The Cannondale X440 was the swansong of Cannondale motorcycles, a subsidiary of the well-known American bicycling company. In the late 90s, Cannondale tried to move into motorsports, with an off-road bike and an ATV. Long story short, it was a disaster. $80 million later, the company declared bankruptcy, having left behind an interesting story of what happens when you can’t live up to the hype.
The X440 and X400 were spec’d with premium components, like Ohlins forks and rear shock, Magura controls, and Fuel Injection. The company said all the right things when developing the bike – Dirt Rider magazine even named it the bike of the year two years before it was released! Part of this was because of the features. In certain ways, it was a decade ahead of the times. Features like a backwards cylinder, an upfront airbox, electric start, and fuel injection took several more years to make it to the dirt bikes of the big 5 manufacturers. Unfortunately, all this tech (especially in the engine) caused engineering problems that Cannondale struggled to solve. Pre-production units showed lots of little problems, and Cannondale rushed the bike to market, where it was revealed to be heavy, undersprung, and fairly unreliable. Not to mention, the electric start was useless when the bike got hot, and there was no kickstarter backup. Fast forward a couple of years, and Cannondale made some fixes (and increased displacement) to create the X440. But by then, it was too late. Cannondale was still losing money on each bike they sold, and the improvements in the X440 were not enough to remove the stigma the company had earned itself. Cannondale filed for bankrupty in January of 2003, and ATk bought the rights to the engine soon after. Want to learn more about why this bike flopped? PulpMX has an interesting read on the X400 as part of a “Worst Bikes Ever” article. Find it here.
This specific Cannondale X440 is in great shape, but the seller doesn’t have much to say about it. Parts are still available from ATK and Black Widow. It seems that the original side covers (with the American flag and “Fuel Injected” decals) have been either repainted or replaced. But as a ’02 bike, you’re getting the updated frame and fairings, and a whole lot of premium components for a little bit of money. With that said, many owners of this bike recommend that you buy a “reliability kit” from ATK. Expect to throw nearly $1,500 at this bike on top of the purchase price to make it as nice as it should have been when it came out of the factory.
Find this Cannondale X440 for sale here on Craigslist in Burghill, Ohio for $1,700.