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 4on 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.
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"
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.
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.
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