Cannondale Rize 3 2008

Review by Sharon Bader
For ( link is now gone so relinked to my copy)


The Cannondale Rize 3 is billed as the do it all All Mountain bike for "Condition 4 All mountain riding including Medium Technical features". The Rize 3 comes with Cannondale's Lefty PBR fork. Once you get used to the Lefty TINE on the front, can't really call it a fork now can we, it comes across as plush, responsive and light. Being on the North Shore, "medium technical features" may not have the same definition as in other parts of the continent. The bike exhibited handling characteristics which inspired a new level of confidence from the rider. It's limitations were only revealed in the most steep technical terrain. Steeper technical terrain was manageable with a 2.35 tire, flat pedals and the seat as low as possible.

Climbing up Comfortably Numb, Whistler's Epic cross country trail.

The Bike

Available in aluminum or carbon, the Rize 3 comes in four sizes; the medium was tested here. The front hydroformed triangle provides lateral stiffness and keeps the frame light. Both bikes have carbon seat stays which maximizes lateral stiffness, maintains strength and reduces weight. The sealed cartridge bearings on the seat stays also reduce friction. The asymmetric swingarm has an oversized bridge to maximize torsional stiffness; the chain stays are rectangular for increased lateral stiffness resulting in increased pedaling efficiency. Cannondale's "3D Forged Backbone" combines the bottom bracket, lower pivot and seat tube into one forged part for increased stiffness, strength and reduced weight.

The Rize has its own "True Travel" suspension design for all mountain riding; the rear goes through all of its 130mm travel. The suspension remains active under braking with small bump compliance. The design has a rising rate suspension as it moves through its rear travel providing a plush bottomless feel.

The high stand over made one feel tentative on really steep technical terrain, a shorter wheelbase made it quick to move around. The 13in bottom bracket height made going over obstacles easy with the minor hit on the big chain ring. A chain stay protector would prevent wear due to rubbing of the rear foot during descents as my foot did. A quick release would be a good addition to lower the seat on more technical terrain which may not be necessary in most cross country applications.

Hydroformed tubing gives nice lines! Note the wide stay bridge and wide rectangular tubing.

Front end

Lefty Max 130mm with PBR (Push Button Rebound and Lockout) is an air sprung shock with the air valve accessed from the bottom of the fork leg. It comes in carbon or aluminum at 2.9lbs and 3.5lbs respectively, the aluminum Lefty was on this bike. The recommended air pressure is 50psi-225psi, 90psi for a 150lb rider. Reduced friction is accomplished by the 88 needle bearings in four races which allows the fork to 'roll' through its suspension rather than slide. It does not have traditional stanchions, rather it telescopes through its travel on the needle bearings. This is the main reason it is so smooth when traveling through its suspension. The torsional stiffness of the Lefty allows it to track more precisely than the double stanchion forks which has each leg moving independently thus reducing torsional stiffness. The Lefty is quite stiff in the for-aft direction; a noticeable stabilization in corners and descents was observed. Removing the front tire is easy since there is no need to remove the wheel. Removing the wheel involves loosening the brake caliper to move it out of the way, a 5mm allen key to loosen the outer hub and pull the wheel straight off the tapered axle. The brake caliper acts as a secondary wheel retention system.

The top dial contains the rebound adjustment, the lockout button is in the middle of the red knob. Push the blue middle button down to lock out the fork, push the two red levers pointing into the lockout button to release the lockout.

Rear end

The True Travel suspension is facilitated by the Fox Float RP2. The bike pedals efficiently in full active or pro pedal mode. Even when you forget to turn the pro pedal off before going down steep technical terrain the suspension still works great and you don't even notice that it is stiffer. The suspension moves the bike forward and does not suck the pedal stroke out of you.


The saddle is a very important part of a bike. Most bikes are equipped with a male specific saddle and this bike is no exception. The White Aliente saddle was comfortable on shorter rides, but for longer ones I would have wanted a women's specific saddle. The first ride covered the saddle in mud. Surprisingly enough it didn't stay dirty. The saddle also held up well on a couple of the falls I had. Adjusting the saddle was accomplished by loosening two allen bolts on either end of the post-saddle attachment. It was awkward to get the allen key into the rear bolt due to its proximity to the seat post, but eventually you could loosen the bolt, move the seat and tighten it up again.

Avid Juicy 7 brakes have a reputation of squealing like a gerbil being crushed with every squeeze of the lever. This brake was quiet. It had very good power but low modulation. The dial to adjust the brake pads are nice on the top of the reservoir. The white brakes looked sharp on this bike.

The SRAM X-7 shifters worked flawlessly. I did find my thumb would push the lower lever while moving the bike aggressively on tougher terrain. Fortunately I wasn't shifting intentionally at this time.

Sharp contrasting white saddle, brakes, sparkling Cannondale Logo on flashy red paint.

