Field Test: Cannondale Scalpel SE 1 - The Spider Monkey

Aug 12, 2020
by Mike Levy  


PINKBIKE FIELD TEST

Cannondale Scalpel SE 1



Words by Mike Levy, photography by Margus Riga



Calling a bike a "scalpel" is a well-worn way to say that it's a fast and sharp handling ride, which is sorta the definition of a cross-country bike. But Cannondale has been offering the real Scalpel since way back in 2001 when it debuted as a focused, sharp bike made for, you guessed it, cross-country racing. The newest 100mm-travel Scalpel continues to fill that role, but the version I tested gets a bump up to 120mm on both ends, a dropper post, and more relaxed geometry.

There are only two Scalpel SE models to choose from, the $4,000 SE 2 and my grey test bike, the $5,500 USD SE 1. That gets you an XT drivetrain, RockShox’s SID Select+ RL fork and SIDluxe shock, as well as Cannondale’s alloy Hollowgram cranks and carbon fiber rims.

Scalpel SE 1 Details

• Travel: 120mm rear / 120mm fork
• Carbon frame
• Wheel size: 29"
• Head Angle: 67°
• Seat Tube Angle: 74°
• Reach: 450mm (large)
• Chainstay length: 436mm
• Sizes: S, M, LRG (tested), XLRG
• Weight: 25.27lb / 11.46kg
• Price: $5,500 USD
www.cannondale.com

That adds up to 25.27lb, including the Schwalbe control tires that were installed on every bike. At 67-degrees, the SE 1 is a degree slacker up front than the race bike, and the seat angle is half a degree more relaxed at 74-degrees. My large-size bike sports a modest 450mm reach and a not so modest 480mm seat tube.

Cannondale has a long history of doing things their way, and while the Scalpel is a relatively conventional bike by their standards, there's no way it was going out the factory doors without being just a little bit different from everyone else. Check out the flex-zone at the rear axle; many bikes use engineered flex back there, but Cannondale's employed a wide, flat section of carbon to act as the bending point where there'd otherwise be sealed bearings. This is said to mimic the action of a Horst Link pivot for more active, better suspension performance, and the flex occurs at a precise location smack dab in the middle of the flat bit.

The downbeat grey paint (that I do like) seems to hide some neat details on the rest of the frame, including the massive box-section chainstays and captive main pivot. This thing looks beefy, and Cannondale says that a frame and shock weigh in at 1,900-grams. Another detail that's hard to spot: The bike's offset drivetrain. Everything sits 6mm to the right compared to other bikes, with the idea being that it provides more tire clearance and makes for a stiffer package. It does mean that the rear-wheel needs to be dished slightly differently than usual, although that's possible to apply to most wheels.

Cable routing is internal, and there’s a clever open non-drive-side dropout so you don’t even have to pull the axle out to remove the wheel. Remember, this is the same frame as the race-focused Scalpel, so it gets the same race-focused dropout. Given the choice, who here actually wants to wear a backpack? Or any pack at all? Cannondale’s solution is a pint-sized Fabric multi-tool, Dynaplug’s lightweight tire plug kit, and a CO2 all ready for you by the side of your bottle cage. If you need the tool, you just pull the rubber band and it pops right out. And like any good cross-country bike, there's room for two bottles inside the front triangle.




Cannondale Scalpel SE1 review Margus Riga photo
Cannondale Scalpel SE1 review Margus Riga photo

Climbing

My lineup of test bikes shows there are at least five different ways to get the job done, with each of them having some distinct pros and cons that make them very different on the trail. In the case of the SE 1, its best asset has to be its climbing abilities, and it's especially adept at the slow, methodical jumbly stuff. I'm picturing those perfectly ill-placed rocky steps spaced just close enough to test your timing and the bike's traction, or maybe your usually simple spin to the top has more in common with a greased up telephone pole than singletrack after a recent downpour. Whatever the challenge, the SE 1, along with the Yeti SB115, seem to claw their way up with a bit more persistence than the other bikes, a trait that always wins me over if I'm honest.

The Scalpel's spider monkey impressions are surely helped by two factors: It's a relatively compact bike, and its active-feeling suspension seems to give the Schwalbe Racing Ralph rear tire superpowers. Remember, all of them were fitted with the same rubber, and I used a digital gauge to ensure tire pressures matched for each day's back-to-back laps. Given the even fight, the Scalpel spun out fewer times than the other bikes in the slippery conditions, and I dabbed less while riding it.

Does active suspension mean a slow bike? Not on the Cannondale, as it had the second-quickest total loop time, all of which was gained on the way up. It was the second-quickest bike over the entire climb, but it made up even more time on the trickier, steeper technical section near the summit where it was basically 8-percent quicker than the other four. I'll admit that it didn't feel quicker on the way up, as I don't think our brains equate a slightly more forgiving ride with more speed, but that's what clocks are for.


Cannondale Scalpel SE1 review Margus Riga photo

Cannondale Scalpel SE1 review Margus Riga photo
Cannondale Scalpel SE1 review Margus Riga photo

Descending

Might as well get down to it: The Scalpel SE 1 can't match the Revel, Transition, or Specialized on the descents, and the more the trail angles down, the larger the gap. To be fair to Cannondale, the SE was never meant to keep up with a bike like the Spur in the same way the SB115 wasn't; they're looking at the challenge from opposite angles, so it's no surprise to end up with opposing results.

Some good stuff first. A friend of mine built this amazing trail atop a desert mesa in Utah, and it always impressed me how he was able to shoehorn what feels like roughly 150 miles of singletrack into an area the size of a football field. It's almost maddening how many times you zig and zag tightly to see the same cactus that jabbed you an hour ago while on a different section of the same trail. It's tight as hell, but there's flow to be found on the short, sharp descents. This is where bikes like Scalpel SE 1 and the SB 115 like to live, a place where the speeds don't reach eye-watering levels, regardless of if its a slow, technical downhill or if you've managed to find some elusive desert flow. It is out there.
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.


