Cannondale Launches Progressive Scalpel XC Hardtail

Nov 9, 2021
by James Smurthwaite  

We had a feeling a new XC whippet was coming from Cannondale when it was spotted between the legs of EF Education First - Nippo Pro Cycling road team rider Alex Howes in the run up to the Cape Epic. Now, just over a week later, we have the full details for the Cannondale Scalpel HT that replaces the F-Si as the brand's XC race hardtail.

Cannondale says that rather than just shaving a few grams of its existing platform, it went back to the drawing board to create what it calls, "one of the most aggressive, progressive and innovative XC HTs that have been crafted." In a cohort where 68° to 69° head tube angles are the average, Cannondale has really pushed the boat out on the Scalpel HT and it sits at a seriously slack 66.5° (or 67° depending on the model). This is complemented by an extra 10mm of travel over the F-Si thanks to a 110mm travel Lefty Ocho fitted on the Hi-Mod 1 model.
Details

Frame material: Carbon / Hi-mod carbon
Intended Use: XC
Fork Travel: 100 or 110mm recommended
Wheelsize: 29"
Head tube angle: 66.5°
Sizes: S, M, L, XL
Weight: 9.680 kg / 21.34 lb (Hi-Mod 1, size medium), frame 895 grams
Price: $2,200 - $5,000
More info: cannondale.com

Internal cable routing is built in to the frame but can be plugged up if you're running a wireless set up.

The extra travel up front is complemented by some extra flex at the rear too. The dropped seatstays come in combination with flex zones in the chainstay, similar to those on the full suspension version of the Scalpel. This probably doesn’t make the Scalpel HT a soft tail but definitely will offer some respite from the chatter underneath you.

Dropped seatstays and flexing chainstays combine to reduce chatter.


Geometry:

We've already talked about the headline headtube angle on the new Scalpel HT but let's take a deeper dive into the rest of the numbers. The effective seat tube angle is 74.5°/75°, 2° steeper than the F-Si and the bike is also stretched out from the current platform with reaches around 5-10mm longer per size. Cannondale also increases the chainstay length proportionally with the size so a rider is centered no matter what size frame they buy. The full geometry chart is below:

Geometry for the 110mm model.

Models and availability:

The Cannondale Scalpel HT will be available in 4 models. The three lower models are made with a standard Cannondale carbon weave starting with the HT Carbon 4 (US $2,200/$2,900 CAN), the HT Carbon 3(US $3,000/$3,900 CAN) going up to the HT Carbon 2 (US $4,000/$5,200 CAN). The 1 model is made with Hi Mod carbon and costs (US $5,000/$6,500 CAN). The 2 and 1 models both come with the Ocho fork, whereas the 3 and 4 come with a RockShox Sid. For more info on all the models, click here.




144 Comments

  • 304 8
 Now THIS is a Gravel Bike! Well done Cannondale! Be safe be well, Incognito Robin
  • 6 1
 progressive thats the new new downcountry , ...... someone did suggest blurring the lines with gravelcountry ccredits go to ____________________
  • 22 2
 But, how do I make it go without a motor?
  • 3 1
 Hmmm…sure is sharp.
  • 3 1
 @BoobyHill: That will probably be announced next week.
  • 13 1
 @BoobyHill: dammit Booby, you use propane
  • 79 5
 What I'm really interested in is whoever thought it was a good idea to photograph a 70% black bike in front of a black background.
  • 27 1
 Its art ! Us peasants can't understand ...
  • 2 0
 Maybe these were supposed to be spy shots? I can imagine your everyday spy doesn't operate in bright daylight, so this is the best we can get. Be glad the shots weren't taken with night vision and it would all look green.
  • 6 0
 stealth innit
  • 3 0
 @vinay: nope spyshots have a big heading called spyshots, prototypes have big stickers slapped on them just in case the big heading called spyshots is not enough and then a spyshot is easily identifiable by the next days review in case you missed the spyshots the previous day
  • 6 1
 Maybe you need to adjust your monitor...??? Looks cool IMO...
  • 57 5
 now THATS a hardtail.
  • 75 7
 Hell yea! Take all my money (well not really cause I'm rich but you know what I mean!)

Be safe be well,
Incognito Robin
  • 15 3
 @notoutsideceo: can i have 1 yr of outside mag for free please. (you say you are rich)
  • 9 2
 @Roodcrew: He's not that rich... Wink
  • 74 3
 @Roodcrew: Use code NotOutsideCEO at checkout to pay double!

Be safe be well,
Incognito Robin
  • 3 1
 @Roodcrew: He's rich because he doesn't give stuff for free.
  • 6 0
 the tail's not even hard
  • 4 0
 @notoutsideceo: your code didn't work. guess I'll have to go without.
  • 2 0
 @Roodcrew: there's no more toilet paper shortage bro.
  • 52 2
 Not sure about that Lefty fork... Just doesn't seem right.

(Pun Intended)
  • 47 0
 The extra 10mm Ocho prevents the ouchos.
  • 24 1
 Alignment of front wheel, lefty fork, stem and bars appears to have been done by MC Escher. I can't work out if its pointing out the page, into the page or its a gold dress.
  • 49 0
 No, this is the work of XC Escher.
  • 3 0
 @mi-bike: I'm waiting for the bike by MX Escher.
  • 2 0
 The stem-mounted shifters in the first pic put you in a really aero position when you change gears.
  • 3 0
 The „gold dress“ callback was so good
  • 9 0
 @mi-bike: that guy would definitely design an xc course where you're somehow always climbing
  • 19 0
 IMO it's weird that every carbon gravel bike is designed with the expectation it's going to be ridden for many days at a time, days even, while every carbon hardtail is designed for 90 minute races.

What I'd like is a bike like this, designed for crossing long distances fast. Some more rear end comfort (like the 'kingpin' seatstay pivot from the Slate gravel bike), a threaded BB, more bottle mounts including a bento box mount, and some integrated storage (even just the multi-tool storage from the Scalpel). Do this, while keeping the geometry and trying to keep the weight as near as possible under 1kg
  • 3 0
 Yep, spot on.
  • 2 0
 Kind of like a Salsa Cutthroat with flat bars and front suspension, which it can already take, geometry-wise? Maybe just a bit more mtb than that? I am with you.
  • 3 0
 How does a threaded BB make the bike more suitable for long distance riding?
  • 4 2
 @MaplePanda: cuz it creaks less and doesn't drive you crazy?
  • 1 0
 Yes! And call it... a mountain bike.
  • 18 0
 Actually sounds like a really good (2021-adjusted) value for an XC racing hardtail. Doesn't look too bad either.
  • 15 1
 Progressive head angle completely negated by regressive reach (sizing) which forces you to run a 70mm stem.
  • 6 4
 There is an argument to be made that longer stems work better with slacker HTAs, because the wheel is farther forward relative to the hands.
  • 3 0
 or just size up?
  • 9 0
 @bman33: Cool, I'll get the XXXL size
  • 1 1
 More to geo than just reach, the rear center and seat tube lengths etc can play a huge part in how the bike actually feels
  • 5 4
 @zzz216: No shit Sherlock. Although I’d love to know how seat tube lengths effect handling.
  • 2 2
 @Ttimer: That argument is as dumb as saying long front centres need steeper head angles.
  • 1 0
 Looks like they kept a fairly shallow seat angle to keep XC racers happy so you’ll need a longer stem to keep the front end down.
  • 1 0
 @whambat: Or a longer front centre….
  • 2 0
 @whambat: progressively steep seat angles are not necessary on hardtails, especially if they are extending the front center.
  • 3 0
 To be fair, short stem + wide bars does not always work very well on XC race tracks.
  • 1 0
 @SonofBovril: Because effective STA gets slacker as saddle height increases. If you wanted to have a somewhat consistent effective STA across all sizes this is the way you'd do it.
  • 1 0
 @SonofBovril: @jclnv,
Ok. Good to know. It’s been a bit since I’ve been around the XC scene, let alone hard tails. Although, I have been tempted about getting one as my version of a gravel grinder as the dirt roads in my area are often too rough for most gravel bikes. So far, it seems to me that BMC and Scott have some of the more progressive geometries on their XC hard tails. You got any other recommendations?
  • 12 1
 Honestly I don´t understand why cannondale made the head tube angle and seat tube angle more progressive, but didn´t increase reach by a lot more than 5-10mm to run shorter stems
  • 2 2
 It’s like they don’t get it!
Get fashionable baby- long reach with 44 offset & 50mm stem.
  • 9 0
 Month ago I woulda said why. Then I borrowed a friend's XC hardtail for a climb and it was like seeing into the matrix lol
  • 10 1
 I don't think I'd use the term "progressive" when describing any new bike with 445mm chainstays and a short Reach. (size XL)
  • 8 0
 I was thinking the same thing. The XL reach is about the same as modern size mediums.
  • 9 0
 Honestly the pricing isn't that bad for cannondale.
  • 3 0
