Review: 2002 Cannondale SPEED ATV
The NEED for SPEED
If any factory sport quad can satisfy your need for speed, the 2002 Cannondale SPEED must be it. In 2001 Cannondale introduced their first ATV, the FX 400, and entered the sport ATV market. As with many vehicles in their first year of production, a number of flaws were discovered. Cannondale voluntarily recalled about 630 ATV units for a ball joint problem. A number of riders complained about a twitchy front-end.
Cannondale did their homework and addressed the issues with the FX-400 and kept going. Cannondale is putting a full-on assault on the sport ATV market, with four new models in 2002.
The 432cc Cannondale SPEED is the successor to the FX-400, meant to be practically race-ready right out the door. One major addition is Optimum's GP control fuel-injection system. This is a state-of-the-art fuel injection system that can be tuned to maximize performance. In fact, with the optional GP control unit, you can actually modify the MAP while riding!
We eagerly took a couple of the new SPEEDs right out to the sand of Ocotillo Wells. They were purposely equipped right as the factory would ship them to you. After a long day of dealer demos, they were ready to go again with little effort.
Satisfied with the good looks of the SPEED, we gave our full attention to making it prove it's worth. Two riders of different riding levels, size and experience put the quads to the test, over whoops, loose sand, hill climbs, open desert. Our riders come from a fairly stock Yamaha 660 Raptor and a very modified Honda 400EX. The consensus was - What a great handling quad! Well-balanced and powerful, the SPEED handles whoops and tight corners without any rolling or bucking. At top speed, it still felt totally stable. That's a must for open desert racing.
The only thing that raised a concern was that the suspension was somewhat stiff on the two units we rode. This was undoubtedly due to the fact that they had been setup for a motocross track test the day before. Some lighter springs and a little adjustment to the Ohlins would take care of this. The suspension probably also contributed to the steering feeling a little hard at slower speeds.
The seat felt wide at the area of the gas tank, but that's just a matter of getting used to it. We did notice that the slope of the gas tank made it difficult to tell how much gas you had in it, but again, once you figure that out, it wouldn't be a problem again. (With no reserve tank, you'd better make sure you DO know your range on fuel!)
Sitting side-by-side, the SPEED's motor is loud enough that it's impossible to hear anything going on outside your helmet. But on long runs in the desert, what's there to listen to anyway?
16 Trowbridge Drive
Bethel, CT 06801