TESTER: ADAM NEWMAN
PHOTO: ADAM NEWMAN
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: TAIWAN //PRICE: $1,100 //WEIGHT: 24.8LBS. SIZES AVAILABLE: ONE SIZE FITS MOST //WWW.CANNONDALE.COM
Thanks to the searing neon paint and single-sided fork, it’s hard not to get noticed on Cannondale’s trippy urban bike. Everywhere I took it, people asked, “What is it?” or “How does it work?” They always seemed surprised when I told them it’s just a bike. But maybe I was wrong. Maybe it’s something more.
It starts with 20-inch wheels, in this case laced to a Shimano Nexus 3-speed hub in the rear and a Cannondale-specific Lefty hub in the front. The single fork leg — reminiscent of Cannondale’s famous Lefty mountain bike forks — requires a special hub. And before you ask if it’s somehow less safe than a traditional fork, remember that the wheels on your car attach on only one side. This configuration has its plusses and minuses: you can change a flat without removing the wheel, but if you do want to remove the wheel, the brake caliper must be loosened and swung out of the way.
While it might seem like a novelty, the Hooligan’s frame packs some pretty advanced technology into its diminutive size. The cross-bracing design is Cannondale’s trademark Delta V shape that has been applied to its mountain bikes for years, and the tubing itself features some fairly advanced shaping. Adding to the versatility, the head tube badge can be removed, and in its place you can install a mounting bracket for a series of bag and basket accessories made by the brand Slide2Go. You can even install a traditional rear rack. The funky, spider-shaped pedals that are included match the dot-matrix paint job.
Perched atop what might be the longest seatpost in the business (520mm), I found myself in a sporty position, perfect for tackling jammed urban streets. Measuring in at 6-foot-2, I’m at the limit of who can reasonably ride a Hooligan, but I also lowered the seatpost and loaned it to my special lady who is 5-foot-3, and it fit comfortably. Weighing under 25lbs., it’s light enough to carry up the stairs to an apartment and doesn’t take up a lot of space once you get it there.
The small wheels, short wheelbase, and quick steering are great for navigating sidewalks and bike paths, and squeezing between pedestrians on narrow city streets. It’s certainly not a bike I would choose for long-distance rides, but it’s great for zipping around the neighborhood. The three speeds in the internal hub seem to me to be suited for flat areas, and if I owned the bike here in Pittsburgh I would swap out the stock gearing for something lower.
I really see the Hooligan as less like a bike and more like a gadget. The person I envision riding it is less interested in the nuts and bolts of how bicycles work, but is more interested in arriving in style. And that’s something the Hooligan has in spades.