Field Test: 2021 Cannondale Scalpel - Deceptively Fast

Jul 29, 2020
by Sarah Moore  


PINKBIKE FIELD TEST

Cannondale Scalpel Hi-MOD Ultimate



Words by Sarah Moore, photography by Margus Riga



The Scalpel has been in Cannondale's line-up for almost twenty years now, with the first version launched in 2001 and the latest update to the frame happening back in 2016 - right before the Olympic Games in Rio. While it didn’t see podium success there, the timing of the latest bike's launch in May was obviously planned with another Olympic cycle in mind, and with hopes that Cannondale Factory’s Henrique Avancini could win a medal for Brazil in Tokyo. With those dreams postponed, Cannondale settled on Pinkbike’s cross-country Field Test instead. Or something.

With a 68° headtube angle, the Scalpel is a degree and a half slacker than the previous generation, designed with the increasingly technical World Cup courses in mind. Other key geometry numbers include a 74.5° effective seat-tube angle, a reach

Scalpel Hi-MOD Ultimate Details

• Travel: 100mm rear / 100mm fork
• Carbon frame
• Wheel size: 29" *all sizes*
• Head Angle: 68°
• Seat Tube Angle: 74.5° (effective)
• Reach: 435mm (size M)
• Chainstay length: 436mm
• Sizes: S, M (tested), L, XL
• Weight: 21.97 lb / 9.97 kg (w/o tool)
• Price: $12,000 USD
www.cannondale.com
that is a full 10mm longer than the previous generation at 435mm for a size medium, and 436mm chainstays. The Scalpel we’re testing is available in carbon only and comes in four sizes, from small through extra-large. All models come with 29" wheels.

Cannondale has engineered their own on-the-frame storage stash into the Scalpel, there's room for two water bottles, and tube-in-tube cable routing should make maintenance easier. Cannondale also employs their “Asymmetric Integration” offset drivetrain to give more tire clearance by moving the drivetrain 6mm to the right. Additionally, the left-side dropout on the rear wheel is open, meaning you don’t need to pull the thru-axle out to remove the wheel, thereby saving you time if you flat. Pretty clever.

There's also a 120mm down-country version of the Scalpel (with a RockShox SID fork instead of the Lefty Ocho) that Mike Levy rode, so stay tuned for that Field Test video.




Cannondale Scalpel Photo Margus Riga
Cannondale Scalpel Photo Margus Riga

Climbing

When you first sit on the Scalpel, with its relatively short stem, wide handlebar, and slightly more upright position, it feels closer to a modern trail bike than a race-y cross-country rig. It doesn’t have the super-aggressive, stretched position that we've come to expect from cross-country bikes in the past but, as it turns out, stretched doesn't always mean fast. While this more upright position (that can be altered with a different bar or stem, of course) makes it a touch harder to navigate through the tight trees and corners on our test course, it was no slouch on the climbs. In fact, I had my fastest ascent on it!

The quick time was likely because, while it might not be quite as easy to choose your line initially at slow speeds, the rear suspension is much more forgiving if you don't end up on the ideal line. Although it doesn't feel like a thoroughbred racehorse chomping at the bit on the climb, it's easy to get it to claw up technical ascents, even when you're fatigued and have come to a near stop. There's also no rigid, abrasive climbing feel that we've come to associate cross-country bikes (I'm looking at you, Lux), and that means you can stay in the seat and pedal for longer on climbs and across rough traverses without being bounced off line. The Scalpel proves that a bike doesn't have to feel harsh to be fast on the climbs.


Cannondale Scalpel Photo Margus Riga

Cannondale Scalpel Photo Margus Riga
Cannondale Scalpel Photo Margus Riga

Descending



On the descents, the 68-degree head tube angle means it doesn’t feel like you’re going to fly out the front door at the slightest mistake. The modern cockpit and wider handlebar also help with confidence and create a stable feeling coming into steep sections with more speed. The handling feels much more confident on steeper descents since you're further behind the front wheel. That being said, I didn't gel with the handling on the Scalpel as well when cornering. The bottom bracket sits 7mm higher than the Epic, and 11mm higher than the Supercaliber, which could be part of the reason why it felt like I was sitting on top of the bike rather than in it. That sensation made it harder to really push into and rail corners.

When the trail gets rough, the Scalpel's 100mm of rear suspension works well, and it was much less exhausting on descents than the 60mm-travel Supercaliber or 100mm Canyon Lux. It absorbs the bumps instead of making you absorb them with your body. The active suspension is the plushest feeling of the cross-country bikes I rode for this Field Test, and it would make it a great choice for long days in the saddle, without sacrificing anything on a shorter Olympic cross-country distance. In other words, the Scalpel is impressively well-rounded.


Timed Testing


Our timed lap for the trail bikes was just shy of 20 minutes long and split into three sections. First, we powered up a smooth section of switchbacks before starting up a more technical, twisty section of trail that tested the bike's slow-speed handling and traction with tired legs. After that, we evaluated how the bikes maintained speed on a short bumpy traverse before the main descent, comprising of a small rock roll before a series of rough, suspension-testing corners and straightaways. Nothing too rowdy, but representative of the terrain the trails these modern cross-country bikes were intended to see.

Don't forget that timing is just one of many ways to judge a bike, and fast doesn't always mean it's the best for everyone.


Sarah Moore: "This was the fastest bike on the overall lap and the climb. 5.75% faster than the second-fastest bike, and 3.4% faster on the technical climb. It was 0.3% back from the Specialized on the descent."





