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Written: February 10th, 2003
Written by: Dave Garboski "Garbo"
Bike: 2003 Cannondale E440R
I want to start by saying that I happened across this site about a month ago while looking for some information on Cannondale bikes. I was ready to retire my 99' YZ400F and move to a "Desert Machine" since that's what I ride. I was torn between the Cannondale and the KTM due to the "Green Sticker Issue", and because of the financial downfalls of Cannondale at the time I was leaning very hard toward KTM. I have ridden both the 400MXC as well as the 520MXC, but have never been on a Cannondale bike. I have always liked the idea of an AMERICAN dirt bike, so I always kept Cannondale in the back of my mind. A good friend of my has one of their Quads and has had no problems, so I continued to look even through the financial issues. After more research, and even after the report of Cannondale filing Chapter 11, I bought a 03' E440R from South Bay Moto. (Those guys are great!)
I picked the bike up Friday night, and was itching to ride. I finally left for California City Saturday late afternoon, Cal city has mostly flat single track and fire/access roads, which I thought would be perfect for breaking in the new stead. I got out to the Desert well after dark, so my first ride in the dirt was with the lights on. I was not very impressed with the lighting output on the bike, not sure if it is me or not, but that will be and easy fix. Since it was a short little jaunt out I was still unable to give the bike a true review to my self on how I felt about the bike. Thanks to friends, booze and a campfire the agony of the anticipation of tomorrows ride was not as bad as it could have been.
I wake up in the morning with the same feeling as when I was younger on Christmas morning. I jump out of the tent, geared up and walked over to the bike turned the power on and heard the F.I. come to life with a slight buzz. I give the e-start button one quick tap to make sure the ECU is awake and then give the all mighty e-button another tap and the bike comes alive (coming off a YZ400F, having a magic button is excitement enough). I put my helmet and gloves on and I am off. Taking it slow to get a feel for the bike and its layout. I first had trouble getting my foot under the shifter and making up-shifts w/o and exaggerated foot bend, even with my size 10 boots. It just seemed to be a little more cramped then my last bike, but that issue went away after getting used to the ergo's. I finally felt the bike had gone through a pretty decent amount of break-in so it was time to run a little harder.
This bike is AMAZING, no other way to put it. I have never, and I repeat never ridden a bike that has felt this good, no I mean this GREAT! I was able to ride the tight single track that weaves it's way through Chaparral and Sage bushes, and over countless whoops/ rollers with the confidence of Ty Davis. (I know this is slight exaggeration, but this is my story) It honestly felt like I have owned the bike for years. The bike handles like it is on rails. I was a little concerned how I was going to feel on the bike since I had read it is more tall rider friendly, but @ 5'9 220 lbs. the bike felt comfortable, like and old friend that you have had for years. The power is not quite as snappy as my 400, but from what I read yesterday regarding the Optimum power DM kit, I can easily get my bike to perform exactly how I want just by changing the mapping, how cool is that. The only other thing that I have that I would consider a gripe other than the lights would be that it is damn near impossible to find neutral on the bike.
To sum things up, I have to say I own the best bike on the planet!!!! From the looks to the performance the ergo's to the suspension, this bike has it all. Even though Cannondale has filed chapter 11, have no fear. I can't see how the new owner/s of the motor sports division whom ever that may be not taking full advantage of the technology and just make things even better by starting off debt free. Let's all keep the faith and hope for the best. I will let you all know about the next ride review here soon.
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