|HOME · FORUMS · SHOP · INFO · REVIEWS · PICS · FORSALE · G-MAP · LINKS||^ Visit our Sponsors|
Written: March 29th, 2003
Written by: Mike Bender "NESBA"
Bike: 2003 Cannondale X440
Well, this little adventure all began about a year ago when I started doing research on Super Motard. As an expert-licensed roadracer and track instructor, l'm always looking for new and creative ways of trying to kill myself! I'd tried a few Mini moto events on my XR100 and thought I might give the Middleweight class a whirl. I had a CR125, but never really got used to 2-stroke power. I really wanted something with more low end grunt anyway, so it was just a matter of deciding what bike to go with.
We have a new series that started in the Midwest last season - Superbikers2- so I was perusing their site, ogling all the pretty pictures and reading race reports when I came across one that mentioned a Cannondale. Wait a minute- Cannondale?!? Aren't they a BICYCLE company??? Like so many other riders, I'd never heard of them- Husqvarna, Husaberg, VOR, even Vertemati, but CANNONDALE?? A quick CTRL-N later and I'm peeking at their website.
It didn't take very long to get impressed- Twin-spar frame, field-tunable fuel injection, push-button start, Ohlins suspension, hydraulic clutch. On paper, these things looked pretty sweet. I even noticed they had a fully set-up Moto model- the S440. Growing up in a family of auto workers (my father, aunt and 2 uncles retired from Chrysler with 132 years of service collectively), I REALLY liked the idea of it being American-made too. So, I decided to call one of the local dealers and see what kind of damage we were talking about. $8K!?!? Whew! That'll definitely have to wait a bit!!
Fast foward to 2003...Tax return season is rapidly approaching and my greedy liitle mind is already working on ways to spend it. Over the winter, I'd been doing quite a bit of flat tracking on my XR100 and thought that I might want something a bit more versatile, so I started looking for a motocrosser as opposed to the straight motarder. With spring & summer approaching, I'll get more use out of it. At this point, I pretty much had my mind made up on a YZ250F, but when I started looking around for used bikes, they cost almost as much as an older YZ426F, so I started looking for those instead. Next thing I know, I'm back on the Cannondale site- drooling...
Like any resourceful buyer, I started doing research and found this site. Cool, a site dedicated to Cannondale owners. Well, that's a good sign, so I read through the reviews. With the exception of a couple minor irritations, everybody had great things to say about the entire product line. So I decide I'll start looking around- initially for used or near new bikes.
Late February- Cannondale files Chapter 11. Well, this would be enough to kill nearly anybody's thoughts of buying one of their bikes, but I couldn't get over how much all the guys on this site loved their bikes and quads. I decided to stick with them, figuring someone would buy the motorsports division on Mar. 20th. Their product line was accomplishing too many good things for another company not to gobble up.
So, I gave Lane at Pro Motorsports in Burlington, IA a call and we worked up a deal. Lane was great and really took care of me. He took time (on a busy Saturday, no less) to walk through the bike with me, pointing out specific idiosyncracies between this bike and my Honda. Routine maintenance would have to be done more regularly, but it didn't sound out of hand. So, he loaded her up in my truck and, next thing I know, I've got a sparkling '03 X440 in the garage.
First Riding Impression
I started breaking the bike in that afternoon. The manual suggests three 10-minute sessions up to 1/2 throttle and two 15-minute sessions up to 3/4 throttle with complete cool-down between sessions. Lane stressed to me how important it was to follow that. He mentioned that he hadn't done any repair work on the machines that were properly broken in.
This is my first big-bore thumper, so I wasn't quite sure what to expect. I took it pretty easy the first session, just taking time to get a feel for the handling and throttle response. I got through my first two 10 minute session that day and couldn't believe how much power the bike had. Half throttle blips in 3rd gear and the front wheel wouldn't stay on the ground! This bike was going to be fun!
My initial impression on throttle response is that it might be a bit too quick and sensitive for some riders. Being fuel-injected, it is RIGHT THERE, IMMEDIATELY. It's unbelievable how quick it is. However, being tunable, the throttle sensitivity can be controlled with the GP Control Maintenance & Diagnostic kit, along uploading new fuel mapping.
Suspension felt great and the bike felt VERY nimble, easily throwing it one direction or the other. It's very tall, however, so inseam-challenged riders (such as myself) will want to sit on the bike to see if it's right for them.
Second Riding Impression
Actually that isn't totally accurate. What I should say is second ATTEMPT at riding. It was Sunday, Mar. 2nd and some friends were over to watch the Daytona 200 race. I tried to get the bike started, but it wouldn't fire up. In all fairness it was only about 25 degrees outside, so I just chalked it up to that. A second read through the Owners Manual indicated a specific cold starting procedure, so I charged the battery up, tried that and she fired right up. Moral of the Story? Read your Owners Manual closely!! :)
Third Riding Impression
I had to wait until the following weekend to get some decent weather to ride, but it was worth it. Much warmer weather, although it was pretty muddy. I finished breaking in the bike that Saturday. The stock Pirelli's don't do too badly in the mud, but the front has a tendency to plow in. However, I'm still relatively inexperienced on a full-blown MXer, so that might just be me :)
After break-in, Cannondale recommends a full oil change. Up until this point, I was nothing but ecstatic about the bike. I've worked on all types of motorcycles, but never had this much difficulty in what should be such a routine maintenance task. Oil must be drained from 4 places on the bike (both frame spars, the crankcase, and transmission). There are also 3 filters that must be replaced or cleaned. The standard paper filter is a breeze and Scotts has a cleanable, stainless filter available. The other two screen filters require special attention though. It literally took me 1 full hour to change the oil on a bike that only requires 2.5 quarts! There are some tricks that can help skim some time though, so don't get too discouraged from this.
At the end of my third day, I also discovered a new term I was yet unfamiliar with- Monkey Butt. Cannondale, what is up with that seat? It's like sitting on a 2x6!! I see the purchase of a seat cover in my very near future...
After Break-In Riding Impression
I now have about 6 hours on the bike and all I can say is this bike rocks! Everything is high-end aftermarket components and it shows. DID rims (front YZ, rear CR250), Talon hubs, Magura hydraulic clutch and bars, Nissin brakes, Ohlins suspension. The foot pegs are nice and wide for rider stability on the bike. The cleanable foam air filter is easily accessible under the seat. Seat removal simply requires pulling a spring-loaded lever and it lifts out of place. To reinstall, just slide and lock it back into place. The fuel mapping and diagnostics plug is easily accessible from under the seat, along with primary fusing. Charging the battery is a breeze too- the positive battery terminal is connected to a nut in the rear fender well. Positive to that, negative to the subframe and you're in business. Oil change maintenance is literally my only gripe and is easily overcome with all the positives this bike has to offer. It's obvious that Cannondale spend alot of R&D making the bike user-friendly.
With replacement parts still readily available for some time to come and more companies producing aftermarket parts all the time, this bike will be a force to reckon with for several years. I can't wait to get it on the track and show some American pride!!
|BACK||Email a comment to Mike.||NEXT|