Mike Levy: "I set my second quickest lap time while on the Scalpel SE1, just 1.4-percent back from the Epic EVO, despite having my slowest descent time that was 4% behind the Spur."

But the eyes start to tear up right around the same time the Scalpel begins to feel a bit short and pointy. When the ground is rough and steep, it just doesn't have that calmness where the bike almost seems to float invisibly under you as it deals with the rocks and roots. Instead, the SE can get flustered when said rocks come hard and fast and, ironically given the praise I heaped on it above, lose traction sooner than you'd prefer. I also have to point out the 480mm long seat tube that doesn't leave you with enough room to use a long-travel dropper post, a minus that can be traced back to this being the same frame as the race bike.

Some context: Both the SE1 and SB115 really would leave the four race-focused bikes (Sarah Moore reviewed those last week) wondering which way they went on every kind of descent, no doubt there.


Cannondale Scalpel SE1 review Margus Riga photo


Speaking of intentions, we never set out to break anything, but sometimes that's exactly what happens. This time around, the SE's Hollowgram carbon fiber rear rim was a victim of my crappy line choice, maybe a bit too much speed, and the rather light-duty Racing Ralph rear tire that'll never be the same. Sure, more pressure might have prevented the knife-like rock from being fatal, but I hadn't been rolling the sidewall or burping the tire, so who knows. Anyway, here's Cannondale's response in full: ''We are glad to see Mike enjoying the new Scalpel SE and putting its capability to the test. We agree with Mike that the combination of tire pressure, rowdiness, and an untimely rock strike exceeded the durability of the rim (which is considerable). While this is not technically covered under our warranty, we evaluate each situation and in this case, the wheel would be replaced to get the rider back on the trail with as quickly as possible.''

Every bike has its strengths and weaknesses, and it's no surprise to see the SE 1's is its climbing ability. Yeah, that means that it's not as exciting as the Spur or Ranger, but it'll better suit many cross-country riders who want more bike but don't need something so focused on descending.


Pros

+ Excellent technical climber.
+ Relatively forgiving suspension = all-day comfort, all-day speed.

Cons

- I mean, that rim did crack…
- Being based off the same XC race frame, its geo isn’t exactly progressive. More reach and a shorter seat tube, please.





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



221 Comments

  • 229 4
 "While this is not technically covered under our warranty, we evaluate each situation and in this case, because this is a highly public bike review, we will say we would warranty the rim."
  • 10 3
 hypothetical question: what would have happend to an alloy rim?
  • 5 0
 Normally JRA means "I drove into garage with it still on my roof rack," but C-dale doesn't "technically" warranty actual JRA???
  • 25 1
 Great to get a free rim, but in the middle of the summer and a pandemic, how long will the average joe (who cant build his own wheels) be waiting to get their wheel rebuilt?
Want to use another wheel in your bike while you wait? whoops, offset hub and drivetrain. Time to get the spoke keys out again.
  • 16 2
 @Germanmike: Huge dent, maybe a crack rendering tubeless more annoying, and still a flatted tire. Oh, and super out of true. Or if you have cheap stock rims made out of Kraft Singles it'll bend beyond reasonable repair or break in half.
  • 4 0
 You can see the rim die at 10:43 in the video. Great to see the puffs of sealant in slo-mo. I guess if you ride with a camera crew at all times, showing it really didn't say hello to your garage, then you get a free wheel. At some point in the future...
  • 12 0
 @Germanmike: Probably a massive dent. In my experience dented rims cannot be trued properly which means you might won't be able to keep spoke tension equal, which could lead to issues with spokes coming loose. IMO a dented rim is garbage. At least a dented rim can usually be ridden until you get a replacement at least though.
  • 31 1
 @WheelNut: For sure. I know the broke carbon rim looks bad - and it certainly ain't good - but I'm pretty sure that an alloy rim would have been so dented that it wouldn't have ever sealed with the tire again. Not defending carbon rims, but pluses and minuses...
  • 24 0
 Yes, exactly. I’d like to know what in this case allows them to warranty the rim, even though it is not technically covered under their warranty. Mike just kind of shrugs it off and says something along the lines of, “looks like they’ll replace it.” Yeah, they’ll replace it for Mike and the Pinkbike review, but would the rest of us receive the same treatment? Under what circumstances here did they decide to warranty this case?
  • 12 0
 Also, while it looked like Mike was riding fast and going to town on that trail, it didn’t look like he did anything special that should have “exceeded the durability of the rim.” Didn’t seem like he was doing anything out of the ordinary.
  • 3 0
 @rickybobby18: No different than everyone that says it wouldn't have happened if it was AL.
Takes a lot to break carbon and the AL rims on most stock wheels aren't that great, so it was a fair speculation.
  • 14 0
 In my experience the cannondale warranty is actually pretty good. I warrantied a road frame that had some carbon damage due to tire rub. They sent me the updated model for free. That frame certainly costed more than a rim.
  • 2 13
flag schooledrider (Aug 12, 2020 at 10:22) (Below Threshold)
 @mikelevy: but you can't put a blowtorch and a pair of pliers to work on carbon. Doesn't take much skill to do some major adjustments to a dented aluminum rim.
  • 3 0
 @Germanmike: I'd go with a holed snake bitten tire trailside repairable and an at home repairable dent if it were a welded DT Swiss rim.
My xm481s seem to laugh off impacts that have broken carbon.
  • 1 0
 at 7:25 in the video you could see a eagle cassette in the back Smile ) Is this from the other Scalpel? How is the shifting Sram cassette and Shimano derailleur?
  • 7 0
 @mountainsofsussex: If that's where it happened then those rims wont hold up to much because that was not a rough section . And a 153 lb guy should not be breaking rims in terrain like that.
  • 3 1
 @mikelevy: if it didn't break with a huge hit on terrain the bike wasn't designed for, then it probably was overbuilt for XC use and would be too heavy.
  • 4 0
 @schooledrider: Right cause everyone has a way to re-heat treat the frame after going at it with a torch and pliers.
  • 1 0
 @maxcyp: Yeah that is really weird. That was definitely an XX1 cassette.
  • 1 0
 @A-HIGHLY-EDUCATED-PROFESSIONAL: I dented my brand new alloy rim with tire insert. Has been a pain to get it to seal since day one. I would be so angry if a carbon rim did that to me.

