Cannondale Saeco Team CAAD TT Bike
Every now and then we find an exceptionally rare classic bicycle for our collection. And this custom “Made in the USA” Saeco Team Cannondale CAAD Time Trial bike really fits the bill! And not only is it rare – it looks absolutely awesome!
Cannondale was founded in 1971 by Joe Montgomery and Murdock MacGregor who made everything from prefab concrete houses to engines, bicycle trailers and pannier bags. Joe was a big fan of bicycle touring and frustrated by the bicycle offerings on the market he decided to make his own.
The ST500 was the first model launched by Cannondale in 1983, and although it was aimed at bike packers it revolutionized the biking industry by using a special aluminium welding process. In 1992 Cannondale used computer aided design to make a new aluminium frame weighing only 1.2 kgs and created the CAAD moniker (Cannondale Advanced Aluminum Design).
In 1997 the CAAD3 road frame was debuted. Cannondale was already big in MTBs, but with the launch of the CAAD3 the company undertook a major shift in the attention it paid to its road bikes. During a meeting at a Tuscan villa, then CEO Scott Montgomery (the son of founder Joe Montgomery) sat down with Italian businessman Sergio Zappella and made a deal to sponsor his Saeco road team.
The deal cost Cannondale $500,000, and many thought Joe was crazy as it was one the biggest bike sponsorship deals every signed. But it turned out to be a smart investment with the superstar Mario “Lion King” Cipollini on the team.
But there was a problem – Cannondale didn’t make Time Trial bikes. So the company’s designers had to get to work creating CAAD TT frames for each of the team’s riders – and fast! The bikes that they created were radically different to any other Cannondale available and were only custom made and team issue.
All of the Saeco team’s custom TT bikes were made from laser cut 6000 series Alcoa “Alcalyte” aluminium tubing with TIG welding. The frames were heat treated for retention of strength, hand sanded and finally electrostatically painted.
The original team-issue model that we have in our Flandrien Hotel collection was used during the 2000 season, built with the newly released Campagnolo Record 10s groupset and an uber cool integrated Cinelli Angel stem and handlebar. It still looks amazing almost a quarter of a century after it was created.
Cannondale made loads of money selling bicycles well into the mid 2000s – until they decided to make motorbikes and rapidly went bankrupt.
The brand still exists today and still makes awesome bikes. But it is no longer in the hands of the founders and alas, the “Made in the USA” sticker has disappeared.