 ^ what I was thinking. When did Cannondale become the more affordable brand?
  • 10 2
 I don’t understand the steep seat angle on a xc racing hardtail.
  • 3 2
 __
  • 5 0
 Agree, and it gets steeper when the fork sags out. Every bump is a jolt to the spine.
  • 2 0
 @gtill9000: Gives new meaning to "ass hatchet".
  • 6 0
 I really like this new breed of xc bikes with a bit more aggressive geometry, nobody wants to ride a hardtail with a 70 degrees headtube/seat tube angle
  • 5 1
 I remember when Giant was thinking that 70° is way to slack and practically unridable.
But then again, I also remember when the same company predicted the death of xc 29ers..
  • 4 0
 A bike with that slack of a head angle should really come stock with a dropper post. The slacker the HA, the more you have to lean it over to get through a turn and maintain speed, and the more you're limited by the seat contacting your leg. You either have to slow down, or lean over more with the bike, reducing traction. Seat tube also looks pretty tall, restricting the length of dropper you can use. Just a little weird to go this progressive, but not have a dropper.
  • 9 3
 I know people rave about that fork but I just cannot get on board with it...
  • 28 3
 To be fair you’ve only had 22 years or so to get used to Lefites. I’m sure you’ll get there soon
  • 4 1
 Short/conservative reach with progressive headtube angle seems like a recipe for disaster…. You’re gonna have to run a 70-80mm stem (at least) with those numbers to avoid being cramped, add a 66.5 HTA to that and common sense says
the steering is going to be wonky and slow.
I wonder how it will preform on the trail…
  • 6 0
 Progressive. XC. Hardtail. Let the triggering begin.
  • 4 0
 I'm wondering why they didn't go all in on the flexible stays and make 'em flat like on their FS XC bike.
  • 5 0
 In pretty excited for this. Looks just about perfect.
  • 5 0
 Tinker would love this bike.
  • 3 1
 cool. the banner was the give away...
will it support a "normal" sized dropper post? or: what is the seat tube diameter? and is there a hole for a cable Smile
  • 1 0
 27.2 and yes there is a hole for the cable.
  • 2 2
 @Brettnotbrad: thanks buddy. i spotted the hole just after posting, but 27.2 is nowhere to be found... missed chance, for me at least...
  • 4 0
 @skimons: pretty good selection of skinny droppers from KS?
  • 4 0
 nifty rear dropout / semi thru axle...
  • 2 3
 Mavic Speed Release can go to hell. Have fun readjusting that brake all the damn time.
  • 3 0
 @m47h13u:
Huh? It works totally awesome on my SuperSix and my friend's SystemSix. We take rear wheel off to put on bike trainer and back on, take front wheel off to fit in the car and back on pretty much twice a week. The wheel mount at consistent location and brake rotor never rubbed.
  • 1 0
 @Hexsense: funny I had quite the opposite experience with those exact bikes. Any seatpost sliding up and down at max torque issues?
  • 1 0
 @m47h13u: Mine didn't slide, but it creak initially. That's because the wedge rotated off axis. It is fixed after I apply two sided tape to the seatpost binder mechanism based on information found on a topic about Cannondle Supersix Evo in Weight-weenies forum.
I don't like this mechanism too. One surface need two sided tape. Some surface need grease and some surface need carbon paste. That's 3 different ways to treat the surface of a small mechanism.
  • 4 0
 What's with the new headtube logo?
  • 3 0
 Anytime I see a Lefty I instantly think of Cedric Garcia and ACC dirt jumping from back in the day
  • 4 0
 Short reach????? Add 100 mm stem and drop bars.
  • 1 0
 I have a friend up at Specialized and says they have something in the works that will stomp a mud hole in this Scalpel. But he also claimed to invent the question mark and the post it note.
  • 3 1
 I had a feeling it was coming this morning when the banner ads were already there on the homepage..
  • 3 0
 Also a wicked long seattube...
  • 1 1
 Seem to think, given the trend of progressive hardtail releases, that progressive means a progressive and aggressive increase in price. So many hardtails being released lately that cost the same or more than a FS rig.
  • 1 1
 Sure, but is the hardtail equally equipped to whichever full suspension bike you are looking at?

Even within the Cannondale lineup, this isn’t the case.

Equally equipped hardtails are cheaper, because or duh.
  • 1 1
 @hllclmbr: huh... this makes little sense.

No hardtail can be equally equipped as a FS, as the FS has rear suspension and more complex frame design.