Also, what details do you have to divulge when warranteeing? "I was just riding along when..."
  • 1 0
 @Three6ty: well, yeah, I'd be pretty upset if I killed a (expensive) wheel doing that! Whether a rock flatted the tyre, then the next rock killed the rim, who knows.
  • 1 0
 @rickybobby18: idk man Kraft Singles fold better than a freshly ironed permanent press
  • 1 0
 Too bad this was no an ENVY rim. Intranet would implode.
  • 1 1
 Don't worry, even if the crack were a manufacturing defect, Dorel/Cannondale would just call it crash related, would not warranty and would offer you a crash replacement at 10% off the MSRP (ie more expensive than just buying a new one)
  • 85 0
 "Since you are Mike Levy from Pinkbike, reviewing our bike, we will change your cracked rim no probs... But it's gonna be a case by case for all other "nobodys"".... Is what it sounds like to me
  • 10 2
 That replied from Cannondale sounds to me if you are not Mike Levy you probably will be out of luck. IMHO Carbon wheels with out a life time warranty are an absolute no. I still think that carbon rim should have survive that course, but again a perfect strike on any rim could crack one.
  • 10 9
 Yup, this. They haven't earned the name Crack-n-Fail out there for nothing. Had a good friend with a Cannondale shop years ago, back room was full of warranty frames. Full.
  • 3 0
 @fedfox: yep sounds like the regular joe is going to have to lie to get a replacement rim.
IE. " I was running 32lbs of tire pressure and ran over a pebble and I broke the rim."
  • 5 0
 @Three6ty: Or maybe they could just call and say they are Mike Levy of Pinkbike. Please replace, or you're gonna get a bad review.
  • 4 0
 @davidccoleman: To be fair, they are a pretty big company. I would be more interested in the number of cracked frames as a proportion of total sales.
  • 1 0
 Yeah, but it is business. Perhaps Pinkbike on a very rare occasion pays for equipment they test, but most everything is comped by the companies for exposure and marketing. Everyone else has to pay to play for all their equipment.
  • 2 0
 @HB208: trade perspective, it was significantly higher than any other brand sold across the stores.
  • 2 0
 At the same time, a friend of mine WAS a Cannondale dealer, and I don't remember any warranty issues. Definitely never had a room full of frames. The F-Si he sold me was wonderful until it was stolen, and I and riding a 2014'ish Super6 that I bought off another customer.
  • 2 0
 @JSTootell: those OG supersix's are straight fricken tanks. Still my favorite road bike I've ever owned. Regret selling it often
  • 4 2
 @Three6ty: so you think that if you smash your xc rim off a rock. That it should be covered under warranty?

Funny people only seem to think that way when it comes to carbon.
  • 4 0
 @friendlyfoe: hell yes it should be covered under warranty! Do you not? See Santa Cruz, Enve, Nobl etc. they stand behind their rims and if you break them, they replace them.
  • 87 4
 I have to question any company that would put SRAM SX on a $4000 bike over Shimano SLX. That is a deal breaker in my mind.
  • 5 0
 Right? This is what i was thinking the whole time. The entire spec is entry level and for that price tag I don't know if i could justify it!
  • 7 0
 @FullTiltBoogie: 100%. Not even NX? I would rather have Shimano SLX over NX, but SX seems like a slap in the face. Just charge a bit more money if you want, but don't put SX on the bike.
  • 4 0
 I didn't even know there was a SX groupo below NX until this post. That is not good. Lol. I could not live with the Shimano MT500 brakes probably more than the SX drivetrain. On the upside, you could upgrade with GX 11-speed drivetrain and SRAM G2 brakes for another $500-600 bucks. Still a shame that it wasn't already put on the bike, though.
  • 3 0
 The best thing about sx is its compatibility with shimano 12spd so you can replace the rear mech with deore for £45 rather than £70 for sx. Sx is made of a variety of soft blue cheese.
  • 57 0
 Is it ok if I say something positive? I ride a lot of bikes, and I liked this one so much I bought one. Honestly felt like a steal at $5,500 USD for everything you get. I'd also add that the stock tires (Rekon Race / Ardent Race) are perfect for railing Pisgah and easily jumping back up for more. The reach is my biggest knock as well, but I've been fine running a 70mm neg stem like it's 2009 just fine. Great option for marathon mtb, crushing climbs but still giving the brain / legs a little rest on the way down.
  • 9 1
 Who stealing from whom?
  • 30 0
 Say something positive? That’s not allowed here. This is an internet comment section! Smile

Glad you are enjoying the new machine.
  • 1 0
 wrong comment, never mind me
  • 6 0
 I'd agree with the $5500 version. Getting carbon wheels and XT is very good at that price point.
  • 3 0
 This thread is only for negative tomatoes. Please cease and desist
  • 1 0
 i have to say that I test rode this bike and I was VERY impressed with components for the price and how good it was. I'm thinking of getting into mtb marathons in the next year or two and this might be my weapon of choice at some point.
  • 31 2
 No matter how much sense it makes, I'm done with proprietary products like offset drivetrains that require oddly dished rear wheels. The laws of my universe say that the second I take it somewhere I can't easily replace it, it will break, and I'm left sitting on my thumb while my riding buddies have a great time.

