Cannondale's New Scalpel-Si - First Ride

Apr 29, 2016
by Mike Levy  




The New Scalpel-Si

Cannondale's all-new Scalpel-Si has been designed not only as a flat-out cross-country race machine, but also one that's not a handful on technical trails as so many purebred race bikes can be, including its predecessor. While it used to be all about grams and efficiency, it's now all about grams and efficiency WITH the added caveat that the bike has to be way more than just passable on relatively rowdy terrain.

Cannondale says that the 100mm-travel Scalpel-Si excels when things get technical thanks to its progressive (for a cross-country race bike) geometry, which, coincidentally, might also make it a great short-travel weapon regardless of if you're lining up in a start chute or not.
Scalpel-Si Details:

• Intended use: cross-country racing, riding
• Rear wheel travel: 100mm
• Wheel size: 29'' (on most models)
• 27.5'' wheels on men's small, women's
• Frame material: carbon fiber
• Aluminum entry-level model
• Ai offset rear-end
• Zero Pivot Flexstays
• Lefty forks on all models
• Dual-ring compatible
• Di2 compatible
• Frame weight: 2,118 grams (inc. shock, hardware, axle)
• Lifetime warranty
• Availability: May (for most models)
• MSRP: $3,200 - $12,790 USD


Cannondale Scalpel-Si
The Black Inc model costs $12,790 USD.
Cannondale Scalpel-Si
Three models down is the Scalpel-Si Carbon 1 that costs $7,460 USD.


Cannondale Scalpel-Si
The Scalpel-Si Carbon 2 costs $6,390 USD.
Cannondale Scalpel-Si
The Scalpel-Si Carbon 4 costs $4,260 USD.


Models and Pricing

There are ten Scalpel-Si models in total, two of those being built around more compact female-specific frames and eight of which are available in North American - the Team and Women's 1 are for Europe only. At the top of the pile sits the Scalpel-Si Black Inc that's fitted with XTR Di2, ENVE wheels, and other stuff that doesn't weigh much. It retails for an I'm-a-dentist $12,790 USD, but it all starts with the ScalpeI-Si AL 5, the only aluminum bike in the range, at $3,200 USD. My stealthy looking Scalpel-Si Carbon 3 test bike (shown in the first photo) costs $5,330 USD. The Women's 1 is available in Europe only, and the Women's 2 model goes for $4,260 USD.

The top tier Black Inc, Race, Team, and Carbon 1 models are all built up around Cannondale's Hi-MOD version of the frame that features a different carbon fiber make-up that they say is a ''mix of high and ultra-high modulus fibers to create the stiffening network.'' Basically, they claim that the materials are stronger so they're able to use less of it and hence, the Hi-MOD frames are a bit lighter.

Cannondale Scalpel-Si

The aluminum ScalpeI-Si AL 5 costs $3,200 USD, or one quarter of the price of the Black Inc model.


Unlike the 29'' wheeled Scalpel that came before it, the Scalpel-Si can be had in either 29'' or 27.5'' wheels, depending on what size of bike you require. The standard models roll on big wheels in medium, large, and extra-large sizes, whereas the small bike is made for 27.5'' hoops. The women's bikes, which come in extra-small, small, and medium, have also been made for 27.5'' wheels.


Cannondale Scalpel-Si
The Scalpel-Si Carbon Women's 1 is available only in Europe.
Cannondale Scalpel-Si
The Scalpel-Si Carbon Women's 2 costs $4,260 USD.



What Is It?

Cannondale's lightest full-suspension frame to date, but also a 100mm-travel cross-country race bike that they say can handle some properly challenging terrain.

A blurb about the new Scalpel-Si straight from Cannondale: "A weapon that's ultra-light and as stiff as you'd expect - but designed with a lot more capability. For that extra X. This is exactly why we didn't build the Scalpel-Si for just XC. We built it for XXC." The previous version of the Scalpel, with a 71.2° head angle, was most definitely a pure cross-country race bike, but the new Scalpel-Si is longer and a bit slacker, making the bike look much more forgiving and, dare we say it, fun for a machine that's made to win cross-country races. Just because the salt running down your face makes it feel like someone's putting matches out on your pupils doesn't mean you're not having fun, does it?


Cannondale Scalpel-Si
  The bike's carbon fiber rear-end delivers 100mm of race-oriented travel.


What's New?

You'd be better off asking what isn't new, even if the old and new bikes do share some very similar lines between them. What's new is everything, front to back, with an emphasis on creating a frame so light that you feel guilty about that bucket of KFC chicken you ate. How light? Cannondale claims that a Scalpel-Si frame weighs 2,118 grams including the shock.

Speaking of weight, Cannondale says that the bike's injection molded carbon rocker link saves even more weight over an aluminum rocker. This carbon link is used on all of the bikes, including the $2,999 USD aluminum Scalpel Si-5. Sealed bearings are employed all around, besides at the Flexstay, for obvious reasons, and I was told that the bike's designers put an emphasis on making the pivots easy to work on.

Cannondale explained that they've moved towards using collet-style pivot hardware - they call it their LockR Pivot System - for that very reason, and went on to say that it's also a more reliable setup that doesn't require any funky or expensive tools to work on.
Cannondale Scalpel-Si
Carbon here, carbon there, carbon everywhere.