Cannondale Scalpel Photo Margus Riga


Pros

+ Capable on demanding descents thanks to modern geo & cockpit
+ Relatively forgiving 100mm takes less out of you on longer rides/stage races
+ Very fast despite surprising well-roundedness

Cons

- Cornering not as intuitive as other bikes
- Doesn't feel as fast on the climbs
- People ask about Lefty all the time (jokes, relax everyone)




The 2020 Pinkbike Field Test was made possible with clothing, protection, and support from Giro. Control tires provided by Schwalbe, and power meters provided by SRM. Filming took place at The Backyard pub in Squamish.




Photos: Margus Riga
Video: Jason Lucas, Cole Nelson, Max Barron



235 Comments

  • 115 9
 Pro: Fastest climbing time
Con: Feels slow on climbs
Me: "mkay"
  • 119 17
 Maybe we were searching a little hard for a con here, but the mental edge is a huge part of XC and feeling like you have a fast bike when you're deep in the pain cave is important!
  • 34 2
 @sarahmoore: Agreed! I should have noticed the title is "Faster than it Feels".
  • 36 0
 Knowing you have the fastest bike will hopefully combat that.
  • 5 1
 @sarahmoore: would you compare the horst link feel to the DW link on the Pivot mach 4?
  • 25 1
 @sarahmoore: Pain cave sound like an awful place–I prefer the fun zone.
  • 20 0
 @lagranger: shows how efficient it is probably, its not about feeling fast is about going fast and not feeling it. Imagine the mental side of dropping your competitors but not feeling like you are going fast. You would be in heaven. That is the key to a great bike, especially when you are out in front by yourself.

It is in Dh anyway, I have owned fast feeling bikes that have not been fast (Older Commencal suppreme, Turner DHR), but have owned a fast bike that doesnt feel fast (Santacruz V10.5)
That feeling that the you push it harder but it still can go faster as you dont feel fast "the world just slows down" as it so composed. I love that feeling.
  • 26 0
 @camcoz69: how long you been mtn biking? for better or worse, there's a lotta pain cave. unless you only ride park. then only periodic pain cave, in the ER.
  • 6 0
 @betsie: agreed! Fastest bike that felt the least exhausting and most forgiving and recommended for the longer harder rides... Sounds like a winner to me!
  • 8 9
 @jamesbrant: He's probably one of the people I see pushing his 160mm up 8% grade fire roads to ride XC descents back down.
  • 4 0
 @jamesbrant: The best, err, worst is the double pain cave. Pain cave squared! When you're grinding up a grueling climb while blood slowly runs into your sock and glove from scraps on your knee and elbow from a crash a few minutes before.
  • 16 1
 Reminds me of stories of trying to get pro roadies to use wider tires/rims at lower pressures. All kinds of data shows these have less rolling resistance, but tiny 19c tires pumped up to 150psi FEEL "faster" because you feel every pebble and they're harsh AF.
  • 32 0
 @LeDuke: Which is great.

If you're trying to judge other bikers, you only need to ask yourself two questions:

1) Are they needlessly endangering themselves or others?
2) Are they having fun?

If the answers are "No", "Yes", then they're mountain biking the right way .
  • 3 0
 @jamesbrant: lol I think I just pedal slow. I wish I only rode park but then my hands would hurt
  • 3 4
 @sarahmoore: if you care about racing XC, you look at your data. Watts, speed, heart rate. Faster is faster.
  • 5 0
 @sarahmoore: That's very true. I ride a not-light-Chromag and when I'm climbing and in pain, I look at my 27.5+ heavy-AF tires/rims, and all that steel and think, why, why, why?!?! Then the downhill erases all of that.
  • 1 0
 @atourgates: so much truth!
  • 4 0
 @Drew-O: Totally! Great example. Racers are some of the most superstitious + resistant to change people you will find so it takes a lot to convince them to make a switch!
  • 9 4
 @peleton7: It's true that numbers are important for training and racing XC, but if racing was just about data, it would be boring to watch. The psychological aspect is super important and some days even if you're a less powerful athlete on paper you can come out on top on the results sheet. That's what makes it so exciting to watch, some people are just better at turning themselves inside out to win!
  • 1 28
flag thechunderdownunder (Jul 29, 2020 at 16:17) (Below Threshold)
 Con, Lycra required. The slo mo highlights were way to silly with all of the spandex. I know we are talking about inclusion and acceptance these days, but spandex is too far in to XC.
  • 2 10
flag ORAORA (Jul 29, 2020 at 16:56) (Below Threshold)
 @sarahmoore @Drew-O: if you are talking about racing - thinner tyres are faster in the road racing beause they are far more aero than 28mm and transfer more power because they flex less
  • 16 1
 @thechunderdownunder: Are you afraid you might see some peepee and like it?
  • 1 3
 @clink83: haha I think I did, and I don’t. Really I think it’s pretty funny, but I’m not sure it’s meant to be??
  • 1 0
 @thechunderdownunder: I couldn't resist lol
  • 6 2
 @ORAORA: You have to be seriously fast (pro roadie 45km/h+) speed for the aero losses to be more significant. The balance shifts towards wider tires as well on bumpier roads. Every vibration and bump you feel is energy being taken away from your forwards speed.
  • 2 1
 @MaplePanda: that's no really true. Aero matters at pretty much any road biking speed. Drag increases with speed exponentially, but the rolling resistance of bike tires is nothing compared to drag.
  • 1 1
 @ORAORA: I mostly agree about the aero point, although that is somewhat mitigated by running more recent wide rim profiles that match wider tires. Regardless, I have yet to see data that suggests that a narrower tire will ever be less aero, even when run on a modern 30mm wide rim, so narrower is certainly as good or better from an aero perspective.

