One of the undisputed showstoppers at this year's Sea Otter Classic was a special Flash carbon hardtail hanging up at the Cannondale booth. Only it wasn't some prototype or stock machine but rather an insanely light Shimano Dura-Ace Di2-equipped rig built for Cannondale by Newbury Park Bicycle Shop in Newbury Park, California.
As pictured here, the total bike weight was just 7.09kg (15.64lb) – lighter than most people's road bikes and with surprisingly few compromises in function.
Shop owner Ben Cox said he and shop general manager Shane Kelly started with a standard Cannondale Flash Ultimate and then went from there, adding a custom set of Di2 shifter pods built in-house and a wiring harness made by RF Circuits in nearby Thousand Oaks, a lighter-weight wheelset, brakeset, and saddle, then finishing it all off with a US$3,500 Troy Lee Designs paint job.
Naturally, the special Di2 shifters had to be custom built as Shimano only offers the technology for the road but even relatively off-the-shelf items were meticulously refinished where appropriate.
"We actually took a complete [NoTubes ZTR Podium MMX] wheelset and cut out all of the spokes because they wouldn't give me the rims separately and had them polished," said Cox. "And then we did Extralite hubs and had those polished. They're actually ceramic coated, not just polished, which is how we were able to get that nice mirror finish on them."
Similar attention to detail was paid to the Cannondale crank, too.
"We took a stock Cannondale Si crank, took the arms off and had them machined down just in the sections where you see silver," Cox continued. "We were going to polish them but decided to leave it matte because it looked so cool."
Despite the impressive looks, the bike is still a work in progress as there are other items on the list that still remain to be worked out. Sitting at the top of the list is the cable and wire routing – currently the shifter wires are run internally only through the handlebar and stem but ultimately Cox says the goal is to run everything inside and out of sight.
"It is [still a work in progress]," he admitted. "When the thing is completed, all the cables, all the wires, all the brake lines, it's all going to be internal with the wires going in the bar, through the stem, into the steerer tube then down the top tube and seat stays and all that.
"Cannondale was going to put a Simon fork on it but because the bike came in so light they left it without. We didn't want to do it internally for the show because the Simon takes all the room in the steerer and we didn't want to build it up and then have the guys have to redo it all. We do have a wiring harness in the works so that we can relocate the battery but we just didn't get it done in time."
Cox estimates he and Kelly have invested about 300 man-hours of labor and about six months into the bike's design and construction. And if someone were to want one, asking price would be in the neighborhood of US$15,000 or so.
Sound exorbitant? Perhaps, but this is actually the third dedicated showpiece that Newbury Park Bicycle Shop has built for Cannondale and past iterations have actually yielded sales of complete replicas as well as separate hybridized Di2 transmission kits. And according to Cox, the shop only needs to sell two or three complete replicas to recoup the development costs – not exactly a recipe for a cash cow but as Cox already has a successful conventional shop running, that's not his motivation.
"We actually had a set of carbon fiber brake rotors and pads made but they didn't use them so that was a little US$500 experiment. But it's just fun."
More 'fun' is on the way, too. Next month, Newbury Park Bicycle Shop is set to deliver a special Cannondale road bike for the Tour of California that Cox says will be "pretty trick."
Can't wait to see it? Neither can we.