No matter what you think of Cannondale, there aren't many other companies that can match the US brand if you're talking about wild designs and out of the box thinking, for better or worse. The most recent example is the single crown, single-sided Lefty Ocho fork
(er, strut?) but there's been plenty of others; the original dual-crown Lefty first showed up back in the early 2000s, and then there was the Fulcrum dual-link downhill bike
that had five 'rings and too much chain. Go back a little further and you'll spot some real craziness, like the rollerblade concept time trial creation, Aaron Chase's "soft-tail" that used a Lefty for a toptube
, and the V4000 Magic Motorcycle AKA Pong bike
But who could forget Gracia and Chausson's two-shock Gemini that let the rear axle move in a "travel envelope.'' That thing was wild, and their latest twin-shock creation is equally as out-there.
The upper shock is said to look after the spring rate, while the lower shock controls damping independently. It sounds like the bike can be ridden with one or two shocks fitted, depend on what Cannondale's racers are looking for.
The 2019 World Cup downhill season is kicking off this weekend in Maribor, Slovenia, a throwback venue that's always been a favorite of the racers, and Cannondale's Matt Simmonds will be aboard the yet-to-be-named prototype that Pinkbike photograph Ross Bell managed to photograph.
It uses a high main pivot combo'd with an idler pulley, two shocks (the other one is hidden inside the downtube), and a slotted rearward shock mount with a bolt-on front mount that looks like it provides an immense amount of adjustability.
Cannondale is no stranger to using multiple shocks. The old three-shock prototype on the left uses two small shocks and a compact linkage to let the axle move in a zone rather than a set path. The older Gemini prototype on the right employs two shocks for the same purpose. Kestral, Scott, and 2-Stage are just some of the other brands that have used two shocks (for varying reasons) in the past.
First up, let's look at what's going on with those two shocks, which is quite different than Cannondale's last two-shock system. While that old Gemini employed multiple shocks to deal with different kinds of impacts, it sounds like the idea with the new prototype is to separate damping and spring duties as needed. Not only that, the bike might be able to be ridden with a single shock in use, with the team mechanics bolting on the second shock when it makes sense.
Best I can tell, there's a single rocker arm that does two jobs; it compresses the top-mounted shock (pictured here with an orange coil spring), but it also compresses the second shock that's hidden inside the downtube at the same time. When both shocks are fitted, it looks like the upper handles spring-rate duties while the lower is there for damping.
There's also a high main pivot that's combined with an idler pulley.
''So we'll be running a damper with a specific leverage ratio down below where you were running a single shock yesterday,
'' Josh Hursh, Cannondale Frame Design Engineer, explained to a team rider in a video they released a few days ago. ''And then we have several positions up top for spring progression for you to try, with that same damper position down below,
'' he went on to say. ''The idea of this is that we don't have to tune the damper to handle crazy leverage curves and really aggressive leverage progression. We can tune the damper to be pretty linear, so it behaves like a linear damper, and we can toy with the spring independently without having to mess with your damper.
It's also worth noting that, at least in these photos, the upper shock appears to be a dummy unit that's only there for spring rate duties, but who knows what kind of tuning options are possible between the two shocks and damper setups. I don't know about you guys, but I can't wait to read comments on this one from the armchair engineers.
Cannondale has invested in molds for the new carbon prototype, but they aren't ready to release any information yet.
Is your bike even fast if it doesn't have a high main pivot and idler pulley? Of course not, and it's also not much of a surprise to see one on the new Cannondale downhill bike as Luis Arraiz is one of the main minds behind it. Never heard of him? Arraiz was responsible for the much-loved but rare K9 Industries bike
that also sported a high pivot and idler pulley combo, along with the new GT Fury and its high pivot and idler pulley system
. And speaking of that Fury, GT and Cannondale are owned by the same outfit, Dorel Sports, so it wouldn't have been a surprise to see a Fury-ish bike with Cannondale logos all over it, but they've obviously decided to take a completely different route.
Travel? It probably has a lot. Wheel size? I bet it does both. Angles? Slack and low, of course. Cannondale isn't ready to release any numbers yet, despite my constant pestering, but the carbon bike is likely sporting all the contemporary angles that a modern downhill rig should have. There's no word on availability, either, with Cannondale not even hinting as to when - or if - we'd see the new bike be ready for people not on their team.