CANNONDALE CAAD9, £999, www.cannondale.com
With a frame that weighs just 1.25kg and impressive, solid handling, the CAAD9 proves that aluminium road bikes still offer an attractive option at the £1k price point. The CAAD frameset has a distinguished history — the first model was launched in 1983 — and when you get in the saddle you quickly appreciate the smooth, grounded feel of this slim-line chassis.
Around town, we found the steering accurate and responsive without being twitchy, ideal for inching between cars and avoiding wing mirror dinks. Almost as impressive for an aluminium bike, albeit with a Cannondale Ultracarbon fork, was the way the CAAD9 ironed out bumps — not as well 'damped' as other carbon choices here, but certainly in the same league.
The CAAD9 finds the right emphasis between frame and components. Like most in its class, gearing’s courtesy of a 9-speed Shimano Tiagra transmission, with either a compact or triple chainset available for the same price. Cannondale also offers a version with 105 or Ultegra, and this isn’t a bike you’ll have any qualms about upgrading. Cannondale has also stuck to Shimano for the wheelset, wrapping them in Schwalbe’s performance Lugano 23mm tyres.
The CAAD9 proved something of a revelation, maybe just the bike that could win carbon converts back to aluminium.