Cannondale Vs. Specialized 2021: Which is the Better Brand and Why

You are probably here because you don’t know which brand to take between Cannondale and Specialized. When you ask your friends, they leave you more confused because they are die-hard fans of either of the brands.

Thankfully, you have us and we are saving you the stress with this in-depth Cannondale vs. Specialized comparison article.

Where do the Two Brands Compare?

Specialized provides a wide range of mountain bikes at a different quality level, and so does Cannondale.

Specialized has some budget bikes and a high-end segment known as S-Works. Cannondale, on the other hand, mostly sells high-end bikes, but they do have a few low-budget and middle-range options.

Some riders say that Specialized bikes are more aerodynamic and stiffer. The word “aero” matters a lot to a professional rider who wants a more comfortable bike with reduced wind resistance.

An average rider would not worry much about a bike being aerodynamic or not. In fact, most riders do it for fun and are the majority.

They care about the bike frame and components only. So let’s dig a little more into those.

Frames

Both brands build awesome frames with a slight difference in geometry. They manufacture high-quality aluminum and carbon fiber frames for their bikes at a varying price range.

Cannondale researches and develops its frames in Bedford, Pennsylvania. Initially, their frames were produced in the US, but now most of their mass production happens in Asia.

Specialized, on the other hand, is based in California, but Merida does their production.

In fact, Giant supplies parts to Specialized. Specialized frames are lighter than Cannondale’s. However, the later boats of their C3 technology, which helps them develop the hardest frames in the market.

Geometry

Unless you are not concerned, the geometry of a bike is essential, especially if you are going to compete or race with it. The geometry of your bike is significant to your riding experience and how your bike feels.

While Cannondale uses traditional geometry in most of their bikes, especially those with a lefty, Specialized uses a more performance-oriented approach. You expect some changes in geometry in every new model they release each production year.

Cannondale bikes may require some modifications and changes to deliver the feel you want, but Specialized offers pre-built bikes that will need nothing except what’s in the box. That’s why a professional rider would go for an S-Works instead of a Cannondale.

Components, Suspension, and Brakes

When buying a bike, there’s more than just the frame size, the core features. Every component of the bike is crucial as it affects your overall comfort when riding the bike.

Shimano and SRAM are the world’s leading drivetrain makers. Shimano’s brake sets are more popular than SRAMs, and you’ll find them in most bikes, including many Specialized and Cannondale bikes.

The quality of the components matters a lot. If you find a Cannondale bike and a Specialized bike selling at the same price point or $20 apart, go for the bike with better components.

While Specialized uses third-party components from companies like SRAM and FSA, Cannondale has in-house bike chains, tracking devices, additional gear, sensors, and high-quality helmets that you might want to consider.

Specialized have excellent bikes and are known for their high-quality saddles, helmets, kick pedals, shoes, and apparel. You have probably seen the shoes already and couldn’t help but admire them. I do have a pair. In this comparison, there’s no winner. Choose wisely.

Design

Looks can be deceiving, but when it comes to bikes, the consequences are not fatal. Also, beauty is in the eye of the beholder so let me hold your wine.

The paint and decal finishing for a bike has no impact on how a bike rides, but who wants an ugly bike? Most definitely, not you!

When you get that bike, you want to look great on it, and so it should look nice. As much as you shouldn’t focus on aesthetics, I’d go with Specialized when it comes to the overall look of the bike. They know what quality bikes need to turn heads.

Size

You can get the best bike in the market, but you won’t enjoy the rides if the bike is the wrong size and your riding position is not right. It goes without saying that bikes sizes vary by brand.

Specialized’s large or medium frame is not the same as Cannondale’s. Both brands classify their bikes differently.

Specialized bikes have a deeper sizing structure which is done according to gender. A model can come in two sizes.

A large for male riders and a large for female riders, but before your eyes, their heights are different.

Cannondale follows the same sizing order, whether it’s a women’s or unisex bike. This is a serious thing to keep in mind to prevent you from making rash decisions and end up with the wrong size, especially if you want to buy your bike online.

