The Takeaway: The CAAD Optimo Sora is a race-worthy bike hung with cheap but reliable parts to create a great all-around road bike for only $1,000.
- Aluminum frame and full carbon fork
- Shimano Sora 2 x 9-speed drivetrain
- Race-inspired geometry
Cannondale’s CAAD Optimo Sora is an unassuming, race-worthy road bike that masks high-performance chops with low-cost yet reliable components. For a thousand bucks you get an aluminum frame, full carbon fork, and nearly identical geometry to its high-end siblings. But thanks in part to the slightly heavier aluminum used in the frame, which adds a few pounds, you still get all the race-day vibes you can ask for out of the CAAD Optimo Sora.
It offers a smoother ride than the high-end and high-octane aluminum bikes, and it’s lighter than most other road bikes in its price range. Crisp handling means you can push it as hard as you want in the turns, and it still tracks beautifully in a straight line for those who are happier to ride well within the limits of their machine. The Cannondale CAAD Optimo Sora is a cheap road bike that will be a reliable riding companion for years to come and can even hold its own in a bike race.
Race Ready for Less
The CAAD Optimo Sora is part of Cannondale’s line of entry-level aluminum road bikes. What sets it apart from many other cheap, aluminum road bikes is the design. This isn’t a road bike with the sharp edges taken away to make it more appealing to the casual cyclist. The CAAD Optimo line, and specifically the CAAD Optimo Sora, brings the same high-end racing geometry you’ll find in Cannondale’s elite-level bikes and packages it into a more affordable Smartform C2 aluminum frame.
That’s not to say this bike isn’t a wonderful choice for riders who don’t want to race; it most definitely is. But in an era in which many cheap road bikes are shifting toward the endurance bike end of the spectrum, with short reaches and high stack heights, this bike sticks to its guns as a race-inspired machine. As such, it can fulfill a broad range of needs for many riders. At $1,000 it’s a good option for riders who want a crisp-handling road bike to enjoy casual miles. It’s more than capable of handling centuries and fondos, and if your cycling addiction grows to the point where you might try a race, the CAAD Optimo Sora will serve you very well there.
5 Things We Love About the Cannondale CAAD Optimo Sora
Shimano Sora 2 x 9-Speed Drivetrain
The aluminum frame and full carbon fork are paired with a Shimano Sora 2 x 9-speed drivetrain and Promax RC-452 rim brakes. Shimano Sora cranks, with 50/34t chainrings, offer a nice blend of go-fast and get-up-the-hill gearing, especially with the 11-30 cassette. Cannondale RS 2.0 aluminum wheels are reliable and offer a smooth ride wrapped in 25mm Vittoria Zaffiro tires, and the aluminum handlebar, stem, and seatpost are also courtesy of Cannondale.
Cannondale CAAD Optimo Sora Details
Drivetrain: Shimano Sora 2 x 9
Cranks: Shimano Sora 50/34
Wheels: Cannondale RS 2.0
Brakes: Promax RC-452
Tire clearance: 25mm
CAAD Optimo Family
In addition to the CAAD Optimo with Sora, there are three other options for you in the family: the 11-speed CAAD Optimo 105 ($1,320), the 10-speed CAAD Optimo Tiagra ($1,100), and the 8-speed CAAD Optimo Claris ($850). All bikes in the CAAD Optimo family have rim brakes—which are significantly cheaper than disc brakes, even the cable-actuated kind—meaning you get way more bike for the money in other places (think drivetrain and frame).
The CAAD Optimo’s geometry is virtually identical to the CAAD13—exactly what you’d expect to see in a bike built for racing. A low stack height (583mm on my size 58cm) and a reach of 399mm strikes a perfect middle ground, accommodating riders who prefer a very aggressive position without alienating riders who prefer a more casual fit.
An endurance road bike will be more accommodating to riders who like a higher handlebar position, and it will look cleaner than having several centimeters of spacers under the stem, but you won’t get the razor-sharp handling that’s more characteristic of a race-inspired bike like the CAAD Optimo Sora.
High-End Feel Without The High-End Price
Endurance road bikes are increasingly popular, especially on the low end of the price spectrum, for the simple reason that they are more comfortable for riders who don’t want an aggressive, race-oriented bike fit. Those riders now have a great selection of bikes from which to chose. However, the rider who wants a more race-inspired bike has more limited options without forking over a ton of cash. The Cannondale CAAD Optimo Sora stands out as a cheap road bike that gives all of the high-performance feels of a racing bike at a fraction of the price.
It’s slightly heavier than more expensive aluminum bikes, but relative to bikes in its price range it’s on the lighter end of the spectrum. In fact, because it’s lighter than many of its counterparts (21.3 pounds for a size 58cm), the bike doesn’t feel like you’re dragging an anchor when you hit a hill. Furthermore, it has a way of blending into the background when you ride. While some bikes assert their personality in such a way that you can’t forget the bike you’re riding, others are designed specifically for one task and don’t perform as well once outside their comfort zone. The Cannondale CAAD Optimo Sora is neither of those. It’s a bike that blends into the ride and disappears from under you. It does what you want in a clean, subtle fashion that allows you to spend more time enjoying the ride and less time actively engaged with the bike you’re on.
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