As to your second point, about power transfer efficiency, or lack thereof, due to tire casing flex, I am curious if you have seen any data on that topic. From personal experience, I have certainly felt less responsive sensation when running fatter, lower pressure, tires, however I have yet to see anyone quantify that. I am cautious about making any blanket proclamations as rider perception can be misleading in this regard, as the old Zipp/Silca data on fat/low pressure tires on cobbles indicates. Its a bit like frame and crank stiffness data, where most companies tout it, but no one will actually tell you how many watts it will save, even in this age of quantified aero figures. Intuitively, I have felt a difference when really stomping a big gear and leaning the bike with each pedal stroke, that suggests something is slower with a fat low pressure tire, but the clock has yet to confirm it, outside the normal error margin that other variables introduce.
  • 2 0
 www.cyclingweekly.com/news/product-news/what-effect-do-tyres-have-on-aerodynamics-324578#:~:text=According%20to%20Lew%20%E2%80%9Cit's%20typical,by%20analysing%20wind%20tunnel%20performance.
"However, aerodynamics is just one part of the equation: tyres also have to exhibit low rolling resistance and wider tyres roll better.

With this is mind, is there a point where aerodynamics becomes more of a factor in a tyre’s performance than rolling resistance?

Ballard has combined rolling resistance measurements on rolling roads with the wind tunnel and explains:

“We see this point to be roughly at around 30-35kph. This is only important for the front wheel. For this reason, for time trial and triathlon, we recommend a 23mm tyre on the front and a 25mm tyre on the rear.”"

My scapula needs to heal so I can ride bikes instead of post on the internet. RIP sanity.
  • 1 1
 @Drew-O: EXACTLY.

Be smooth to be fast is something that applies to the machine as well as the rider.
  • 2 0
 @MaplePanda: Huh? No. Any time you get above ~20km/h, aero matters. Actually, with a SLOWER person, the more aero matters, because they are out on the road/trail LONGER than someone going faster.
  • 1 1
 @LeDuke: There’s a balance between aero losses from wider tires, and mechanical losses from narrower tires. Depending on fast you go, one or the other is going to be greater.

To further compound this, at slower speeds, you “float” over the terrain less, so your narrow tires are even less efficient.
  • 1 1
 @clink83: Thanks for pointing out the speed where the boundary lies (30-35km/h).

It’s not all about the tire’s pure rolling resistance. I agree, most modern tires are super supple and roll well in a lab. However, any road bumpier than a perfectly smooth surface will suck your energy away, more so with narrower (and hence higher pressure) tires. If you’ve ever tried riding on a broken, ridiculously bumpy road, you’d see that you instantly slow down by 5-10km/h because of the bumpiness. Not to mention rider fatigue as well.
  • 97 14
 For twelve thousand burger bux I'd expect to get both halves of the fork.
  • 10 4
 AGREED -they also forgot the Party Post -but you do get a multitool and Dyna plug.......
  • 56 2
 I dont know man. Ducati and MV Agusta do not seem to agree when it comes to their swing arms.
In this case you get a carbon fiber single sided fork. Less weight, less unsprung mass.
I know your comment was a joke. But Id wish people accepted things like this. Working innovation to this degree is what the industry needs. Not wider hubs.
And before you ask, no, I dont get invited to parties Wink
  • 9 0
 @chillrider199: Single-sided swingarms have roots in endurance racing where tire/wheel changing speed is a priority. In full prototype racing (MotoGP) as opposed to production-based classes (WSBK), all bikes are running conventional swingarms.

Looks cool though. I'd love a Panigale, but instead I ride a Suzuki and mountain bikes. Not a bad trade off.
  • 7 1
 Only $12000!!
Guess I'll have to spend that extra $2000 on slick jerseys, tiny shorts, power meters, and N'air.
  • 6 0
 Changing a tire without removing the wheel seems like a nice feature.
  • 4 0
 As a Scalpel / lefty rider thats one of the oldest jokes out there Lol .. people need some new material Wink
  • 13 0
 @scottty: new material.... like the other half of the fork you mean?
  • 4 0
 12 grand and it has a saddle with metal rails.

Also, lol @ Canadians saying “decal” er, deckle I guess...
  • 2 0
 @mtallman2: why would you want carbon rails on a mtb?
  • 3 0
 @mtallman2: dee-cal. Smile
  • 1 0
 @clink83: for $12 grand, the flipping bolts should be carbon!

