[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!
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!