1985 Cannondale Fast Tourer (retired)

September 2012: I’m going through a de-clutter phase and getting rid of all kinds of stuff that I have no use for, and/or has been taking up space.  The Cannondale easily fell into that category, and is now gone… a gift to a friend who might be able to find a good use for it.

October 2011:  Sooo….it’s out of the shed and in the garage, queued up behind the Bianchi.  As I’m building up that frame, I’m looking at parts, and my lack of parts, and seriously toying with the idea of this ol’ girl coming back to life as a stripped down single speed.  Could be a fun winter.

September 2010:  The Cannondale is once again on the out of service list.  I pinched the Albatross bars for my LHT rebuild.  While it’s low on the priority list, I’m toying with the thought of a pair of cafe bars, MTB brakes with indexed shifting pods, and a pair of long reach brakes to improve the stopping power with the 700c wheels.

04.10 Update:  What goes around, comes around.  I managed to accumulate some additional wheelsets and tires over the winter through some trades and opportune purchases.  I started with this Avenir setup on the X bike, but decided to see if they might fit on the Cannondale.  Not only did they, but there was a reasonable amount of space between the tires and the frame.

Since most of the cockpit and parts from the previous build ended up on the X bike, I pulled the Albatross bars and Trek rack out of the parts bin and built her up as a grocery bike.  I could not, though, bring myself to use the thumb shifters that had been on the bars previously.  Rather than buy another set of barcons, I was able to find the original Shimano 600 downtube shifters and mount them.  That also allowed me to re-use some otherwise too short cables for shifting (they’re actually the unused ends of double ended brake cables – if you look closely, you can see the ferruls sticking out of the shifters).

The brakes barely reach the 700 rims, but they are seated.  I don’t know if its just from lack of use or whatever, but braking power is almost non-existant.  I’ll try some sandpaper to scuff up the pads a bit, and if that doesn’t work I’ll either mount some V-brake pads that I have or spring for some Kool Stops.

Those are also a pair of Planet Bike 45mm Hardcore fenders that had been on the X bike, and then the Marin for a spell.  I had planned to put them back on the Marin, but this was just too tempting.  The rear is still a little tighter than I would prefer, but I think they will work out.

The upright position is fun – I think everyone who rides drop bars most of the time should also have a bike with ‘tross bars just to keep their perspective.  The ride is a bit harsh, but that’s what you get with an aluminum frame and 32c tires.  Nevertheless, this will be a great errand bike and good for family outings.

If I make any more changes, it will be putting a mountain triple on the front to get some low inches.


07.09 Update:  This bike is now “in the shed” after rebuilding the Nashbar.  Most likely it’s going to return to its “grocery bike” configuration, only with bar end shifters, when I find the time to wrench it.


This was my first “good bike.”  Not long after we got married, my rowing career was coming to a close.  With a massive change in lifestyle and a baby on the way, I couldn’t indulge in twice daily training sessions on the river and weekends travelling to regattas.  Still, I needed to do something, so I figured biking would be the ticket.

This bike was advertised in the local paper.  I drove out to see it, thought it was a tad large for me, but it looked pretty and I had some money burning a hole in my pocket.  The owner hadn’t made any changes from the stock model.

In 1985, Cannondale was still a relatively new manufacturer.  The touring bike came with two choices of groups: Suntour and Shimano 600.  I think the model for this one was designated the ST400.

Several evenings a week I would go explore the backroads around our home for an hour or so, and periodically take a longer ride on weekends.  I didn’t know enough to tell how harsh the ride was with the aluminum frame and 27 X 1″ tires.  After reading a book by Greg LeMond, I spent way too much money on upgrading to indexed 7 speed, wider bars, aero brake levers, and a new chain.  I think I also switched to 3/4″ tires because they looked cool.   The result was a lot of time spent on the side of the road repairing pinch flats.  At one point, I also installed a pair of Profile aero bar extensions.

Eventually family obligations took priority, and several years later I came out of retirement to get into rowing again; so the Cannondale ended up in the shed gathering dust.  Even when I picked up biking again, I now knew enough that the ‘dale was not the bike I needed.  With the purchase of the Bontrager, then the Marin, and ultimately the Trucker; it basically was scavenged for whatever parts I could use.