Not to mention I like being able to swap parts between my bikes, buy a new frame and build it up with existing parts, etc. No matter how good the bike is, I simply can't dump $5k on a bike that only parts out to the same Cannondale.
  • 22 0
 To be fair, there are no proprietary components in the drivetrain or the wheel. The only difference is the dishing of the rear wheel, which can be applied to most. But yes, that 'System Integration' is what Cannondale is known for, for better or worse Smile
  • 16 0
 I agree with your point. But don't dismiss how much fun sitting on your thumb can be.
  • 16 0
 Typically, I'd agree with you. In this case, I think Cannondale (and Syntace who do the same thing, under the "Evo6" trademark) got it right and chose a much smarter route than the 148 boost standard. Like @mikelevy points out, all the parts are standard parts, albeit the now "outdated" 142mm hub standard, just with a different (perfectly symmetric) dish. The 142mm was readily available, cheap, lighter and standardized. It also results in a narrower brake side, equal spoke lengths, while maintaining tire clearance. The ship may have sailed at this point given the 148mm takeover, but I can see why Cannondale hung on to it, and wish the rest of the indsutry had had the fortitude to adopt it rather than create a new hub standard that isn't backwards compatible with anything.
  • 7 0
 Correction to my own statement. I thought Evo6 was the same as AI. It's just the same principle. Looks like Evo6 is a Boost 148mm offset an extra 3mm to the driveside vs Boost, not a 142mm offset offset +6 to the driveside.
  • 3 0
 I own a Jekyll,3mm dish/148 hub. The wheel is very durable build like that. Spoke tension is less crucial,you can loose a few spokes and not notice it.
It works great but yes,you can´t swap any wheel.
Other plus is tire clearance in any Cdale bike with equal dish,my old Jekyll has a ton of room compared to my new S. Enduro with a narrow tire.
  • 3 0
 Even with non-proprietary products...due to components shortages you can still be sitting around waiting. Recently had a hub fail on a trip to Oakridge Oregon and the local shop didn't have the parts. Nor did any shop in Eugene or Bend.

Happily I had the best solution possible...multiple bikes. I used my ebike for the next few days until I could get some new wheels (figured the hub was a good reason to upgrade from alum to carbon)
  • 2 0
 Best bike I have ridden to date was the F-Si I raced for multiple seasons. I would still be on it if it wasn't stolen. Whether you like proprietary or not, that bike was more reliable than any other from my perspective. I'm now on a more generic bike, but I'll be in love with that Lefty and Ai forever. That bike just worked.
  • 3 0
 Yo, if it's a full on emergency you can literally get ANY wheel that fits your dropouts and tire. Grab ANY spoke wrench and redish the wheel using the frame as an indicator of symmetry. It's about a 10min undertaking talking from experience. Look I get it, cannondale has done some seriously kooky stuff but this ain't no pull shock or 1.5 straight headtube. Adapt and overcome, or don't. Whyeves
  • 2 0
 @Ironmonsoon602: whoa woah wo bud.
Any spoke wrench?
Don’t tell people that. The most important rule of touching wheels is to not use just any spoke wrench.
  • 1 0
 @mikelevy: isn’t this latest scalpel using a 148 hub? So it’s only offset 3mm. Anyway the problem I’m finding is that I can’t run a Shimano chain ring or an XTR crank due to the chain line! So I’m stuck with the generic 1x11 cannondale chain ring, which isn’t playing nice with the 1x12 chain. Did you have any issues with the chainring?
  • 1 0
 @Bay1: Why are you stuck with the generic cannondale chain ring?
You have this amazing tool- the internet. You found your way here, find the solution.
Here's a hint Wolftooth and OneUp
  • 1 0
 @bigtard: ok ok fair point, but this IS an emergency after all
  • 1 0
 @Icehawk: Totally agree, when I get a new bike ( try for every 3 years) I keep the old one as back-up. Even standard parts can take time to arrive ( especially currently). That bent derailleur or dodgy hub that just went, or a tyre that's not sealed overnight >..old bike : not much different to the new one, just with more creaks! Great to lend a mate in trouble too.
  • 1 1
 @Ironmonsoon602: true enough bud (except the "Any Spoke Wrench? Do the nipples in question take all size wrenches? If so neat deal).

I've built up wheelsets that I've ridden for 10 years, until the rims wore through from braking. Built them on the bike, and they stayed strong straight and round better than anything I've bought premade. So yes I can dish a wheel on the bike, but no, I don't want to. I don't want to have to futz with much of anything anymore when it's not 100% at my choice and leisure. If I crack a rim, I want to pull a rear wheel off of one of my 3 boost 29ers, tighten the skewer, and ride away.

I've had my share of unusual parts, and too many times have been left MacGyvering a solution or totally SOL because of the rareness of the part. I'm fully out of that business now, and it is nice to not have to even think about it!
  • 1 0
 @TheOriginalTwoTone: ok smart arse you find me a 36 tooth chain ring for a cannondale crank. One that is Ai compatible with the correct chain line. And one that’s for a 1x 12 chain!
  • 22 0
 So Levy: how does the Scalpel compare to that Kona Hei Hei you reviewed a month or so back?
  • 3 0
 I'm wondering about this, too. Sounds like they're both good technical climbers with less "long & slack". Curious if the Hei Hei felt a little more secure on the downs? Since the local shop is dropping Cdale, the Hei Hei looks like a better bet.
  • 3 0
 @GSPChilliwack: Guess I could tag @mikelevy to see what he says...
  • 1 0
 @PAmtbiker: This was on my mind too. I'd like to know where the kona would sit in this test?
  • 2 0
 @PAmtbiker: I found the review for the Hei Hei (and the Spot Ryve) quite useful, but it's always nice to hear a comparison with the other bikes on test. I see the Hei Hei climbing tech much like this Scalpel, but giving up a bit of efficiency for a little more descending prowess.
  • 22 0
 why do you need a shorter seat post? you clearly have room to run a longer dropper.
  • 2 1
 Agree. No need to get the seat lower than an imaginary strait line between the top of the rear tire and top of the handlebars
  • 13 0
 I have a relatively long inseam, longer than most people, but Cannondale probably wouldn't want to spec a long-travel dropper as it'd get close to being too long for some customers. If the seat tube was shorter, this wouldn't be an issue. It's a no-brainer - why would you want a longer seat tube?
  • 7 0
 @mikelevy: I find it funny with so many people wanting longer droppers... But, I also only have a 30in inseam at just over 6ft tall... I haven't been on too many bikes where I could go longer than 150mm...

