Now THAT Was a Bike - Cedric Gracia's 2004 Cannondale Gemini

Nov 1, 2018
by Daniel Sapp  


The freeride movement was still in full swing back in 2004, and it was catching on around the world. There was still a very strong Canadian contingent at the fourth Red Bull Rampage, but more and more international riders were showing up to compete for part of the $15,000 purse. The event was only a fraction of the size it is today, and the same goes for the size of the drops and jumps scattered about the course. There weren't really any designated "dig teams" either. Everyone – riders, photographers, and mechanics were out on the hill helping each other to create and figure out the best lines. Landings were much narrower, many only 3 to 4 feet wide, and the course had a much more raw, ungroomed nature. Cedric Gracia, the previous year's winner, was looking to repeat, but, due to a crash in practice, he wasn't able to compete in the finals.

The bike Gracia had for the event was a custom Cannondale Gemini. The bike looks fairly basic by today's standards (and compared to some of Cannondale's other DH creations), but there was a lot going on behind the scenes to make sure the bike could withstand the rigors of Rampage.

Team liaison Doug "Double D" Dalton was tasked with taking the feedback from the Volvo-Cannondale and then Siemens-Cannondale riders on the World Cup circuit and transferred it back to engineers and the rest of the development team in-house. As the information link between the teams and engineers, Double D says, "The most fun part of the job was building custom bikes for cool people like Cedric Gracia or Myles Rockwell" and a few of those special bikes still happen to be around if you know where to look.

'04 Cannondale Gemini Details

• Intended use: Red Bull Rampage
• Wheel size: 26"
• Hopey steering damper
• Fork/Travel: Manitou Dorado, 7", custom valving
• Shock/Travel: Manitou Swinger, around 7", custom valving
• Brakes: Shimano XT 4-piston
• Drivetrain: SRAM/FSA
• 63° head angle
• Weight: 50 lb

On Gracia's Red Bull Rampage bikes, there were a number of adaptations made. Every year for World Championships or other special events, Double D would try to paint the top riders a special bike - they would train all week on their old bike, and then he would pull everything off of it to build up a new, freshly painted, cool frame. Something that would build the stoke and be special for the event. This year, a Cannondale team was leading a major road stage race over in Europe and they were painting pink bikes for them to ride, so Double D had them send a frame through for Cedric's Rampage bike since he had won the year prior.

A Profile Racing front hub and Goodridge brake lines - nothing but the best that was available in terms of performance.

The rear shock and front fork both have heavy compression stacks in them. There would be different sets of suspension that could be swapped out as the terrain got burlier.

A Hopey steering damper was put on in case Cedric wanted to try a no-handed lander, a trick that had become common in the freestyle motocross world. The handlebars were narrow by today's standards, but the width could be adjusted with custom-made plastic plugs that were inserted into the ends.

For Rampage the bike was outfitted with 2.5" tires to provide more float in the softer dirt and to soak up the harsher landings. The wheels were the strongest that Double D could build. The tires were lined with motocross tubes, which increased the weight of the wheels by about 2.5 pounds...Supposedly that weight helped the bike to fly a lot straighter on longer jumps.

The head angle of the bike could be adjusted, and in this case Cedric had his bike set up with -3 cups to give it a head angle of about 63 degrees. The bike was as long and stretched out as they could get it.

As far as brake setup, this was one of the first bikes Double D built with a floating rear brake to eliminate brake jack. He says that they could never prove that there was brake jack on the computer or in testing, but for production, people saw this as a feature and they were excited to have it even if they didn't know what it was doing.

There were two different length swingarms for team riders that were made. This bike had the longer of the two so it would track better at higher speeds and handle better on bigger jumps.

This, and other bikes that the Cannondale team developed led to the production bikes that Cannondale sold. The Gemini's single-pivot swingarm was supported by the downtube, which had a tendency to flex a little on harsh bottom-outs. There were two different thicknesses of downtubes - one was used to get down weight and allow the bike to be more forgiving in high-speed corners, and the other was used for venues like Red Bull Rampage or Mont Sainte Anne, where they would run frames with a thicker tube to ensure the strongest head tube sheer strength possible.