Performance

Both Cannondale and Specialized are globally acclaimed bike manufacturers loved by bike enthusiasts, and there’s one reason they remain afloat in the competitive market.

Their quality! Specialized and Cannondale bikes deliver quality performance. Their higher-end and middle-level innovative bikes are enjoyable to ride but don’t make the mistake of going for their budget bikes.

Suppose you are not in a position to spend over $1.500 on a bike. Then I would advise you not to go for Specialized and Cannondale bikes under that budget.

The reason why is that these brands focus and research on their expensive bikes. Otherwise, if you go for affordable bikes, you’ll have to settle on a less popular brand that still builds amazing bikes.

Reputation

I wouldn’t mind about a company’s reputation because no one would face smack you for riding your bike.

Both brands have a good reputation, based on my research, but if you want a company that has a better reputation than the other, then you’ll have to go with Cannondale.

I’m not saying that Specialized is bad, but most users noticed that the brand locks horns with other companies for trademark infringement. Specialized have every right to sue a company, but it ruins their image when it overdoes it.

There’s no negative press for Cannondale that I’ve seen so perhaps the bikes should speak on their behalf. Both brands have great bikes, and as long as you get the bike you like, nothing else matters.

Warranty

One of the factors you cannot overlook when buying a bike is the warranty. I would buy a bike from a brand that provides a lifetime warranty for its products without a second thought. Let’s face it.

Only a few brands provide this type of warranty. But don’t get too excited. If you crash your bike, that will be your problem, as the warranty only covers production flaws or poor workmanship.

Normal wear and tear are not covered either, but some companies promise to sell you replaceable parts at a discount as long as you bought the bike from them. A warranty is not transferable to a second party but only applicable to the original owner.

Both brands provide a lifetime warranty for their frames, excluding frames of gravity. From there, Cannondale and Specialized warranties take different turns, and so you need to compare them before buying a bike.

Cannondale’s History

Founded by Joe Murdock MacGregor and Joe Montgomery in 1971, Cannondale Bicycle Corporation is based in Wilton, Connecticut, and is a subsidiary of Dorel Industry.

The formerly Canadian company is the pioneer of carbon frame technology. When every bike company back then thought an aluminum frame was the best thing in a bike, and just when they were doing away with steel, Cannondale was experimenting with a non-metal formula known as carbon fiber.

Carbon fiber technology introduced bike frames that were lighter than alloy frames. Other bike brands and even car and plane manufacturers embraced the technology later.

The company also developed a lefty fork which set it apart from other bike companies. The design is quite innovative and unique as it has only one side, the left side.

Cannondale also uses third-party forks such as the Suntour for budget bikes. Cannondale has been using Hollowgram crankset technology for its high-end bikes. Their most popular models are Trail, F-Si, Scalpel, and Jekyll.

Also Read: Cannondale Bikes vs Trek Bikes for 2021

Specialized’s History

Specialized Company was started back in 1976 by an avid cyclist, Mike Sinyard. With handlebars and stems from Cinelli in his possession, Mike was ready to put his newly acquired skills and passion to action.

By 1981, he has constructed Sequoia and Allez bikes.  However, Specialized’s most significant breakthrough was after 2009. Their luxury brand, the S-Works, hit the global markets hard.

Specialized first mountain bike was the Stumpjumper. It was a fully steel bike with a rigid fork – a completely different model from the latest Stumpjumper.

Specialized advocated for trail access and protection in 1987. Otherwise, the culture of mountain biking would not have been fully achieved.

Going by the innovative ideas the company has brought forth, we can agree that Specialized mountain bikes are truly made for riders by riders.

Conclusion

I have experimented with tens of bike models, and even though none of them is my favorite, Cannondale and Specialized have some of the greatest competitive bikes on the market.

You cannot go wrong with either. In fact, toss a coin and use it to decide which type of bike to go with because both are awesome.

Remember, your riding position is essential. If you have questions for us, we’re ready to help.

From riding to school since the age of 13, attending BMX races and events with his dad to himself conquering 10+ trails across the globe, for Rob, his Giant Stance 29 2 2020 is the friend that makes everything better. He is also a proud member of the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA).

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