Cannondale Rize Pro Review

Pro Reviews

How Does The Cannondale Rize 1 Ride?

So what have I learned in my many months of riding and enjoying this trail bike? Is the Cannondale Rize 1 a beefed up XC bike or a lightened up AM bike? Aggessive XC or AM lite? A bit of both, really.

For 130mm of travel, the Rize is very capable on both uphills and downhills. It is an efficient pedaler and the sub 25 pound weight really helps here too. The Lefty is one of the best riding forks I’ve ever ridden. But if you are a strong/aggressive downhiller and your idea of All Mountain fun borders on “light Freeride”, you might find yourself wishing for a bit more plushness from the rear. I did not experience much brake jack (stiffening of the rear suspension when braking) which is a pleasant surprise given the single pivot design. One thing I did notice was that the rear brake actually causes more brake dive in the fork, than the front brake does; which actually helped with control of the bike under hard braking (instead of pitching the rider’s weight forward and up, the braking action caused the bike to squat down, providing more stability).

Strong Points

The Lefty Max Carbon Fork: The fork is by far the star of this bike. It is light (2.7 lbs) and is SUPER plush. It soaks up everything yet tracks true, single sided design or not. It is the kind of fork that gives the rider extra confidence, and pulls your can out of trouble, when you overcook things a bit. The PBR and lockout feature worked flawlessly. The rebound was easy to adjust and the lockout was easy to engage and disengage. I never found myself wanting a blowoff circuit (like other reviews have stated) and I used the lockout on extended climbs. So, whether it be climbing or descending, the fork was simply awesome. Perhaps too awesome.

The frame is super stiff and beefy, which is suprising for a bike as light as this, with this much travel. The Backbone design provided plenty of lateral rigidity and there was never a sign of any slop from the rear suspension.

The Rize is an efficient pedaler but like most bikes with similar rear suspension designs, climbing in the small ring works best seated. For any extended climbs I always used the lockout on the rear Fox shock (that’s what it’s there for, right?)

Weak Points

The Lefty Max Carbon Fork: What? How can the same part be both the strength and the weakness of the bike? Let me explain.

The Lefty is so plush and buttery smooth (cliches both, I know) that the simple design of the rear suspension didn’t quite measure up. This isn’t to say that the ride is unbalanced, persay. I set sag on the rear shock to approximately 15mm and the fork to match. For the RP23, I started with 65-70% of my weight (between 101 and 108 psi) and worked my way down from there. However, I was never able to get the same buttery smoothness that I enjoyed from the Lefty.

The other weakness I found was not with the bike, but with the spec. For such a capable all-arounder, the Rize really should come with more aggressive rubber. The Maxxis Rendez UST tires were not very grippy when upright, but if you leaned the bike in to the corners, and used the side knobs more, the performance of the tires (both grip and braking ability) improved.

Final Thoughts On The Cannondale Rize 1

Overall, the Cannondale strikes an almost perfect balance providing light weight with a more than decent amount of usable, real travel. As previously stated, on the descents you won’t be limited to where you ride, just how fast you ride through those sections.

So, back to what I stated at the beginning, defining the intended use of the bike is key in measuring how well it performs. The Rize can be used for the occasional XC race, but this won’t be its primary purpose. It can handle rock gardens and gnarly trails normally reserved for bikes in the 150mm range, and perhaps the occasional jump or medium size air, but this won’t be its primary purpose. Its primary purpose will be: providing its owner with a fun, all around, light weight, quick handling trail bike that is as fun to ride up as it is to ride down, for as long as you want.

At $5500 for the top of the line model, it isn’t cheap, but compared to what some of the other major manufacturers are charging for their high end, carbon fiber full suspension bikes; the Cannondale is actually less expensive than many of those. And don’t forget, like it says right on the seatstay, the Rize 1 IS Handmade in the USA.