Different strokes for different folks...
  • 6 0
 @mikelevy: I want long seat tubes, but it's only because my legs are LONG. I'm 6'2" with a 37" inseam. That said, I would want to size up on this bike, and the seat tube length jumps to 520mm on the XL. I could easily still fit a 185mm Bike Yoke on that, but most people couldn't come close.

I get annoyed when bikes have a stupid short seat tube but then are spec'd with 150mm droppers on the L or XL. If I'm demo'ing a size XL with the dropper post at min insertion and I'm sitting 20mm lower than I want to be, they're doing a shit job designing/spec'ing their bikes.
  • 3 1
 @lumpy873: and 5 years ago we are all pretty damn happy with a 120 mm post
  • 7 0
 @schooledrider: 10 years ago we were all pretty happy with a standard seat post. Heaven forbid technology improves and progresses the sport!
  • 3 0
 I think I'd rather have a bike with no dropper and lower price point, let you pick which one you want to run.

Personally, I like to have the seat totally slammed when I descend. I have an "XC" dropper that came with my bike. It's nice, but I wish it would go lower.
  • 1 0
 @schooledrider: I'm still pretty happy with 125mm on both my bikes...
  • 1 0
 @mikelevy: Because of lateral flex. The flex in the bigger diameter seat tube is less than that in the skinny dropper post. With longer dropper posts this will be enhanced. Not that I would notice, but for xc racers and efficiency folks that might be the reason.
  • 3 0
 @mikelevy: how else would two water bottles fit inside the frame????? I do think there is a point at which dropper post length is meaningless, and for bikes like these, if you need to get that low- you are probably exceeding their capability.
  • 2 0
 @kuna26: Depends how low you mean by 'that low'. The more room your body has to move, the more it can absorb the impacts (so your suspension doesn't need to do as much work).
  • 16 1
 what happened to taking actual pictures of the bike? instead of some guy/gal shredding it 20 meters away
  • 1 0
 Full geo chart seems strange to leave out of a review too
  • 16 1
 Excellent. Screams average, just like the SB115. Not XC enough for real XC, not aggressive enough for real downcountry fun.
  • 9 0
 But the regressive geo makes it a spider monkey, with multiple AIs and a prehensile tail
  • 3 2
 Maybe this has more to do with the category? If I want an XC racer, I would buy that. If I wanted something a little lighter on a trail, but not as big as an Enduro bike, I’d go with something more trail-bikey with maybe 130-140 travel. This category — not quite race, not quite trail — just seems to set these bikes up to be underwhelming, especially where they’re riding.
  • 9 0
 I got a different impression. To me it seemed like this bike kept most of its XC traits but provided a bit more confidence for descending. So if downcountry is the space between XC and full on trail bike, this bike would be way to the XC side of the spectrum. SB115 seemed like it just got stuck in the middle ground. It no longer provided the XC pep, but didn't really provide any gains for descents.
  • 2 3
 @TheR: category: 100mm modified for trail. At least Optic, Spur, and Tallboy are trying to be themselves rather than something else.
  • 2 2
 @mtmc99: Agreed on the assessment of the Scalpel. You seem to imply though that the downcountry category of bike will inherently be underwhelming. I think that with the right geo and suspension setup the bikes can be a blast. IMO downcountry bikes should by definition prioritize the downhill performance, otherwise buy a real XC bike and crush the climbs. These downcountry bikes, such as this one and the SB115, that don't really prioritize downhill performance and try to be an all arounder end up mediocre.
  • 2 0
 @tgent: didn't mean to imply that the whole category would be inherently overwhelming, but if bike companies don't emphasize one end of the spectrum it seems pretty easy to come up with a bike the underwhelms.

Personally, the bikes that prioritize downhill performance while maintaining light weight and a great pedaling platform pique my interest. I can see why someone would want a more XC focused bike that provides a bit more cushion (like the Scalpel) but that doesn't aligned with my personal preference.
  • 4 0
 @mtmc99: Gotchya. Ya same, I am currently looking for a for a short travel "XC" bike to go along with my enduro bike. It's been a great time to be shopping because there are tons of new good options being released all the time right now. As an enduro rider who prioritizes downhill and will never do a cross country race, I was naturally drawn to the Downcountry/Trail segment, in which I don't personally think there's really much of a difference between the two. Since I don't care about how quickly a bike climbs, true XC bikes were out, but when I'm looking to do 20-40 mile days with 5k+ ft of vert, I'm looking for a lot of things that XC bike are. Hence downcountry bikes that are light, fast, and the new ones are getting fun where I prioritize it, downhill. That's obviously my preference, and why I would gravitate toward say the Spur rather than the Scalpel, however that's the problem with these jack-of-all trades Downcountry bikes, who's going to buy the average ones? If you prioritize downhill you'll buy something longer/slacker such as the Spur and if you prioritize climbing why not just buy a real XC bike?

