To Own a Ferrari

06.5.2015 | 3:06 pm

A Note About DK200 Winner Yuri Hauswald from Fatty: Yuri’s a pro cyclist, a nice guy, a marketing guy for GU, and a friend. And now he’s the winner of the Dirty Kanza 200. There’s a great story about him here. Huge congrats to Yuri for an amazing win on a brutal course.

I love really nice bikes. The high end stuff, as well as the stuff that makes the high end stuff look like low end stuff. I embrace this appreciation of beautiful, light, high-tech gear, and do not apologize for it. Nay, I celebrate my love for bikes that are way, way better than I deserve.

I sometimes get a little grief for this. Pretty much along the lines you’d expect, too. “Isn’t that a lot of money to pay for a bike?”

Yes, it most certainly is. 

But I love it more than I would ever love a car, I enjoy it way more than I would ever enjoy a car, I use it more than I use any car, and — this is my most important point — it costs less than a third as much as even a crummy new car. 

And then there’s the even more important than most important point: I simply cannot afford to own one of the very best cars in the world. Just can’t. However, if I stretch myself I can afford to own the very best bikes.

I could never own a Ferrari. But I can own the bike equivalent thereof.

And the sensation is not dissimilar, as I recently discovered when given the chance to ride — for the rest of this season — the Cannondale F-SI Carbon Black Inc.

Here’s its beauty shot from Cannondale:


Is that a color photograph, or is it black and white? To be honest, there’s no way to tell. Every single thing on this bike is black, white, grey, or silver. It’s as elegantly monochromatic as a bike can be.

It is a beautiful bike. It is also upgraded to the max in every possible way, making it the incredibly rare bike that you cannot imagine running anything but stock (although I would eventually make a few changes, which I’ll describe shortly). What, in this spec, would you want to swap out?

Spec Highlights

  • Frame: F-Si Asymmetric, BallisTec Hi-MOD Carbon
  • Fork: Lefty 2.0 Carbon XLR 100 29
  • Drivetrain: Shimano XTR Di2
  • Brakes and Levers: Shimano XTR Race
  • Wheels: ENVE Carbon M50, tubeless ready (Ai offset lacing), Lefty SM front hub, Chris King rear hub
  • Handlebar: ENVE Carbon Sweep, flat
  • Saddle: Fabric ALM Carbon Base/Carbon RailSeat 
  • Post: ENVE Carbon, Di2 compatible

It is, quite simply, a perfect bike build. An XC racer techno geek fantasy rig. And when it arrived at SBR Cycles a couple weeks ago, I wanted nothing in the world more than to drop everything and rush over to the bike shop to watch it be built.

Unfortunately, I was at work. Even more unfortunately, I was in a meeting. Even most unfortunately of all, I was the one who was leading the meeting. Even more unfortunately than that, I was the one who called the meeting, because it was about one of my critical work projects.

Short of feigning a heart attack, there was no way I was getting out of that meeting. And since I’ve already used that trick three times in the past four months, I suspected people were beginning to cotton on to my shenanigans.

Hence, I remained in the meeting, watching helplessly and from a great distance…while SBR tweeted the building of my bike. 

From the unboxing…

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(No, not really the F-Si. The SBR guys were messing with me.)

to the building… 

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And the closeups. Oh, the closeups. Like this:


I tell you, I just about started crying. 

And then the closeup of the new XTR Di2 junction box, which doubles as a display. 


I’ll have more to say about Shimano’s XTR Di2 in just a minute. First, though, let’s take a look at the other alien space technology part this bike has built in: A ridiculously supple fork, that doesn’t fork at all. The Lefty: 


And staying to the “no possible upgrades” line, the rear hub is a Chris King:


Which means, once I got it on my rack (behind the Scalpel, because I somehow have both for now), there was no way I was not going to have a massive grin for pretty much the rest of my life.

All on ENVE M50 wheels. 

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Oh mercy I love these wheels.

So I arrived at the shop to find a completed, ready-to-ride bike. All set to go. Here I am, with the Scalpel and the F-Si Black:


Yeah, I’m grinning like a fool. You think you wouldn’t be?

And then, pretty much the moment I got the bike…it rained pretty much nonstop for about two weeks.

Sure, I still got this new bike out for little rides, but nothing that let me really get a feel for it. For one thing, I didn’t want to gunk up this thing of beauty. More importantly, I didn’t want to be a part of this:

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No, that’s not MTB wheels that did this, that’s motorcycles. But I didn’t want to be a part of the problem, you know?

What It’s Like to Ride 

Finally, last Saturday — while The Hammer was off on a little run — I had the opportunity to take the F-Si Black on a good-sized shakedown ride

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I took it on singletrack, fire roads, and even some really steep pavement. 

And this bike is, in fact, the MTB equivalent of a Ferrari. Faster, better and more capable than I have any right to…but that doesn’t mean I didn’t like being on it. 

For the nearly eleven hours I was out, I happily climbed and descended mountain after mountain — extending my ride waaaay beyond my original plan.

Because I simply did not want to stop riding. 

