Cannondale has been building handmade, quality bikes in the USA since the early 1980’s when they introduced the industry’s first all-aluminum road and mountain bike frames. Since that time, Cannondale has stuck by its guns as a handmade aluminum frame manufacturer. Smooth welds and high-quality paint jobs are just the beginning… Cannondale is evolving the single-pivot suspension design and creating extremely versatile, durable and yet lightweight bikes.
After a recent brief foray into motocross, Cannondale is back in the saddle with their prized dowhnill and freeride sensation, Cedric Gracia. He has been a major factor in helping Cannondale further develop the Gemini platform and now the new Prophet line. Gracia took first place in the 2003 Red Bull Rampage, riding his Cannondale Gemini off insane cliffs and down insane lines. From the Rampage and downhill courses all over the world, Cannondale and Gracia have put their heads together and developed an all-new enduro bike design, the Prophet.
About the Cannondale Prophet 1000
The new Cannondale Prophet line combines the travel and durability of the Gemini with the trail-riding capabilities of the fabled Jekyl. This new platform looks like a Gemini on a diet with smooth, sexy lines. The Prophet 1000 is the workhorse of the line at a reasonable price point of $2499. With the Prophet 1000, you get durable components and an adjustable shock platform for the rear suspension and fork. The squish up front is handled by the new Cannondale HeadShok Lefty Max 140mm fork, in back, you’ve got a Manitou Swinger 3-way Air shock.
The Prophet is positioned as the “do it all” bike of the Cannondale line. With an even 140mm of travel front and rear, mated to durable, yet lightweight parts, the Prophet 1000 weighs in right around 30 lbs. For nearly 6-inches of travel, that is an awesome accomplishment. To further extend the versatility of the Prophet, it has an adjustable head angle via two rear shock positions. It can either be set up with an ultra-slack 67.5 degree head angle for freeride, or a trail-friendly 69 degrees for XC and all-mountain.
The Prophet is touted as “Divine Innovation” on Cannondale’s cheeky Web site, www.Divine-Innovation.com, and instead of hell, fire and damnation, the Prophet preaches the gospel of all-mountain versatility unlike any bike before.
The Prophet On The Trail
I got the call from Ethan at Timpanogos Cyclery that the Prophet had arrived and was ready to go. It was in the middle of January and not a single trail in the area was rideable, but as is typical in Utah, I knew we’d get a prolonged dry spell in January or February. I had the Prophet just in time to take full advantage of the early Spring weather.
After hopping on the Prophet for the inagural spin around the cul-de-sac, I liked the overall feel of the suspension. The Lefty felt nice and smooth throughout the entire stroke and the Manitou Swinger provided a great pedaling platform, yet was much more supple than most air shocks I’d used in the past. I did notice, however, that the stock handlebars had to go. This is really a personal preference, but the FSA bars lacked the width and upsweep I’m used to. I’ve talked to other Prophet 1000 owners and they’ve all swapped out their bars too. I chose to go for the Truvativ Holzfeller DH risers in the 2″ height and 710mm width. After the swap, the bike felt MUCH more comfortable.
I rode the Prophet mostly on tight, twisty singletrack with some steep climbs and curvy descents. On the climbs, I was very impressed with the overall feel and constant traction that the Prophet displayed. No matter how steep the trail, the Prophet gripped the trail like a magnet and climbed straight up without wandering excessively. You’ll notice a little more wandering in the 67.5 FR setting and noticeably less in the 69 XC setting (more on that below). Considering the light weight of the Prophet, combined with the natural climbing abilities, the Prophet really opened my eyes to the beauty of climbing on a true trailbike. (I’m used to 40 lb. pigs, so cutting 10 lbs. makes a huge difference.)
The Prophet was also my first foray into UST tubeless tires. The Maxxis High Roller 2.35 tires were awesome overall. I’m a huge Maxxis fan and the High Rollers hooked up in every condition. Because they are tubeless, I was able to run at low pressures without any worries. I did have some issues with the tires deflating within a couple of days. Apparently, “seating” the bead involves a lengthy process to ensure proper tire/rim attachment. Check out this post on Ridemonkey.com Forums to get some tips on properly seating UST tires.
I rode the Cannondale Prophet extensively in the 67.5 FR setting, then switched to the 69 XC setting for a few follow-up rides. In the FR setting, the bike climbs admirably with some wander in steeper sections. Going downhill on fire roads and wide-open singletrack was a blast. The Prophet remains very stable and smooth, but it does end up losing some pin-point turning accuracy because of the floppy steering. In tight, twisty singletrack, the FR setting will have you getting up close and personal with trees really quickly. I found it to be too slack and the steering too slow to respond–the scratches on my arms will attest. I just couldn’t get the bike to react quickly enough, it felt like I was driving a Suburban in downtown Tokyo.
However, follow up rides in the 69 XC setting changed things entirely. The steeper head angle is on par with where you’d want to be on a trailbike. It’s not so steep that it induces endo’s at the first sight of a drop, and to the weight-conscious XC crowd, a 69 degree head angle is slack. That said, the XC setting performs much better in tight, twisty singletrack. I found the steering to be much more precise and I returned home without a scratch from the local Scrub Oak trees. I’d suggest keeping the Prophet in XC setting unless you’re bombing the local ski hill, or hitting an epic downhill trail like Porcupine Rim in Moab.
I did notice that it was hard to get the timing just right when hitting small jumps. That’s pretty much standard fare for Manitou and Progressive rear shocks. Those shocks have a natural tendency to keep the rear wheel planted firmly on the ground. But, with some practice and perfect timing, I began to get the feel of how to make the Prophet hop at the right time on small jumps and drops.
I have to give kudos to Cannondale for a smart parts spec on the Prophet 1000. The bike is decked out with no-nonsense parts that will be durable and functional. I’m a huge fan of the SRAM X-7 triggers and X-9 rear deraileur. I find them to be much easier to use and more intuitive than their Shimano counterparts. I particularly like how the rear deraileur cable routes straight into the SRAM rear derailleurs, thus reducing the chance of the excess loop catching on a low-lying branch–far superior to Shimano routing. The Mavic XM819 wheelset performed well–without any noticeable lateral flex and the Avid Juicy 7 brakes can clamp with the best of them.
Bottom Line: 2005 Cannondale Prophet 1000
The 2005 Cannondale Prophet 1000 is a nimble and fun bike for all-around trail riding. I was very impressed with the overall feel and stability of the Prophet in high-speed downhill, on drops and jumps and on tight singletrack. There’s a reason why the Prophet line has garnered so much attention, and after riding it for a couple of months, I can honestly say that attention is well deserved.
If you can only have one bike in your quiver, the Prophet should be a contender for that one spot. You’d be hard-pressed to find another bike as versatile as the Prophet in the same price range. With some quick cockpit adjustments, the Prophet felt natural and smooth in all conditions. It’s a natural born climber and will shine on any type of trail you can throw at it–just point it and go–the smile on your face will be hard to hide.
Visit Cannondale.com to search for a dealer near you!