Budget-wise bike shoppers will find joy in the Cannondale CAAD8 bike series. This entry-level road bike series is one that offers a few upgrades and some additional value for each bike model while keeping the basic geometry and purpose of the bikes the same. Our bike series review will highlight the four models in the Cannondale CAAD8 series to provide an overview of their significant differences.
Cannondale CAAD8 Series Bike Overviews
The Cannondale CAAD8 series offers four budget-friendly entry-level road bikes for beginners to the road cycling world. This series sits below Cannondale’s more popular series, the SuperSix EVO, with a purpose of turning casual riders into cyclists and giving them an affordable price to meet that need.
Cannondale CAAD8 Claris
The Cannondale CAAD8 Claris is the base model of the series. Although each bike in the series is focused on real beginners to road cycling, this bike is, by far, the most budget-friendly. If you want to get accustomed to a road bike before spending over $1000 on a higher-end model, this bike can be a good transition bike during the in-between period.
This bike won't necessarily "wow" you regarding shock absorption and comfort over long distances. But, Cannondale sets it at a decent price point for starters and some of its lower-performing components, like the wheelset and tires, are upgradable if you decide to spend more money on your bike gradually.
With Shimano Claris shifters and brake levers, you’ll get comfortable and reliable stop-and-go action that meets the needs of casual riders on mild roads.
Cannondale CAAD8 Sora
The Cannondale CAAD8 Sora is just a step up from the Claris, offering the same geometry and much of the same components. This bike uses Shimano Sora shifters and brake levers with the same FSA Vero compact crankset as the Claris.
The Sora is slightly lighter than the Claris because of its Sora components, and you'll benefit from one more speed in the 9-speed set. The Claris and Sora groupsets are so similar in performance, though, that you may not notice enough of a difference to warrant a price increase of a couple hundred bucks.
Cannondale CAAD8 Tiagra
The Cannondale CAAD8 Tiagra is a few dollars more than the Sora, but less than the priciest model in the series, the Cannondale CAAD8 105. What warrants the price difference between this bike and the Sora? Slightly upgraded hubs, rims, and crankset, plus the addition of Shimano Tiagra shifters and brake levers.
The Formula hubs and Maddux RS 3.0 Speed rims offer a smoother ride and more responsive handling at high speeds than those you’ll find on the Claris and Sora models, making this bike a better option for those with some road bike experience who occasionally ride rougher roads and reach higher speeds. And, with the 10-speed drivetrain, you’ll get smoother transitions switching between gears with the Tiagra.
Cannondale CAAD8 105
The Cannondale CAAD8 105 is a few hundred dollars more expensive than the Tiagra, and even more than the Claris. It likely isn’t the best choice for a starter road bike for casual riders, but it can be a good starting bike for those transitioning to serious road racing.
The FSA Gossamer crankset is a slight improvement over the FSA Omega on the Tiagra model, but the rest of the drivetrain is Shimano 105, which is where you'll notice the most significant difference. The 11-speed drivetrain gives this bike the smoothest shifting without gaps for riders who want speed. And, Shimano 105 dual-control shifters and brake levers give your bike the best responsiveness from one of the company’s most popular sets.
Like the other bikes in this series, the Cannondale CAAD8 105 has an aluminum frame with SAVE technology that uses specially-designed tube shapes and welding spots to improve shock absorption and stiffness. But, if you’re expecting even the priciest bike to handle and glide over bumps as well as other road bikes at higher price points, you’ll likely be disappointed.
Cannondale CAAD8 Series Bike Comparisons
We compare the 54cm size bike of each model to one another for accuracy. You’ll notice that the geometries of each of the bikes in the Cannondale CAAD8 series is the same. That’s because Cannondale intended for the bikes in this series to all meet the same basic need of turning casual riders into road cyclists, so the company didn’t stray from its comfortable, casual geometry. Instead, the differences are in components. Still, let’s look at what the Cannondale CAAD8 geometry means for these bicycles:
Most road bikes have a chainstay length of between 405mm and 415mm. The Cannondale CAAD8 bikes all have a length of 408mm, which sits right in the middle of that range. You’ll find a 405mm length on the nimblest bikes that excel at sharp cornering, and the 415mm length on bikes made for easier traction on hills and a more comfortable ride.
The middle ground of the CAAD8 series offers a good balance for both purposes. As an entry-level cyclist, you will likely start small in your riding routines, and these bikes can allow you to maneuver corners and hills that you’d typically encounter.
Stack / Reach
The stack (558mm) and reach (379mm) of the bikes in this series are a bit shorter than other road bikes. Each of these bikes puts you in a more upright position than more professional bikes meant for road racing, but also a little more bent over than you’d be on a casual or mountain bike.
These bikes, again, meet the need for a good training road bike. The upright positioning from the bikes’ stack and reach measurements can help you learn to ride in a more bent-over position without sacrificing comfort or leading to possible injury from learning or reaching more than you’re used to on a casual bike.
The average wheelbase measurement for road bikes is between 990mm and 1000mm, shorter than mountain or touring bikes. This makes them have quick, responsive handling that is excellent for making sharp corners.
The wheelbase of the Cannondale CAAD8 bikes is shorter than the average for road bikes at 978mm. This length can make the bikes nimbler than other road bikes with a longer measurement, but they also may not provide much comfort on endurance rides. However, since the bikes are meant for those entering the cycling world, endurance riding isn't the focus of this series.
The weights of this Cannondale series' bikes are only slightly different from one another, ranging from 20.01 lbs (105) to 20.98lbs (Claris). Each model uses aluminum framing with the same geometry, so neither one's frame has an advantage over the other regarding weight. Where the bikes vary slightly is in their components, as each Shimano groupset has a different weight.
These bikes are a bit heavier than high-performance road bikes, which can make their handling less responsive. But, they can provide some excellent stability for riders learning to handle their new road bikes, especially downhill.
There aren’t huge differences between each bike other than their groupsets, all of which are Shimano. For a few hundred more dollars, you can get the Shimano 105 groupset instead of the Claris, which gives the bike 11 speeds instead of 8, smoother shifting power, and a slightly lighter weight.
Most beginning cyclists may not notice much of a difference between the two to warrant such a significant price difference.
All four Cannondales in this series use the same wheelset and tires, Maddux RS 3.0 with Schwalbe Lugano tires. The tires have a width of 25mm, which is a good size for casual riding, but they do put some weight on the bikes.
Since each bike uses a different Shimano groupset paired with an FSA crankset, you might see slight differences in shifting and braking with each bike. Claris, Sora, and Tiagra are all part of the Shimano entry-level groupset tier. They look similar, but the 8-speed Claris, 9-speed Sora, and 10-speed Tiagra offer different gear ranges and shifting performance. The Tiagra can give you the most gear options, fewer gaps between gear shifts, and the most comfortable braking of these three bikes.
The Cannondale CAAD8 105 is the only bike in this series to offer one of Shimano’s performance-level groupsets with 11 speeds. And, Shimano 105 brakes are one of the highest-rated and most used in road bikes with more efficiency and less force needed to brake than the others.