Where Have You Gone, Joe DiMaggio?

Riding to one of the local rides around here, I found myself in that clump of riders with a common destination that happens when you get close to the start point of a good group ride, and I overheard something that really bummed me out: CAAD10's are expensive. 

I've long advocated the CAAD9 as the ultimate bike for people who actually race their bikes.  It doesn't do anything magical, but it's really, really solid in every aspect.   There are plenty of great riders who use them exclusively (during this very ride three guys in black kit on black CAAD9s took turns mopping the floor with my vain attempts for glory - I'm very Gallic with the way I ride, maybe AG2R will pick me up?), and they even have this sort of mystical reverse snobbery appeal. 

Hearing that a CAAD10 frame/fork will retail for $1250 (and that's not 100% confirmed, but based on their complete bike prices it seems accurate) kind of knocked me onto my heels.   $1250?  We're starting to talk about real money there.  No question there's an element of "what the market will bear" going on there - it's the successor to a storied frame, with plenty of cachet and a pretty big market void around it, but jeez.  I mean, for all of the flowers I just blew up its down tube, it's still a mega-production aluminum frame whose primary place in the market is as a working bike for working racers. 

They've added some nice things, like a tapered head tube and BB30.  The tapered head tube is great, it makes a difference that most people can feel.  The BB30 saves some grams and the Cannondale SI cranks are supposed to be the bomb (I've never used them), but I don't know.  I feel like 80% of people are going to slam in an adapter and use the cranks they were using before. 

The retail price points for complete bikes have taken a jump, too.  They've gotten rid of the very basic Tiagra-equipped version, which is a logical move.  Tiagra's not a racing groupset.  My choice for last year's bike of the year was the CAAD9 4, which was a Force/Rival mix weighing in at $1,799 now becomes a rival bike.  The 105-level bike is $1,499, the Ultegra bike is $2,149 and the Dura-Ace/Ultegra mix is $3,199.   I haven't seen the spec lists yet, but while a CAAD10 frame and a 105 group are perfectly race-worthy at entry level and beyond, don't think you are getting anything more than house brand cockpit and flexy, boat anchor wheels on that bike.   You're likely to drop several hundred getting it dialed in.

The big story isn't the complete builds, though.  It's the frame.  So many people, having crashed their bikes, wound up on CAAD9s because they were pretty cheap and easy to get.  And they stayed on them, or at least kept them as a very race-ready B bike, because the frames were so competent. 

This isn't by any means intended as a slam, or to put our frame on a pedestal above what I'd have to call the most iconic amateur race bike of the last decade.  Having spent two years very happily racing on a CAAD9, I guess I'm just a stick in the mud and bemused to see such an important staple of the marketplace get pushed toward being what it doesn't need to be.  I'm sure the CAAD10 will be great.  But if you want to build up a really nice carbon frame for about 60% of the cost, we're here for you. 


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