In the late 90s, Cannondale (you probably know them as a bicycle company) attempted to break into the powersports market with an ATV and a dirt bike. The $80 million experiment was a failure, and Cannondale had to declare bankruptcy in 2003 so they could re-focus on bicycles. By the end of the run, the dirt bike was available in two versions – the X440 motocrosser and the E440 enduro.
Both the E and the X 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 but by then, it was too late. Cannondale was still losing money on each bike they sold, and the improvements in the 440 were not enough to remove the stigma the company had earned itself. Cannondale filed for bankruptcy 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 MX400 (how this project started) as part of a “Worst Bikes Ever” article. Find it here.
This specific Cannondale (VIN: 5b6bc41c63b000011) has never been ridden – for some reason it has spent its’ entire life in a ‘man cave.’ I guess at this point it’ll stay unridden going forward, so maybe a museum will pick this up to share the story of Cannondale’s troubles. Find this Cannondale enduro for sale here on Craigslist in Hamburg, Pennsylvania for $5,000.
This bike-uriousity brought to you by David N!