I kid of course, but carbon rail saddles seem the norm on an XC race bike, though Cannondale and norms are rarely synonymous I guess...
  • 1 0
 @mtallman2: I was just curious..carbon rails on a mtb kind of annoy me, but they are well worth it on a road bike. I wasn't sure if maby I was missing something.
  • 2 0
 @clink83: What’s wrong with carbon rails on an MTB?
  • 1 0
 @ACree: It is pretty handy to just flip the bike, break the bead, and shove a tube in there. I had to do it a few months ago when my sealant failed to seal a puncture.
  • 39 3
 I have a feeling that if the Lefty weren't proprietary to Cannondale, we'd see a lot more of them out there. Such an awesome fork, and other than the price and the unique hub pairing, I don't see much downside.
  • 9 0
 I had the "hated" 2.0. Damn that fork was just so amazing. Besides the obvious 100mm, it was the best fork I have yet to ride (including my current 32SC Factory and Ohlins RXF.
  • 3 0
 The current models use standard tapered steerers and will fit on any bike, don't know what offset they use though.
  • 9 0
 The new Lefty Ocho can be put on any bike with a tapered headtube.
  • 1 0
 @dthomp325:

I believe is 56mm so, a pretty reactive(twitchy-ish?!) fork.
  • 1 0
 If they released the Ocho in a 120mm or 130mm version, it would be on my bike immediately. From what it sounds like though, 100mm is the current limit for that chassis. I still may force myself to find a use for the 100mm version...
  • 3 12
flag clink83 (Jul 29, 2020 at 11:21) (Below Threshold)
 having the damper and air spring in the same leg makes them traditional have poor dampening compared to double crown forks.
  • 1 0
 They’re not! The new Ocho has a tradition 1 1/8th to 1.5 tapered steerer and accepts normal bearings. Granted, you’ll have to do a Lefty 60 hub, but nothing crazy there
  • 4 0
 @JSTootell: I have a 120mm 2.0 PBR and it’s amazing. If you could somehow blindfold riders and have them actually ride one I’d bet most riders would love the lefty.
  • 9 0
 In all my 29 years of riding I've heard nothing but glowing comments about the Lefty's.
  • 2 0
 @chubby5000:

I never find the big versions of the lefty to be very good on the jekylls and triggers I've tested for years in a row but found it to be sublime on every model year scalpel I've tested from 2014 until 2018.
  • 6 1
 @chubby5000: They have had tons of issues over the years, you must be hanging out with sponsored riders or something. If nothing else you should have at least heard of the the bearing reset issues. The dampening on them sucked for so long they had to have rockshox help them fix their dampers. I believe they had lower seals that would fail and vent fork oil all over your brake rotors. They are also much harder to service than a dual crown fork. Sure they are stiff, but they have had some issues and drawbacks.
  • 1 0
 @clink83: They are certainly hard to service, and have serviced. That right above all is my main reason for not considering one again until I know I can do the work myself or have someone local do work.

But the bearing reset issue wasn't an issue. It was an easy process on the 1.0, even easier on the 2.0. I did eventually have a lower seal go out after several years, but it didn't puke all over, just a weep. The fact that it was so difficult to get serviced might be a part of why that happened. Damping on mine was wonderful, but I can't speak for anything other than mine.
  • 1 0
 It’s the mudguard issue, cannondale sort it out sure you can r&d a short compact guard without much issue many of us don’t ride dry dusty trails
  • 23 1
 I own the 2019 version of this bike and it is, without a doubt, the fastest bike I've ever ridden (20 years of racing regional and national-level Cat 1). Put a dropper post on it and it's complete. Lately, I've been taking both uphill and downhill KOM's on mine. It truly is a rocket.
  • 20 69
flag fullendurbro (Jul 29, 2020 at 9:53) (Below Threshold)
 Sorry dude, but if you're getting downhill KOMs on a 100/100 XC bike, you're not in an area with competitive riders. Fly that thing out to the Rockies and you might realize that it might not be as fast as you think.
  • 44 3
 @fullendurbro: what is it the kids say? “Name checks out”?
  • 14 4
 @fullendurbro: Huh. I live on the Front Range, and there are plenty of people with DH KOMs on 100mm XC bikes here.
  • 14 0
 @kylar: His about me says “Faster than you.”

Yikes
  • 7 0
 @fullendurbro: I live in front-range CO and many dh KOMs are owned by XC racers. I don't know what bike they were riding at the time, but local XC big guns have quite a few of the dh top spots. Usually on tamer downhill segments as opposed to the usual suspect enduro runs, but even there you'll see competitive XC racers in top 20. To this day there are still segments at Trestle and many other bike parks in CO with XC racers in the top ten.
  • 6 4
 @dthomp325: people actually care about that?
  • 8 0
 @fullendurbro: True. Depends on the trail and competition in the area. But don’t underestimate how fast an XC bike can be. I know riders who hold KOMs or top 10 times in Santa Cruz with 10,000+ riders on the segment. These aren’t WC DH or EWS worthy trails but they are more rough, steep and technical than you might think. XC bikes roll and accelerate much faster and that’s a huge advantage on flowing trails and pedaling sections. Long travel and heavy tires with lots of drag actually hold you back.
  • 2 1
 @CircusMaximus: Care about what? XC racers getting top 10 spots on DH segments?
  • 7 0
 @CircusMaximus: Some people, just not you and I, but hey, we're only most people, which does not include some people, so it's all good Wink
  • 2 1
 @LeDuke: I know you're a badass, but seriously, some people have asthma, and its hard as hell making it up a hill.
  • 2 0
 @CircusMaximus: You gotta be pretty damn fast around here to take a KOM.
  • 3 14
flag CircusMaximus (Jul 29, 2020 at 12:04) (Below Threshold)
 @dthomp325: yah but who cares? Not trying to be a jerk, just the idea of caring who is faster is weird to me.
Anyway..have a great day. Cheers!
  • 7 0
 Anybody capable of getting a KOM cares about it, at least once.
  • 1 0
 @LeDuke: Also Front Range. I can't think of any popular segment with a KOM set by an XC bike. I know that one dude (name escapes me) who shreds on Scott's XC bike has some of the KOM segments on Dakota Ridge, but the final descent is James on his hightower. KOMs at White Ranch, Apex, Floyd, Left Hand, etc. are also all on 150mm bikes.

