Watch: Cannondale FAT CAAD Bike Review

The Cannondale FAT CAAD 1 aluminum fat bike features a Lefty Olaf suspension fork for control and stability in snow and dry conditions alike. The short chainstays and narrow Q-factor make the FAT CAAD a nimble bike that's comfortable to ride for hours on end.

That’s right, the FAT CAAD. All you road bikers out there are probably familiar with Cannondale’s extremely popular CAAD road bike line. The FAT CAAD’s aluminum frame design was heavily influenced by their popular road bike frames, and the fat bike version uses the same high-end alloy as the road bikes.

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One of the most exciting features of this bike is probably the first thing you noticed about it, the Lefty Olaf Fork. I’m really excited to see that Cannondale has adapted the Lefty to their fat bike line, although I will admit I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with the Lefty. The Olaf offers 100mm of travel and feels surprisingly plush, so I am very pleased with how responsive this fork is. The Olaf has a really nice, simple damper on the top labeled ‘push to climb’. It is easy to reach, and changes positions mush easier than a standard Fox or RockShox switch. I also really like how light it is compared to the Bluto.

My beefs with the Lefty Olaf fork are minimal. The balance is goofy just like other Lefty forks–but that’s nothing new, you get used to it fairly quickly. My main beef with the Lefty is how much of a pain in the butt it is to remove the front tire. I guess I am just too used to standard thru-axles and quick releases, but aren’t we all in this day and age? It’s just a hassle for making adjustments and even more so for transport.  The upside is that you can swap a tire without removing the wheel… if you ever need to, that that is.

Cannondale hit the nail on the head with the geometry design. It has short 456mm chainstays, which paired with the 69 degree head tube angle makes the bike very nimble. Another one of the most important things to note about the geometry is the narrow Q-factor.  The FAT CAAD has one of the narrowest Q-factors on the market for a 4.8″ capable fat bike.  This makes the ride very comfortable especially for the knees compared to some fat bikes that bow your legs out like crazy. A wide Q-factor can cause quick discomfort, leading many riders to cut rides short. Thanks to the narrow Q-factor, I felt like I could pedal this bike all day long with no discomfort at all.

This bike is rocking some big time fatty tires–4.8″ Schwalbe Jumbo Jims mounted on Sun Ringle MuleFut rims. These tires floated along nicely over light powder and they rolled fairly fast on hardpack for how wide they are. The wide spacing between the treads and short lugs gave me only OK grip in slippery, snowy turns, which is nothing new for Jumbo Jims.

At $3,500 I think the FAT CAAD is an excellent value. Given the price point, the FAT CAAD includes some great components, like the SRAM 1×11 X01 drivetrain and SRAM Guide hydraulic brakes. The Lefty fork is unique, light, and plush despite some small annoyances. The bike is a bit heavy at 32lbs, but the geometry is just right to keep the bike quick and nimble.

Have you ridden the Cannondale FAT CAAD? Share your review of the Cannondale FAT CAAD here!