We put Cannondale's cheapest hybrid bike through its paces
There has been a trend among bike manufacturers to paint their high-end road bikes in all-black stealth colours, which was perhaps why I was a little surprised to find out that this Cannondale Bad Boy hybrid can be picked up for a penny under £550.
The Cannondale Bad Boy 4 sits at the bottom of the company’s hybrid range, with an aluminium frame and a rigid fork. The bike you see here is the 2016 model, and for 2017 the Cannondale Bad Boy will be gaining a Lefty fork, with the upper two models of the range having a suspension fork with built in LED lights.
For a relatively inexpensive hybrid bike, I was surprised by how nippy the Cannondale Bad Boy felt when riding around town. When I wanted to go fast to keep up with traffic, the aluminium frame always responded well, with little wasted effort and no super-high front end as you get on some lower-end hybrid bikes.
The only thing that I felt really held me back when riding at high speed was the choice of handlebars. The bars are astonishingly wide at 68cm, which felt very odd when coming to this bike from a standard road bike. Granted this helped with creating a bike that wasn’t too twitchy at the front end and was easy to handle, but also forces you to spread my arms very wide, sort of like a sail. The other problem is that this made it hard to fit through tight gaps, such as when filtering through stationery traffic, without leaving a trail of wing mirrors in my wake.
Thankfully, the manufacturer has done a better job when choosing the width of the tyres. The Cannondale Bad Boy 4 comes equipped with 28mm slick Schwalbe Kojak. These are the perfect match for this type of bike, with the 28mm width of the tyres giving extra grip and comfort without having a negative effect on rolling resistance (there is also enough clearance for even wider tyres), while the RaceGuard puncture protection kept me puncture-free through my time on the Bad Boy.
The shifting components on the Cannondale Bad Boy seem to have been picked by someone reaching into a big box of bike parts and picking whatever came out first, with different component lines being used at every turn. The crankset is Shimano M171 with 48/38/28t chainrings, the front derailleur Shimano Altus, the rear derailleur Shimano Acera, the chain KMC Z51, and the cassette a 11-32t setup from Sunrace.
However, despite having a bit of a lucky dip groupset, the shifting on the Cannondale Bad Boy is more than adequate for a hybrid bike of this price. The crankset is pretty ugly, but the combination of a 28t chainring at the front and a 32t sprocket at the rear gives one of the smallest gears that you can ever hope for on a road-going bike, so should be enough to get even the unfittest of riders up the steepest of hills, while the rear derailleur does a nice job of clicking smoothly through the gears when cruising along.
The only problem I had was trying to find the right gear when just cruising along on gently undulating roads. Having only eight gears to cover the 11-32t range of the cassette means there are some pretty huge jumps between sprockets. That, combined with having a triple chainset at the front, means that it can sometimes take quite a bit of clicking through gears to find a comfortable cadence.
Other than that the Cannondale Bad Boy ticks all the boxes that you would expect from any decent hybrid bike. There are eyelets for mudguard and pannier racks, with a vast amount of clearance for the former at both front and rear.
I was also impressed by the Cannondale Bad Boy Urban saddle, which is a lot slimmer than many of the other saddles that come attached to hybrid bikes out of the box. This won’t be for everyone, but is certainly suitable if you sometimes want to inject a bit of pace into your daily commute.
For more details visit the Cannondale website.
The Cannondale Bad Boy 4 is a good choice for your first hybrid bike. The stealth black paintjob looks really cool and the bike rides well too, with wide tyres to give a very comfortable ride, although the overly wide handlebars will slow you down a bit.