1991 Cannondale SM800 Beast of the East


Retro Guru
This is a bike I don't have anymore, and ultimately a sad story, but I liked this bike as much as any I've ever built, so it's worth a post I think.

A very well used '91 Cannondale SM800.

I think it was mostly original. It had the Shimano DX group, but an XT rear derailleur, the push-push shifters - front one was broken of course - no tires, hopeless chain, dirty as heck. But for $40, not bad. And the original Pepperoni fork and roller stem with the Gecko decal on it was pretty cool.

I wanted to build it as a serious trail bike, as it was designed, but with a little modernity. First iteration was with black DX cantis, a Chromag riser, and a 9spd Microshift thumbshifter.

I shaved off the shift pods, went with a Sugino crank with a Rock Ring instead of a big ring, so it had very low gearing. I wasn't happy with the mismatched thumbshifter for the front, so instead I went with a set of NOS gripshifts. 8spd instead of 9 unfortunately. I swapped out the freehub body on the DX hubs, so I could run an 8 or 9spd cassette on the original wheelset.

In the end, the front end was just way too high, so instead a nice wide no-name flatbar. Then some fat Kenda Nevagal tires, Shimano DX clipless pedals, which I don't have cleats for but they look cool.

And there it is. Just a touch of modern, but mostly the way it was in 1991. I bought the wrong colour cable housing as you might notice. I'm a little colourblind though so I had put a bunch on before I realized.

I didn't get to ride it much as we had to move right after I finished it. Hard choices had to made; this went, as did my '91 Blizzard.

I sold it to a nice kid that just needed to get around, and he messaged me a week after to say it had been stolen. It really feels like a lot of very good work was wasted, but life goes on right?


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Senior Retro Guru

I built one of these a few years ago and loved it. But for some reason sold it and have regretted it greatly. Trying hard to find another one to build up.

Nice looking build.