Sure, eventually my legs became fatigued —16,000 feet of climbing will do that to you — but not as soon as I expected. And the expected pain in my contact points — my butt and hands — just never materialized at all. Huge kudos to Cannondale for the amazing Lefty fork, as well as for a frame that is light and stiff but miraculously not harsh.

And for the Fabric saddle — the first time I’ve ever kept the saddle that came on a bike (instead of replacing it with a Selle Italia SLR).

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That is a wonderful saddle.  

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I was out there all day, riding hard…and loving how this bike feels more and more as the day went on.

Miracle Drivetrain

Of course, one of the really key features of the F-Si Black is the brand new Shimano XTR Di2 drivetrain. For those of you who don’t follow this kind of thing, that’s the electronic shifting drivetrain for mountain bikes.

And it is unbelievable. Even more unbelievable and wonderful than the road bike version of Di2. 

Why? Easy. On the road bike, Di2 just does what you would do, but electronically. You are still the one who decides whether you’re in your big/small ring up front, and which gear you’re using in the back.

And — if you want — the XTR Di2 can be that way, too. 

But I never ever use it in that “manual” mode. Because if you let it, the brains of the XTR Di2 will decide for you when it’s time to move to the big or small ring. All you have to do is press one button to shift to a harder gear, or another to shift to an easier one. Di2 shifts the back gear…or front…or both, for you. 

And it makes that gear change fast. And reliably, even if you are struggling up an extremely steep hill. 

And it just works. Every. Single. Time. 

It’s the most amazing MTB drivetrain in existence today. And I say that as someone who is so deeply in love with SRAM’s XX1 that between The Hammer and me, we have four bikes with it.

Yes, it’s heavier than XX1: about a pound heavier than the equivalent bike, I’d say. The battery (hidden in the seatpost, a charge lasts for multiple weeks of frequent riding) and motors on on derailleurs have to weigh something, right?

And this XTR Di2 is — as you’d expect — expensive. A big chunk of the Cannondale F-Si Black’s $11K price tag comes from the cost of Di2. 

But it’s amazing. Ferrari-level amazing. 

And between the incredible range of this drivetrain, the ease of shifting even in places where a shift normally wouldn’t happen, and the geometry of the F-Si itself, I am climbing stuff that better riders than I am aren’t climbing.

Changing A Thing or Two 

Earlier, I said this bike is so maxed-out there’s nothing I would change.

That…wasn’t exactly true.

First, while I tried riding with the Schwalbe Racing Ralph 2.1 tires the bike came with, they’re just too narrow for me. I don’t like them. I’ve replaced them with the Specialized S-Works Fast Trak 2.2s, which The Hammer and I have on all our XC bikes. That’s not a lot wider of a tire, obviously, but I’m just a lot more comfortable on it. It may just come down to being what I’m used to riding. 

More importantly, though, I made a couple of slight changes to how the XTR Di2 setup works. 

First, since I quickly came to trust that the programming of the XTR was smarter about gear ratios — when to shift to the small ring / large ring, and what kind of corresponding jump to make on the cassette — than I am, I decided to commit to it, and got rid of the left-side shifter: the one that lets me manually change the front derailleur.

This took me all of three minutes to do; it was basically as difficult as unplugging headphones from an iPod.  

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And just like that, I have no front derailleur shifter:

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Instead, all my shifting — both front and rear — is being controlled with just the right shifter.   

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But to be honest, when I first got this bike, I was mis-shifting a lot. Being really used to the SRAM trigger layout, on Di2 I was shifting up when I meant to shift down, and vice versa.

And I wasn’t transitioning well, since my other two MTBs still use the XX1 drivetrains.

So I downloaded the free software from Shimano that controls Di2 drivetrains, plugged the junction box into a USB port, and switched around which trigger does what — changing the drivetrain so it suits me, instead of waiting for my old-man brain to adjust to the way this bike works.

That took about twenty minutes (it might have taken less, but I had to borrow a Windows computer [my own setup is a Mac] to make the change on). 

And with those changes, the XTR Di2 shifting behaves just how I’m used to on SRAM 1X drivetrains…but with all the benefits of a front derailleur and electronic shifting. 

And — this is important — I made these changes myself, and I am no mechanic (to put it mildly). 

As far as I’m concerned, it’s now a perfect setup.


I am a hardtail guy. I just am. I loved (and am still loving) the Scalpel, but this F-Si…well, it feels like driving the Ferrari of MTBs to me. Fast, light, incredibly responsive. Perfect, frankly.

I haven’t made the decision for sure yet — it takes more than a few rides to make sure — but I’d say that this is going to be my Leadville 100 bike this year.

As you might expect, I’ll keep you posted.

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PS: If you unexpectedly received a box from UPS, and that box contained five-freaking-hundred GU Root Beer Energy Gels, with a message from Yuri Hauswald (yep, the same one linked in my note preceding this post): “Use however you see fit,” what would you do with those gels? This may or may not be a hypothetical question. 