Wouldn't know anything about the places like Green Mountain or NTM but I imagine those down hill segments are great XC bike territory.
  • 1 0
 @dthomp325: If you're talking about places like Green Mountain or NTM, I have no problem believing that. But any KOM on the trails I frequent are taken exclusively by dudes on enduro or trail bikes.
  • 12 0
 @CircusMaximus: You're posting on a review of a race bike. Racers care a whole lot about their times, speeds, and competition. Why would you buy an XC race bike if you didn't?
  • 3 0
 @KnowMtB: That's fair. I accept that.
  • 4 0
 @chillrider199: Gotta project the persona of my username. Plus, there's a 100% chance I am faster than you and my Troy Lee Designs kit is sicker than yours.
  • 1 4
 @gtill9000: not in these here parts. Plus, you are right..I’m slow as shit haha
  • 1 0
 @gtill9000: straight Yoda words there
  • 1 0
 @fullendurbro: that may be true and I'm sure your goggle collection is sick but, "Hector is going to be running 3 Honda Civics with spoon engines. And on top of that he just came into Harry's and he ordered 3 T66 turbos, with NOS, and a Motec system exhaust."
  • 1 0
 @Ironmonsoon602: Hector still won't be a match for me and my Tacoma TRD with my Yeti strapped into the 1UP rack.
  • 2 0
 @fullendurbro: damn son you've gone from mere stereotype to full on truism. Congrats!
  • 24 0
 Just here, patiently waiting for the Spur review.
  • 2 0
 I got so impatient for the review that I just pre-ordered it
  • 21 1
 Cutting edge stuff.
  • 12 9
 Dull comment
  • 11 1
 For riders who require surgical precision
  • 4 2
 It's so hot! Like it came strait out of the autoclave.
  • 4 0
 Pretty simple really. My buddy bought one and he started trying to tune the shock on his own. He put it back together wrong and was so confused. I took one look and couldn't believe he left the outer sleeve off. So I turned to him and said, "You gotta put the can on, Dale."

I am so so sorry. . . I will leave now
  • 13 0
 Just wanted to say...
Looking forward to these reviews every day.
Really well done Sarah and Mike...and team.
Thanks.

Also, Lefty freaks me out, but I'll take one on a $12K bike...if I have too.
  • 4 0
 Thank you! The Lefty still looks weird to me on all the photos and in the video even though I spent a bunch of time on it, but it feels great and that's what counts!
  • 2 1
 Agree. These reviews are great. Also, Sarah, you shred. Stoked to have a new perspective in these shootout style videos.
  • 1 0
 @sarahmoore: you absolutely crush it on the cllimbs in this video. Nicely done!
  • 16 1
 Good to see our friends at Cannondale do well in this test!
  • 11 1
 Cons : All proprietary stuff. When you buy a cannondale Scalpel, you have to forget your spare wheelset, chainring, etc. Cannondale is creating an ecosystem juste like apple did.
  • 3 3
 The only thing that's not standard spec is the front hub, and those are widely available from multiple manufacturers.
  • 8 0
 @dthomp325: The dish on the rear wheel is also not standard. AI (asymmetrical integration) pushes the rear hub to the drive side of the bike by 6 mm. Gotta re-dish your spare wheel.
  • 4 2
 @Spencermon: Yup, which is no big deal if you're just bringing a set of wheels over to a new bike, but means you can't share a set of wheels with your hardtail or trail bike or whatever.

It also means it's not compatible with standard-chainline cranks. This limits options for not just cranksets, but chainrings and power meters.

I really like AI, it makes for a super-strong rear wheel. If you're looking to buy a bike and leave the crankset and wheels alone, then have at it. I doubt it affects most people; probably the worst thing most shops see is someone bringing in their race wheels/beater wheels from a previous bike which rub horribly in the AI frame they just bought - I'd hope they re-dish on the house and send them on their way. But for some people it's going to be a deal-breaker.
  • 10 0
 All that for only $16 k Cdn!
  • 30 2
 It's better if you don't do the math!
  • 5 1
 How many years supply of poutine is that?
  • 1 0
 @sarahmoore: Or know someone that works at Cannondale OR have photos of someone that works at Cannondale
  • 3 0
 @joshroppo: One for adults, two for children under 12, 6 weeks for my teenage son.
  • 1 0
 @joshroppo: Sorry you will have to look this up as you are not from Canada - Another way to look at it - It is only one third the money Finance Minister Morneau had to pay back for the WE trip. And a bargain at one fifth the cost of Senator Mike Duffy's personal trainer. Therefore, from a CDN political perspective it is really cheap.

Canadians do not give up Poutine or Maple Syrup.............
  • 3 0
 @dldewar: Poutine and maple syrup... Mmmmm...
  • 2 0
 @dldewar @sarahmoore : one thing I love about you Canadians is that you have your priorities in order!
  • 6 0
 Do they send a dropper with is so that you can put it on if you want? At 12k they absolutely should have a dropper on there or as a free upgrade....if only because its more expensive than a rigid post so they might be able to start justifying $12k.
  • 6 0
 And since it's an Enve post, the dropper wouldn't be much more expensive.
  • 3 0
 SE comes with a dropper as standard. This, being the racing bike, they probably thought that a dropper would not be well percieved by xc racers. It has the routing though.
  • 1 0
 @seattlecyclist: An Enve post costs more than a lot of droppers.
  • 10 0
 Incisive analysis
  • 3 0
 Sharp comment!
  • 1 0
 @littleskull99: I see your point.
  • 9 0
 Is the rear wheel still crooked? You guys left that out
  • 6 2
 Just a couple observations:

1. Is it me, or do they seem much more stoked about these bikes than they were about the trail/enduro bikes they tested earlier this year. They were also much more stoked about the "budget" bikes they did than those enduro/trail bikes.

2. The Canyon Lux has been mentioned in both videos so far. Tipping their hand about which will be the winner of the group?

3. "Not as terrified on the descent..." As ringing an endorsement of XC bikes as I've ever heard.

"Why should I buy this over a trail/enduro bike?"

"Well, you see, it's way lighter, AND you won't be as terrified on the descent as you would on some of those other light bikes."
  • 1 0
 On point 2, I think it is telling the Epic hasn't been mentioned once in the first 2 videos. I suspect we will get the Lux next, and then the Epic last, which will be the winner. Despite it not being the fastest.
  • 2 0
 @othello: When the whole thing began, I would have put my money on the Epic. Now I’m not so sure. I saw an Epic in the shop yesterday. Hot bike!
  • 4 0
 loving the xc content. i dont have access to much else than xc trails (which i love) but i do head to wales usually twice a year on hols to get in some more downhill cycling.

hopefully this is a continuing trend on pinkbike.
top work.
  • 7 3
 Hmmm Maybe Cons: Expensive...

Yes there are cheaper builds, but this is more expensive than all the other builds here by many thousands of dollars that it is getting compared to.
  • 10 2
 wait, but its only $500 more than the specialized epic theyre comparing it to? how is that many thousands?
  • 1 0
 @burshkadursh: but surely half that cost comes from the pwoermeter on the Specialized hahahaha
  • 17 2
 With AXS and Enve stuff on there the pricing is fairly in line with other similarly specced bikes.

We just aren't comfortable making value judgements on high end XC bikes. They're weird rocket ships from the future, and not one of them is a sound financial investment. My wallet isn't your wallet, and everyone views value differently.

That said, on our budget bikes reviews we need to get better at including value judgements—stay tuned for that.
  • 1 0
 @burshkadursh: That's fair, but it's still a whole lot more expensive than all the others. The Spec Epic is $11,500, the Trek SuperCaliber is $9,500, and the Canyon Lux is $7,000 nearly half the price of the Cannondale...
  • 3 0
 @brianpark: That's a good point, but still $12k is $12k. That may be a reasonable amount to spend on a bike for some or completely out of the question for others (most everyone), but when you can get a somewhat similarly specced bike for $7k I think it's gotta be said. Ya I hear you that on the Lux you're not getting AXS or Enve, but I assume you're still getting a very high end drivetrain and carbon wheels.

IMO you guys do a really good job on assessing value, much more than you all get credit for. Everyone complains about price when a review bike is $10k and then everyone complains about poor spec when it's $3k, lol you can't win.

This bike just really stuck out to me because I view super-bike, top-end builds as being around $10k and don't think I've ever really seen a bike above $11k until now.
  • 1 1
 @burshkadursh: Oh and Expensive should be a con on the Epic as well.
  • 4 0
 Cannondale Scalpel Hi-Mod = $14,500CAD
Specializied S-Works Epic = $15,000CAD
Trek Supercaliber 9.9 AXS = $13,800CAD - $14,450CAD depending on which paint you want (the black in the review cost $700 more than the base price)

I mean, it seems like the Cannondale is evenly priced compared to it's competitors. Trek and Specialized are using their in-house wheels and cockpit, whereas Cannondale is using ENVE.
  • 7 0
 Anybody else distracted by the ant crawling up the seat tube at 1:53?
  • 3 0
 No bugs were harmed in the making of this video... Just there to remind everyone it's a real-world Field Test, not a lab test! Wink
  • 5 1
 Cons: price. Pros: pretty much everything else if you’re looking for an XC bike. Bonus: Lefty looks cool, seems to work well.

If my asset portfolio wasn’t getting hammered right now I’d put this on my list of Maybes.
  • 10 4
 I like this review but it is hard watching Mike ask the question and then either answer or steer Sarahs answer
  • 6 0
 Glad you liked it! I thought Mike asked some great questions and we had a great conversation about this bike!
  • 7 0
 If it only has one leg, is it really a fork?
  • 2 0
 Is a fork with only one tine just a knife with an identity disorder?
  • 3 1
 he most interesting thing about this bike relative to the others is the fork—not that it has only one leg, but that it has a massive 55 mm of offset, compared to most bikes now at 44 mm. This means that compared to a bike with equivalent HTA, it will have 11 mm less trail, which is a huge difference with regards to handling.

Cannondale made this choice back ~2016, before most XC bikes went long and slack, as a means to counteract what they saw as the ponderous handling that comes with a slack HT. But since then, virtually the entire industry has decided that more steering trail is good, since it makes bikes much more stable at high speeds and rough conditions.