126 Comments

  • + 229
 Still more modern than a current Orange.
  • + 46
 lolololol for sure, and straighter welds
  • - 24
flag zorba73 (Nov 1, 2018 at 8:52) (Below Threshold)
 @SnowshoeRider4Life: Orange welds are tits mate, What you on about?
  • + 74
 @zorba73: OrAnGe WeLdS aRe TiTs
  • + 30
 While i understand the sarcasm in the comment you still couldn't be more wrong. Oranges had modern geometry way before any other company thaught about low and slack. I remember their bb height to be the only tolerable option at the time when others were building 16 inch high bottom brackets. Heck the 223 was years ahead of all the other bikes. Even Cannondale's next frame the Judge rode like a bike from 1550, it was so high,steep and short.
Oh and they all cracked, just like Orange's do :-P
Cedric winning Rampage on that deathtrap, now that really makes him a superhero!
  • + 1
 Still as reliable as a modern cannondale.
  • + 4
 @Loki87: you did read the 63 degree head angle bit coupled with a longer swing arm in this article?
  • + 8
 @yzedf: Orange were running 62 with Peaty aboard back in 2003 as were many bikes, it seems mad that OE companies actually steeoened the HA for production bikes
  • + 4
 @sewer-rat: Kona did the same thing for Barel too.
  • + 1
 @SnowshoeRider4Life: absolutely did as did Iron Horse
  • + 1
 @SnowshoeRider4Life: made by a hairy bloke with tits
  • + 3
 The only orange that was ever ahead of it's time was the Orange blood. Longer, slacker and lower than most other bikes and less of the 'my dad made it look'
  • + 1
 @notphaedrus: yeah your right there, I have passed my blood on to my son and he loves it, by far the best looking orange bike made
  • + 1
 thought that exact same thing
  • + 91
 the dorado, the shiver and the monster t....back when forks were forks and bruce jenner was still a man
  • - 21
flag Session603 (Nov 1, 2018 at 10:24) (Below Threshold)
 HAAAAATE SPEEEEEECHHHHHH!
  • + 43
 Hate to break it to you, Bruce Jenner IS still a man....
  • + 25
 @drunknride: Cannondale Triggered.
  • + 1
 @drunknride: props sir. Good call
  • - 4
flag snl1200 (Nov 1, 2018 at 14:51) (Below Threshold)
 Don't know the individual- could not care less about celebrities or political pawns- not super concerned if this gets down voted or not- not mad- but also not a fan of associating big tough heavy forks (that are super inefficient by todays standards and not nearly as functional) with conceptions of masculinity (that also may be super inefficient by todays standards and not nearly as functional) or thoughts on some one else's gender or sex . My opinion. Cool beans. Love seeing these old bikes and remembering all the amazing emotions that came with biking through that era.
  • + 1
 @Session603: there is only FREE SPEACH.
  • + 5
 When the only thing anybody knew about the Kardashian name was that he was OJ's lawyer.
  • + 6
 @snl1200: no need to be concerned if your downvoted because let’s get real, this is pinkbike and nothing anyone says on here matters in the least bit, just a place for people to waste their time complaining to other people who also don’t care and are full of themselves
  • + 0
 Ha ha. Perfectly stated. @mkotowski1:
  • + 54
 Looks like a PINKBIKE!
  • + 18
 ...and NOTHING like a Session
  • + 43
 The Dorado, still one of the coolest looking forks around.
  • + 28
 Those 4 piston XT's are just as good as the new brakes they are making.
  • + 3
 You aren't wrong. I'm still using a set to this day and have M82020s on my Santa Cruz.
  • + 3
 True that, and braided lines stock, none of this upgrade business.
  • + 3
 @sethius: Those are aftermarket goodridge lines. They're still around today
  • + 2
 Still going strong on my last bike when I sold it last year. Really wished I'd kept those brakes to be honest.
  • + 1
 @drunknride: Well there you go! very set I had over the years always had them, hadnt stumbled across a set without them!
  • + 1
 Notice in the last picture Cedric is actually running Magura Louise brakes. Far superior in my opinion at least.
  • + 23
 Hey Pinkbike! You should do more of these retro-reviews! They are awesome!!
  • + 15
 Clear bashguard, inverted dual crowns, and powder metallic pink paint....damn this is the kind of stuff that got me into this sport in the first place haha. Love it.
  • + 15
 Ahh the good 'ole days when no one b*tched about weight. Full-send. com
  • + 19
 Oh,we bitched about the weight....and were delighted if we got it under 40lbs
  • + 6
 @scary1: Hell I had a Scream that weighed in at 57 lb. I was pumped because I knew I couldn't break that thing! Huck to flat was where it's at
  • + 2
 @scary1:
Oh yeah, cannondale owners certainly did bitch about weight, especially back then.
  • + 10
 "He says that they could never prove that there was brake jack on the computer or in testing, but for production, people saw this as a feature and they were excited to have it even if they didn't know what it was doing." - Like most of the folks that buy the newest of the new stuff.
  • + 11
 Next up should be Nicolas Vouilloz's VProcess, or just an article on Nicolas in general. 10 world cup wins and then retires to race Rally cars! Hands down still the best rider above anyone else.
  • + 5
 Not only that, he was World Champion racing rally cars too!
  • + 6
 @alfarac: I dunno why you were downvoted but Nicolas Vouilloz was indeed a world champion in the IRC series, yes WRC is a class above IRC but he was a rallye driver world champion nonetheless !

