Bikes of the Bunch: Cannondale CAAD5, the anti-aero American hero

Who doesn't love a modern retro CAAD?

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In this edition of Bikes of the Bunch, London-based Jonathan Snell shares his recently built Cannondale CAAD5. This one-off build merges modern parts with a timeless aesthetic.

Seeing the way that the industry is going (disc brakes, electronic shifting, carbon everything) and getting frustrated at the technology on my modern road bike developing faults, I started yearning for something from simpler times. A fair bit of research led to this, a bike I’ve dubbed the Anti-Aero American Hero. 

The frame is a 2001 Cannondale CAAD5 (handmade in the USA) that I acquired from an avid Cannondale collector. I had been watching CAAD5 frames on eBay for years and years but they were always too small, too big, too scratched, or not in the UK. This one came along out of the blue and was just down the road, was the right size and was also the much-coveted black sparkle with the chrome logos. Swoon.

So obviously I hit ‘buy it now’ immediately and then waited anxiously to hear back from the seller to organise picking it up. Would it be as nice as it looked in the pictures? Would it actually be the right size? Would I be able to find parts to fit the standards of the time?

My nerves were unfounded. Arriving at the pickup address given to me, I could see through the glass in the front door a Black Inc.-edition Synapse and an original Six13 with the carbon tubes bonded to the aluminium junctions, both with Enve wheels and finishing kit. I knew I was in safe hands! The seller was a lovely man who had been collecting Cannondales for years and had a whole bike room devoted to his collection. We spent a good half hour discussing his bikes.

Upon inspecting the frame, it was immediately apparent that my initial intention of turning this bike into a winter beater using parts bin components was going out the window. It was immaculate. It had fewer scratches than my two-year-old crit bike. The paint on the rear triangle had no signs of the usual bubbling that afflicted CAADs of this era. Seeds of expensive shiny bits were sown.

The frame begged for silver and chrome parts to match.

Creating a theme

As the frame had chrome logos, I started looking into polished or silver components to match. This then became USA-made polished components to honour the frame. By today’s standards, such components are niche upon niche in a world of carbon finishing kit and mass production. I also decided this bike would be the antithesis of the modern aero bike. Rim brakes, no carbon (except for the fork, from a CAAD8 apparently,) mechanical shifting, no aero tube shaping. Lovely. 

My favourite components on the bike are the Phil Wood hubs and the White Industries crankset. I used to ride track bikes around the streets of London and although I’ve sold those bikes, I didn’t want to forget about them completely. Phil Wood hubs were the absolute pinnacle of track bike bling, so the opportunity to use them here seemed too good to miss. They also have a beautiful classic aesthetic that’s very different to most modern hubs. The same can be said for the crankset – it just goes so well with the rest of the build.

Polished Phil Wood components match other elements of the build. Unfortunately, matching Phil Wood QR skewers have been out of stock.

The bike was put together by my friend Tris who works at the Pinarello store on Regent’s Street and the wheels were built by my local wheel builder, Stayer Cycles. Stayer Cycles is an awesome company doing great things for cycling – I highly recommend checking them out.

It rides absolutely beautifully, so smooth and with a lovely ping when you get out of the saddle that only metal frames can provide. Bike geometry has changed quite considerably in the 20 years since this frame was built, which in conjunction with my compulsive need to slam stems, means that it is certainly not a long-distance bike, but that’s not what it was built for.

It makes me smile every time I look at it and every ride brings that feeling of just the simple joy of riding a bike – nowhere to be, no training numbers to hit, just pure escapism. 


– Frame: Cannondale CAAD5
– Headset: Chris King Dropset 2
– Wheelset: Phil Wood Road Pro Hubs, Easton R90SL rims, Sapim CX-Ray spokes
– Shifting: SRAM Force 22
– Crankset: White Industries R30, 52-36 chainrings
– Bottom Bracket: White Industries English threaded
– Brake calipers: SRAM Force 22
– Handlebar: Ritchey Classic EvoCurve
– Stem: Ritchey Classic
– Seatpost: Thomson Elite, straight
– Seat Clamp: Phil Wood
– Bar Tape: Mash SF Contour Tape, Black and silver
– Tyres: Ritchey UCS Race Slick Tanwalls
– Saddle: Fabric Scoop Elite
– QR skewers: Hope (looking to get Phil Wood when back in stock)
– Pedals: Shimano Ultegra
– Bottle Cages: Arundel Stainless
– Computer mount: JRC Components
– Extras: Chubby Bobcat Sticker (Team Dream Team)


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