1985 Cannondale SM600

Taking a break from catalog uploads.  Pedaled my yellow beasty on a loop around town.  It was my graduation gift from my parents.  I doubt I’ve pedaled a single bicycle further.  Did you know or notice that the rear wheel is a 24 incher while the front is the (then) standard 26 incher?  The idea was to increase traction.  How does that work?  The thought might be that smaller wheels allow the use of shorter chainstays.  Shorter chainstays tuck the wheel under the rider and weight on the drive wheel improves traction.  

Smaller wheels are lighter and stronger.  That’s good, but why not a smaller wheel in front too?  A larger front wheel helps you get over obstacles.  The smaller rear doesn’t need to be bigger to clear obstacles.  Once the front is over, momentum will bring the rear along for the ride.  I think I remember seeing a more recent mountain bike with a 29 incher on front and a 26 incher in the rear.  Same idea, new era.

Having mentioned bunny hopping in my last post, I knew I needed to take this bike out.  This was the one on which I would bomb through Chicago along the lake.  Didn’t need to slow for curbs.  Just bunny hopped right on up at full speed.  I gave it a go today and was pleased to achieve a full two inches on my first (and only) try.  I suppose I could get back my old springs if I put some effort into it.

The Suntour XC Comp group was a marvel.  I still have it all, but took off the derailleurs when I went to single chain ring set up.  I swapped the brake levers for the Tomasellis early on, too.  Swapped in a flat Salsa bar for the original Nitto risers, but have since gone back  to a riser since.  

The XC-Comp II bear trap pedals are legendary.  I’ve never enjoyed a pedal more.  Very sure grip.  Great bearings.  Bomb-proof.  

How about those cam brakes?  I can’t imagine there is a more heavy duty brake out there.  Easy to set up and easy to use.  They modulate really well.  Strong springs tolerate poorly maintained cables (I would imagine).  

I had to do battle with a stuck seatpost on this bike about 15 years or so ago.  I lost.  I didn’t have the internet to get the tips to free it.  I now would douse the thing in liquid wrench, leave the seat post intact and clamp the head in a bench vice, heat the seat tube and twist using the leverage provided by the full frame.   Instead, I sawed the seatpost off and tried to saw along the length of the thing.  I could probably still get it out this way, but about 10 years ago I discovered that a 7/8ths inch bmx seatpost dropped nicely into the cut off seatpost and works as good as any.  I will probably never bother to try to get the old seatpost out.  Sad.

I had a ball on my ride.  Pedaled through a hilly and grassy lawn at a hospital.  Pedaled along gravel trails in Washington Park.  Pedaled on the streets as fast as my today legs would let me.  Only about four miles all in, but it was enough to wake me up and give me a mean thirst.

This bike is solid, quiet and confidence inspiring.  I used to run high pressure 1.5 inch slicks on it, but you can see I now have knobbies on it.  Choices for  matching tires offered in both 24 inch and 26 inch are limited, but the Holy Rollers seem plenty good.

I did blow up the front tube before leaving on my ride.  First time in my life I have done that (but the second time I have witnessed it).  I pumped it up to full pressure without having the tire properly seated.  A few second after I pumped it up I heard a strange creaking, saw the tube sneaking out between the bead and the rim and then heard the explosion.  Glad Frida was outside.  She would have died of a heart attack.  Good thing is that it was the front tire (I don’t have any spare 24 inch tubes).  It was easy to replace the tube on this rim-tire combo.  It has a sloppy loose fit so no tire irons were needed.  I pumped the tire up in stages this time (stopping twice to confirm the tire was properly seated).  Ears should not be subjected to that kind of abuse.

See the old Cannondale catalogs here.  Notice the bike is at the top of their page?  Smiles.  Be well.


12 responses to “1985 Cannondale SM600

  1. Great Bike and write up. I used to want one of these bikes so badly. I ended up with 2 x 26″ version. But still a great bike.

    • Thanks! My parents are really sweet to have bought it for me. It wasn’t cheap! I think symmetrical wheels make sense for a million reasons. I hope you still have it!


  2. I have the identical bike, am restoring it soon. I like your photos.

    • Wow! Thanks for writing! How’d you come to own it? Does it have all the right bits? I’d guess if you bought it second hand the XC-II pedals may be gone. People seem to think those are pretty nifty. Anyway, cheers!

      • Thomas Stratman

        I’ve converted it to an electric hybrid, still have the original rims, the front came with the 36 volt kit, the rear is still putting up with the pounding of bike and batteries after all this time.

      • Thanks for writing. That’s quite an adventure. Do you have pictures?

  3. Really enjoyed this story. I have this identical bike as well. Everything is factory original except for the seat and tires. I bought it about 15 years ago at a thrift store in really good shape. I’ve used it as a commuter bike for years and love it. I’ve occasionally wondered what it might be worth, but don’t know if I could actually part with it.

  4. Paid $350.00 at Kozy’s for the frame and fork in 85 when Can was sued by Klein. Serial # 00103. Got a deal on a Campy triple crank someone won in a race. Lickton’s built me some great wheels. Phil wood hubs. Used to live across the street from Wash park lagoon until 2013. I would have FLIPPED seeing you.

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