If you go back through this blog, you’ll see that I seriously explored the idea of converting it to 650B wheels.  I did a lot of research, but ultimately concluded that it just wouldn’t work, given the tight chainstays and low bottom bracket.  I’d end up spending more than what the bike was worth, and not really gain that much in functionality.

Once I got the Long Haul Trucker, I had some parts lying about, so the ‘dale was brought out of the shed and converted to a “townie” bike with mustache bars and bar end shifters, but I still didn’t ride the bike that much.

When the idea of a grocery bike hit me, the conversion was pretty simple once I realized that I could fit 1 3/8″ tires in the frame, and also a well recorded project in this blog.  The bike worked well for the short trips to the local store, and I also rode it to church a few times.

So now we come to the current configuration.  My oldest son has been growing like a weed, and also had been bugging me about wanting a road bike.  I think he both wanted to come along with me on some rides, and had it in his head that he could ride to visit some of his friends in the area.  For me, this was a no-brainer.  I spent a little bit of time talking to him about what he wanted, and the conversion back to a road machine was easy.

I already had most of the parts, except the 44mm medium drop bars.   The end result is what I think looks like a brevet bike.  It’s very light and responsive, the ride is not too harsh, and the fenders make it a bit more practical than most road bikes.  Eventually I’d like to replace the bottom bracket and put on an inexpensive triple chainring.

Here are the components, as best as I can remember:

Frame: 1985 ST400, 25″.

Groupo: Shimano 600, except:

Pedals: cheapo plastic platforms with no clips

Shifters: Shimano 8 speed bar ends set to frictiondscn3570

Brakes: Nashbar levers with Tektro interupters, Ultegra pads

Bars: Nashbar 44mm w/Bontrager cork tape

Front derailleur: Shimano STX

Fenders: SKS 35mm, split rear to allow clearance

Tires: Kenda Cross 27 X 1 3/8″

Computer: Planet Bike Aero wireless

Bag: Very old Cannondale expandable

Saddle: Selle Titanico Clydesdale with watershed option

The fit for this bike is not quite perfect for me, but close enough.  It’s fun to spin around on it when my son isn’t looking.  While the Trucker is smooth and rides like a Mercedes; this bike is more like an old BMW 2002.  I wouldn’t want to go cross country on it, but it’s still a pleasure to ride.

7 responses to “1985 Cannondale Fast Tourer (retired)

  1. Pretty build-ups of this bike. Thanks for documenting. What size is this frame?

  2. Thanks Jeff. Right now I’m torn between building it back up as a grocery bike with the Albatross bars; or putting a racing bike back together for my youngest son. It’s a 25″ frame.

  3. Hey there! I just picked up a great condition 1985 ST400 frame, and am in the process of building it up. I initially wanted to just get the Shimano 600EX set, but the parts are hard to find and expensive. Would you happen to have any details on parts I can use instead? One of the things I’m stuck on now is trying to figure out the size of the bottom bracket and what kind of threading it is. Any idea?

    • Hey Mike,
      The original Cannondale catalog is on line. That might have some specs. I’ll try to send you the link on Monday when I get back to my work computer. The Cannondale manual for this bike doesn’t offer much at all.
      I haven’t done it in awhile, but there are some sites with details on old Shimano groupos. I think the best way to find old compatible parts is to find the right LBS, where they don’t toss everything.

      • Awesome, thanks a lot. I just dropped the frame off to my LBS and they threw in a bottom bracket and headset for me. There’s a bike graveyard nearby so I’m just salvaging parts to get this thing on the road; definitely an interesting project figuring out how to make all these unrelated, different parts into one bike 😉

  4. Mike,

    I have an ’85 ST400 that I use for commuting mostly. I have changed out most/all of the components, but still have some of the pieces I pulled. If you are trying to build yours up as “original”, I may have a few parts for you (dt shifters, rear derailer, front derailer and maybe brake calipers).

    Remove all the capital letters from the following to send me an e-mail if you want any of the old parts. rickRmartMyn@gmTail.com

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