It’s a warm morning. The sun’s out and spring has sprung. I’m stepping out of my back door with Cannondale’s Quick CX 3 ready to start the 11-mile commute to the office. My neighbor waves “good morning,” and it promises to be a great day for a ride.
My commute isn’t difficult. There aren’t many hills, or even traffic, but it traverses a variety of riding surfaces. It can make finding an appropriate bike challenging.
I throw a leg over the $890 CX 3. Although there are mounts for a rear rack and full fenders, the bike is naked. After a couple quick turns and short city blocks, I’m on a pedestrian bridge crossing the highway. As I cruise over the walkway, smirking at the rush hour traffic, I begin to think about the bike. Any bike can do this well. Smooth cement—no problem.
As I attempt to angle the bike into the sharp turn at the end of the bridge, I’m reminded that the Quick’s effective top tube length is relatively short for a bike this size. This creates a noticeably upright riding position, even with a slammed-down stem. My knees touch the top tube as I angle the bike into the turn.
A short distance from the walkway I hop onto a multi-use trail network that allows me to get almost anywhere in the city. Today, though, I’m heading out of town towards the Bicycle Times HQ. The crushed limestone surface is where the Quick CX 3 really comes into its own. The suspension fork provides adequate relief from the uneven surface. Tires are also a big factor here—the 700x35c Kenda Happy Mediums have plenty of cornering traction for the looser surfaces, and just the right amount of center tread to seem fast on the crushed stone.
After a couple miles of trail I arrive at the next segment of my commute—a railroad service road. The road starts out mild and fast enough, but it quickly degrades into rough railroad ballast that makes most city bikes cringe. This section isn’t very long, but it’s one of the extremes in my commute. If a bike makes it through this, it’s a third of the way to getting my seal of approval.
Although the CX’s 700x35c tires aren’t as wide as I’d normally feel comfortable on riding through the ballast, its suspension fork goes a long way to improving the ride. After I cross some railroad tracks and pass some graffiti, it’s on to the opposite extreme of my commute: road riding.
The short section through town is pleasant. Kids are waiting for the bus. People are starting their day. My head is up. I can see who’s coming and going and what’s in front of me. Disc brakes give me plenty of stopping power when the unexpected happens. But this is also where I realize I can’t have my cake and eat it too.
Those tires that crushed the trail earlier in the ride are slow on pavement. The bike that could take a beating and provide comfort through rough trails, well, feels slow and heavy now. The last six miles of my commute along a twisting 35mph road beg for efficiency. Even with the fork locked out, the Quick CX 3 isn’t a road bike.
I don’t think my commute is very typical. It has extremes that most won’t experience. The Quick CX 3 excels on crushed stone trails and light singletrack. It devours smooth dirt or multi-use recreational paths. But as a city commuter on the street, it sometimes feels over-built. The adventurous CX is best suited for riders seeking a little of the rough. Cannondale doesn’t disagree. For a lot of recreational riders the Quick CX line will provide exactly what they are looking for, whether it’s a bike for all-weather commuting or simply finding some off-road shortcuts through the park.