Now that they're down at 68° HTA, they still have a fair amount of trail compared to a traditional XC bike, but definitely way less than their rivals (90 mm compared to 106 mm on the Epic). I think it's peculiar that Cannondale sticks with this contrarian design against the conclusions of the rest of the industry, and after their own move towards slacker geometry seems to acknowledge the benefits of increased trail.
  • 2 0
 Increasing trail isnt the only handling characteristic that's changed by HTA. Wouldnt say slacker bike is them acknowledging the benefits of increased trail. Slacker = front end lowers more in corners, more rearward axle path. They probably went with slacker HTA for steering and suspension characteristics... and then decided on trail from there.
  • 2 0
 @justttt-meh: unlikely that they “decided the trail from there” since they just stuck with the exact same fork offset from the previous two generations. More like “took the path of least effort”.
  • 5 0
 I like how well behaved Levy is when Sarah is around. Really enjoying this.
  • 13 0
 I'm pretty intimidating.
  • 10 6
 Boys, we are finally seeing real mountain bikes. I tired of Enduro/beer culture dominating the sport. Fire roads to downhill ain't mountain biking, that's pussy shit.
  • 5 4
 Slacked out 160, you are pedaling a tractor. I'm tired of waiting on your out shape excuse for a mountain biker.
  • 5 0
 I want to see a bar-spin with the new lefty!
  • 29 1
 I swear they just left that part out when they edited the footage together.
  • 2 1
 I may need to look closer - but when watching the "huck to flat" segment of this video -- I could not see any flex in the 'made to flex' section of the chainstay. One would think there would be noticeable flex in that abusive test.
  • 11 0
 It’s only a couple of degrees of flex, which is why they can get away with no pivot, and why the flex won’t be visible either. It’s not bending 20 degrees or something, it’s flexing a tiny bit.
  • 1 0
 @sdurant12: Mikes heel is also obscuring your view right when the flex happens.
  • 3 1
 @hamncheez: We had @jasonlucas do the Huck to Flat for our ankles' sake!
  • 4 0
 Am I the only one that can't get past the frame plug for the rear shock lockout cable being out of place?
  • 1 0
 Those are Di2 ports, not for the shock lockout
  • 3 2
 Looks like an fast bike, but given Dorel/Cannondale's history with extra fragile carbon chain and seat-stays and their refusal to warranty you couldn't get me to drop any pennies on a Cannondale again.

Which is pretty sad since I have owned at least 6 of their bikes pre-dorel that never had any issues.
  • 4 3
 Don't forget that the Lefty tends to eat itself and warranty replacements are long, if you get one at all. I also gave up on them
  • 4 1
 If it makes you feel any better Dorel probably won't be around long enough for warranty to be an issue.
  • 1 0
 From the video it seems you liked the saddle (Prologo Dimension), were you able to notice while riding (in a positive or negative way) that it is shorter than a typical saddle? Smile I have it on my road bike, thinking about buying one also for my MTB...
  • 4 1
 Loved the saddle! It's comfortable climbing and it does stay out of the way more than a longer saddle on the descents.
  • 1 0
 @sarahmoore: i’m always puzzled by the “longer saddles get in the way descending” perspective. Maybe it’s my saddle slammed forward bias… Do you tend to run your saddle positioned most of the way back?
I guess I don’t huck too much anymore either, so I’m rarely worried about casing gaps in an awkward position, are rough landings part of the concern?
  • 5 0
 Kudos to Mr. Luis Arraiz!
  • 3 1
 If they put you in a better climbing position, why do full suspension XC bikes not have crazy steep seat tube angles? Especially when climbing is a timed part of an XC race, as opposed to Enduro racing.
  • 17 1
 They don't. Steep STAs are for people who want to soft pedal up a climb at 150w.
  • 6 0
 Steep seat tube angles are meant to center you on a longer wheelbase, which XC bikes don't have. Steep STAs also really get in the way in undulating terrain that doesn't merit a dropped seat.
  • 3 0
 @LeDuke: Bingo.

@DanTae:
The more power you put out, the more leverage is lifting your body up off the saddle, and thus the further back you need your butt to counteract this. the next time you're on a steady climb, spin easy and feel the pressure on your hands. Then smoothly crank up the watts, and feel your hands get light and the weight come off the seat.
  • 2 0
 @Auto-XFil:

Also, 15% sag from 100mm of susp. leave you with 85mm travel left.
30% sag from 130mm leave you with 91mm travel left.
Basically, that difference in actual suspension used at sag makes a huge difference, thus making actual seat angles more alike, even though 100mm xc race bikes rarely exceed 75-75.5 degree(at least for now) while the current norm for trail bikes and above is around 77 or even 78 degrees, both in effective seat angles.
  • 1 0
 @Auto-XFil: That is not correct at all. You need a slack seat angle to put you in the proper position so that when you are pedaling your glutes are firing efficiently on the pedal down stroke. There is zero need to move your butt back to counteract lifting. Oi.
  • 4 0
 No mention of the proprietary rear wheel/hub setup or the nightmare serviceability of the Lefty?
  • 3 0
 I'd rather have the Hi-MOD 1 than the Ultimate. Save $3000 and all you're doing is "downgrading" to XTR and some Cannondale wheels/bars instead of overpriced Enve ones.
  • 2 1
 I usually hate these kinds of comments, but $12,000 dollars? I get dropping 3-5k on a bike, but 12,000 is something else.

