Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The Great Cannondale Legacy

The history of the Cannondale Bicycle Company is quite interesting if not unique in it's own way. It all started in the summer of 1970 in a small suburb in western Connecticut called Wilton. During that time Cannondale founders Joe Montgomery and Pete Meyers had their design studio and workshop loft upstairs from a pickle factory. They weren't even producing bicycles yet, only backpacking/hiking gear and add-on's for bicycle touring such as attachable caddy's called "the Bugger", to duffel bags for your handlebars and tote bags for your saddle. They even produced some jackets and all-weather gear from time to time, which were of very high quality. They were basically the North Face of the 70's up until they decided to go producing bicycles full line in 1983. But this was the early, early days for Cannondale when they were still without a name or identity, mostly in the design and prototype stages.

So the story goes like this. On one crisp morning with the workshop windows open, during that steamy summer of 1970 in Wilton, the downstairs pickle factory just produced a "smelly" batch of relish as the dog, Jager, was barking at the 9:27am train whizzing by the Cannon RR crossing just outside. The commotion made Pete and Joe realize they have been in full operation day and night for 2-1/2 weeks without having a telephone line put in for the business. Pete heads out to the payphone across the street at the Cannondale train station to call the phone company and make arrangements. He gives the operator all the information with the address as well and was about to hang up when the operator asks the most important question of all, "how do you want it listed as"? Pete paused for a few seconds, looked over to the old train station and replied "why...ah, Cannondale Corporation" and the rest is, as they say, cycling history.

This is why the early Cannondale logo (see below) had an illustrated Cannondale train station.
They were one of the few big bicycle companies that retained operation in the USA for a long, long time. However, just like all the others, now they are being manufactured entirely in Taiwan. This was a recent move. At first they tried staying committed to the USA market by using 40 percent American parts and 60 percent Taiwanese parts up until last year when they closed all US operations and are now producing 100 percent in Taiwan. I think the only big name bicycle brand still being produced in the USA is Trek.

I've always been a huge fan of Cannondale bicycles. Ever since back in the early 90's when my good homie John Morales stole one and rode it around everywhere. I remember taking it for a ride and it was the lightest, fastest bike I had ever ridden. I was blown away by it and ever since then I've wanted one which is why my wife and I are proud 'Dale' owners these days. For more information or to view vintage catalogs, photos, and all types of Cannondale related material, check out this great website here.

The Cannondale Metro North Station