I think remote lockouts are silly, especially for a bike with just 100mm of suspension, but the Scalpel-Si being designed for cross-country racing means that Cannondale was pretty much obliged to include a go-fast button on their new bike. The Scalpel-Si pedals extremely well when left full-open, as it should, but most racers, especially European racers, feel they need a lockout... I bet Europe would try to fit a lockout to the back of hardtail if they could. So, a single button on the left side of the handlebar offers hydraulic control of both the fork and shock. Push for open, or push when you don't want your suspension to work at all; there is no middle setting offered or required.


Cannondale Scalpel-Si
  All of the Scalpels are fitted with metric-sized shocks, and models with hydrualic remote lockout see the hose routed down the inside of the top tube for a clean appearance.


Other niftyness includes a smart internal cable management system that uses replaceable and configurable entry ports that can be set to accept one, two, or three lines (depending on location), Di2 cables, or be blanked-off for a clean look. A small screw preloads the ports to keep the lines from pulling into or out of the frame, and while there is no internal guiding inside, large exit ports should make feeding a new line through the frame a no-swearing kind of job.

Cannondale also includes a clever Di2 battery holder that tucks up inside of the top tube, just ahead of the forward shock mount, instead of inside the seat tube. This means that riders can run a dropper post and a Di2 battery in unison.


Cannondale Scalpel-Si
Cable entry ports can be configured any which way you'd like, or be blanked off completely.
Cannondale Scalpel-Si
There are no internal guides, but a large exit port should make it easy to swap lines.



What Isn't New?

Only a few things, the most obvious of which is the Zero Pivot Flexstay design at the rear axle that, as the name says, doesn't employ traditional bearings and all of the associated hardware. Instead, the carbon rear-end is designed to flex to provide the small range of motion that's required. That word, flex, always seems to have a bad connotation in the cycling world, but this could be an ideal place for it, especially on a bike with just 100mm of travel. Cannondale has been doing this for years and years without troubles, as have other brands, and it's worth a good chunk of weight savings.


Cannondale Scalpel-Si
  No axle pivots required. Cannondale's Zero Pivot Flexstay design provides enough movement for the bike's 100mm of travel but saves weight by not requiring any pivot hardware.

Asymmetric Integration, or Ai for short, is new to the Scalpel but first used on Cannondale's F-SI race hardtails. It sees the normal 12 x 142mm hub and drivetrain shifted to the right by 6mm, along with equal spoke tension and angles for the rear wheel. Then, the crank's spider moves the chainring 6mm to the right to compensate. Cannondale claims that the design, which they've been using for years now, does everything that Boost accomplishes and more, including making for a compact rear-end without compromising tire clearance (there's a ton of it) or the ability to run two chainrings.
Cannondale Scalpel-Si

And all that without having to use a funky rear hub that makes everyone angry. That said, it should be noted that you can't just slot in a normal wheel without dishing the rim over by 6mm.



Let's See Some Numbers

Might as well start with the digits that you're probably most interested in: Cannondale claims that the 2017 Scalpel-Si Hi-MOD frame (the fanciest version) weighs just 2,118 grams including the shock, hardware, and rear axle. That's only a few grams lighter than the 2016 Scalpel, but they also say that a 2016 Specialized S-Works Epic frame weighs 2,358 grams, or 240 grams more. That makes the Scalpel-Si feathery enough to be one of the lighter production frames on the market.

Cannondale didn't have a weight for the ultra-chic, ultra-pricey Black Inc model, but my Scalpel-Si Carbon 3 test bike weighs 24lb 10oz according to my scale. If you're a downhiller reading this, that's probably less than your bike weighs after you take both wheels off of it.

There are probably some more important numbers than weight, however, especially for those who don't own a bunch of white Lycra shorts or a year's supply of Breathe Right strips: geometry. The gist is that the new Scalpel-Si and its 'OutFront' geometry is longer and slacker than the old bike, and is also slacker and has more fork offset than its most important competition, which is why Cannondale stuck that extra X in front of XC.

Up front, the Scalpel-Si has a 69.5° head angle versus the old bike's sphincter-tightening 71.2° number, a 55mm offset, and trail has been lengthened one-tenth of an inch from 2.9'' to 3.0''. You know, so you don't feel like you're going to die every time you roll into that steep chute. A 17.5'' reach compared to the old bike's 17.2'' ( reach on the large-sized frame means you can run a bit shorter stem, and the back of the bike has been tightened up by a third of an inch to 17.2''. Overall, the wheelbase is longer - 45'' vs. 44.3'' on the large - and all of that should add up to a more capable rig in technical terrain, and also one that's more stable when you're gassed during a race but have to pinball your way down something scary.

Cannondale also says that the Lefty's proprietary fork offset (55mm on the 29ers, 50mm on the bikes with 27.5'' wheels) plays a big role in how their new OutFront geometry feels on the trail.


Cannondale Scalpel-Si
  Having two bottles inside the front triangle of a full-suspension bike isn't all that common these days.


One last number for you: two. It's how many bottles can fit inside the Scalpel-Si's front triangle, something that Cannondale said was a priority when they re-designed the bike. This won't be a big deal for some riders, but those who despise backpacks (my hand is up) know how important this is. There is no bottle mount on the underside of the down tube, however, which is a silly place to store something that you're going to be putting in your mouth anyways.



