This week on Reader’s Rig, we look at Sofia Torres’ custom painted Cannondale CAAD9 CX, featuring a steel Salsa Vaya fork, mismatched wheels, and some lovely homemade frame bags. Read on for the complete run down on this unique all-rounder…

Welcome to the sixth installment of our weekly Dispatch series, Reader’s Rig. Each week, we’ll select a bikepacking rig from our reader community to feature on the site. To learn how to submit yours for possible inclusion, check out the form at the bottom of the page. Words and photos here by Sofia Torres.

Hello, I am Sofia. I love my dog and putting together interesting bicycles. I also love my friends, most of whom happen to ride bicycles. I was a mechanic for a few years but now choose to make my money more efficiently.

Sofia Torres, Cannondale CAAD9 CX

When I was moving back to the West Coast from New York in 2014, I eBay’d myself an ultralight barely-used-likely-former-backup-race-bike cross frame and had it mailed west, because I wanted it to be waiting for me so I could show up to not-winter and build up a bike that would magically grant me the athletic prowess of a Jeremy Powers or a Ryan Trébon (it means “very good” in French.) Not long after that, I learned that I had no real bike handling skills, and have been trying to amend that ever since, mainly on this bike. Without getting too sentimental, I will say that I love this bike now more than ever: its deeeeep-custom transformations have been numerous and soulful.

After a few tumbles over many thousands of miles on tires of incrementally increasing volumes and singletrakks of incrementally increasing difficulties, I replaced the original carbon canti fork with a steel disc fork. It was a little longer, so the head angle got slacker (70 deg, nerds). Death before discs — amirite? — but I chose a disc fork so I could throw on a 650B Dyanmo-hubbed front wheel I had left over from another bike that hadn’t met my stringent standards. I performed some multivariable calculus to determine that with a 2.25″ tire it would roughly match the rear 700c wheel. Hooray! Turns out I really enjoyed the wacky x-slack geometry, or maybe I just wasn’t riding any other bikes.

  • Sofia Torres, Cannondale CAAD9 CX
  • Sofia Torres, Cannondale CAAD9 CX
  • Sofia Torres, Cannondale CAAD9 CX
  • Frame/Fork 2010 Cannondale CAAD9 CX frame, non-recalled Sala Vaya fork
  • Wheels Velocity Blunt SS laced to SP Dynamo hub front, EA90SL rear
  • Tires Schwalbe ThunderBurt 27.5×2.25 front, WTB Riddler 37 rear (both tubeless)
  • Handlebar Salsa Cowbell 46cm
  • Crankset SRAM Force / 34T narrow-wide
  • Cassette 11-42T
  • Derailleur(s) SRAM Force 1
  • Brakes Paul Klamper front, Paul Mini Moto rear
  • Shifter(s) SRAM 11sp (1x, left shifter controls dropper)
  • Saddle Brooks B17
  • Front Bag(s) Medium Rivendell sack in a chopped Wald basket
  • Rear Bag(s) Fabio’s Chest or Porcelain Rocket dry bag
  • Accessory Bag(s) Homemade frame bags
  • Other Accessories Joe Bell paint, dirt
  • Sofia Torres, Cannondale CAAD9 CX
  • Sofia Torres, Cannondale CAAD9 CX
Sofia Torres, Cannondale CAAD9 CX

Through the years, many other tiny-to-medium changes have taken place as well, so that the only bits left from my initial build are the crank arms and the frame. Here’s a sampling: from 11-28 cassette (ha!) and 38T chainring to 11-42 and 34T; from wee 38cm bars (ha!) to 46cm bars that now feel too narrow (ha!); from carbon seatpost and a Fizik Aliante to shifter-actuated dropper and a Brooks B17. Not to mention the most obvious transformation from black and white with a splattering of logos (bad) to “desert tan” Rustoleum by me (better?) to “mushroom storm” textured Imron as custom-mixed and sprayed by the master himself, Joe Bell (best).

You might say, yeah, that’s all very hip, but why this frame? And I will answer that I do not know, but that it feels like its soul is a spring that’s been outside for a while and knows exactly what shape it wants to be. Until I can afford a wheelbarrow, this is my favorite wheeled machine.

You can keep up with Sofia on Instagram @flynnsaw.

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