Can I admit to being excited about the launch of a lightweight, potentially excellent value, small-wheeled urban electric bike? Oops, looks like I just did. The bike in question is the new Cannondale Compact Neo which broke cover yesterday.
So, why has an e-bike with 20" wheels, foldable stem and pedals and a powered rear hub piqued my interest so much? The sensible answer is that using an electrified town bike makes a lot of practical sense for me living, as I do in a hilly, car-clogged city. Something like the Neo Compact (or the Gocycle G4i I'm currently testing) makes a ton of sense for short errands and commuting.
But that isn't it. Nope, the reason the Compact Neo has got me all a quiver is because it bears a striking resemblance to a bike that I have incredibly fond memories of. Remember the Cannondale Hooligan? What do you mean no?
I'll admit, my dates may be wrong as the internet is surprisingly light on hard Hooligan facts, but it was launched in 2008(ish). As you can see from the image above the distinctive frame is strikingly similar to the Compact Neo's. Not exactly the same, but near enough.
I was just a year or so into my cycling journalism career when the Hooli landed and I got very excited then as well. (Too excited according to some readers of the road cycling magazine I was editing who weren't very happy that we illustrated our review with a rider back-flipping the bike.)
As a child of the 1980s, cruelly denied a BMX by my parents the Hooligan gave me a chance to 'muck about' on a bicycle - hopping on and off of curbs on my commute and pulling terrible wheelies. It was very different to the new-fangled carbon fibre road bikes or fixed-wheel, single speed commuters that were all the rage a decade and a half ago.
It's fair to say that the Hooligan - which cost around £800/$900 back in the day - isn't the best bike I've ever ridden, but the fact that it's a machine that's stuck in my memory with me longer than a number of so-called superbikes says everything. It was fun. Pure and simple - silly, even - fun.
The Neo Compact is on sale now in the US at $1900 and will be making it's way to the UK next year where it'll retail for £2000. If it can put even half the smile on someone's face as the Hooligan did for me then it could end up in our best electric bikes list!
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