PPS: As long as I’m talking a lot about Yuri and GU, Yuri’s the one holding the new Maple Bacon GU in this picture. No I haven’t tried it. Yes I want to, and have asked for samples, ASAP. And yes I will let you know what I think.


  1. Comment by Miles Archer | 06.7.2015 | 4:42 pm

    500 GUs?

    How a bout a GU slurping contest? See who can put away the most in 5 minutes. (Mr. Creosote?)

    I seriously doubt any one person would be able to use 500 before they either got completely sick of them or they got got moldy or whatever happens to GUs after sitting on the shelf for 5 years.

    I think you need to donate them to a charity century or a high school bike team.

  2. Comment by GT | 06.8.2015 | 4:20 am

    The pic of the frame in the box isn’t the Cannondale, what is it? And what happened to the left hand side seat stay that’s missing?

    That was SBR’s little joke to me, tweeting that instead of the actual bike. I thought I’d pass the gag along. – FC

  3. Comment by Kristy in MD | 06.8.2015 | 6:42 am

    You are excellent at creating bike envy when it had not existed 5 minutes ago. I will not post my immediate response here since it is a family show. But, let’s say, my old navy sailor language was put to use.

  4. Comment by Don | 06.8.2015 | 6:59 am

    A plethora of bike technerdiness. I loved every programmable shifting second of it. You’re kidding no one, I can already see you a few corrals up on 6th street, perched proudly atop the F-Si.

  5. Comment by BostonCarlos (formerly NYC) | 06.8.2015 | 7:55 am

    Now you know how I feel every time I throw a leg over my Ripley. :)

  6. Comment by Doug (Way Upstate NY) | 06.8.2015 | 10:03 am

    I just downloaded an app to my phone that will allow me to shift your bike remotely whenever I want to, wherever you are. I am holding you hostage until a ransom is received. I would like one of those bikes… Well or (1) root beer and (1) maple bacon Gu’s.

    Happy trails!

  7. Comment by Bart the Clydesdale | 06.8.2015 | 11:44 am

    Sweet ride! I have love my lefty as well. I shall look for the Black Blur flying down Columbine while my red and white lefty will be trudging up. I would be tempted to find you in Leadville and attempt a bike swap, but aside from the color difference I don’t think a bike built for you would work well for me unless they sent you a XL frame by mistake.

  8. Comment by Mark in Bremerton | 06.8.2015 | 1:48 pm

    Bike$ just keep getting $weeter. If I wa$ more into MTB riding, I’d be enviou$. We’re now looking at getting a tandem $o that we can ride together. Tho$e are $$weet, too!

  9. Comment by Jeff Dieffenbach | 06.8.2015 | 3:57 pm

    I think the bike in the box has Cannondale’s new Righty rear fork.

  10. Comment by davidh-Marin,ca | 06.8.2015 | 8:28 pm

    I think we’d all like a Rootbeer Gu in the soon to arrive new Fatty jersey. just say’n

  11. Comment by Skippy | 06.9.2015 | 9:06 am

    Surprised to see that Your Local Bike Shop was unwilling to reshedule the BUILD to a time that allowed you to enjoy supervising their efforts ?

    Reading the blog of Steve Tilford brought to light the misfortune of another ” Road Cyclist :

    Even more to the point of staying off the Roads was the Event in London , last night during the time you were preparing this post :

    As it was the 5th Woman skittled in london 2015 , whilst commuting by a Heavy Goods Vehicle , i am sure you will be glad that you are in possession of another OFF Road Bike ?

    AS a CENTRE of INFLUENCE , i am sure you would be keen to encourage YOUR Readers to do more than be Keyboard Warriors in the endeavour to create a SAFER World for Cyclists ?

    VisionZeroWorldWide has a number of ” Placards ” that can b e downloaded for Use ! You may well decide to create a Competition for the BEST Safety Campaign for Cycling safety ?

    UCI could be encouraged to create an Umbrella Org. For Cycle Safety Org.s , but it will need the Pro Racers to do more than hold MY Placards , in fact it will need them to USE THEIR SOCIAL MEDIA output !

    With the following that YOU HAVE , it could be possible to create an environment where ALL Your WorldWide readers could go for a Bike Ride and know that a visit to A. & E. , is not part of the experience ?


  12. Comment by AKChick | 06.9.2015 | 11:05 am

    OMG! I have Shimano DI2 on my new flashy Ferrari road bike. Can it be programmed to shift for me automatically or is that feature only on the MTB version? I would LOVE to have the junction box too! Wonder if you could get one for a road bike?

    I am a HUGE fan of SRAM fan myself (have it on the CX bike), but love the Shimano Di2 shifting on my roadie. Also a big thumbs up to carbon frames/forks. I did no training for a 100 mile charity ride recently (well one 50 miler on my new bike and a couple shorter rides supplemented with a lot of 15-25 milers on my spin bike indoors). I had ZERO fatigue after that ride (which took WAY longer due to rain and headwinds out and back). Once I was warmed up, I felt just fine. I wasn’t sore the next day either. Have to say, I am a HUGE fan of carbon.

    Love hearing about new bikes even though I’m not an MTBer. At least not yet. :)


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