Firstly, here’s my definition of the word iconic: Something just like, or is, a Cannondale Super V. Ha!
So now we have that out of the way, lets get on with this challenge, which is; to get this kit of bike parts built in the space of a Friday night, and ridden up a route on the North East Coast of the UK, the next day or two, regardless of the weather. Easy huh?
The subject of the build is a Cannondale Super V, which is for me the most iconic of all mountain bikes and I could bang on all night about why, but there’s no time for that, because there just isn’t. And by the way, this is the ‘Freeride’ version. If you’ve read my previous story on Cannondales, you’ll know that I do have a couple of them, so I won’t repeat anything here. You’ll also know that I bought this Super V Freeride frame to build up. Well, as you can see from the ‘kit’ picture, I’ve amassed a full set of parts over the last 4 months, and from various cheap sources to build it up.
I’ve set my criteria for the build and it has to be a Friday night, because iconic things always happen on a Friday night, right? Secondly, it will be built in my shed and only by me. There will be no-one else admitted to the shed on this Friday night. This is because my job necessitates that I’m with lots of people all day long, and apparently, its healthy for my mind and soul to be on my own so that I can reflect on stuff, eat and drink what I want, and listen to the music I want on. My focus will be fully on the build and not on anything else.
All of the parts (and the tools required) will be laid out in the order that they’ll be fitted to the emerging bike, just like a dentist or surgeon would do. As it’s also a big celebration of the iconic Super V, champagne will will used to lubricate the body during the build. The food will depend on how I feel on the day. The important accompanying element to the build is the MUSIC, which has to last throughout the full assembly process. Every track or band must have the word ‘Super’ in the title or singer/band name. How long will that track list be? See the track list below. (BTW, in the end, it was on repeat 3 times during the build).
Super massive black holes by Muse
Superstyling by Groove Armada
Supersonic by Oasis
Supersonic by Basement Jaxx
Something for the weekend by The Super Furry Animals
Breakfast in America by Supertramp
Superstition by Stevie Wonder
Champagne Supernova by Oasis
Moving by Supergrass
Superstar by Sonic Youth
Super bass by Nicki Minaj
Super Duper Love by Joss Stone
Super Deluxe version (sorry….) of Guns’n’Roses Appetitie for Destruction
Superfast Jellyfish by The Gorillaz
Superman (the whole album) by the Stereophonics
Supermarket flowers by Ed Sheehan
Super by C Biz & 6IXVI
Super (the whole album) by the Pet Shop Boys
Super Slimey by Future & Young Thug
She came on by Super Deluxe
Super Deluxe version (sorry again….) Rumours by Fleetwood Mac
Pornstar by Supermatic
Superman theme x4 film versions
One Day by Supermouse
Superbike by the Fat Truckers
Friday night, Saturday Morning by the Specials (this is included for obvious reasons even though it hasn’t got the word ‘Super’ in it)
So this is how the build went. Shed set-up was done the day before, so all I had to do on Friday night was walk into the shed and play. Kool huh? The frame was clamped in the work-stand without any forks because it needed a new headset, so doing this was the first job. To go through the whole step-by-step process would be boring to read (and type), so you’ll just have to imagine the scene, or even easier, look at the photos of it.
Just like a piece of Ikea furniture, the build went together perfectly and importantly, without reading any instructions. I managed to shovel a good curry into my face during the build. The construction, or re-construction in this bikes’ case, eventually finished at 23:50, so the question was, do I road test it now in the dark or wait until the morning? Do it now was the answer. This would have to be done without lights, because whilst I may seem massively organised, I’d forgotten to charge the batteries. Three things provided the answer to the ‘do I test it now?’ question. Firstly, it wasn’t raining outside (unusually). Secondly, I appeared to be able to balance on the bike after an evenings alcohol hydration. And thirdly, I can see well in the dark without lights. Our village only has about 70 houses in it, an 11th century church, and no street lights. Traffic in the village is light apart from the big tractors from the local farms and the occasional bus. At 23:50, there is no traffic unless it’s very lost. Before I start, I’ll have a sobering cup of tea and a festive mince pie or two to get me focussed.
