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).
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?)
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: