Bringing 25-year-old Cannondale mountain bike suspension back to life

Wärtsilä – a leading global company focussing on smart technologies were machining a lifting tool for moving heavy engine parts around the factory. The irony was the lifting tool they originally designed to be machined was also heavy and difficult to transport.

Tom Watkins

January 3, 2020
Cannondale mountain bike

Cannondale Bikes was founded in 1971, and have always been at the forefront of design and technology. They were the first bike company to introduce oversize aluminium tubing to bike manufacture, and first introduced mountain bike suspension some 30 years ago. These early Mountain bikes still have a big following today, with many enthusiasts paying large sums of money for pristine examples.  

Unfortunately spares for these old bikes are not in manufacture and stock in retailers has dried up. Qwerty Cycles; the UK’s leading Cannondale spares supplier, approached Solid Print3D for assistance in addressing this.

We were provided a sample suspension lock out from an early bike, and modelled it up using SOLIDWORKS. To ensure the lockout fitted and worked as intended the first iteration was created using a Markforged X7. The X7 was selected due to its high precision and ability to create parts with fantastic mechanical qualities; due to its base material of Onyx (Nylon with chopped carbon) and the addition of continuous carbon fibre.

Even though the X7 is a Fused Deposition Modelling (FDM) machine, the layers are barely visible and gave a fantastic result. The next prototype was created using a TPU material printed on a Sindoh 2X to explore different materials available. Although this gave a softer feel to the lockout, the result felt too pliable in comparison to the original lockout that we are trying to replicate.

suspension lock prototypes

The Sindoh component helped test the material, and the Markforged component proved the design concept- and that it was accurately modelled inside SOLIDWORKS. As the Markforged prototype gave mechanical properties that were excessive for stresses applied on the piece, we decided to print another however this time on the Formlabs Form 3. The fantastic surface finish due to the Stereolithography (SLA) process used by the printer gave an aesthetic that looked almost identical to the original. With minimal finishing work required, the Formlabs printer will now be used to print these Lockouts to then be sold at Qwerty cycles.

Formlabs printed vs Original Component

So if you’re an owner of vintage Cannondale’s and in need of a replacement lockout, give Qwerty cycles a call- if you’re in need of a printer to be used anywhere from prototype to production parts, give Solid Print3D a call to discuss your printing needs and allow us to find you a solution!

To speak to a 3D Printing expert about how you can engage with 3D Printing to drive improvements & savings within your own business, call us on 01926 333 777 or email us on

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