And until 2 or 3 years ago he was the reco driver or Sebastien Ogier -a 5 times WRC world champion-.

@localmotion: I second that, Vouilloz is hands down the rider that had loads of personal inputs on his bike setup, miles ahead of the competition and sometimes 10 years ahead of his era.

For me his most special bike was the one he won in Chateau-d'Ax with at the 97 worlds. And the way he rode his bike that day ... even Tomac looked like a clown that day and he was second!
  • + 2
 @freetrial: You said no when the article you paste the link of says yes -about the fact he was world champion in the IRC rallye series ...
  • - 3
 @Euskafreez: InterContinental Rallye is not the world championship. Wink
  • + 4
 @freetrial: You're wrong. Have a look here: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intercontinental_Rally_Challenge

IRC is to WRC what Moto2 is to MotoGP. If the IRC was taking place in Europe it was because racing there was cheaper. According to the FiA, IRC champions were called 'world' champion.
  • + 2
 Absolutely. Greatest racer of all time!
  • + 9
 Maybe next up Darren Berrecloth's pink Big Hit with the 24" rear wheel from one of the Collective films?
Or Honda's RN01 (if you can get close to Minnaar's one). Or Cam Cole's Lahar from 2006 (first gearbox bike to win a World Champs)
  • + 9
 Cannondale reminding us that they had CG so it’s not such a shocker when Ratboy announces his contract. Sick bike though.
  • + 6
 The geo on this is really no different from a modern DH bike. The computers could not feel brake jack on a single pivot suspension. Well I sure can. Durados are still on the Market and work great! Put on wider bars , modern tires and some pool noodles in the tires and you have a wiked DH bike. Cannondale was already experimenting with frame compliance. Modern marketing only mentions stiffness. Cannondale was way ahead of the curve.
  • + 9
 50lb ... Another time, another world.
  • + 3
 When the bike pulled you down the mountain.
  • + 5
 Wooooo! First time a bike I've owned has been on. Got one like this when I was 16/17 and used it to ride all mountain trails that I now ride on my trail bike! How times have changed...
  • + 2
 I put this bike on "layaway" when I was 21 and didn't end up getting it Frown Built one up from a frame a few years later
  • + 4
 that's sick! That was one where CG nearly died on too if i remember right... Crashed... didnt go to the hospital... started losing his sight in the pits...
  • + 1
 he got carted off with a busted up shoulder on the T-step
  • + 2
 We still have one of these Gemini's and are stable. Still a phenomenal performing machine to this day. Multiple suspension pickups for three different travels was definitely a cool thing. From Rampage to Urban Assault. Good old American made Cannondale. Will never see stuff like this again. When manufacturers used to make one bike to do everything.
  • + 2
 I think that was the year Cedric came to Moab and won the Moab Rim downhill. He apparently went through three sets of soft condition Minions in only three practice runs! That's less than 30 minutes of riding for him. That bike was plagued with swingarm failures. They told me I broke the first one and I'm not sure where the second and third ones I broke ranked. Still, it fit. As a really tall rider I have appreciated Cannondale's jumbo sizing heritage! Except for the lefty! That thing is always so dropped.
  • + 1
 Yeah, Cedric beat us while manualing 20% of track! Think Bernie Frederick was second and the only close to Cedric.
  • + 3
 Where did they find the bike, under a tarp behind an old school bus in Function Junction? There is rust on almost every bolt, the rotors and the chain.
  • + 3
 Propping up woodwork on Anal Intruder...
  • + 5
 Love these old bike articles. MORE!
  • + 3
