A review of the 2007 Cannondale Bad Boy Ultra

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[ News: April 23, 2009 – Here’s a Long Haul update of the 2007 Cannondale Bad Boy Ultra.  Check it out to see how it held up! ]

I picked up my new bike on Friday, a few months earlier than I had actually planned. The 2007 Cannondale Bad Boy Ultra is, for me, the perfect compromise between a hard-core road bike and a somewhat liberal interpretation of a mountain bike.

Making up my mind…

My biking patterns have changed over the years from a lot of off-road and trail riding to inner-city exploration. I love the durability of the mountain bike format but I am constantly trying for more speed.

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My Schwinn Moab 2 on
the Kurt Kinetic trainer.

The bike I have been riding since 2K is a 1999Schwinn Moab 2 which has stood up to the test of time and my abuse amazingly well. It is my first serious bike but I have exclusively ridden a series of either mountain or BMX bikes since I was 10 years old. I’m not eager for a radical interface switch.

I liked the nimble feel of my mountain bike, and I love the speedy trigger shifters, so both of these features were a must. I also wanted thinner road slicks and a higher gear ratio for flat-out performance (since I have stopped climbing steep, slippery dirt trails for the most part, the granny gears on my Moab 2 are somewhat useless).

My choice was between the Bad Boy Disc and the Bad Boy Ultra; my argument for the Disc over the Ultra being price and that the HeadShok on the Ultra may dampen any power pedaling I might do.

Headshok Logo 02

Cannondale solved this one for me. On the Ultra you can lock out the HeadShok suspension, meaning you have the choice between a stiff ride on flat, smoother surfaces or front suspension for regular riding over the potholes and whatever garbage you may come across downtown.

That’s really wicked. So now it’s like I have two different bikes. The Cannondale site doesn’t actually mention this! I was shown this awesome feature by my sales guy, Mike, at Dukes on Queen. If you’re in Toronto and you need a bike, I highly recommend Dukes and I wouldn’t be the only one to do so. They were professional and friendly; not something I’m used to at most specialty tech stores (think computer stores for example).

Another interesting feature is on the design of the shifters. They are standard trigger shifters, but you can also shift by pulling up and down on them. It’s a bit hard to explain, but the closest I can come is calling them “3D” shifters.

The bike is pretty light. It’s not the lightest by far, especially compared to some of the road-only models, but it’s much lighter than my Moab 2 yet it feels like it offers the same durability. Riding this bike compared to my Moab 2 feels like I have lost substantial weight, but I’m not sure how much a more dramatic decrease in bike weight would help my riding style. That is a bit surprising, because going from the astounding weight of my Schwinn Frontier to the Schwinn Moab 2 felt like I had lost a passenger. Spending more for an even lighter bike in the same format would probably produce even less wow than that, so I am quite happy with the weight.

The pedals it came stocked with are Wellgo dual-function pedals, meaning they are standard vanilla bike pedals on one side, and clipless pedals on the other. I’ll be using the clipless side mostly. I have no intention of locking this bike to a pole downtown to do some shopping, so I am considering changing out the pedals eventually to fully clipless.

The first ride…

I picked it up at lunch time on Friday, going up to Dukes to get them to fit it for me which they do at no extra cost. It’s not just a matter of adjusting the seat; Mike put the Bad Boy on a trainer, and I had to ride it for 15 minutes as settings were tweaked. He also gave me some excellent tips on hand position and posture that I’m going to try and stick with while riding.

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Improper riding attire.

After getting all of my ridiculous winter gear on I nervously walked it out of the store and on to the street. A new bike, in sub-zero temperatures, wearing giant robot gloves does not make for a confident first ride. Mounting it and pedaling off, it felt pretty familiar to me. Close enough to my current bike to be very comfortable, but it felt a lot more nimble and acceleration was effortless.

My ride to work from Dukes is about 10 minutes, it is close enough that you could walk there in 25 or so. An excellent length for a debut ride. My confidence increased as I found the feeling of how new and different this bike was quickly passing. I had been riding full tilt through traffic and I hadn’t felt shaky or unsure once.

The stability and balance of this bike is surprising. When I was doing research on the Bad Boy, a few people had cited the length of the handle bars as a downside. They are long, but from my riding experience this adds to the feeling of balance. Nimble is the best one-word description of the Bad Boy. As I rode back to work my cornering felt sure, and the one quick u-turn I made (after a quick exploration of a street I hadn’t noticed before) was totally effortless.

The dual disc brakes are still brand spanking new. They felt ok, but I really can’t judge until I put some miles on them.

By the time I hit Liberty St. I was focused on just how damned cold it is in this country in February, so after that point I lost track of exactly how awesome my first ride was.

The day after…

No buyers remorse yet. I have been making adjustments to it today to get it to fit in millimeter by millimeter increments (so really I’m just fooling around with it).

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  1. Thanks for the in-depth review. I have been looking for a light bike to get my from A to B in Berlin, which is almost entirely flat. A racing bike would be an option, but I don’t like the bent posture, I would prefer a more upright position for the city.

    I have a few questions: which frame size did you take (and how tall are you?). What is your posture: more upright or bent? Maybe you can tell me a bit more about your experience with disc brakes, how do they feel? Are you considering attaching fenders?

    By the way, the Bad Boy is offered in nine different variations in Germany (compared with three in the US), including a very pricey Rohloff model. I am leaning towards the one equipped with the new Shimano Alfine group and hydraulic discs.

  2. Hey iMaculate!

    I’m a “Medium”, so I think it’s somewhere between a 55 and a 57. The posture is surprisingly upright. I thought I’d be more bent over but the posture is about what you’d expect from most mountain bikes. The discs are good, but as I’ve read before they take a couple of weeks to break in before they really feel like they are substantially different from cantilever brakes.

    I took it for a very long ride today and the only part of me that hurt at the end of the day were my legs. No numb-bum and I didn’t feel like my arms were going to shatter. It’s a very comfortable and very fast bike. After a couple of months of riding in varying conditions I am still very satisfied with it.

    I’ve seen some of the European versions online, they’re very drool worthy! I don’t know why we get stuck with the meager selection on this side of the pond.

    Thanks for posting!

  3. Hey there!

    I’ve been considering the idea of riding to work for the past two years and I think I’m finally about to take the plunge! I have a 1998 Gary Fisher Big Sur mountain bike and a 2000 LeMond Chambery road bike…but I want to get another bike specifically for commuting to and from work. I saw the Bad Boy a few years ago and it’s been in the back of my mind ever since. So today I stopped into my local Cannondale dealer and they had a 2007 Bad Boy Ultra in stock.

    So…I was wondering if you have any additional thoughts & opinions about the Bad Boy as a commuter bike after having it for a year?? Any regrets? Is there anything about it that you wish was different? I’d be very interested in your feedback (both pro & con)….

    I’d be happy to correspond via e-mail if you prefer…

  4. Hi there,

    I really enjoyed your review of the Bad Boy Ultra. I live in Osaka, Japan and want to get a good commuting/occasional ‘off-road’ bike. However, I am a bit of a newbie with bikes like this so I don’t really know what ind of things I should be looking out for when I buy one.

    Do you have any advice from your buying experience? Maybe an updated review?

    Once again, thanks for the review.


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