Top of my current list is the Transition Spur, YT Izzo, and Specialized Epic Evo (but I'm patiently awaiting a more detailed review of it). All 3 of those weren't out even a month ago, and a month ago the top of my list was the Ibis Ripley.
  • 10 0
 @TheR: Agree. Especially since (perhaps influenced by where they are riding) even the "XC" bikes are basically reviewed from an enduro perspective (e.g., the slacker and more reach the better, but then the limited suspension travel can't keep up). It's almost as if -- bring on the downvotes -- a 120mm bike doesn't really make sense for the type of riding they like to do.
Mike does a good job at trying to balance his reviews with examples for where shorter geometry works well, but overall he naturally has biases towards what works best on steep, wet BC riding, which isn't really what this class of bike is designed for or best at. I bet the review would be a lot different from the perspective of someone from Connecticut (where Cannondale is based) or Florida where speeds are lower and quick handling is a positive and not a negative.
  • 6 0
 @tgent: I think what is "just average" from someone with your perspective or that of this website might appeal greatly to someone who's the opposite of you: an XC rider who will never do an enduro race, but who is looking for a bit more comfort/versatility. XC race bikes are pretty awful at descending, so that would be one reason not to buy a "real" XC bike. Yet for someone who prioritizes climbing (anyone on this website? Anyone? Bueller...?) or just rides less steep, rolling terrain an enduro bike is going to feel like a total pig and something like this, the Tallboy, or the Ibis Ripley might be just the thing.

To me, it's the bikes in this category (=120mm travel) that have all the geo, the components, and most of the weight of a 150mm bike that seem like they might disappoint everybody. But, everyone has different priorities and choice and diversity are certainly good.
  • 4 0
 @Climbtech: I think this is a good point and folks need to filter these reviews through their own specific requirements. In my case, I live in coastal North Carolina which is basically flat - a bike's stability at high speed is of very little interest to me; how deft it is at navigating extremely tight and twisty trails littered with roots is of great interest.
  • 1 0
 @Climbtech: Absolutely right that my perspective and riding does not make me an ideal candidate for any downcountry bike that leans more XC oriented. That said, even if you're coming at the category from an XC racer's perspective, you likely already have a dedicated XC race bike, and why wouldn't you also prioritize downhill performance. If I'm theoretically looking at the bikes from that perspective, I think I would still end up with something much more capable to distinguish between my XC bike and this bike.

Only situation I can see that it makes sense to take one of the more all-arounder downcountry bikes is if it's your only bike and you do want to do some XC racing, in which case this is probably a great option!
  • 2 0
 @Climbtech: Yeah, I was going to say bikes like these might be good in places like Indiana. I was back there two years ago riding my Specialized Enduro on a pretty fun trail, but man, did I have more bike than I would ever need there. (It's my only bike, so that's why it made the trip with me).

But out here in Colorado, I wouldn't want anything less than a 130-140 trail bike for what I ride. And yeah -- to all you Barney Bad-Asses who will jump on and tell me they ride just fine out here on a completely rigid XC racer -- good for you. I can ski Silverton on race skis, but I don't. It's more fun on something a little more forgiving, more suited to the purpose.
  • 15 0
 Dying to read the reports on the Ranger.
  • 8 0
 Wanting to see how CBF looked compared to all the other suspension formulae in the short travel range
  • 5 0
 @schlockinz: It’s by far the best in the long travel category so I have very high hopes.
  • 10 1
 Counterpoint to wanting more trail-friendly geo on this bike: Cannondale makes the Habit with 120mm in the rear and a 140mm fork that's still quite light and has much more descent-friendly geo without being as hefty as something that you'd typically see with a Lyrik/36 on the front.
  • 2 0
 The Habit is 130mm rear. The medium they tested in the 2019 field test weighed 30lbs. Probably safe to say it would be in the 31lb range for a Large which is fairly average, no?
  • 2 0
 @rustiegrizwold: That's so weird. The MEC (Canadian equiv. to REI) lists it at 120mm but Cannondale does indeed spec it at 130mm. My mistake.
  • 4 0
 @rustiegrizwold: bingo. I have a Carbon Trigger 1 from 2015 in 29er and it's 26 lbs in medium...not sure I'll buy a Habit with same travel, 5 years later, with 5 more lbs to it...

