Cannondale has come a long way since their inception in 1971 – their company was originally created to manufacture backpacks and things for camping, now though they are known as one of the top companies that makes top-rated bikes. They have been pioneers in the field of using carbon fiber frames in their bicycles, and even more than that they have been pioneers with their absolutely out of this world bicycle designs. Now they’re back doing it again with the Hooligan, a stylish street bike that is sure to get looks from every passer by.
There are a lot of features on the Hooligan that will grab people’s attention, but the first thing that will cause other people on the streets to stop and go “Wow” is the paint scheme. This thing packs an eye-popping neon lime green that can probably be seen from a few blocks away. Pictures don’t even do it justice – this kind of green can’t be described, it has to be experienced. Once you are able to wrap your mind around the intensity of the color though, then the rest of the beauty of this bicycle will stand out.
I do realize that when I say beauty other people might well say craziness – but that’s what happens with art; and in all honesty, this bicycle is functional artwork. Nothing about it is “standard”, everything is exceptional. The frame is what they call a “Delta V” style frame, which is light and strong with a really big standover. The wheels look almost comically small on such a majestic bicycle, but once you ride on them you can see how well the design style actually works. While the 20 inch wheels might look tiny, they deliver huge performance and enable extremely quick and responsive maneuvers to be pulled off like nothing.
The next thing you will be sure to notice about the Hooligan is Cannondale’s style of using only one left fork. In their mountain bikes, this is called the LEFTY system, however the Hooligan only borrows from that system and therefore unfortunately doesn’t get all of the benefits of it. At any rate the first time you see it, it is almost like seeing an Escher drawing. Your mind wants to see two forks like you’re used to on a standard bike, and trying to figure out how it works on one is kind of mind boggling. The fact is though that even though this isn’t a full on LEFTY system fork, it still works better than the traditional two fork system on city bikes, and not just because of the drastically reduced weight. The solo fork doesn’t use bushings like a normal bicycle, but rather it uses needle bearings. These needle bearings let the fork resist friction better than a normal fork system which translates into it being able to handle loads and stress better than other bikes.
At it’s core, the Hooligan is a street bike that performs like a cross between a mountain bike and a racing bike. It handles the changes in terrain with ease thanks in part to the small wheels and wide wheel span. Because of the crazy one fork stiffness you can ollie up and over curbs without problems, and jumping pot holes is simple and fun. The Hooligan is also easily one of the most agile bicycles I’ve ever had the privilege to mess around on. Again, this can be attributed to that solo fork system and those sweet wheels. Simply put, the Hooligan is the most fun bicycle I’ve been on. You may also want to check out our Diamondback mountain bike review if you want a bike that has 21 different gears.
I do wish the Hooligan had a more robust suspension system though. That is the big thing about Cannondale’s mountain bikes – the full LEFTY fork has great suspension, and the lack of that here is definitely noticeable. Try to ollie down a few stairs for example, and that lack will most certainly be felt. For a city bike that is being advertised the way it is, you would think it had full on mountain bike suspension. Another thing that isn’t a complete negative, but that was something I picked up on quick is that while the bicycle most certainly looks like a folder, it is not. I’ve gotten used to city bikes that are folders to conserve space is all, yet Cannondale doesn’t actually make a folding bike at all – at least not yet. I would like to think that when they come out with the “Hooligan 2”, they might modify the frame to fold, but who knows – that’s probably a pipe dream. The only other real negative is the price. For the type of person I feel this bike is aimed at (a much younger crowd, 16 – 25 or around there in my opinion), dropping $1,100 on a bike might seem a little extreme. I remember kids we had a friend with a bike that cost about this much, and we would get on him all the time about having a bike that cost more than his car. But if money is not a problem to you then you should also check out our Cannondale Bad Boy 1 review.
The Bottom Line: The Hooligan from Cannondale is an utterly exceptional bike to be on – there’s not much that they would have to change to make it be the absolute perfect bike, and as it stands it is better that a lot in it’s class.
The only way to get a Cannondale bike is to find yourself a dealer – thankfully their web site has a locator on it. When you do you can go and see exactly how cool of a bike this is, and that it is easily worth the $1,100 price tag.