Where's the Rest of the Fork?

It's all there, and I'm sure that Lefty riders are sick and tired of hearing that question by now. You probably can't talk about the Scalpel-Si without talking about the Lefty fork (strut?) given that it comes on all ten models.

The Lefty has been around for well over a decade, and I'd argue (and have argued) that the single-sided fork, with its square stanchion tube and roller bearing strips, makes a lot more sense than using silly fork bushings and depending on arches and axles to keep things pointing in the same direction. The latter has become the norm, however, and anything that's visually different seems to freak people out. Cannondale doesn't seem to give a shit, which I admire, and it doesn't hurt that the Lefty's fork chassis is also functionally awesome.

Unlike a more common fork that employs two round stanchions, the Lefty's single aluminum stanchion is actually square, and the inside of the upper leg matches that shape. Four strips of roller bearings allow the two pieces to roll rather than slide into and out of each other. The square-in-a-square design is what keeps the leg from rotating, whereas a traditional fork slides on bushings and depends on the axle and brake arch for torsional rigidity. There are a few different versions of the Lefty, including a mega-light carbon model, but the Scalpel-Si Carbon 3's fork is the aluminum version. All employ 3D forging to create a one-piece lower leg and stanchion that allows for a round external section, and therefore a more traditional fork seal can be fitted to keep gunk out rather than the old accordion-style fork boot. It also lets Cannondale add a glide bearing to further enhance stiffness.

On the aluminum forks, the same 3D forging creates the one-piece upper leg and fork crown unit that means Cannondale doesn't have to bond or bolt those sections together. Fewer pieces mean less complication and less weight.
Cannondale Scalpel-Si
The 100mm-travel Lefty 2.0 XLRFS on the front of the Scalpel-Si Carbon 3.

Cannondale Scalpel-Si
The Lefty uses a proprietary hub.
Cannondale Scalpel-Si
Need to take the front wheel off? The caliper mount is slotted, so backing out the bolts by a few turns allows you to slide it up and off without losing your rub-free setup.








Too much tech info, not enough riding info, so let's move on to what matters. Cannondale hosted the release of their new Scalpel-Si in Europe over the last few days, but I didn't attend. Why? Because riding a new bike on unfamiliar terrain isn't usually the best way to see how it handles. Also, I live in southwestern British Columbia, halfway between Kamloops and Whistler, and I'd rather not leave. Would you? So instead, Cannondale sent a $4,499 USD Scalpel-Si Carbon 3 my way so I could put some miles in on trails that I'm extremely acquainted with.

The bike has seen plenty of technical terrain, a bunch of four and five hour days, and a lot of time spent chasing riding buddies on their longer-travel rigs.



Cannondale Scalpel-Si
Cannondale Scalpel-Si


I probably don't have to tell you that the Scalpel-Si a crackerjack when it comes to pedaling, but I'm going to anyways. With 100mm of travel and a set of relatively lightweight wheels and tires, the blacked-out Cannondale feels as sporty as you'd imagine on any section of trail where putting the power down will open up a gap between your ass and the guy behind you. It's a race-focused bike, though, so it should do exactly that. I did push the handlebar-mounted lockout button a few times when gassing it up steep fireroads, simultaneously rendering the Lefty and Monarch shock useless, but the bike doesn't really need this sort of attention. Sure, the Lefty fork is quite active, so I could see racers wanting to firm it up for sprinting as needed, and an extra hose from the same remote out to the shock doesn't hurt, I just don't think I'd use it often.


Cannondale Scalpel-Si


NEWS FLASH: the carbon fiber cross-country race bike is a rocket on the climbs. Moving on now to less obvious facts, including how the carbon fiber cross-country race bike doesn't feel like one on the descents. Okay, with 100mm of travel it certainly does a lot of the times, but I'm talking more about the bike's handling than its lack of cushy-ness. It handles like it's *gasp* a good time!

Last year, I said that Cannondale's 120mm travel bike, the Habit, is one of the best handling rigs that I've ever ridden, and I can definitely see hints of that bike in the new Scalpel-Si. The bike doesn't feel nearly as pointy as I would have expected, even with the 90mm stem that comes stock on it, and while I was obviously moving slower through rough or steep sections than I would on a bike with longer legs, I also never got the impression that the 100mm-travel Scalpel-Si wasn't game. A shorter stem is going on ASAP, of course, but this was after I swapped out the stock carbon fiber seat post for a dropper. Because fun.


Cannondale Scalpel-Si


The bike simply feels more solid than I expected it to, front to back, but it's how it steers that really makes my eyebrows go up while I'm going down. For a cross-country bike, it is neither nervous nor too lazy, regardless of if I was trucking down a rough doubletrack quick enough to question the outcome of a crash, or if I was creeping down a sniper roll that had my shorts on the rear tire. No, it's not a new-school, short-travel hooligan bike, but it seems to be an extremely capable cross-country weapon that I wouldn't mind riding just about anywhere.

And over the coming months, I am going to be taking it just about anywhere, from three and four-hour cross-country races (hopefully closer to the first number) to trails that probably require a long-travel bike and set of kneepads. Stay tuned.



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180 Comments

  • + 102
 Intended use: riding. That's great!
  • + 41
 I miss being in my 20s, but I don't miss bikes from my 20s. Bikes are so good now. XC race bikes don't have to be treacherous on any downhill terrain to win medals, super capable rigs that outride the DH bikes of yesteryear can climb like mountain goats. It's a great time to ride bikes.
  • + 9
 That was the first thing I noted as well. Great concept getting a bike designed for riding!
  • + 2
 @mikelevy: Europe is great, you should take the next opportunity to go there.

And you have way too much ink in your skin to have any credibility reviewing XC bikes Wink
  • + 6
 @groghunter: I think this every time I ride. Modern bikes are amazing!
  • + 9
 @Vanguard: I've been many times and enjoyed it. Conditions are prime in the PNW right now, though, so I don't quite feel the pull Wink
  • + 3
 @groghunter: Agree. It's a good time to be a mountain biker.
  • - 10
flag ekho (Apr 29, 2016 at 15:13) (Below Threshold)
 It is tight it's black I wanna fuck it!
  • + 4
 With the world cup xco tracks getting gnarlier, xc purebreds like this sick scalpel are being redesigned to strike a better balance between climbing prowess and downhill/technical capabilities...with little to no weight penalty. No complaints here!
  • + 59
 Cannondale is boosting sand into Srams and Treks eyes, with that offset hub
  • + 31
 Same principle on my new frame, pretty clever thinking. That's thinking outside of the box instead of making a new box.
  • - 8
flag racerfacer (Apr 29, 2016 at 6:13) (Below Threshold)
 how is this an improvement? you still can't throw your current carbon wheelset on this thing
  • + 14
 @racerfacer: yeah, because just truing them is impossible...
  • + 13
 This bike cuts into the argument that a new hub standard was needed for stiffer wheels.
  • + 6
 @racerfacer: Yes, you can. You just need to re-dish it which is neither hard nor expensive to do. Not that you care about cost if you can afford a set of plastic wheels.

Hub compatibility with the lefty is a bigger and more expensive problem if you are moving wheels from a bike with a conventional fork.
  • + 3
 @Kamba6: and you can actually do it really easy. Just place a 12mm spacer on the non drive side and true the wheel.

Noon need for special anything. And you can even use the same spokes dice there will be a less then 1mm difference on 29 wheels.
  • + 3
 @racerfacer: pretty sure it would take all of 20 minutes on a truing stand to dish the wheel over 6mm to fit.
  • - 1
 Seemingly better than a new hub "standard", but how do you true a wheel like this. I have never heard of a wheel with a factory offset between the hub and the rim. Do you have to make your own 6mm spacer you insert between the hub and the truing stand on one side?
BTW. It would be interesting to try offset a standard wheel by 6mm without changing spokes.
  • + 1
 @IluvRIDING: see two coments above. Last week I build a set of 6mm offseted wheels.


You just place a 12mm spacer on the disc/non drive side and true them.


And you can also use the same spokes as before since it's approx. 1mm difference.
  • + 1
 @IluvRIDING: Pretty sure you can true/dish a wheel to wherever you want on just about any truing stand, I know I can on mine. It's not like the calipers/feelers/whatever they're called are locked in the center and can't be moved.
  • + 4
 I find it ironic that cannondale is the one pushing against a new standard. They're usually the people thay come up with the new standards that stick.
  • + 5
 @IluvRIDING: Specialized did it for years, they called it Asymmetric Rear Triangle, & you'll see quite a few of their bikes with "A.R.T." stenciled on the rear stays.

I believe all the 135mm rear Demo 8s are A.R.T., & every Big Hit they ever made. Maybe some of the SX trails, too.
  • + 2
 @bkm303: Sure, but if you've got your stand set up for a accurate dished wheel, breaking that setup for an occasional wheel build probably isn't the best way to do things.

heck, I was always lazier than @dragonaut even: I'd just build it up normal, throw it in the bike on the stand, then dish it left by eyeing the seat tube.
  • + 1
 @groghunter: can't be that hard to switch it over though... if you have a normally dished wheel on hand you can just throw that back in the stand and recalibrate to that once you're done with the offset wheel. That can't take but a minute or two, right?

But yeah I've done what you're talking about too. Throw it in the frame and do 1/2 turns on all the nipples until it looks right. That works fine.
  • + 3
 @bkm303: it's not that hard, but it's a larger pain in the ass than finding a spacer or dishing in the rear dropouts(at least on a TS2.2.) Basically the caliper arm is on a threaded stock, & you have to loosen a nut on one side, & tighten on the other, to inch it over. there's no coarse adjustment, at all, & a 1/4 turn of those nuts is probably less than a mm.
  • + 3
 @groghunter: oh that makes sense. It's very straightforward on my stand, but it's the cheapo cantilevered one-sided kind, and the threads are very coarse. Only takes a few seconds to move like a half inch.
  • - 3
 Except that offset wheel builds was what most people have been trying to get away from for the past 15 years...
  • + 3
 @bkm303: Yea, the idea with the high end Park, & the other high end stands, is that once you set it up properly, it's locked in so that you can trust it to be right on a proper dish without having to check it every time.
  • + 1
 @IluvRIDING: O a lot of kind of wheels have offset for not saying normal wheels are all offset and there is no problem to lace it,one side spokes are longer than others. The sense thing for me is making the wheel centred in the hub body,that what they do and make both sides spokes same length,more easier to replace a spoke and easier to build.
  • + 37
 "Cannondale doesn't seem to give a shit, which I admire" AGREED!
  • - 2
 I like brands that are willing to try new things but with cannondale I always get the feeling they're being different just for the sake of being different...

Lefty? No, obviously, just, no. Headshock? Whaa...the only explanation I can think of for why they stick with this stuff is it means that they can overcharge riders who want something different?
  • + 1
 Ya, Cannondale is a bit strange (although sometimes it works out well and sometimes not). I'm disappointed that their big trail bikes still use single pivot suspension. VPP and FSR are both free to use now.
  • + 28
 Took a while for companies to realize that bikes for small people can't have huge wheels.
  • + 4
 There are exceptions to this rule. My 160cm GF rides a 29" hardtail and couldn't be happier. Well, actually she could by riding this new Cannondale...
What I want to say is that wheel size doesn't matter - geometry does. If geo numbers are correct then small people can have huge wheels (and eat the cake too).
  • + 1
 @siim-s: My wife is about 165cm and rides a Small Niner EMD 9 and loves it. So I agree, however there are many people smaller than our partners and I think this trend of flexible wheel size in a model line is a good one.
  • + 0
 @ns2000x: The reason they put the smaller wheels is because as the wheelbase shortens the bike leans less on turns therefore requiring more input from the handlebars.
Of course this would make you loose time on each turn on a race ,which is what this bike is intended for.
  • + 1
 Some companies don't even offer small size for certain bikes
  • + 0
 @siim-s: Their is a geo number that is very important and it do not appears anywhere : Clearance from butt to wheel.

This number is only relevant to people who like to transfert their weight from front to back a lot. I'm 6'3'' and rode a 29er xc for a year. On very steep descent I had my butt on the rear tire more than once. It also happened when I wanted to "crank" a bunny hop and I felt like I could use more butt space. For a 5'6'' person, I hardly imagine that they can move freely enough.

If a person is doing most of the time sitting on the saddle, 29er are the way to go.
  • + 14
 12000$ for the high end bike, it's cheap
  • + 14
 That kind of halo pricing isn't new to Cannondale and not relevant to most of us. However I applaud them for the diversity of their line up. A $4000 USD well equipped carbon, and GASP are they still making aluminium bikes for many more to enjoy?

I guess being a big player teaches you how to offer something to a larger swath of the market than some of their competitors (SC cough cough).

Maybe it's time I consider trading in a bike or two and considering a Cannonade again...
  • - 1
 $12000..NO I don't think so...
  • + 0
 @weebleswobbles:

Its HILARIOUS that since this was posted, the pricing was corrected. The top bike is tapping $13000 USD but all the bikes slid up a significant amount.
  • + 2
 It's more fun to look at it with CDN pricing. Just a touch over $16,000. I could pay off my student loans, travel the world, buy a pretty solid used car, get the motorbike I want, put a down payment on a house, or buy a stable of bikes and quiver of skis.

I can't imagine being a place in life where $16k for a bicycle could be an option.
  • + 1
 @saskskier: Well that place in life would include being a professional XC racer
  • - 1
 @saskskier: Silicon Valley
  • + 9
 "The bike's carbon fiber rear-end delivers 100mm of race-oriented travel".... soooo... what does 100mm of non-race oriented travel look like?
  • + 31
 Oh wait... figured it out allready. The non-race oriented type of travel is $ 2,500 cheaper... Silly I did'n realise that immediately Smile
  • + 13
 @Chemicalus: it can be 100mm of Slope style oriented travel. You buy one and you look like you di backflips for breakfast
  • + 1
 Like a Banshee Phantom.
(Obviously you can still race it, and probably should.)
  • + 1
 Well it wouldn't use flex stays for one thing. A SC Tallboy is probably good example of "non-race oriented" travel.
  • + 8
 Once you go Black, you go bankrupt ...
  • - 4
flag LRod1018 (Apr 30, 2016 at 3:56) (Below Threshold)
 Or become a single mother.
  • + 3
 @LRod1018: not cool man, but I suppose there's always one ...
  • + 8
 You guys really need to stop referring to every new xc bike as a "weapon".
  • + 4
 "Because riding a new bike on unfamiliar terrain isn't usually the best way to see how it handles. Also, I live in southwestern British Columbia, halfway between Kamloops and Whistler, and I'd rather not leave. Would you? So instead, Cannondale sent a $4,499 USD Scalpel-Si Carbon 3 "

Mike Levy you are the Man !!
  • + 5
 Levy can't be bothered to take a vacation because home is too awesome! rough life...
  • + 5
 Maybe a little too (X)XC for me, but I can see the merits of a bike like this when you enjoy pedalling up the mountain as well. Wish there was a Habit 29.
  • + 1
 I hear the Bad Habit takes 29er wheels.
  • + 3
 I rode this bike yesterday when the shop that I work for got the chance to build the only one on the east coast and I can tell you one thing, It didn't feel like a cross country race bike in a good way, I was jumping around on it doing rear wheel hops and maunaling around the shop with the biggest grin on my face. For sale at CARYTOWN BIKES in Richmond Va.
  • + 6
 "Where's the Rest of the Fork?" - on the right side of my Pike (said every Lefty hater).

