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How To Find Information On Your Bike, Almost Anything, In Five Minutes or Less


I have a 1990 Cannondale SR400.  It’s a cool, old-school race bike, almost entirely original equipment (except the wheels – and I had to put a longer stem on it to get it to fit).

I bought the bike from a guy who’d listed it on Craigslist as a Cannondale Criterium 3.0.  I didn’t know any better at the time, I’d only been riding for a season and a half, on a mountain bike.  It obviously didn’t come with pedals, but I was informed the saddle was gone too, their dog had eaten it the night before.  It had none of the identifying markings either.  No SR400, not even a frame size sticker…

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Within an hour of having it home, I had learned that “Criterium 3.0” referred to the frame type and weight.  Compact frame with a high bottom bracket for cornering, for racing in Crits.  3.0, I learned, was the weight in pounds.  I had the make and model and an owner’s manual from 1990 (downloaded from the Vintage Cannondale website).

Now, in all fairness, this one took quite a bit of research. It was quite a bit more than 5 minutes but all I needed was my computer, an Internet connection and Google.

I got the idea for this post after reading another the other day in which the author opined that they’d gained weight and didn’t know the weight limit of their bike which brought about a fear of riding it. Luckily there was a photo of the bike so within a couple of minutes I’d downloaded the manual, found the weight chart and commented on the post with the weight limit and the link to the manual.

Now I’m not going to bother getting into whether or not knowing the weight limit on the bike was just an excuse to not ride, that’s above my pay grade.

What I can do is offer that you can find virtually anything bike related with a decent Google search.  The trick, of course, is to know the proper lingo and use that in the search.  Being four years removed now, I can’t remember how I went about getting to the right words to search but today I’d start with any markings/stickers on the bike that would identify it:  “Cannondale Criterium 3.0 Road Bike”.  Now, a few of the posts that come up with that search thread are actually mine so they won’t count for this post.  I’d click on a few and wouldn’t learn much so I’d go with “Cannondale Criterium 3.0 Owner’s Manual”  Paydirt.  The third link on that search points to “Vintage Cannondale”.  Once I found that page, I looked through several late 80’s and early 90’s scanned owner’s manuals till I found the paint job that matched my bike – I had everything I needed.

1990 Cannondale SR400.

For the weight limit on a bike, I know that most modern road bike owner’s manuals have a weight restriction chart for their entire line of bikes.  They go by grades, 1 is a road only bike where the wheels never leave the ground, 2 is a dirt road ready bike, 3 represents the mountain bike entry level line… etc.  With the photo of the bike, I just searched the brand and make followed by “owner’s manual” and viola…  I had the owner’s manual I needed and just looked through it till I found the chart.

I’ve yet to run into something I can’t find about cycling with the right search, so if you need to know something about your bike, get into Google.  Chances are, somebody’s written something about the topic you’re looking for.

Now, if you’re a true noob, you just thought to yourself, how can I come up with a good word string to search if I don’t know the lingo?!  Fear not!  Google, “Bike Parts Illustration”, click “Images”.  Done.  You have the lingo.  😉

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6 Comments

  1. idahoatheart says:

    I really appreciate this post. I had looked for the weight limit but couldn’t find anything. I must not have used the right lingo. Next time I need something I’ll try looking with more than just the name of the bike.

  2. Anon says:

    I’m sure for most bicycles you’re right, provided the company that made it is still in business… I have a devil of a job finding out anything about my BSA, except in so far as it’s a lower spec version of the Raleigh Sport. That said I have got a complete owner’s manual for the Sturmey Archer hub gears.

  3. bonnev659 says:

    my favorite. . i got my road bike used I got it for the frame.. the rest of the stock components was truely downgraded but I am happy with the parts. down the road I be changing the group set and putting on update components (once I have enough money for it).

    happy riding! it be trainer day for me when I hop on as it is too icey for 23 tires..

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