Cannondale is one of those brands whose commitment, development and innovation have created today’s bicycle market and left their mark on it forever.
Let’s start from the beginning:
The first company headquarters was located on the grounds of the railway station in the city of Wilton. It was there, at the Cannon RR intersection in lower Connecticut, where the company had been in operation for two and a half weeks, but still with no phone plugged in, a Pete Meyers employee was sent to a phone booth to place an order for an office phone. When asked who to assign a phone number and what they want to be called in the phone book, Peter thought about it, looked at the rusty cannon marked “DALE” and the back of the old train station. “Cannondale Corporation,” he replied.
Beginnings – ’70 Years
Joe Montgomery commences Cannondale’s operations in the railroad station area. The company’s first product is the Bugger, the world’s first bicycle trailer. The bugger is a wheeled backpack that drives at an angle and brings all its weight directly to the road with its own tires. Thanks to this, the bike itself is not additionally loaded.
Following the 1972 commercial brochure:
Bugger has been carefully designed and tested to bring you a whole new world of enjoyment and convenience. As a shopping cart, golf cart, camping backpack or picnic cart, by bike or on foot, its uses are endless.
Photo from official Cannondale materials Already in 1976, the flagship product of Cannondale – Bugger found millions of customers around the world who appreciated its innovative design as well as high-quality workmanship.
In 1977, the Pennsylvania Cannondale Plant opens in a refurbished truck terminal. Total number of people employed: seven.
The beginning of the ’80
“Our years of extensive research have led to several innovative patents that not only improve the functionality of the backpack but also provide a margin of safety for both the rider and the load.” – description from the 1980 Cannondale catalog.
In 1981, the portfolio of products signed with the Cannondale Corporation logo was expanded with, among others, handmade gloves and innovative water bottles. The following year, the first collection of cycling clothing made its debut.
Finally, it’s 1983 and the debut of the first Cannondale bike, the ST500.
Cannondale ST500, Photo from Cannondale catalog from 1984
Its TIG welded frame with large aluminum tubes revolutionizes alternative frame materials. TIG welding is a sophisticated process that ensures a clean, strong aluminum connection.
To restore the strength lost during welding, the aluminum alloy frames were heat treated at high temperature, cooled rapidly in a quench bath.
A need for a high performance sports / touring bike has been recognized in Cannondale. With the launch of the ST500, this need was met, creating a bicycle that represents Canonndale’s many years of experience as leaders in the bicycle industry.
1984 marked Cannondale’s entry into the mountain bike market. The first offer was definitely unique. The SM model was distinguished by several elements, incl. oversized aluminum, a 13-inch bottom bracket and a 24-inch rear wheel. The SM-500 was equipped with a Shimano Deore XT drivetrain with a Sugino Aero Tour crank. There were also a few non-standard solutions (to put it simply – a quirk), incl. BMX seatpost, BMX rear brake and cool looking European sprung seat. The 24 “rear wheel and BMX brake may have been a concession to the difficulty of working with aluminum tubes. The cantilever brake mounts may have been more difficult to attach to the aluminum frame and hence it was difficult to manipulate the outriggers to fit a full size rear wheel. on the left and was used from 1983 to 1989.
Cannondale SM500, Photo from Cannondale catalog from 1984
1990 Cannondale logo
The entry into the last decade of the twentieth century brought, in addition to the new logo, changes in all models of mountain bikes. From 1990, they had a cantilever removable hook at the rear, 16.9-inch forks and 26-inch double wheels on all models.
In all marketing materials, the use of only aluminum frames was particularly emphasized, which still distinguished the brand from the competition.
Another breakthrough date in the history of Cannondale is 1991 and the appearance of the first full house on offer. The Delta double suspension model is built with Elevated Suspension Technology (EST). As always, difficulties arise when a solution is pioneering. However, similar to the rear wheel size and BMX components before, the Cannondale coped with the difficulty of mounting the brakes. He did so well that he released his own solution called Force 40, which according to The manufacturer itself was 40% more effective than the canti available on the market so far.
Delta Super V2000 model, photo from the manufacturer’s catalog 1993
By solving the problem of the brakes, the designers, supported by the Owner, went a step further and in the following year designed the front shock absorber, which is known on the market as Headshok.
The result of successful design solutions was the creation of a new brand Cannondale Original Design Appliacaion – CODA. The portfolio included numerous solutions used so far in MTB bikes produced by the American manufacturer. The most important thing, however, was the launch of the Super V frame, with 3 inches of travel and a key element in the development of the Cannondale mountain bike series.
The following year, a new product was added to the offer in the form of a CODA Magic CNC-machined connecting rod. This resulted in exceptional weight results.