PS: Super clean look!!!
  • + 2
 What length stem is on that? and why are manufacturers still speccing trail and XC bikes with longer stems than AM bikes? The weight on the front end argument was proved BS years ago and I really can't believe they're doing it to keep frame weight down.

425mm reach on any medium bike is a joke. 90% of manufacturers need to put at least 30mm on reach measurements and take 30mm off the stem on every size. Short travel bikes benefit even more than long travel bikes from the extra stability. To get the reach I want to run a 30/40mm stem on a trail bike that I can race XC I need to go up a size and them I'm borderline being able to run a 125mm dropper with the road bike seat tube.

Rant over.
  • + 1
 I find high bars hard to push down effectively and weight the front on turn in. So I think if xc racers who have limited upper body mass (arms weigh too much) are having trouble weighting the front, lower the bars. The lower I go the less reach I need to breathe effectively anyways, but I could still appreciate more reach so i can run shorter stems.

Really the Cannondale Lefties are perfect for this, with very low stack.
  • + 2
 Thank you, @mikelevy and PinkBike for reviewing shorter travel suspension bikes. I was getting sick of all the 160-170mm reviews from the last few years. I mean...I need the long travel for 10-15% of my rides, where as most of the time, 100 to 130mm will be absolutely perfect. The Habit, as you referred to, will be the perfect medium: light enough for the 1 or 2 XC races or Xterra triathlons of the summer, and the rest of the time, will have enough travel to tackle 95% of what I'll throw at it. I love the Scalpel, and, ideally, I'd own two bikes (a Scalpel and a 150-160mm rig for rowdier days) but I'm not a "dentist" so I'll just stick to the one mtb bike stable...plus a road bike...Smile
  • + 1
 Do the alu models have a carbon or alu rear triangle? Carbon doesn't have a problem flexing a few mm or cm for ever, but flexing metals tends to cause them to fatigue and break sooner or later. See the problems with Giant's Stance model.
  • + 1
 Aluminum Models come with Alloy rear ends. The Flex stays/kinematic are designed in a way that they see minimal flex deviation through their travel so as to not stress the material, same as with the Habit. Fatigue is not an issue.
  • + 1
 @NorCalScoob: So for how many years is the guarantee effective for the rear triangle on alu models? If it's less than five I can't say I'm convinced.
  • + 2
 loved to write up on the lefty. Never really bothered to look them up or read about them before and was always curious how they got their tortional stiffness, no idea they had square stanchions....
  • + 4
 love this clean bike! can't wait for new Jekyll and Trigger
  • + 0
 I'd like to give a Lefty fork a shot but what puts me off considering ever going for one is the inconvince a service might warranty. At least with a Rock Shox or Fox product it's easy to drop at LBS and replacement parts are relatively easy to come by too.
  • + 14
 It's the same thing. Rock Shox makes the inside of it anyway (on this model). I send my lefty every winter to Mendon Cyclesmith for annual service. Wtih return shipping i've never broken $85 and this will be I think my 7th year on it. I send it on Monday and it's back by Friday. Who rides a fork for 7 years? Damn it's on it's 4th frame now.
  • + 0
 The one guy I know with a lefty has had it back 3 times in a year on warranty. No doubt he got unlucky but apparently it isn't uncommon.
  • + 4
 The first chapter should be named: Wtf is it? 12k$!!!
  • + 3
 And the question that every XC racer want to know is what is the weight of the 12k bike???
  • + 3
 I asked but they didn't have a number for me. I'd guess somewhere in the 22lb range.
  • + 1
 and is it just me but i can buy a top of the line dirt bike for 8k while a bike costs 12k. i just dont get it.... i guess someone out there is willing to pay it so might as well charge em for it.
  • + 0
 A friend of mine sais that they try to make a bike looks like a Epic (Specialized) I guess it doesn´t look exactly to a Epic,and if this happends is only the estetic, I mean I read that this bike have a progressive frame (for a XC bike) and as I have understand the Specialized one isn´t progressive at all. So can someone explain a litte bit about it?
  • + 2
 i understand the stem change. but is it fair to review a bike after making a change that so radically will affect everything about how it rides?
  • + 3
