Obviously he’s paid to be biased, but Marco Fontana thinks his 2013 Cannondale F29 is the best looking — and best riding — hardtail on the World Cup cross country circuit. The stealth-looking 29er owes its good looks in part to Fontana’s status as reigning Italian national cross-country champion, which is noted via his tri-color jersey and the green-white-red paint scheme on his frame. But pretty paint alone doesn’t win races. You need a fast bike.
The full-carbon F29, which Mtbr rode during the Cannondale MTB team’s recent press launch, fits that bill. Constructed from lightweight Ballistec Hi-Mod carbon, this wispy race-ready steed is a true uphill trail tamer. Power in equals ground covered. No wasted energy here.
But speedy climbing carbon 29er hardtails are ubiquitous these days. It’s how these rigid bikes handle the rough stuff that separates front runners from also-rans. Cannondale addresses this utilizing what it calls Speed Save vibration elimination technology, where specially tuned rear stays yield a micro-suspension system, allowing the back wheel to better track the trail, which improves control, traction and handling, and minimizes vibration. The net effect is increased comfort and decreased fatigue, two critical factors in winning races.
Fontana’s race rig is dressed with a slew of high-end, super-light components: the new Lefty Carbon XLR 90mm fork, carbon wheels from ENVE, SRAM XX1 drivetrain, FSA K-Force carbon seatpost, Cannondale SiSL2 cranks, Schwalbe Racing Ralph tires, Prologo saddle.
Now the rest is up to Fontana, who was fourth in last year’s final World Cup standings and third at the London Olympics. “To me the frame is the soul of a bike,” said Fontana. “It must tell me something. This bike says it can win.”
Here’s a tip to tail look at Fontana’s Cannondale F29: