Gallery: Eric’s Custom Cannondale Commuter

Cannondale Commuter

[Eric sent us these photos and write up on his custom Cannondale commuter. —ed.]

Later this year I expect to move back to the midwest for work and family reasons, and I’ll be needing a bike that can take a little more abuse…Foul weather, 4 seasons, potholes, gravel paths and a general lack of proper cycling infrastructure! I decided to build up an all-road, all-weather commuter out of an old Cannondale mountain bike I’ve had since college. The intent was to find the optimum balance of speed, durability and utility without breaking the bank.

So here are the particulars: Tiagra/Sora rear derailleur only, single speed front chainring and 26×1.5 slicks to take the hits. I ditched the old suspension fork and replaced it with a Winwood rigid carbon fork. After trying out several handlebar types (including the Moustache) I landed on the Origin 8 Gary bar, which is by far the most comfortable I’ve experienced. I’ve got it mounted on an adjustable stem for optimum comfort and power. The Gary is an MTB specific bar with a fairly wide splay, which puts almost zero bend on my wrists on the hoods. I could ride all day on this!

Cannondale Commuter

Because the frame has always been on the small side for me, the drops also put me at a more optimum reach. I also like the low stepover on the heavily sloped top tube. I had the frame powdercoated matte grey and designed the graphics. The name “Billy” comes from the unique goat-like stance of the bike, kind of hunched over on its front wheel and ready to climb some hills!

I intend to add a rack and fenders as needed, but right now I like to keep it clean and simple. With the removal of the front shock (totally unnecessary on any road-going bike!) and front derailleur, along with thin-walled slick tires I was able to trim quite a bit of weight off. The bike rides like a cloud and takes the hits, and there’s very little difference in speed from my full-on road bike.

There are so many old MTBs out there that would make great allroad commuter conversions, and with the growing availability of MTB-specific drop bars and improvements in tire technology it’s possible to build some very affordable and interesting road machines!

Eric Stoddard

11 Responses to “Gallery: Eric’s Custom Cannondale Commuter”

  • Andrew Leinonen says:

    Very cool and unique ride. I dig it.

  • Garth Madison says:

    Intriguing and unique. I like it as well. Nice uncluttered visual in that color, though fenders and a rack might only add to its goat like stance :)

    However, having just nursed a mountain bike through a midwestern winter, I must confess to leaning more towards a belt drive/IGH combination like the Norco Ceres recently reviewed by Alan. I have appreciated the mtb’s ruggedness in the urban environment (very much lacking in biking infrastructure), but have decided the drive train is not ideal for the snow, ice, salt, and grime. My vbrakes have also not fared well. Perhaps I am being frivolous, but then, I think we should be allowed some frivolity after the long hard winter we’ve had.


  • Andrew Leinonen says:

    Yeah, I am thinking that I may need to put together a Sturmey-equipped winter beater (and use it as an excuse to learn how to lace a wheel so that I can cannibalize an old hub). My currently derailleur’ed beater lives outside and given how much I neglect it, is not a happy camper these days.

  • Magnus Barber says:

    I’m curious where you got the bike powder coated – did they specialize in bike work, or did you convince an auto shop to do it? Is it expensive? I also have an old MTB that has become my city bike, but it’s rather ugly with flaky paint and a few rust patches..

  • Eric says:

    Any powdercoating shop can do it. I spent about $85 and that included a full chemical stripping of the old paint. Just make sure the head tube and threads for the BB are well masked off. It’s pretty bulletproof and painless.

  • Eric says:

    Garth, I thought about IGH for this bike, but I decided to stick with the dérailleur to keep the cost and weight down. Belt drive doesn’t work as a retrofit on most bikes because the frame needs to separate at the dropout. The shifters and dérailleur came off a friend’s bike that was upgraded, so I got them for next to nothing!

  • John in Roseburg says:

    I’m curious about the fork swap. I have a similar frame with a worn headshok that I’ve been told can not be repaired. The Cannondale dealer said the only option is a rigid fork or an upgrade to a newer design headshok fork. It seems there has been a steady progression of upgrades that do not retrofit. I think the rigid route is the better choice as my frame is used the same as yours.


  • voyage says:

    That’s a beautiful bike! I’ve always thought Cannondale’s V frame would make a good commuter. The V’s have been out of production as mountain bikes for years and the ones I find seem pretty bashed. Cannondale has revived the V frame (scaled down, 20″ wheels) as the Hooligan 3 and 8. Perhaps, inspired by you, they’ll revive the V as a full size commuter.

  • Greg says:

    Is that a suspension corrected fork for 26″ wheels? Of just a regular 700c fork?

  • Eric says:


    Problem Solvers makes a headtube adapter that allows the installation of any standard 1 1/8″ headset and fork. The fork I installed was a suspension-corrected 26″ rigid, but any 1 1/8″ fork will fit, suspension or rigid.

  • Eric says:


    I love the V…low stepover, rigid and totally unique!

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