 I think its fair to change out the stem or the seatpost and still review the bike. Its not like he swapped out the wheel set and then put on XTR Di2 drivetrain and reviewed the bike.
  • + 2
 Lefty's are the stiffest forks in the business. Too bad Cannondale is not a fork company.
www.youtube.com/watch?v=_WlRqcAQr2w
  • + 3
 The blank inc. one still has a 2x!!! We're supposed to be moving forward. 1x for life.
  • + 2
 @mikelevy - great review as usual man! Have you ridden those switchback uphill on an super modern Enduro bro bike with DH wheelbase? I wonder how that goes.
  • + 3
 I've ridden those switchbacks on pretty much every bike I've reviewed within the last year or so - the trail is fairly new. Some bikes are certainly easier than others but they all get through without too much trouble. The Scalpel-Si just gets through a lot quicker, as you'd expect.
  • + 3
 Dear pinkbike, calling a bike a 'weapon' is as corny as calling black 'murdered out'.
  • + 10
 A deadly combination of prose.
  • + 1
 justify my ride ending? walking home?
I will never own a ride with under bb routing that can be taken out by a log, rock or anything actually. It breaks of lazy design
  • - 1
 I'm LITERALLY laughing my arse off, the pricing went UP notably since the article was posted. Forget anything I said above, about the midrange bike pricing. Everyone has lost their minds. Cannondale included. It's a good job the US economy is strong because US bikes will only be for US citizens rolling in the cash money.
  • + 2
 Yup, it did. Initial price specs that went out were incorrect and the article was updated a few hours after it went live.
  • + 0
 When I was in my MTB puberty around 2001-2005 I was buying those bike catalogs from quasi-roadie MTB magazines. The most expensive bike was always the Scalpel. In 2003 it costed at least 8k bucks.
  • + 1
 I don't see why "flex stay" is worth a mention, let alone a photo. My 2005 yeti asr-sl is still going strong, ditto for asr5c.
  • + 2
 It's hard to get a true sense of the reviews out of Pinkbike these days. All bikes perform well for their intended use.
  • + 2
 If sweat in your eyes feels like "matches being put out in your pupils".... might I suggest some sort of headband?
  • + 1
 The specs look a lot like a Yeti ASRC except the Yeti frame is 200 grams ligther than even the HiMod frame and get this less expensive for a given comparable build kit..
  • - 2
 When Yeti is beating you on pricing, you'd better reconsider you're product. Especially if you're Cannondale, who's sales haven't been great for the last few years. I keep hearing rumors they're going to shut down.
  • + 2
 Glad they introduced the XXC category, now I won't have to bother with the difficulty of categorizing this bike Smile
  • + 4
 Damn, those categories. It is getting harder and harder to go and ride your bike and actually manage to stick within a single category. You'll easily find yourself riding three categories in one single ride and if you don't take proper care, you'll have covered XC, XXC, Trail, All Mountain and Enduro all within a single ride. It gets near impossible to make a warranty claim. "Sorry sir, this damage won't be covered. This is a strict XC bike and it clearly shows you've been riding uneven terrain with roots and stuff. That's not XC, that's XXC. But now luckily we've got a new bike for you that may be just what you need. But don't you dare take it on an XXXC ride!"
  • + 3
 Levy, you live in Lillooet?
  • + 2
 Do people really buy these types of bikes in any great number? They seem just as niche as DH bikes (but a lot less fun)
  • + 10
 Really? I see plenty of people at my local trails riding Superflys, Top Fuels, Anthems, etc. Not necessarily the top-tier versions, but I'd guess that 100mm bikes are probably the biggest sellers for most of the major brands.
  • + 2
 @bkm303: Agreed. Sadly. most of those people would be just as happy on the climbs on a 120mm trail bike, & wouldn't stagnate in their riding because their bikes are sketchy on the downs. at least we're now seeing a conscious effort from the industry to make these bikes less terrifying to point down a hill.
  • + 4
 @groghunter: yeah, I'm actually super stoked about this wave of short travel bikes that keep coming out. A bike like this one, the Habit, or the Kona Hei Hei DL would be my ideal everyday ride; good enough to negotiate just about any kind of terrain with a little skill and courage, climbs like a beast, lightweight, and keeps me honest on my everyday trails. I actually really like climbing, so my ideal bike is much closer to these XC steeds than the enduro bikes people on this site typically talk about.

