Hybrid bikes tend to attract unanimously negative connotations from purist cyclists—and often rightly so. Most popular with beginners or those who turn the pedals once a year, hybrids draw on design characteristics from purpose-built classes of bikes like road and mountain bikes to create an easy, smooth, if not performance-minded ride (think overly padded saddles and geometry that feels like it's designed to constrain power output). Recently a new breed of hybrid outliers built with the serious cyclist in mind are starting to turn heads and change minds about this oft-dismissed class of bikes. Which is why—despite the slightly comical name—we couldn't wait to hit the NYC streets with the 2014 Bad Boy 1, Cannondale's new performance hybrid offering.
After just a half a block on the Bad Boy 1, the bike had gotten more attention than any Burning Man-ready tall bike ever could. It's easy to get hung up on the bike's good looks. Stealth black with just a few notes of the classic rainbow colors (used in the racing world to denote reigning champ status) combined with internal cable routing gives the bike a clean, uncluttered profile. A rechargeable front light is built directly into the handlebar, meaning you'll never be in the dark. And highly reflective paint is distributed throughout the frame, but appears matte black in daylight.
Perhaps the most eye-catching component of the Bad Boy 1 though, is the asymmetrical fork. With 50mm of fluid travel in the suspension, the HeadShok Solo DL50 cuts weight and makes changing a flat quicker than ever (if you ever get one through the burly ThickSlick tires). Plus the suspension can be locked with just the turn of a dial located on the top of the stem, which comes in handy for climbing hills or when speed is the chief concern.
Ultimately, the Bad Boy 1 performs best in an urban environment. Quick handling and precise braking make weaving through traffic and dodging debris on NYC's obstacle-laden streets easier than on your traditional track bike or single-speed. The bike's geometry is a harmonious compromise of upright visibility and comfort with aggressive forward lean, and the Shimano Deore shifting system allows for precise, consistent shifting across all 30 gears.
You might not be passing the peloton with this bike, but it allows more raw power output than any hybrid we've pedaled. If pushing the limits isn't in your daily commute, the Bad Boy 1 is ultimately designed for a swift, comfortable ride. With all the attention this bike draws, grabbing a premium lock (or better yet, indoor parking) is essential. The Cannondale Bad Boy 1 starts at $1,840. Visit Cannondale online to find a dealer.
Photos by Greg Stefano