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Mark B

Jen's got the opportunity to buy a Cannondale Silk Road 900. (You can find the specs in this catalogue.

The bike has a nice set of Spinergy rims and will only need a bit of work (new shifters, I think), new tires and tubes, and maybe some new cables. Otherwise it just needs some TLC to get it shining again.

So, it's not the lightest of road bikes and the headshock is a little worrying. If something happened to the headshock, are there after-market conversion kits? (I'm assuming that would involve some spacers at the top and bottom of the headset since the head tube is really short and maybe a step-down kit to enable it to take a standard road fork.)

Anyway, any suggestions or warnings or things to look for would be appreciated.


(PS—I can post some pics later if there is some interest.)

Mark B
Another thing... this bike also comes with a set of Mavic rims (the stock rims).

The shifter that needs replacing is an 8-speed. Is ebay the best place to find those at a decent price?

Mark B
Ugh, last one. The catalogue mentioned in the first post can be found here. The bike is about 2/3rds of the way through the catalogue.
Ah, the Silk Road.  I haven't seen that bike in a bit.  Come to think of it I don't think I've ever actually ridden one either, but it always had me curious.  There was a brief time there when a few manufacturers were experimenting with front suspension for high end road bikes, and if I recall correctly the Silk Road was ridden by the pro Saeco team to a couple of Classics podium finishes so it can't just be dismissed as a gimmick.  I do however wonder about how narrow an application there is for a road bike with front suspension.  I say that because I just did 60 km of gravel and washboard roads yesterday on a rigid cyclocross bike without feeling too jarred by the experience.  My tendancy would be to add some gel or another round of tape to the bar and/or get larger tires (I was riding 35 mm yesterday) which help take the edge off the bumps without reducing efficiency.  Of course the average road bike isn't going to accomodate 35 mm tires, so I guess if everything else was equal I'd probably gravitate more towards a rigid cyclocross bike than a road bike with suspension because the former just seems a little more versatile and better suited to its most obvious application.

In terms of converting the headshok I'm pretty sure that the same conversion headset available for converting the more conventional 80mm headshok for use with a standard mountain bike suspension fork would also work to convert the Silk Road headshok to a standard road fork because in both cases you're reducing the headtube diameter from 1.5 to 1.8 mm (Cannondale's "1.5" is different than other manufacturers' 1.5 though, so be sure to get a C'dale specific reducer - I can tell you specifically which one if you want to pursue that).  I would however assume that the dimensions of the bike will change a bit if you stick a rigid fork on the bike, as you speculate, because the rigid fork crown obviously won't be as big as the fork w. a headshok.  One way around this might be to use a cyclocross fork up front which will have a higher crown to allow for more tire clearance.  You'd then also have to use a canti brake up front because the conventional road brake won't fit on the fork and/or be long enough to reach the wheel rim, but the canti brake will still work with the brake levers.  Of course now you're spending $300 + on a converstion that could instead just be applied to a new cyclocross bike (or road bike if you went that route instead), so you'd have to be getting a pretty smashing deal on the Silk Road for it to worth your while.  So I guess what I'm saying is that unless you could pick up the Silk Road for next to nothing I'd be inclined to look for something different unless you intended to ride the Silk Road as is (with the headshok).  If down the road you want/need to change that then there are options, but they're not cost effective if you were planning to make the changes right away.

When you refer to 8 speed shifter are you talking about down tube shifters, or integrated STI brake/shifters?  Either can still be ordered through your local bike shop and are pretty much just as readily available as newer 9 and 10 speed shifters (though they might not be in stock at your local bike shop their distributor should have them), but the STI shifters aren't cheap.  The down tube shifters are pretty inexpensive.

One last question: Is this bike intended for Jen's upcoming triathlon?  Assuming it's a 'standard' triathlon (e.g. not offroad) the Silk Road wouldn't be my first choice because triathlon is all about efficiency on the bike, and if I recall correctly the Silk Road headshok doesn't have a lockout, so you'll be stuck with the suspension even in the race.  Of course many people do their first triathlon on a mountain bike so it's not like it won't work, and if you only want to purchase one bike and you think the Silk Road is better suited to the other riding you do then go for it.

Hope that info helps Mark.
Mark B
Wow, thanks Scott.

First, I'm not thinking about the conversion right away. This would be a future "upgrade" if anything happened to the headshock.

Second, there is a lockout on the shock.

Third, this would be a bike that Jen would use in her upcoming triathlon and although it is by no means a tri-bike, it's a lot better than what she's currently got and we're just not able to afford much in terms of a bike. The triathlon is a "standard", no off-road. Getting a tri-bike would be ideal, but since she'll do a lot of non-tri road riding, a tri-bike might be too specialized for now. If we could get two bikes...

Fourth, I think that we might be able to get this bike for next to nothing, literally. It belonged to my friends father who has passed away. My friends Mom said that she'd feel bad asking much for it since she realizes that there is work to be done on it.

Fifth, the shifters are the STI type. I found some rebuilt ones on ebay that sold for $50 and there are new ones on there for about $40 or so more.

With that mentioned, what are your thoughts?
My first thought is that right now I'm supposed to be finishing writing the minutes to a meeting I was a part of last week, but this is more fun. 

My second thought is that I'm not implying that, even if you had unlimited cash, you think about a tri specific bike.  Most local Winnipeg triathletes (even the one's who are nationally competitive age groupers) don't use tri specific bikes - they use road bikes w. tri bars.

Third, if there is a lockout (I guess that came on some higher end models and I had forgotten about that) that makes the bike a lot more attractive to me in terms of competing in the triathlon.  There's still a bit of a weight penalty but I've never been a weight weenie, and unless there's massive climbing in the triathlon (unlikley in an olympic distance) the weight doesn't really make that much difference anyway.

Fourth, if you can get it for a steal, and if you've found an STI lever for cheap, it sounds like this might be a great way to upgrade from what Jen's got right now and get a bike that will be versatile for other types of riding as well.

So, I've gone from being somewhat hesitant, to thinking that the bike might suit your application fairly well all things considered.  And for the record, if she gets the bike I want to take it for a spin when you're back in Winnipeg.
Mark B
Thanks again.

We just stopped by a local bike shop to see what they thought. The guy we spoke to thought that if you could get the bike in good riding shape for 600 (all in, including purchase price), then it was a good deal. I think we could get it in riding shape for a lot less than that.

I'll let you know what my friend's Mom wants for the bike and if it becomes Jen's, I'll take some pictures. (Including some of the seat post which has the most ridiculous amount of adjustability and the seat which can be manually widened or narrowed, depending on preference.)

I got my Silk Road in 1995 because I was having Wrist & Elbow issues. I was a 150 miler a week, and this amazing bike solved those issues with the added benefit of incredible handling.

Don't get this bike thinking about conversion.......mine is still fine, never an issue with the mono-shock, and it truly is a 'Silk Road' bike, best I've ever ridden[smile]
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