I have never done a product review on this blog but the Cannondale Hooligan has captivated my interest to such a degree that over the last few days since I first spotted one at my LBS I have felt compelled to tell all of my cycling friends about this very cool little ride. As best as I can tell the Hooligan has been available in Japan, UK and Europe since 2008 in a single speed or 3 speed version. The US version is available with an 8 speed derailleur listed for $649 or a Sram internal 3 speed for $979. The 3 speed also comes with better brakes and better tires as well as the single bladed Cannondale Lefty Fork. The Delta-V frame and Lefty fork are borrowed from Cannondales progressive mountain bike designs.
I would describe this bike as fun, quick, agile and durable. The front end picks up very easily to wheelie over obstacles and the handling is very responsive; more like a road or 20" BMX bike than a mountain bike although I am curious to see how it would handle on a trail with fat tires. Visually the Hooligan is unique and almost futuristic. At first glance the form of the bike reads "folder" but conceptually it is really much closer to the Moulton Bicycle which has broken speed records and has been ridden around the world. Alex Moulton has a lot to say about the advantages of small wheels that is worth looking into especially in light of the 29er/ bigger is better philosophy that currently prevails. Briefly, smaller wheels accelerate faster, are stronger, lighter, more aerodynamic and provide a lower center of gravity for better turning.
I don't own a Hooligan yet but I am very close to pulling the trigger on a 3 speed in black. Here is the 8 speed in white with a conventional fork. I wish they painted the fork white. The plainer paint jobs on the earlier versions are less distracting and do a better job of showing off this beautiful, well resolved design. I also prefer the old stem and bars.
Previously I have not been a huge fan of the Lefty fork because I tend to favor symmetry however in this instance I think I would be willing to try it and I am sure it will perform just fine. Despite my prejudice I know that there is a lot of reasoning and sound engineering that has gone into Cannondale's development of the Lefty and it has been use for years on the most demanding race courses not to mention the use of single bladed forks on motorcycles and airplane landing gear. On this bike I think it enhances its hip visual appeal.
I see the innovative Cannondale Hooligan developing a cult following and becoming the Beetle of bikes. I predict a lot of people will buy these and customize them and a lot of accessories will become available such as a seat post mounted water bottle cage and rack/panniers as well as fenders to make it even more commuter friendly. The compact size makes it perfect for small apartments, parking next to a desk at the office, throwing in the car, or carrying it up a few flights of stairs without hitting the walls on the turns. It seems like it would be the perfect bike for so many types of riders. Especially pole dancers!