Cannondale are showing two striking new urban bikes with a twist here at Eurobike, the On bike is a concept machine that's made it into production the Flast is a concept that could well follow it. But aside from being black, expensive and being made by Cannondale they are very different urban machines. The On was shown as a concept but was one of those concepts that you would have bet was destined to remain a concept – a bike with no chainstays can colour your judgement in that way.
A year later though and here it is, built from aluminium, Cannondale assure us it passes all the neccesary stress tests and then some, so why doesn't it snap? The secret is in the the two-piece chaincase. This baby is machined from a solid billet of aluminium – just like once of Cannondales Hollowtech cranks (or indeed the latest generation of apple laptops) the upshot is that the chainstays are massively reinforced with what are in effectively another set of stays – the chaincase being a structural element of the bike keeping chainoil off your trousers is an important but secondary role.
We're guessing that the lack of stays will make for a plusher ride even on that rigid aluminium frame, but we'll find out soon because we've been promised a go. We'll get a weight then too, it was tied down when we first saw it – my best guess is that it'll be in the 11Kg range. Drivetrain comes courtesy of SRAM, one of their nine speed iMotion units, in this case with some input from Cannondale too. Braking comes courtesy of a set of front and rear discs (the rotors weren't on the bike when we saw it). Chainstays aren't the only standard features the On does without, the front fork is a mono blade, in this case a rigid aluminium affair with an integral Cannondale Headshok elastomer suspension unit to take the sting out of bumps and thumps.
Other nice touches are the chrome integrated seat collar, truly a thing of beauty and the fact that as much as possible of the control cabling is internally routed to enhance those clean and simple lines.. Being different, and minimalist, doesn't come cheap mind. The Euro price for the On is likely to be around 3999.99, let's call it 4000 shall we which does seem like an awful lot of money for an aluminium bike with no seat stays.
Less is more with the Flash Concept bike, the deal here is low weight, the Flash brushes the scales at a mere 6.78Kg, bizarrely I'm sure it got lighter between me seeing it hit the scales for the first time and the show doors opening – we're only talking 30g so maybe they found a bit of stray packing tape stuck on somewhere – easy to miss on an all black bike with a second helping of extra black.
While both the man from Cannondale and myself agreed that no-one actually needs a 6.78Kg urban bike there are plenty of people who might want one, and low weight isn't the only wrinkle the Flash has to offer. Electric shifting courtesy of Shimano Di2 is also part of the package – can you guess where the shifters and the control unit are? Okay, there in the grips, and it all works too. Very clever.
Obviously you're going to want suspension on your super-light urban mover and that comes too courtesy of the carbon Lefty monoblade fork. Cannondale have long had a thing about designing bikes without bits that everybody else views as crucial, and both the Flash and the On continue that noble tradition. The fork uses parts from the old System Six and Scalpel forks and is made up of an aluminium steerer and carbon fork legs. While it may or may not be the most comfortable perch in the world the all carbon saddle probably does have a bit of flex in it plus it drops some weight too.
Naturally the frame is carbon too. I need to check as to whether that is the only non-production part on the bike – because the other cool part about the Flash is that all of the b its that make it up are available now – so if it's a hit with the Eurobike crowd (and you) expect to see it in a bike shop next year. Indeed while it may not appear in a bike shop near you in exactly this form Cannondale are commited to bringing out new forms of urban bike and their concept program majors on stuff that is going to happen rather than designer flights of fancy – although judging by the On they are cutting their design teams a reasonable amount of slack.
Tony has been editing cycling magazines and websites since 1997 starting out as production editor and then deputy editor of Total Bike, acting editor of Total Mountain Bike and then seven years as editor of Cycling Plus. He launched his first cycling website - the Cycling Plus Forum at the turn of the century. In 2006 he left C+ to head up the launch team for Bike Radar which he edited until 2008, when he co-launched the multi-award winning road.cc - which he continues to edit today. His favourite ride is his ‘commute’ - which he does most days inc weekends and he’s been cycle-commuting since 1994. His favourite bikes are titanium and have disc brakes.