Hobson’s Choice. As a second hand machine a 2015 Cannondale ‘Quick 5’ is a nice find. The purchase was a stopgap for delivery riding, something of a Hobson’s choice, we picked the best bike in the heap. It stood out as a lightweight and I reckoned it would be a good starting point for a touring set up. It is an M, a good fit for my (short leg, long arm) physique and wonderfully light with a nice sharp feel: all it needs is drop bars, toe clips and a rack for the paniers.
The old ‘Dale ‘Bad boy’ has done well but it’s in need of some serious expenditure – the bottom bracket is loose to the point of noisy, the rear wheel rims are paper thin and, despite annual re-touching, frame corrosion is now persistent.
Over the last 15 years, in all the miles I have pushed the Bad Boy along I missed drop bars and toe clips so its replacement is disapointing in its ‘commuter hybrid’ configuration. The last big ride to Lieden really shook out the rattles and reminded me of how much work needs to be done. All the same I’ll miss it, it’s a lightweight, easy ride with a surprising load capacity, it’s fairly agile and the long wheel base makes for a comfortable ride.
The Quick 5 gearing is what I’d call ‘wide ratio’ an 11-32 8 speed cassette powered by a 48 -38- 28 steel chainring giving a theoretical 24 gear ratios to choose from. The hardware is Shimano Altus. Shifting is on the slow side with a ‘cliff edge’ drop between the 3 top cogs and the rest. It all works well enough and the shifts are clean with little sign of wear on the chain ring- looks as if it’s not been ridden hard at all.
Bar swap: how hard? If only the bar swap was as straight forward as it sounds, I found Cannondale C4 bars on eBay for less than £10 easy enough but the simplicity of the idea ends there. A little research shows
- brake levers,
- cable lengths and
- V brake arm lengths
will all have to change too. No wonder opinion seems to favour getting a road bike rather than conversion, the cost of the compromise is steeper than you’d think.
In making this an opportunity to upgrade I decided to go for combined gear shift /brake levers: a costly choice but a big step forward in control. Used offerings tend to be hammered. In keeping the front and rear ‘Altus’ mech the options narrow down to MicroSHIFT or Shimano.
MicroSHIFT SB-R483 prices vary around the £50-£80 mark for a set. Shimano originals are about double that.
Bar tape set me back £19 as I went for a gel padded option, the steep fork of the Quick is fairly jarring so I hope the padded tape will help.
The conversion doesn’t stop there as the brakes have to operate with much less travel with the road levers so the v brakes are replaced with shorter throw ‘mini vee’ arms.
The Bad Boy had a good spec for its day. Given the wear and tear only the cast ally seat post made it onto the build. The snappy SRAM gear set and dinky octopus pedals will have to go with it.
Quality tubes? Now, I know there are some important differences (groupset, frame joints, fork, crown set etc) but, the Quick 5 frame shares the same 6061 ‘SAVE’ tubing as Cannondale’s top of the range ‘Touring 1’. Much has been written on touring bike geometry and Cannondale’s published numbers show the Quick as being of a shorter wheelbase by 2mm with steeper seat and stem angles on the 2018 Touring ‘Apex SE’ model (numbers for the 2016 Touring 1 & 2 are not available):
the big difference is in the steep pitch of the crossbar but in most other respects there is a strong similarity between the two.
Cannondale pioneered practical aluminium frames in the ’90s, the tapered ‘fat’ tube approach brought stiffness to their frames whilst keeping them light. It’s no surprise the proven 6061 frame tube is used across the hard tail range.
Silk purse from a sows ear? As a new Quick 5 is less than half the price of the Touring 1 (it sets you back between 1 and 2k) this conversion ends up as a decent copy of Cannondale’s top of the range touring machine for a lot less than the asking price.