 Anyone got a Cannondale Gracia? Released on the Tuesday, CG went to Commencal on the Wednesday. But I'm pretty sure Cedric can do no wrong. The French 90s Brendog.
  • + 1
 Was that the bike that became the 'Perp'?
  • + 2
 @timrippeth: No, the Judge. Wonder if this was a nod to the legal wrangling over his contract.
  • + 0
 Cannondale gemini should be straight up against the new Scott ransom. Crazy light build, utilize some fox live valving as cannondale would and di2 xt. Make it cannondalesque, always been a different brand but it's worked minus the last few years in the longer travel work..
  • + 2
 awful idea. fox live valving and di2 for downhill?
  • + 1
 @santacruz-ing: Who says it's for downhill, ransom is by no means a dh bike. Many of these Geminis got turned into trail bikes.
  • + 4
 That super old school Profile Mini hub though (heart eyes)
  • + 3
 I am actually surprised at the weight. I had always figured it would be a lot lighter than that.
  • + 1
 Me too. Can't quite see where they're stashing an extra 7-8lbs ballast... I had 2 Geminis in this era, and they clocked in low 40s - one with a 66, one with a Boxxer, each with 1st gen Saint cranks, Shimano hubs.
  • + 2
 Add a dropperpost, change the Manitou for a Fox 34, the rear shock for an air sprung aaaaand the tir... Wheels!! 26 to 27.5... And you get a modern enduro bike!!
  • + 1
 given the wind issues at rampage, i was interested to read that the heavier wheelset helped the bike fly straighter. but a heavier bike is probly harder to throw around and do tricks on. everything evolves..
  • + 0
 I call bs on 2.5lbs in weight due to motocross tubes! Whole there not 2.5lbs, and they definitely don’t weigh that cut to fit in a bicycle wheel...wondering how much more weirdness is created to make it seem more creative and interesting than it really was?!? Hype?! Who knows??
  • + 5
 Cedric was "THE MAN" Smile
  • + 1
 Jimmy Le Van is forever the man: Watch him clear the Austin church gap. And watch others fail. I think John Barker was a casualty. Or look up pics of Jimmy's gaps.
  • + 0
 Hindsight always 20-20..... Well it should be but it isn't.All of the neg comments on something as cool as a this bike from all those years ago when it did its job.... Where is the bar and the negative Muppets can pick up the bill.
  • + 3
 This is stink bike where readers would bich about getting free money.
  • + 3
 Those welds are beautiful!
  • + 1
 I can't...quite...make out what that thing says connected to his stem..."Hopey Bicycle Steering Damper"...or is it "Knard Destoyer 2000"....cant, quite, tell....
  • + 3
 Cutting edge "Dong Smash Technology" (DST)
  • + 3
 Lets get some coverage of a NORCO VPS from early North Shore days.
  • + 0
 Now cannondale should give us a crazy little Gemini instead of this overweight trigger and Jekyll shit. You were the king of alloys. Make it so, not the kings of cracking carbon.
  • + 2
 Keep these features coming PB! A trip down memory lane for us "seasoned" riders.
  • + 2
 So they tried a 63° head angle in 2004? How come it didn't cross over into DH racing for roughly another 7 years?
  • + 1
 It was a 66 with a -3 headset making it 63.
  • + 3
 Many racers had custom frames with 63° head angles back then. Sam Hill's Sunday was one of them.
  • + 1
 @ka-brap: Good to know, custom frames for racers are actually the only explanation that makes sense to me, because I can't imagine that companies back then didn't just make test bikes with extreme angles to see where the downhill performance sweet spot was.
  • + 2
 That's just one frame dimension here... keep in mind the Gemini BB height was quite high and the TT was pretty conservative.
  • + 2
 @ka-brap: Yeah slacksets were already around back then. But many DH athletes also ran a custom link in the rear triangle to adjust the geometry. I don't think they went this far to actually modify the front triangle, but I could be wrong.