I give them 4.5 flamin’ chili peppers overall:

And 4 flamin’ chili peppers for value:

Previous: Intro>>    |   Previous: Specs and Geometry>>

About the author: Gregg Kato

Gregg Kato studied journalism and broadcasting in college while working many different jobs including deejaying, driving a forklift and building web sites (not all at the same time). Kato has been the Site Manager of Mtbr.com for over 12 years and enjoys riding local Santa Cruz trails. Besides being an avid mountain biker, he is also a motorcycle fanatic. Two wheels, one Passion.


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  • Dan Gerous says:

    I might be wrong but it looks like you have a pre-production alloy frame and not the lighter and stiffer carbon frame… (the headtube shape and cable guides of the front triangle gives it away).

  • Gregg says:

    Good eye there, Dan! Yes, it is indeed a pre-production frame. I was informed that the ride characteristics of this frame where pretty much identical. And it might account for the .3 lbs difference between our real world measurement, and the claimed weight of 24.4 lbs.

    The one thing that may be a factor, is that I was riding the SM frame, and the Cannondale rep said that the leverage ratio is not exactly the same for the small, as it is for the MD, LG, and XL. The difference should be minimal, though.

  • Dan Gerous says:

    I know my Cannondales… :)

    Now be carefull though, once used to a Lefty, it’s hard to accept riding standard two-legged forks, they then feel either heavy, flexy, sloppy or all of those at the same time.

  • ginsu says:

    Is there some reason the shock is mounted in that direction? It doesn’t actually make any sense as you are attaching the heavy side to the suspension resulting in an unnecessary increase in unsprung weight.

  • Wish I Were Riding says:

    Can you 650B it F&R?

  • indiefab says:

    “Is there some reason the shock is mounted in that direction? It doesn’t actually make any sense as you are attaching the heavy side to the suspension resulting in an unnecessary increase in unsprung weight.”

    The water bottle clearance on this small frame is already pretty poor. It would be even worse if the shock was flipped around. You might get away with it on a large frame. I’d use one of those carbon Arundel side-loader cages instead.

  • Gregg says:

    @Dan – Oh yes, it is all too easy for the uninitiated to pass the Lefty off as a fad or gimmick. That is, until you ride it. This Lefty is light, stiff, and tracks true.

    @ Wish I Were Riding – I’ve heard that you can even 29er the fork. For the rear, eyeballing the clearance, I’d say definitely NOT 29erable and probably not 650b either.

    In regards to the water bottle cage and clearance on the small frame, yeah, it is definitely a bit tight. But as you can see from the pix, I used a small water bottle all the time and easily got use to angling it in, just right.

  • DaGoat says:

    I’m not knocking it… it sounds like a great ride. And cost wise it does compare well. But my Spez Enduro SL S-Works weighs 28lbs but has 6″ of double crown fork, 25mm through axel and a 10mm bolt on rear. In other words it’s as solid as you can get for a trail bike and light weight. Ok, it weighs 3 lbs more and ok, it’s maybe more of a “rugged” Trail Bike, but I bet the front end handles with more confidence than the “lefty”. Again, not apples to apples and maybe they are different catagories, but from a guy that has riden a few bikes, I’d say the Enduro SL is worth a look when it comes to filling that Trail Bike Catagory in your stable. Other than that, cool looking ride!!!

  • Jride says:

    So…I just rec’d my Rize the first of December. I live in Park City, UT and ride mostly single track (not Whistler rugged by any means, lots of climbing and all single track. We do a ton of long rides, and that is what I prefer for racing as well. So…to the bike. With the above in mind, I feel this is the best true long ride trail/race bike on the market. Perfect for 24 hour races, 50′s and 100′s. I ride the XL and upgraded to the Mavic SLR wheel and dropped the rize in the bar to almost flat (didn’t change the ride too much at all). I’ve ridden it probably a dozen times and had the opportunity to race it in Arizona at the Dusk to Dawn event. The bike raced that course like a true XC bike, posted one of the fasted laps overall of the day on the first lap with it (5th one in). So I’m pretty quick to say this bike is easily the raciest 5″ bike I’ve ever ridden. My last long ride/race bike was a Yeti 575 – a premium bike in its own right. If you are a 24 hour, 50/100 mile racer and do the occasional weekend XC race – this is the bike for you.