The Rize 3 comes stock with the Maxxis Rendez tire. This tire was made for Cannondale for this bike. The lateral center knobs did not inspire confidence and while traction was sufficient on wet rocks and roots at moderate speeds as soon as speed increased traction would decrease. Noticeable wear was present on the center knobs after only seven rides. Most of the rides were on wetter rocky, rooty terrain, the last ride on drier looser rock. This tire is 70a durometer on the Maxxis scale, super tacky tires are 60a durometer.

Note the longitudinal tread with asymmetric knob 'wave'.

The Ride

While riding this bike you notice that you sit tall which is a comfortable position for longer rides. This position and the high stand over height didn't inspire confidence on technical features such as uphill skinny ladder bridges, other steep structures or steep sketchy technical descents. It responded well and handled precisely on open twisty, turny terrain and would move where and when you wanted it to. It climbs very well even though you feel the active suspension which pushes you forward. The tires were surprisingly grippy on loose loamy steep slopes and wet rocks, roots and hooked up great on corners. Even at varied climbing speeds to encourage them to lose traction on wet rocks and roots the tires didn't slip. Only at higher downhill speeds did the tires lose their traction. The great traction could also be attributed to the plush suspension that encouraged maximum tire contact to the ground. The chain didn't slap on fast steep rough descents.

The lack of a quick release was inconvenient on technical trails when I wanted to lower the seat; as well it was hard to get the seat post low.

Adjusting the rebound on the shock and fork was really easy and could be done on the fly.

Traction was fine at lower speeds on traditionally slick terrain.

This jump was handled well by the Lefty when I rolled it.

This bike really shone on classic technical cross country trails such as the 23km rooty, rocky Comfortably Numb in Whistler, BC.

Since medium technical trails in the North Shore and Whistler area also include rock faces I rode the Rize 3 on trails that offered more technical terrain. With 2.35 Kenda Nevegals on the front and flat pedals the Rize 3 was ready for Tower of Power and PHD. Two trails that consist of long rock faces and loose rocky trail sections. The Lefty performed admirably. It soaked up the technical drops and rolled over the loose rocky sections easily. The Rendez tire that was left on the rear of the bike did find its limit on the extended rock sections. Thankfully the Nevegal on the front was enough to control speed.

PHD has some smaller rock rollers that you can jump or roll. Lofting off these rollers on this bike was like diving into water. Smooth.

Look Mom, I got air!

Overall Impression:

A really confidence inspiring bike on most cross country terrain. The high stand over and tall seated position led to some trepidation on steeper terrain, but if you let the bike go it did fine. Plush active suspension made climbing and descending very comfortable. While not recommended for North Shore riding with the Lefty, it handled the technical terrain in this area quite well. The concern with the Lefty would be water getting under the boot requiring the Lefty to be serviced more often. The racers have a tendency to go out of alignment following successive sharp impacts which are common on these trails. Based on conversations with Cannondale fans, learning to service the Lefty is no more difficult then other forks on the market. This bike also comes with the Fox Float RL on the Rise 4, or Rock Shox Tora Solo air on the Rise 5.

About me:

I am 5'9", weigh 154lbs. I have been riding for 17 years. As mentioned above I come from an XC hard tail background but have moved with technology and ride a Titus RacerX for XC, a Turner 6 pack for DH and Shore riding and a Norco Team Ti set up for more freeriding/shore/technical XC riding. My Bikes!


Specs: 4/5
Price: 4/5
Ride: 5/5
Overall: 4/5

- Great climber
- Plush suspension, including the Lefty
Precise descending

- High stand over
- Sit really tall
- Rendez tires wore quickly, limited on steeper, wet terrain

Rating Guide:
5.0 Outstanding
4.0 Very Good
3.0 Above Average
2.0 Fair
1.0 Poor

Detailed Specifications

The source for this information is Cannondale Suggested Retail of this bike is $3099.99

Specifications are as follows:

Frame Set -
Fork - Lefty Max w/PBR, 130mm, 1.3kg/2.8lbs
Shock - Fox Float RP2
Sizes - S, M, L, XL
Color - Fine Silver, Red Race

Wheelset - DT Swiss XR430, 32h
Tires - Maxxis Rendez, 26 x 2.1"
Stem - Cannondale XC3 Si, 31.8 mm
Bar - FSA XC-281AOS, 25 mm Rise
Post - FSA FR-270
Saddle - Fizi'k Aliente Delta XM w/MG Rails
Headset - Cannondale HeadShok Si
BrakeSet - Avid Juicy 7 160/160mm
Crankset - Truvativ Stylo
Rear Cogs -
Sram PG-970 11-34
Pedals - Crank Bros. Smarty
Front Derailleur - Shimano LX
Rear Derailleur
- Sram X-9
Shifters - Sram X-7 Trigger

Geometry for a Medium Cannondale is as follows:

Standover - 774mm/30.5
Head Tube Angle - 68.5
Seat Tube Angle - 72.5
Effective Top Tube Length - 597mm/23.5
Wheel Base - 1105mm/43.5in
Bottom Bracket Height - 330mm/13.0in
Chainstay Length - 425mm/16.7in

Bike Weight - 27.3lbs