding on rural roads.
Sizing is the most difficult issue. I am 5'10", 180 lbs with an average built and comfortably ride a 56 cm road frame, as in the Cannondale R1000. However, I can barely fit onto a 52cm cyclocross frame. (Standover at 81.7cm) That 4 cm difference has gone to the clearance from the ground, which is understandable given the purpose of the bike. If you are looking for a cross bike, be aware of the standover and top tube length rather than the seat-tube length. Staff at bike shop tends to just give you the generic answers and size you with the frame size # (i.e. 56 cm etc.). Be sure to try it and feel comfortable on it rather than letting tech-talking bike shop staff distract you.
I understand that cyclocrossers tend to ride more upright then roadracers, but the cockpit of this bike is simply too cramped. The bike came with a super short one-inch stem. What is Cannondale thinking? Or is it just a trick to milk another $70 cdn off the buyer? Even with the 52cm frame, I still have to use a 120 stem. Also, it came with a 42cm Deda Elementi 310 handlebar, way too narrow for a bike this size. Word on the street is that many people would have bought this bike if it wasn't for the high standover. I found this acceptable simply because I ride road a lot more than actual cyclocross racing where I might have to hop on-and-off the bike frequently and in danger of getting my balls crushed in the process. After a few months on this bike however, I stop noticing the standover and reach problem.
Bike Setup: Replaced stock stem with a 120
swapped seats for Selle Italia,
Time ATAC pedals
Thomson Elite Se
from Boise, Idaho USA
Date Reviewed: August 19, 2001
Strengths: Headshok, fast, fast, light, light, too much fun.
Weaknesses: After mtn cranks and cogs, road gearing is weird. Avid brakes seem downscale for such a cool frame. 2001 model only comes in black.
Initial impression: Wowiezowie. Indescribably fun to ride this machine. This bike makes me feel like a kid — and at 45+, that’s as important as any less subjective evaluation.
After years of slogging up and zipping down Boise’s endless groovy foothill trails on a Cannondale Headshok hardtail, this aging boomer was getting older and wiser. I have watched LifeFlight medevac more riders out of the hills each year so I am ready to level out and go further, faster. I knew I wanted some suspension (and that means Cannondale) but I wasn’t quite ready for ‘dale’s super slick $3k+ road machines. I don’t have the skills yet to appreciate such a bike and I had no idea if I’d grow into that investment. The XS800 is an interesting compromise providing a rapid 12 mile round trip commute and giving the appearance of a zippy road bike. The teal Michelins grab attention, too. The XS gives you a lightweight aluminum frame, 1 inch of front travel with a super beefy non-aero fork, high cyclocross clearance, and a Shimano 105 group except for the Avid brakes. I guess v-style sidepulls are not considered essential on a ‘cross bike and I can’t tell the difference anyway. Swinging over to road/cross configuration from many years of pounding up trails on a mountain bike transmission, the gearing on the XS is a _tough_ disappointment. With only a 39/52 x 12/25 selection, I REALLY miss my extended grannies! Climbing is a b***h. Well, it was a few weeks ago but I’m building new muscles to do the job and some new skills I didn’t know I’d need like learning to stand without swaying the bike all over the road. Can’t stand on dirt, though, the narrow Michelins cut out easily. I need one more gear! As a commuter, this thing totally rocks. Super fast on the flats, confident cornering. Flying in and out of our local version of “traffic” is a blast. The shock lets me handle potholes, grates, and the occasional curb with grace. Bunnyhopping speedbumps and curbs is easy and the shock means I’m not risking too much damage. I’ll absolutely need fenders when the weather turns ugly. I’ll switch back to my ‘dale mtn bike when the roads get snowy. At 24 lbs, it’s a cool 4 or 5 pounds lighter than my 1994 F-500 with all the upgrades. I love the Headshok, cannot imagine riding a road-style bike without a little bit of travel. The 2002 model is slightly cheaper but they’ve gone from the 105 brake/shifters/deraileurs down to Tiagra.
Would I buy another one? Probably not this bike. But I’d buy another Cannondale without even thinking about the question. In three or five years, I’ll be in the market for more speed and a touring horse so I’ll be trying the latest in ‘bent bikes. I hope Cannondale is making lowriders by then.
You can get all of the specs at www.cannondale.com/bikes/usa/model-1XS8.html
david bogie keeper of the FAQ: Home Espresso Machines