Cannondale began manufacturing aluminum racing and touring frames in 1983, with mountain bike frames added later. The earlier models sported oversized aluminum tubes for increased stiffness, resulting in frames that were super-stiff and super-efficient. Later, carbon fiber composite frames were developed.
Cannondale's bicycle frame components are made in its factory in Bedford, Pennsylvania, as well as in overseas factories in Taiwan and Vietnam.
The first road frame from Cannondale was produced in 1983. It sold for $350 and included the frame and fork. The fork was steel with helical reinforcement ribs inside the steel steering tube. The frame was instantly recognized for the oversized down tube and enlarged head tube. The seatstays and chainstays were ovalized to reduce flex. Unlike steel frames, there were no lugs: the aluminum tubes were mitered, hand welded, and then heat treated.
The first frames were available in two colors: red and white, and painted with DuPont Imron paint. Cannondale achieved the distinction and goal of becoming the first high volume producer of aluminum frames, at a time when only steel frames were mass produced and aluminum was hand made in low volumes.
Cannondale marketed subsequent frames with the CAAD designation (for "Cannondale Advanced Aluminum Design"). The CAAD4 model introduced S-bend aluminum seat stays for improved comfort.
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2004 witnessed the launch of Cannondale's Six13, a composite carbon/alloy frame that featured an alloy head tube, staysets, and bottom bracket junction mechanically and chemically bonded to carbon seat, down, and top tubes. This was the company's first use of structural carbon composite material, and subsequent variants of the Six13 have used one to three carbon tubes depending on the price point of the model and the model year. Later, the Six13 line was expanded to include the Slice triathlon/time trial bike which employed similar alloy/carbon joinery with aerodynamically tapered tubes.
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