Funny to think of indeed. My 120mm travel hardtail has a 63deg headangle Wink .

@Pedro404 : Well the train of thought was just a bit different. Nowadays people go "I want the same geometry (insert WC DH athlete name) when I buy their bike" because they think it would be best. Back a decade ago companies definitely tuned the bikes exactly to the WC athletes requirements but they just toned it down a bit to give it the same feel at the pace that their customers would ride it at. When I say a decade ago I mean I recall the Athertons definitely had Commencal make them a very long and slack bike. Their team of engineers happen to be bad ass riders too but obviously not at the Atherton level (who was, at the time?). So they toned it down slightly to make it equally fun for the pace they were going at and what probably the best of their customers would be going at too. But people aren't having that anymore. They want the same geometry, even if they're only going half the speed.
  • + 1
 Had that frame. Cracked right above the floating brake mount on the seat tube Frown
  • + 1
 And this is why MTB is finally popular now... the bikes of today don't look completely Frankenstein fugly anymore.
  • + 2
 Damn you could really case some shit with that clearance!
  • + 1
 And he did a backflip on it. Geez...i feel old already...
  • + 1
 That chain could use some lube...
  • + 2
 HUCK YEAH!!!
  • + 2
 Pure Steeze.
  • + 1
 A bike for strictly "Rampage Business"
  • + 1
 Red wine has taken its toll on the chain.
  • + 1
 Have still got One! Hanging on my wall. Same frame, forks, shock!
  • + 2
 #26wasntdead
  • + 1
 26 4eva!
  • + 1
 Wow! This is a classic !!!!
  • + 1
 I stil got Gemini 900, bb high as Everest, but nice bike from that era.
  • + 1
 Beautiful. Brings a tear to my eye...
  • + 1
 finally, a bike from the past that I actually remember drooling over
  • + 2
 That BB clearance tho!
  • + 1
 @danielsapp Those are 32 hole rims...not 36
  • + 1
 Class! Smile
  • + 1
 Proper sick!
  • + 1
 I loved those brakes.
  • + 1
 50 lbs......
  • + 0
 So what ???? I rather ride that bishe than modern crap
  • + 1
 handmade in usa
  • + 1
 More of this, please!
  • + 1
 Crackenfail
  • - 1
 I finally managed to get a comment deleted! AWESOME
  • + 2
 Fake news! They're hiding the truth. I saw it even without having to put on my tin foil hat.
  • - 1
 Randy's first bike
Below threshold threads are hidden

Post a Comment



Copyright © 2000 - 2019. Pinkbike.com. All rights reserved.
dv56 0.082480
Mobile Version of Website