The first road frame from Cannondale was produced in 1983. The fork was steel with helical reinforcement ribs inside the steel steering tube. The frame was instantly recognized for the oversized down tube and enlarged head tube. The seat-stays and chain-stays were ovalized to reduce flex.
Cannondale made creating stiff, ride-able aluminum frames into an art form. With aluminum tubes, no lugs were needed at the tube junctures, as they were joined by mitering and then hand welded, finished with heat treatment. Cannondale moved from steel bikes to aluminum bikes just like that, with a flurry, and became the first bike company to produce large runs of aluminum framed bikes - remember that at the time, mass production only supported steel frame technology, and making aluminum tube frames by hand was truly an artisan craft, thus meaning a low output of bikes.
The Cannondale CAAD design abbreviation means "Cannondale Advanced Aluminum Design". It was the CAAD4 road bike model that incorporated S-bend aluminum seat stays for the first time, intended to improve rider comfort.
The Six13 model was introduced in 2004 which uses carbon tubed sections in the main triangle but still uses aluminum rear triangles, contrary to the usual practice of using carbon rear triangles and aluminum fronts.
In 2005 Cannondale announced its first all-carbon frame in a model named "Synapse." This is also the first Cannondale road bicycle to be built outside of the United States, in China. The Six13 models are co-molded aluminum frames with carbon top and down tubes.
The current generation of Cannondale aluminum frame in the 2007 model year is known as CAAD9. CAAD9 is the continued evolution of Cannondale's welded aluminum frame design. CAAD 9 has reduced weight and increased stiffness over last year's CAAD8 design.
Cannondale has also developed a suspension fork called the Lefty. It started with the "Headshok" forks. It uses 88 bearings to reduce friction for super smooth travel with the bearings telescoping inside the steerer tube of the fork. This eliminates flexing of the fork legs and also eliminates static friction, which must be overcome before the fork begins to travel.
The "Lefty" is an unusual looking fork because it only has a left side or blade. It uses the same technology as the Headshok, but desire for greater amounts of travel led to the movement of the telescoping unit off to the side to allow room for the travel. The Leftys are lighter, stronger, and steer more precisely than any competitors forks with the same amount of travel. The Lefty is now seen on many of Cannondale's high-end models, such as all the Scalpels and the expensive models in F series, both cross-country lines. Continual efforts at weight reduction have provided models with a carbon fiber upper tube and a titanium spindle.