Logically, a well equipped hardtail should not cost more than decent equipped FS..
  • 2 0
 Geometry seems pretty decent shame their XL is basically a medium with a very long seat tube.
  • 2 1
 Dear Bike companies, I feel that these adverts were made by Hollister clothing. Please turn up the lighting so I can see it.
  • 2 1
 Got excited for this, $5000 dollars is fair for the top spec, then I looked at UK prices - £6200!

$5000 = £3600, we're getting jipped
  • 2 0
 Ah man, that sucks. Was thinking it sounded good value, but that is fricking pricey.
  • 1 0
 Book a holiday to the USA. Bring some shitty old bike on the flight that you will leave behind. Buy the Scalpel HT there. Tell the airport staff it's the same bike you came with. You get a free holiday to the States + you saved money.
  • 1 0
 It's the same here in the Netherlands: The top spec sells for €6999 while 5000 USD is €4326. That is a +62% mark up / €2674 more expensive.
  • 1 0
 @stephenthesquirrel: Nope, check my comment above yours: The bike costs the same in the UK as in the EU.
  • 1 0
 US RRP prices are mostly without VAT, if I remember well. but the gap is huge, this time
  • 1 0
 Seeing as I don't see it mentioned anywhere, does this mean that Cannondale has abandoned the offset wheel nonsense?
  • 2 0
 I was thinking the same. Is the Ai wheel set gone? Hopefully it is.
  • 5 0
 I'd doubt it. Just curious, given it takes about 5 minutes in a stand to change the dishing by that small amount, what is the issue you lads have with AI? Seems like a very elegant solution, and in many ways, better than boost.
  • 1 0
 @sherbet: re-dishing a wheel every time you want to swap? No thanks. Besides, wheels being not stiff enough isn't a thing at this point. If anything, they're not stiff enough.

There are plenty of very good options out there that don't go out of their way to make life harder.
  • 7 0
 @bryceco: I meet very few people switching wheels between bikes, so while you may apply to you, and may definitely be a downside to you, it really isn't common.

I work at a shop that deals Cannondale. We've brought old parts onto new builds many times, and never had an issue with AI dishing. Realistically, it was a better solution than boost as it allowed for the same bracing angles without needing a new rear hub/frame to get the benefits. In that sense, boost went out of it's way to make life harder.

It's all perspective my dude.
  • 1 0
 @sherbet: yer it was a good idea but if it’s not used by other manufacturers it’s a pain! The weird crank width is an issue, ie can’t get a xtr Ai crank so you have to use a cannondale chain ring, then you get chain suck! If it was better than boost why did they use boost on the latest scalpel but still Ai it? Which means your wheels off the scalpel Si don’t fit the scalpel 2021
  • 1 0
 @Bay1: Market clearly went the other way. Not sure if that's the fault of AI or companies that chose other technology. If AI adoption was more common, you wouldn't be complaining about crank compatibility.

AI, at the end of the day, got the benefits of boost without needing to get an updated hub. That's cool.
  • 1 0
 @sherbet: I agree, in theory it’s a great idea but in reality it’s a pain.
Question for you- now a lot of rims have the holes offset is this an issue when building an Ai wheel set? I’m guessing you can’t the correct spoke angles as envisioned for Ai
  • 2 0
 I wonder how much tinkering was done to make changes from the old model.
  • 2 0
 How can you have such a slack HTA without a dropper post and Minions?
  • 1 0
 Are you certain this replaces the F-Si? If so i'm really bummed as the F-Si is a true XC race weapon
  • 1 0
 That thing ain't winning any beauty contests. Maybe if it had a high pivot...
  • 1 0
 That beer can thin carbon frame would last about 3 seconds in the northeast
  • 1 0
 the link for more info is missing
  • 1 0
 No sizing/specs or pricing info on the website lol
  • 1 1
 How much flex can one expect from dropped seat stays if there is a dropper post stuck that far down into the seatpost?
  • 2 0
 you don't need seat stay flex if you are running a 27.2 dropper... Smile
  • 2 1
 standover looks taller than the eiffel tower.
  • 1 0
 All HCHTS over 66.5 are now XC bikes
  • 1 0
 is that letraset being used as a logo?
  • 2 3
 Just realized that this also has adjustable geometry. When the lefty fails - it will increase the seat angle by 3 degrees and the head angle by 5 Smile
  • 1 2
 I understand why they didnt include pedals in the pic. But why did they insist on choosing the grips AND saddle? My body, my choices.
  • 2 0
 Weird looking
  • 2 0
 Holy standover height
  • 2 2
 465mm reach on the XL?? why so smol?
  • 2 0
 Long stems.
  • 1 0
 Ai wheels?
  • 3 5
 looks like a highball missing a fork leg
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