  • Eric says:

    DaGoat -
    The Moto is a much better comparison to your Enduro than the Rize, and I might say the Moto Carbon 1 weighs in even lighter than an Enduro and has more travel, more suspension tuning, and a Maxle rear. No doubt the Enduro is an awesome ride, though. I was debating between the three previously mentioned bikes for some time but made the right choice for my riding style and got a Rize. It hands down rocks.

  • gregg says:

    We also have a very indepth review of the Cannondale Moto (2) here:

    http://reviews.mtbr.com/blog/cannondale-moto2-2008-160mm-trail-bike/

    Check it out!

  • Craig m says:

    It looks like an awsome bike and one thats still built in the USA!
    Huge kudos to Cannondale for keeping it american built!
    All my mt bikes for the 20 yrs have been built in the usa and my next one will be the same, shame on trek for shipping their work to tawian.
    The Lefty fork I’ll give it a go, cannondale is an inovator not a follower.
    Nice looking bike.

  • Jeff says:

    Nice Rize. I ride a 2007 Rush 3, and enjoy it. Put a few upgrades into it, and got it below 28 lbs for a size large. Thinking about upgrading to a carbon Lefty, and SLR’s or Easton XC 1′s. Then about 25.5 lbs. Any advice on those? Maybe I should just sell it and buy a higher-end Rize, which seems like a great all-around bike.
    I like ginsu’s idea of turning the rear shock around to reduce unsprung weight, like those inverted front forks, except no bending load here, just axial. I don’t use a water bottle. It appears to make sense, but is the rodend really the lightweight end? It appears to be, but what is attached to its hidden end buried inside the larger body? I don’t know the internals. I guess I could remove the shock and test that by handling it. Is the shock adversely affected if it points downward? Thanks….

  • Keith says:

    The Rize one is my 15th Cannondale to date. You don’t need a Moto to spank the Enduro, I’ve ridden both and the Rize is a hands down winner. I have a Large Rize one and the shock is on \the right way\ from the factory. My large (Aluminum)Rize one weighs 24 lbs even with SLR’s, 4Ti eggbeaters, and a Garmin Edge 705 (.33lbs)installed. climbs as well as any xc bike on the smooth stuff, and outclimbs them when you are doing actual mountain biking. Oh, the Lefty is second to none with it’s buttery smooth travel and zero flex. Full bike setup and review on MTBR.com user jekylljunkie. Jeff, I also own a Team Rush Carbon, sell you aluminum one and buy a Rize even if it’s aluminum there’s no comparison when the going gets rough.

  • brodiegrrl says:

    I have also previously reviewed the rize3 and I agree with many of your points.

    I found it to be an active solid climbing bike and a very plush capable descending bike.

    I was impressed with the stiffness and preciseness of the lefty.

    I was surprised at how well the Rendez tires performed in most xc applications. When I did a more ‘freeride’ ride I put a Kenda Nevegal on the back which was most helpful for longer steeper sustained braking.

    Having also reviewed the Moto and Enduro I found the rize to be a better climber, just as good descender considering only 5in vs 6in of travel.

    My only criticism was the high standover which was only a concern on more technical trails.

  • HoosierMTB says:

    can you tell me how cannondale rise 4 would compare to a gary fisher deluxe. I have been thinking about bitting the bullet and spend more money on a better bike.

  • Leon says:

    Hi MTBR and fans, well, am finally ready to get a dual susp. XC bike. Have looked at them all. I have an old Gary Fisher habit. My cromo framed GF is an amazing climber on smooth gound, due to being a hardtail. When you try to make a cromo frame look like an aluminum one it can`t help being super stiff. Hence the performance way beyond it`s pay scale. Age and other issues prompted the change in suspension needs. Our local huge bike store talked me into a test ride on a Rize 3. It took all of 1 block until i was riding like a deranged bike park escapee. The only thing i`d change is the clip- in pedals to platforms, oh and find a little more bite on the front brake. The bike worked like a well sorted racer, without the limitations of the real thing. Wait a min, the Rize IS the real thing. Or isn`t it? Will have to live with one to decide.

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