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Written: May 15th, 2003
Written by: Terry Guillot "CaptMoto"
Bike: 2003 Cannondale X440
First let me give you a little riding background. I've have ridden XRs most of my life and nothing over 200cc, so this is my first true Mxer. I have ridden my buddies YZs and CRs, but not to the extent I have on the XRs. Most of my riding has been in the woods, trails and open field, but since my son has come along, We have been riding tracks.
I've been wanting a Cannondale since 1999, but only now been able to purchase one. (Yes, I know there weren't any in '99) I have only limited seat time on it, but this is what I think about it. Overall, I love it.
I need to tweak something's to my liking, but I am Very Happy with my purchase. Even though I am 5'7” and can only touch with one boot, the bike feels good under me once I take off. I can't say that about my brothers XR250R. The seat is hard, no monkey butt yet. But you must remember, I am use to riding a 1979 Honda XR185 and the seats back then were ultra plush.
The power is incredible and instant, a little to instant for me, but that can be retuned. That is what I love the most about the bike. The ability to customize the power. I now ride both tracks and woods, so I wanted one bike that could do both. The Cannondale was the only bike out there for the job. With the right tools, this bike can go from MXer to enduro with a push of a button. Let's see you do that with a CRF or YZF!
People that take demo rides have the perception it is a heavy and wide bike. That maybe true if you are comparing it to a 2-stroke or the CRF/YZF. The C'Dales radiator shrouds are angled lower than the other bikes making it seem wider or fatter at the bottom, but it really doesn't feel it when you ride the bike. I found the bike to be well balanced. In the air it didn't do anything out of the ordinary.
What I didn't like was the instant throttle response when I would land, followed by the engine braking when I let off to compensate. I think I will have to go with a heavier flywheel. I like the hit in the mid band rpm range so I don't really want to change the mapping. I had no problems with the 180 turns on the track I rode on. (Haven't been in the woods yet) You have to learn how to ride it. I would hold the throttle constant and just lightly work the clutch. And I mean lightly. Sometimes I wondered if I was pressing it at all. But the bike would track like it was on rails. Once I exited the turn, I would go about ½ to ¾ throttle in second then hit 3rd about the same amount on the gas on the straight and no one would pass until I let off. I love the sound of the air been sucked in. You don't get that with any other bikes.
After about 5 laps I had to pull off the track. Hands hurt too much to hang on. I did about 5, 5 lapers, before I had to get off so they could prep the track for the race the next day. Sunday, I showed up with my C'Dale and my sons XR50. I didn't race, but I wanted to see the reaction of the other riders when they saw my bike. Plus I didn't feel like unloading it when I got home Saturday night J I got a good parking spot where there was going to be a lot of traffic and put the bike on display. I must have sounded like a sales rep. I even had some guy ask if it was a 2-stroke or a 4-stroke? (No pipe out the front)
The workmanship and look of the bike impressed people the most. They would say "what a good or nice looking bike" Most if not all like the green button. The one negative response was to the engine noise. I had guys tell me, they had read or heard about the bikes, but never saw one until now. Had some ask me if there was a local dealer. I would tell them where the two I knew were located. I had one person tell me that the bike couldn't be run in an AMA race, but he couldn't tell me why. I couldn't think of one reason that the AMA wouldn't let the bike race. Maybe the pressurized fuel tank?? Or that it is not in production any more???
The other weekend I went to my local Honda Dealer to get some things for my sons XR50. There was only one CR125R. I took notes on the frame. That frame is nothing compared to the C'Dale. The C'Dales frame is (seems) twice as thick and wider than the Hondas. The steering head on the C'Dales seems to be about twice the size of the CRs. I see why the Honda is lighter. It has half the frame as the C'Dales. I think with time, Cannondale could cut the weight of the bike a good bit. (Fingers crossed)
That's my first story.
Terry aka Captmoto
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