Cannondale Advanced Aluminium Design, introduced in the 90s, helped forge a cult following of devotees to the CAAD series of bikes. After many years of lust, I became one of them after purchasing myself a CAAD 13 in October 2020.

The original CAAD 4 from 1997, was brought to fame by Cipollini and ‘those’ Spinergy wheels

It was back in 2014 that I first saw a close-up of a CAAD series of bikes from Cannondale, a good friend’s recent purchase of the latest release, at the time, of a CAAD 10. Horizontal top tubes, traditional seat stays, and an aggressive aesthetic, I was sold. Since that day, I’ve always lusted after the CAAD. Fast forward to the 12 (what happened to the 11?) and onwards to the 13, it seemed about that time when I should dip my toe into the sweet waters of CAAD ownership.

I originally purchased mine as a winter bike, believe it or not. With the 13, Cannondale added mudguard mounting capabilities, and at the time, I was short of a capable winter steed so it was the logical choice. 28mm tyres and mudguards, 30mm clearance without – what more could you be after. Not only this, the geometry was right up my street, with Cannondale sticking to their slightly more aggressive position with this bike rather than adjusting for a more endurance-focused rider.

Thirty-three months of ownership, I’ve put my CAAD 13 through pretty much everything you could think of, in a variety of guises and a whole host of conditions. As predominantly a winter bike, it has sure been put through its paces in typical British winter weather.

Just calling it a winter bike, however, is doing it somewhat of a disservice. When launched in 2019, it was touted by Cannondale as the ultimate alloy racing machine. “With slick integration, dropped seat stays, and truncated airfoil tube shapes that generate up to 30% less drag than a comparable round tubes, the CAAD13 is fully optimized for the pure pursuit of speed.”

In my 16’200km (pictured above from my Strava data) of riding this bike, I still can’t quantify those specific claims by Cannondale. What I can state is that it is by far the best aluminum bike I have ridden, with superb ride quality and exceptional handling. Chucking it into a 90-degree corner in a criterium? Tick. Riding on light gravel on road tyres? Tick. Traversing icy back roads with predictable handling? Tick.

On the occasions I have popped my summer wheels in, and taken the guards off, the bike comes out of winter hibernation and blossoms into a different beast. As you would expect, responsiveness picks up (compared to alloy wheels), aerodynamic efficiency greatly increases and ride quality improves yet further. It begs the question, why don’t I run some nice mid depth carbon wheels myself…?

My CAAD 13 race is yet to run its course, I can see this being a bike for many years to come as the bond has grown stronger with more use, and truly finding out how versatile this bike is. When buying into Cannondale Advanced Aluminium Design technology, you’re not just buying into ultimate aluminium racing performance, but beautiful bicycle heritage hailing from the glory years of Mario Cipollini and the Saeco Cannondale team.