It's either keeping my bike, or Scalpel SE (which, in my opinion, in my region, would be fine for 90% of the time/trails. Sure once in a while might get overwhelmed, but it will be faster than Habit in 90% of the rest of the trails).
  • 9 0
 Sincerely: what do you mean by "a nicer stem". Once I get a bike fitted I don't think I EVER think about the stem again. If it connects my handlebars to my forks it is a nice stem. If it does not, it is not a nice stem.
  • 9 1
 The kind of stage-racing/marathon person who'll buy this bike (by the hundred) in South Africa will never trash a rim in a million years. If they see a root or rock that isn't spray painted bright orange they soil their Assos lycra.
  • 8 0
 Cannot get enough of these lighter bikes that climb up junky stepped singletrack. So tired from pedaling a marshmallow up rugged stuff, and sweating blood before the descent...where i have plans to smoke the guy who blew past me uphill eons ago, yet never catch him. Without the shuttle or the lift dragging around a motorcycle with no engine gets old. Gimme a 120 travel light bike for 90% of real mountain biking, and a downhill rig (even rented) for the days with a lift or a truck shuttle. And somebody please just go out in the pasture with a gun and put that wretched animal sram sx DOWN BEFORE IT POPULATES ANY MORE
  • 9 0
 I just can’t get over the fact they spec’d an SX drivetrain on a $4k bike. Seems like SLX would’ve been a much better choice.
  • 3 0
 Abso-friggin-lutely! SLX shifts way better than GX and costs around the same as SX. I sold a biek that I put the new XT stuff on and bought one with GX. Guess what I'm doing now...
  • 12 3
 So I guess this actually is an appropriate time for that stupid joke, "crack-n-fail"
  • 7 6
 Crap-ondale Snap-n-fail Crack-ondale Snap-ondale There's many I've heard over the years.
  • 4 1
 My roadie friends would call them Canyonsnails
  • 6 2
 It's funny that so many people complain about this. I've owned two Cannondales and never broken one. A buddy of mine has owned four or five and broken one (1st gen Flash carbon hardtail). Several more people I know have never purchased a non-Cannondale bike (because that's what their LBS mainly carries) and never broken one. Like my buddy and his wife have probably owned 12 or 15 Cannondales between them over the last decade (road, cyclocross, and mountain bikes) and never broken a single one. Given how many bikes Cannondale produces now, I'm not sure the crack-n-fail joke is warranted anymore. The first Flash carbon hardtails did suck, but they've made a lot of improvements since then.
  • 4 0
 @PAmtbiker: I know the filed smooth welds era were notoriously bad, especially the judge and perp dh/fr bikes. But yeah, I've seen many different brands of broken frame, had a fair few myself (kona, commencal, yeti and banshee) and I don't think I've seen more than 2 of the same make (was about to list a load then realised the most broken frames have been oranges, at least 4 I know of lol)
  • 1 0
 @inked-up-metalhead: Oh yeah I guess I saw a guy break a Judge swingarm landing a jump right in the transition zone... which was probably good because I was about to buy it from him.
  • 1 0
 @inked-up-metalhead: The 'Crack-n-fail' nickname dates back to at least their late 1980s road bikes.
  • 1 0
 I had a 2015 trigger AL,dyad pullshock was nice the first 6 months,bb30 bearings lasted 1(!) Winther ride,main swingarm bearings the size of the ones in your front hub, would never by cdale again.
  • 4 0
 I know it's tough getting the new bikes to test (mine's been on order for 8 weeks now), but why would you test an $11,525 MSRP bike (Epic S-works Evo) versus $5-6000 bikes? Of course the Specialized S-Works model will be lighter than the others, but there won't be too many customers for that expensive a bike.
  • 2 0
 In prior articles it was noted that the reviewers rode the bikes the manufacturers submitted, and specs are completely out of their hands.
  • 4 0
 @Counsel: BS. Tell the manufacturers what the test is about and they will supply the appropriate bikes. You can't compare $11-12k bikes with those costing $5-6k.
  • 6 0
 I'm just here waiting for the Epic EVO
  • 3 0
 Me too, as I have an Epic Evo Expert on order, but I don't understand testing $5-6000 bikes against $11,500 bikes (Evo S-Works). Not many of those will be sold, given the price. Why not test the Evo Pro or Expert against this Down-country field?
  • 2 0
 @rlsedition: the manufacturer picks the build spec for the test. Most manufacturer's prefer to send the top spec so they wont get a negative review because of a poor performing part (like SX drivetrain or entry level suspension).
  • 3 0
 @mtmc99: If I were the testing entity I wouldn't let that happen, as the results would always be skewed totally to the most expensive bikes. I expect the Revel or S-Works to "win" the Down-country comparison, but it isn't a fair match-up. And I'm biased to Specialized, as I have an Epic Evo Expert ($6000) on order, which is the bike they should have tested against the others. When the S-Works version wins, what does that tell me about the bike I'm buying - not a lot.
  • 2 0
 @rlsedition: The review is really for the frame. Sure, they have a components section, but that’s not what makes the bike ride the way it does. Listen to Mike’s comments: they’re all about the geometry and suspension characteristics. That won’t change when you go from build to build. I’m sure whatever Mike says about the S-Works Epic Evo will apply to the Expert or any other build level of the same frame.
  • 3 0
 @jwellford: Yes and no. The Evo Pro and Expert frame should work nearly as well as the S-Works version, but I'll bet the upcoming test result raves about how light the S-Works bike is - something the lesser models will not accomplish.
  • 1 0
 @rlsedition: totally agree, and it'll mention how it was 1st over the timed lap.....it should be at that price.
  • 2 0
 These days a seat tube angle less than 77 degrees on a trail or enduro bike gets slammed for being too slack, outdated, and uncomfortable for climbing. Yet we have all these XC bikes, which are obviously meant to be good climbers, with STA's in the 74 degree neighborhood yet there's little to talk of this in the reviews. What gives?
  • 10 0
 XC bikes are meant to be ridden on undulating terrain, and you will likely be sitting at some points on flat, gentle uphills or even slightly downhill graded terrain. At this point a super steep seat tube angle becomes a hindrance and less comfortable. Enduro and all mountain rigs theoretically are sat on only going uphill, you stand up and ride all the way down. So a steep seat tube angle for strictly climbing is seen as beneficial.
  • 3 0
 @gnarnaimo: Nailed it. I ride in MD- rolling hills and sold my Ripley V4 after a few months- hated it on my terrain.
  • 6 0
 Because XC bikes are made for mellow rolling terrain, and have shorter reaches.

A 78 degree seat angle on flat terrain will tire out your arms, because your weight is so far forward.

The assumption is that on an enduro bike you’re pedaling up a fire road, then plunging down a steep trail, not riding flat or rolling terrain. On an xc bike, the assumption is that you’ll ride rolling terrain.
  • 2 0
 @TheOriginalTwoTone: 9.8 makes offset seatposts allowing you to change effective STA
  • 3 0
 @laksboy: That would have made it worse with the ETT being longer. Moving the seat even further back would have put in a more hunched over position while seated- putting even more weight on my hands/wrists.
Slacker STAs normally come with shorter ETT.