Another decision that turned out to be a shot in the “10” is the withdrawal of the Delta line from sale and the introduction of Delta V hardtails with the aforementioned Headshock.
The above decision had a sharp impact on the expansion of the distribution network and ultimately sales, which made Cannondale one of the leaders in the bicycle industry.
When the products were already a brand for themselves, the marketing department joined the game, creating the professional Team Volvo-Cannondale. Over the years, he has won numerous medals, incl. World Cup or Olympic Games.
Team Volvo- Cannondale, material from the Cannondale 1995 catalog
1995 was not only a year of numerous triumphs for the factory Team’s or the continuation of the Super V frame’s success. Cannondale designers would not have been themselves if they had not created another novelty that was ahead of their time – the Super V 2000 model presented this year was equipped with a carbon swingarm. And since it is carbon, it translated into benefits such as low weight and stiffness.
Following the blow and using the wide dealer base, the model portfolio was expanded to include trial, track and cross-country frames. Thus, the CODA brand was developing, which successively appeared on a wider and wider range of products that were used in Cannondale bikes. If we add the clothing, backpacks and helmets department to this, we will get a comprehensive offer for the bicycle market from one manufacturer.
In the meantime (but we are still in the years 95-96!), The collection of successes of the rushing brand has been added to, among others silver medal at the Olympics in Atlanta, cooperation with the road Team Saeco, or the noteworthy appearance of Spinergy wheels with composite arms in the CODA offer.
The year 1997 came, which of course prolonged the years of extraordinary development and wonder of the world – the unique Super V Raven model equipped with wheels from Spinergy saw the light of day. The all-carbon housing (the skeleton of the frame remained aluminum) clearly indicated the direction of the future.
At the same time, the daughter’s brands, based on the success of Cannondale, began to play the role of the previously unchallenged leaders of individual segments. And so Headshok competed bravely with Rock Shock, and CODA did not stand out even for the dominator from Shimano.
The fact that the company’s logo turned out to be a strong brand and how much it became aware of it shows the creation of clothing not only dedicated to cyclists, but also lifestyle lines, which achieved very satisfactory sales results.
If the year of the next major premieres, it would be the millennium.
The year 2000 should be divided into two sectors:
The motorcycle sector … yes, no error here – Cannondale created the MX department and so the first enduro with the logo of the hero of this article appeared.
Coming back to bicycles
In the same 2000, there was a novelty for which Cannon is known to this day – Headshok Lefty. So a front shock absorber with only one arm. As the manufacturer himself put it – it is a product with only advantages – low weight and great stiffness.
The year 2000, although the company entered it with incredible momentum, was the beginning of huge problems. Entering the motorcycle market, and later, even worse, quad bikes, for which Cannon was not fully financially prepared, brought the company to the brink of bankruptcy.
At the same time, due to the distraction of its attention, the brand lost the sense of the market, slowed down the development of bicycles to eventually get into huge trouble. The great Team Volvo-Cannondale and the CODA brand were liquidated.
In 2008, Cannon joined the Dorel Industries consortium, which had already acquired a portfolio of several bicycle companies, including GT, Mongoose or Schwinn). At the same time, the shareholder of the brand was also none other than the benefactor LeBron James.
LeBron James on his Cannondale Custom Lefty, source: MarketWatch
This was not the end of the new arrival in Cannondale – Dorel Industries closed the Bedford plant and moved production to Taiwan in 2010.
However, what is important, the new majority owner focused on what Cannon knows best, i.e. the production of bicycles. At the same time, he strongly supported and developed the R&D and engineering departments, which in turn put Cannondale on a new, possibly the best development path in the company’s history.
Being part of Dorel Sports, Cannondale has undoubtedly changed considerably but still has an appetite for thinking outside the box.
Cannondale’s sales are almost equally split between road and mountain models, said Murray Washburn, Cannondale’s Product Marketing Director. The company jumped into the cycling boom that had accelerated during the pandemic, including electric models under the Neo banner such as the Adventure Neo.
Source: Bike Europe
“The impact of e-bikes on the overall bicycle market cannot be overstated,” said Washburn. “It attracts new people to cycling who would normally not think of cycling, whether it is for transport or recreation. This makes the driving experience and the non-use of the car much easier, making mountain and road biking more accessible to people. ”
“The industry has grown and so has Cannondale,” he added. “We don’t focus on the wild and eye-catching things of the past. Our focus is on things that will really change the way people ride, making bikes easier to use and service. ”
What’s up with the creator of Cannondale?
Joe Montgomery, now 81, lives in Florida where he runs a software company, his son said. The Cannondale founder “looks at the company in the same way a retired baseball coach would follow an old protégé from the leagues.”