BIKING IN THE AUSTRALIAN OUTBACK
BIKE MINI REVIEW: CANNONDALE TRAIL WOMEN S 3 [MSRP $1,000]
Originally posted on Muddbunnies.com
First Impression & specs In November this year I returned to Australia for 10 days to visit my family, while I was there I decided to get my hands on a bike and explore the local trail network, after riding the Shore, and BC in general for the last 5 years I was definitely keen and interested to see what was on offer in my hometown of Broken Hill. When I picked the bike up from the local bike store the first thing I noticed was the incredibly narrow handlebars, now keep in mind I am not a tall girl (5'4" on a good day) The bike itself though looked slick, especially for the price. For a $1,000 I was happy to see it came with a set of Hydraulic disk brakes along with a Shimano Alivio spec d drive train. The majority of the remaining components on the bike are Cannondale branded, the FPD platform pedals the SL3 comes with never made it onto the bike as I had brought along my own pair of SPD s which were installed.
The SL 3 also comes spec d with a set of Schwalbe Rapid Robs; they looked like the perfect sort of tyre to pedal around in the Australian desert! Lastly I came to the fork, a RST Deuce with 100mm of travel; it has a lockout as well as a rebound adjust. I made sure to pick up a wider handlebar, a couple of spare tubes and some directions along with the bike then I was off to explore the trails and test out my new ride! Specs Frame: Trail SL, Optimized 6061 alloy, SAVE, 1.5" head tube Fork: RST Deuce Coil, 100mm, coil/elastomer, lockout, rebound, 1.5" Tyres: Schwalbe Rapid Rob, 2.1"
Riding I should probably now point out that my usual ride is a carbon 29er with XT/XTR spec. After 20 minutes of bike setup I was ready to explore what the locals call the Golf course trails, and what a perfect playground to test out a new bike. The area was a combination of smooth flowy single track with some surprisingly technical climbs and somewhat technical descents. My first ride started with a short rocky descent and the first thing I noticed was the fork. I felt like I had a pogo stick on the front of my bike, I adjusted the rebound and continued my ride. The terrain quickly changed into a climb, I found the bike to be like a little mountain goat, and I found the bike nimble and responsive and easy to manoeuvre around some tight techy corners.
The remainder of my 3 hour break in ride consisted of what was a fun and undulating trail network. Overall I was happy with the bike, I found that the gears shifted smoothly and relatively quietly, that the tyres were well suited for the environment and that the bike was nimble and responsive on both the ups and the downs. The brakes were a pleasant surprise; they were definitely an unknown for me so I am happy to report that they had good stopping power on the terrain I was riding.
Though I played with it throughout the ride, the fork however, was a constant concern for me on the downhill; I would either blow through all the travel or feel like I was riding with a pogo stick on the front of my bike. I spent the next 6 days riding the bike, over a number of tracks and trails in the area, including a 40+ km epic in the red desert.
Conclusion I had a lot of fun on this bike, and think it would make a great entry level hard tail bike. With an upgrade to slightly more confidence inspiring fork I would even be game enough to ride this bike on the Shore. I enjoyed the upright geometry of the seat tube which came in at 75% especially on the longer rides. The brakes never let me down and the drive train remained crisp and smooth though out my trip. Not a bad little bike with a MSRP of $1,000