Actually I got a 120mm hardtail with a modern-ish geo last year and I couldn't be happier. A FS bike with similar geo and travel would be great for my longer/gnarlier rides.
  • + 7
 @bkm303: I got myself a 29er hardtail last year, & it's been nice to ride easier trails & still have them provide some challenge: it's hard to get to truly big terrain on a weekday after work. Taught me something about bringing the right bike for making the trail fun.

Also, incidentally, it appears we've attracted the ire of someone, as we're getting neg proped in pretty much every thread.
  • + 4
 @groghunter: I saw that! Someone's on a hatin spree.

Which HT did you go with? I got the Airborne Goblin Evo (which is apparently no longer on their site), but I was pretty torn between that and the Vitus 27.5" HTs on Chain reaction. Actually I just discovered the Ghost Asket and I kinda wish I had waited. Could have bought it at REI and gotten a huge dividend credit.

Same idea for me too. The HT is perfect for keeping my after-work rides fun. It definitely beats me up when I've taken it to gnarlier places, but with a dropper and the big wheels there's not much I can't do on the HT that I could do on my old FS.
  • + 2
 @bkm303: www.on-one.co.uk/i/q/CBOOPWX5/on-one-parkwood-sram-x5-mountain-bike

Except I bought it frame only, so the parts are different. That said, one of things I'm loving about it is the ability to swap out for 27.5+ wheels, but rear end clearance isn't the greatest. I think I'll be jacking up the parts & sliding a new frame under this rig, with a rear end that supports bigger plus tires. In all likelyhood, it'll be a Advocate cycles Hayduke. As an active part of a local advocacy organization, I like the concept of their business, the frames are cool, & it's designed for a 120mm front, which doesn't seem to be as common as 140mm, but is the amount of travel I want for this bike.
  • + 1
 You can tell this is pinkbike and not XCracewinners.com. They would be asking why anyone wants full suspension and going on about hardtails being are much faster. The tester even has baggy pants! I have a Scalpel and it's no fun when our with my trail bike buddies as I am waiting for ages at the top of the hills.
  • + 2
 @bkm303: you my friend need to try the trek fuel ex 29 2016 ...9 and up models only...Your style sounds similar to mine and this is the bike I went with...Woww is all I can say...
  • + 3
 Is it a review or an article to roast xc riders....
  • - 1
 Is something different about the frame on the $12k spec vs the $4k spec? Thats'a significant price gap that components do not fill. Something is funny about the front derailleur on the $12k model. Anyone know what that box is?
  • + 4
 read the article. The high end uses diff carbon setup, and the front derailleur is the D2i electric shimano groupset.
  • + 0
 @hamncheez: yeah sorry, i skimmed quickly. just wanted these two answers
  • + 0
 whaaaaaaat?????? no PB armchair engineer has piped up yet about the clear and present paralysis-inducing disadvantages of a flex-stay design...i'm shocked.
  • + 2
 its not a fork on a lefty, its A KNIFE!!
  • + 0
 Its a strut not a fork
  • + 1
 @mikelevy's reviews are always top shelf.

One note: Cannondale's website has the Carbon 3 listed for $5,330, not $4,499...
  • + 2
 loving the Shockhole...makes me feel...expectant?
  • + 1
 This es exactly what Yeti did with their ASR-C 2 years ago...progressive xc!
  • + 5
 Except the Yeti is lighter and less expensive for a given spec.
  • + 1
 @tehninjo0: Yeti doesn't offer a bike with comparable spec (Di2).
  • + 1
 @LeDuke: true yeti's range is much narrower overall (2 models instead of 6) and the frame is not designed to accommodate DI2. But in terms of value for money the Yeti takes it. In full disclosure: I am a current ASRC owner and was committed to getting the new scalpel to replace the ASR until they came out with the specs. Now I have serious doubts I'll make the move..
  • + 1
 @tehninjo0: I'm an ASRc owner as well. Love it! Also worth noting that the top end Scalpel-Si has the ENVE hubs. Which add another wheelbarrow full of dollar bills to the total cost.
  • + 1
 Doce mil ostias habría que darles por poner esos precios.
  • + 1
 @mikelevy is there an option for a stealth routed dropper?
  • + 1
 Good question that I didn't address in the article. There is no concession for an internally routed dropper - external only.
  • + 1
 @mikelevy: You should definitely double check that.
  • + 2
 @mikelevy: All the carbon fronts are internal dropper ready. just remove the plug from the cable guide at the head tube and snake the hose down the down tube and up the seat tube.
  • + 2
 @raelx: You're 100% correct. My bad - the bike is clearly compatible with internally routed dropper posts.
  • + 1
 What's the story with now Team aka SRAM Eagle version for the US?
  • + 1
 Oops. With no team model on the US website?
  • + 1
 I can never accept leftys. Fight me.
  • + 1
 I keep logging on and getting the XC edition of Pinkbike. What gives?
  • + 1
 wheel builders are gonna have start loving doing dishes
  • + 0
 I feel discriminated.....I am righty. So where is my option for a righty fork? Class action lawsuit coming up! lol
  • + 1
 A $12,000 bike deserves a 52 page $12,000 review :-)
  • + 1
 They should make their rear pivot a lefty as well.
  • + 2
 Am I on PinkBike ?
  • + 1
 looks sick, just needs to be sold as a frameset then i'd be happy.
  • + 1
 I know what you mean. The drawback of Cannondale, and Treks model. But given the prices Specialized like to charge for frame only the big guys have clearly entrenched themselves in the component resale business. The fact that Cannondale, Specialized, and Trek brought so many of those components in house it paints a clear picture of their vertically integrated position.
  • + 1
 @ns2000x: that's one of my main reasons why i steer clear of the big brands, framesets are few and far between, and what frames they do offer are their top end model frames, and even the complete bikes aren't equally spec'd which annoys me like you're getting X01 or XT and they still spec shimano M447 brakes or DB5's.
  • + 2
 @ns2000x: Just bought the trek fuel ex 9.9...Frame only...It was very easy process to aquire..Fun as shit bike to!
  • + 0
 Looks like a Commencal Meta V4
  • + 0
 Asymmetry gives me the willies!
  • + 1
 hydrualic
  • + 0
 I really love when they do cut- aways so we.....wait. Never mind.
  • - 3
 I know it's the norm for carbon production in this day and age, but if I'm paying $5330 for something/anything, I'd rather it not have a "Made in Taiwan" sticker on it. Just saying... *5th pic of test bike*
  • + 4
 Taiwan has some of the best carbon manufacturing processes in the world bar none! They specialize in this.Peeps need to get over that hump..
  • + 1
 Commencal Meta v4
  • - 1
 internal guiding at last!!!
  • + 0
 no thank you.
  • - 3
 But what's up if i want a righty
  • - 2
 I would never buy a bike that had cable routing under the BB.
  • + 1
 Yea, Top Tube cables for life bro
  • + 1
 @FarmerJohn: Internal cables for life yo! Or I'm ouddie brah!
  • + 1
 Can you please justify your response?
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