As far as road testing bicycles is concerned, I think I’ve come up with an innovation (are you listening Cannondale?). Riding a bike for the first time on the road that worked perfectly on the workstand in the shed, doesn’t always mean to say that it is actually, alright. Here’s my innovation. Riding a bike for the first shake down run in the dark requires the use of all senses and some mechanical sympathy, which also means multi-tasking. The first thing that was apparent when riding the bike out of the gate was the seat to handlebars set-up. I had measured the seat height and position to my usual preferred settings, but the bars needed pulling back a bit, which could be done back at the shed. The brakes worked fine, which meant that I could actually stop before I got out of the drive and onto the road. So, I pedal on through the dark village. Only a few houses still have lights on, as does the big steaming cow shed at the end of the village. The church tower is still lit up magnificently. I go through all of the gears and make a few adjustments to the cables to get them changing smoothly. No light is needed for this set-up, just feel, and because it’s dark, the feel is enhanced. A slight noisy chain on 5th gear on the middle chainring, or a clinky noise made by the rear deraileur rubbing on a wheel spoke when changing to the largest sprocket on the rear wheel is all amplified when it’s dark. I pedal on, looking up at the stars and putting the bike under big power load. This feels very fast, partly because everything feels faster when its dark and secondly, I wasn’t wearing my helmet, just a flat tweed cap. Anyway, millions of people have survived cycling in the dark in a flat cap, so what the hell, just do it. The front and rear suspension was working smoothly, and bobbing up and down as I accelerate, which feels nice. I decide to stop and adjust the handlebars in the dark and then pedal back home. I race through the gate with blurred vision due to watering eyes from the cold air, and down the gravel drive. I do a monumental skid on the gravel outside my shed. The new-old-stock Magura hydraulic brakes work really well considering they are last century brakes. My wife comes out of the back door to see what the skidding noise was all about and to check I’m still in one piece. I am, so I present my new build to her and she says “jolly good”, and goes back in the house.
The bike is left leaning on the open shed door and the light from inside pours out into the dark night and leaves a very long Cannondale shaped shadow up the drive. I go back into the shed and take the last swig of champagne straight from the bottle. I’d actually finished champaz drinking about an hour earlier, which means that any liquid left in the bottle will have run down to the base and there is always a few drops left. Here’s a drinking tip; Before you re-cycle that wine or beer or spirit bottle in future, make sure its been standing at least 15 minutes so you can really empty it properly. If you add up all of the bottles that you have ever thrown out without properly emptying them first, you would probably have several full bottles to drink. Fact(-ish)!
A job isn’t finished until the shed is tidy again, so all of the tools get put back in their correct place. Oils and grease tins get wiped down as there is always some of the contents on the outside from my hands, a bit like the jar of jam in the fridge. The remaining screws and bolts and washers and wire-ties (or are they called tie-wraps where you come from?) and the bench tops wiped down. The workstand is folded up and banished back to the corner of the shed until the next time.
Now its time to wheel in the newly built masterpiece. The rear freewheel clicks healthily as the bike is pushed into the shed and leant up against the bench. I take two steps back and without falling over anything left on the now clean floor, I look at the gleaming green thing in front of me. I feel a warming sensation rise through my body as I gently congratulate myself, partly because there is nobody else to do it and partly because self recognition is good, apparently. I take a clean cloth and polish off the finger marks that I’ve left on the bike and then double check that I’ve got everything in the tool bag required to tighten and adjust stuff when it goes out on its maiden voyage, tomorrow.
The music is still on and after 3 repeats of my ‘Super’ playlist, I’m starting to get word perfect on some of the songs I hadn’t heard before tonight. I’m trying to work out which track best suits the bike, and I pick ‘Moving’ by Supergrass, mainly because the bike does move now and it certainly didn’t earlier in the evening. I’ll see how the ride goes tomorrow, which is now actually today, and I’ll see what other tracks fit with the way it moves out in the dirt.
The shed lights are extinguished, the door locked and I crunch my way across the gravel to the back door of the house. I look back at the dark and silent silhouette of the shed, smile inwardly to myself and go in the house. I think briefly about laying out riding gear in preparation for the ride later, then think again, get a quick shower and head for bed. Sleep status is achieved quickly and energy is being restored to muscles in readiness for the ride…………coming to these pages soon.
Thanks to Qwerty Cycles (Top Cannondale specialists) for some key parts
All photos by the Author