Is it just me or have high end bikes gotten incredibly expensive?
  • 3 0
 Yes, the top-end bikes have definitely gotten more expensive. I looked up the top of the line full-suspension XC bikes from Cannondale (Scalpel Team Replica) and Trek (Top Fuel 110) in 2005. When you adjust for inflation, both would cost around $6600 in today's dollar
  • 8 6
 @showmethemountains: yes you can spend more on a bike now than in 2005, but you can buy a bike with the performance of the 2005 Cannondale Scalpel Team Replica for some gummibears and an N64 these days.
  • 6 1
 @brianpark: in 2005 that bike represented the pinnacle of their engineering, material science, fabrication, etc and those things didn't come free. The 2005 price was also based on what they thought customers would be willing to pay for the best thing currently available. At the very least they now see potential customers willing to pay almost twice as much to have the best thing currently available
  • 2 0
 Only this version is a lot better than a bike from 2005 and costs $4500. Should anyone other than a wealthy cat 1 racer be buying the 12k version, no I don’t think they should. It is unattainable flagship item on purpose not an investment.
www.cannondale.com/en-us/bikes/mountain/cross-country/scalpel/scalpel-carbon-3?sku=c24401m10sm
  • 2 0
 @skylanebike: I agree wholeheartedly. Even for road racing, the marginal gains from 4K to 12k are just soooooo small.
  • 1 0
 These bikes are seriously good but the proprietary nature of them would prevent me from buying a brand new one. I did miss a sweet Small '17 Scalpel for my daughter the other day, was pretty bummed about that.
  • 4 0
 Love this! I wish there was a whole pb site ffor XC DC and gravel
  • 3 0
 Am I the only one who thinks the left fork would look awesome on a asymmetrical bike frame like the stump jumper?
  • 2 0
 I will watch every one of these videos just so I can watch Levy's death-defying, no footed spread-eagle descending technique.
  • 1 0
 I'm riding the 2021 Scalpel LTD right now.bike is by far the best Scalpel to date. At $ 7500 is comparable to my Santa Cruz Blur with AXS. Downside for me was having to relearn how to shift mechanical sram all over again.
  • 4 0
 scalpel is better!!
  • 5 0
 You win this round Scalpel-champion!
  • 3 1
 Oh really fool?!
  • 6 3
 Looks like a tremendously good bike, even though it only has half a fork.
  • 1 1
 all the down votes are the cannondale fanboys, no worries.
  • 2 0
 @preach:
I have a friend that has a small shop. He ordered the new scalpel for himself and the first thing he did was to drop the lefty and put a 32sc instead. A happy man with a happy bike.
  • 2 0
 great review! your a great team. Ill watch them all and im not in the market for a bike like this.
  • 2 0
 One con left out -- proprietary hub on the front and unique wheel dish on the rear.
  • 2 1
 When I see Hi-MOD, all I can think of is "Oh Hi Mark" and the missed opportunity of a Tommy Wiseau ad campaign. Probably just me.
  • 3 0
 "Additionally, the left-side dropout on the rear wheel is open" what?
  • 1 0
 It allows you to loosen the axle and remove the wheel without completely removing the axle from the wheel. This prevents laying the axle somewhere out of reach and only realizing it is out of reach when you've put the wheel back into the frame. haha Reminds me, I should make or buy a small parts holder for my workstand.
  • 3 0
 I wouldn’t pay a penny over $11,900.
  • 3 0
 Named as such because only a Surgeon could afford it.... good grief.....
  • 3 0
 When pinkbike do an xc test they really dork up
  • 2 0
 Just can't get enough of Levy's uncontrolled send at the end of the intro. More of that please.
  • 1 0
 It's so good. Although I don't think anyone involved in the shoot would be in favour of more moments like that!!
  • 1 0
 Those flattened skinny chainstays really worry me. I'd worry that my 220lb frame would snap them too easy. Any clydes ride this bike??
  • 2 1
 I cant believe they are going to stretch the release of these reviews for 2-3 weeks! They have been talking about it for a while already.
  • 1 0
 Oh it will go 4 weeks easy
  • 2 0
 Looking good but I'm not sure my brain could handle looking down at my front wheel to see half a fork
  • 3 0
 Perfect. Bike nerds are my people, and these two are the king and queen.
  • 3 0
 Razor sharp pricing
  • 2 0
 Is it $12,000 fast though?
  • 2 0
 12k?
(my office) You get braces, you get braces, everybody gets braces.
  • 2 1
 Never ridden one, nor know how well they work, but I could never get used to how weird that fork looks.
  • 1 0
 Maybe you have been deceived if you think it’s faster than it is.

Don’t believe everything you think.
  • 2 0
 $12K and no dropper post?
  • 1 0
 Nice lines on this design!
  • 1 0
 Isn't AXS heavier than the equivalent cable-actuated groupset?
  • 2 1
 I looked at the price tag, and decided to not read this.
  • 5 0
 The Scapel 3 retails for $4500 USD and has the same frame design!
  • 2 0
 *lefty
  • 1 0
 12 grand... now imagine the price with a complete fork.
  • 2 1
 This is one of best bikes for xc.

Cannondale = best!
  • 1 0
 Can we get teh F back to DH racing please? dammmit 'Rona!
  • 1 0
 i want one now is that weird
  • 1 0
 you stole the BC/DC logo!!
  • 5 8
 You could have one with a motor for that pr......aaahhhh never mind
  • 11 1
 You could also buy a sick hot tub or a trip to Disneyland... what's your point?
  • 4 1
 @thegoodflow: you are right, a hot tub and a cheap bike is much better than this!
  • 3 0
 @makkelijk: I can't argue with that
  • 1 1
 @thegoodflow: it's Disney world, dude cmon!!
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