With all manufacturers flocking to the 140-160mm travel range for “all-mountain” steeds, it has left a gap in the marketplace for a little less travel and a little more efficiency. Kona, for example, introduced their new One20 lineup with, you guessed it, 120mm travel front and rear, Specialized has the venerable Stumpjumper FSR and now Cannondale has the recently-introduced Rize.
Last season, Cannondale essentially split the old Prophet platform in half by introducing two new bikes in its place. The 130mm travel Rize enduro/trail bike and the 160mm travel Moto all-mountain trailbike. The Rize is built to handle the abuse of all-day trail rides with the efficiency of an XC machine. After a few weeks on Utah singletrack, lets see how it performed.
Cannondale Rize Three Overview
As the top-of-the-line aluminum model, the Cannondale Rize Three is built with a solid parts spec dressing up a beautiful aluminum work of art. Cannondale’s legendary smooth welds and excellent quality is apparent. One slight difference from most Cannondale’s of yesteryear is that the Rize utilizes a 4-bar linkage single-pivot instead of their old-guard swingarm of the past. This allows the suspension rates to be controlled without relying entirely on the shock to do 100% of the work.
A utility parts spec adorns the Rize Three. Here are a few specs of note:
- Rear Travel: 130mm via Fox RP23
- Front Travel: 130mm via Lefty Max w/PBR
- Drivetrain: Mixture of SRAM X.9, X.7 and Shimano
- Wheels: DT Swiss XR430 rims, DT Swiss Spokes, C’dale front/Sun rear hubs
- MSRP: $3199
Cannondale Rize Three Review
The first bike of the season has a bit of a disadvantage because I haven’t quite built up my lungs and legs yet for the year. However, if any flaws would be apparent on any bike, right now they would be amplified and not glossed-over like when I’m in midseason form.
The local Cannondale rep, Matt Ohran, graciously lent me the Medium Rize Three for a few weeks to test. And while the upper-elevation trails have yet to thaw, all the excellent low-elevation trails in the Salt Lake City area are in perfect shape. With new, green leaves on the trees and tacky dirt around every corner, it’s been fun pushing the Rize to its limits.
Lets talk about the uphill capabilities of the Rize. My initial take on the Rize was that it felt a tad sluggish… I think this is mostly due to me being out of biking shape. But, it didn’t feel as sprightly as I think it should. On pavement, it was awesome having the lockable Lefty and lockout lever on the Fox RP2, which provided instant efficiency on the road. I never once on this bike (or any other) found the need to lock the suspension out on the trails–it’s plenty efficient on dirt and hooks up better unlocked.
The one detractor to the Rize’s climbing abilities is its tendency to wander and wheelie. When things got tight, twisty and technical, I found that the front end popped off the ground with hard pedal strokes and wandered more than it should. Many bikes exhibit this same type of behavior and with time I may develop better Rize-specific technique to combat this, but know that it is a bit of a wanderer.
As far as downhill capability, the Rize performs best at speed on smooth and fast-rolling trails. This bike hooks up really well and responds when pressed hard at high speeds. At slow-speeds, I felt like it lacked sharp handling and got me into trouble on a few occasions.
The Lefty tracked extremely straight and, in spite of what people might think, was as stiff as any traditional fork on the market. It’s just one of those psychological battles you’ll overcome after a couple of rides. I really liked the rear suspension feel and am glad to see Cannondale going with a controlled 4-bar linkage instead of the old-style swingarm. Pedal feedback and brake jack are imperceptible and reduced to a rarity with this design–much better than the Gemini and Prophet of the past.
The workman-like parts spec held up really well. Shifting was smooth and the overall feel of the bike on the trail was comfortable–just the right geometry for a comfortable, all-day steed.
The DT Swiss DT 430 wheelset provided excellent lateral stiffness and rolled fast and smooth and surprisingly the 2.1 width Maxxis Rendes tires hooked up well (I typically prefer a 2.35 width).
Good Rize Three
- Comfortable cockpit
- Easy-to-use adjustments on Lefty
- Straightforward trailbike for the masses
- Flies on smooth and fast singletrack
- Responsive when pressed
- Frame is very stout… feels very solidly-built
Bad Rize Three
- Front end raises on steep climbs
- Feels slower than it should… not sure why
- Lacks razor-sharp handling in tight, twisty singletrack
- No QR seatpost clamp standard
- Limited stem selection
The Bottom Line: Cannondale Rize Three
A workman’s bike indeed… the Cannondale Rize is an all-around trailbike for the masses. If you frequent steep and technical climbs, you might want to look elsewhere, but for fast and hard trail riding on smooth singletrack, this is as fun as they come.