It's way simpler to reward a company that doesn't think everyone rides out west.
  • 4 0
 @TheOriginalTwoTone: they make both forward and rear offests. So you can adjust either way.
I get your point though. I do ride out west and regularly take my SB100 down double black descents... Albeit not as fast as if I was on a slacker longer bike. I just put a higher priority on climbing stuff and tight precise corners too and thus far my bike hasn't broke descending way past it's paygrade. I grew up riding janky New England hiking trails, so maybe that's why my priorities lie where they lie.
  • 1 0
 @gnarnaimo: Thanks Gnar. I don't race XC, but I've always heard that those races are won on the climbs and just assumed most of their seated time was going uphill.
  • 1 0
 Consider also: road bikes. Around 74 degrees is standard as it's ideal for flat to rolling terrain. Their intent is a lot closer to xc race bikes than trail /enduro bikes.
  • 2 2
 According to Cannondale, Scalpel STA is N/A. It looks slacker than HTA, say 65 degrees.

@TheOriginalTwoTone: Ripley STA can't be much more than 69, tho there's forward offset at bb.

@sdurant: ever heard of headset spacers?

Presumably some of you have ridden something with an actually steep STA--the Ryve 100 for example. There's no reason a longer-reach short-travel bike can't work, if the HTA is slack enough to compensate for the forward relocation of center of mass. Spacers and/or riser bars will lighten pressure on hands. Isn't there a breathing advantage being more open at the hip/torso due to steeper STA? I can understand how a shorter seat tube and longer dropper will be necessary...there are so few 100mm bikes with actually steep seat tubes, and so little data, I think your rejections are fundamentally conservative. Disclaimer: I have little interest in any of these bikes.
  • 2 1
 @Bob12051968: Some can also be put down to the differences in suspension travel. When going uphill, you're going to be weighting the rear end more heavily than the front end and sinking deeper into the rear travel. This effectively slackens the seat tube angle. Couple that with a more upright riding position, and your average 160mm enduro bike is probably sitting at closer to 50% rear sag - and 0-10% front - on a steep climb. An XC bike will have a similar situation, but less pronounced to do having less travel and because they typically have a more forward riding position that forces your weight over the front wheel. So they might be sitting at 30-40% sag - which, on a 100mm bike, is going to be less than half of the total sag of a 160mm bike at 50% sag.

Doing some quick trig, a bike with 160mm of travel and a 77 degree STA will have a STA of 65 degrees at 50% sag (assuming 0% sag on the fork). A bike with 100mm of travel and a 74 degree STA will have a STA of 64.5 at 40% sag.
  • 1 2
 That’s so you can add a 30mm longer fork and the geometry comes out about right.
Most of them are probably 75 at sag anyway, which is where it counts (these field tests should measure seat angle at sag) and the rest is paychological
  • 2 0
 @ceecee: Can't be much more than 69? Try 76.
Yes I know the difference between effective and actual. My saddle height was close to what they use to get the ESTA. One thing I think more brands should do is post saddle height used to get ESTA.
  • 1 0
 @laksboy: plus they’re brilliantly smooth, & work flawlessly in freezing temperatures (they’re not hydraulic )
  • 4 2
 Are these XC race bikes? No. Are they Enduro race bikes? I don't think so.
So why the race times?
I'm certain these are trail bikes for trekking and doing long rides comfortably.
These types of bikes will be destroyed quickly if you treat them as race bikes.
It's a 6 pound frame not an 8 pound frame.
I would love a 25 pound 5 by 5 bike . I wouldn't charge down North Shore trails with it. These are exelent long distance trail bikes I would love to have one for it's intended purpose. Trail riding not racing.
  • 5 4
 Got to say, engineered flex in the carbon stays (both this and Transition) makes me nervous. But when you view the slow-mo compression video, I don't see any noticeable flex going on there...? Maybe I'm just old and blind. Not sure if that's a good or bad thing - or how much flex you're supposed to get/see; or maybe just another gimmick?
  • 8 0
 With a lot of these designs it's a very small amount of flex. Sometimes less than 1-degree of rotation. It's not surprising you can't see it.
As they usually do this in the seatstay, they are essentially imo a linkage-driven single-pivot (as opposed to a 4-bar).
  • 13 1
 Zero concerns on my part with the flex. I don't think I've ever seen an issue (that doesn't mean there hasn't been, of course), but I've sure seen tons of worn-out pivots over the years. I see the concern, but it's gonna be good Smile
  • 2 0
 @mikelevy: Exactly. For the all the concern, I've never seen issues with any CF flexstay bikes that have been around for even significantly long periods of time. The only problem I can think of is that there were some rumblings of issues on some Gary Fishers many many years ago and they were flexing aluminum instead of CF.
  • 1 0
 @mikelevy: remember the original Yeti 575 with the piece of carbon instead of a pivot on the seat stay? That was considered a consumable at the time. Not the same thing as a flex stay, but there it is.
  • 6 0
 You know bows are made out of carbon right? A product designed specifically to flex.
  • 1 0
 @nzandyb: Yeah, but a carbon bow or mast or ski pole, is typically all carbon. It doesn't start as aluminum, connect to a carbon piece and then connect to another aluminum end. The aluminum wouldn't have the same flex or strength characteristics as the carbon, so you would think over time the connection/link on either end of the carbon piece might become compromised.
  • 1 0
 @nzandyb: but then again, if the alleged "flex" is so imperceptable that you can't even see it, then maybe it isn't as concerning as if it were something that were really designed to be active... It was quite interesting to see the movement in the slow mo compresion test part of the video of the yeti, and seeing what they are doing with their linkage system - and then checking this video and it's like - they say it does something, but I can't see anything...
  • 3 1
 Airplanes are mostly carbon, lots of flexing going on there. I trust high end carbon way more than aluminum.
  • 3 0
 @JSTootell: Every commercial airplane other than the 787 is almost completely aluminum and the wings flex plenty. Boeing was able to engineer in significantly more flex into the carbon 787 wings and get rid of the winglets while providing better aero but the aluminum winds still move a lot. Design is more important than material.
  • 2 0
 @trillot: What are you going on about Carbon and AL, the entire rear triangle is carbon.
  • 2 1
 @TheOriginalTwoTone: point taken - got distracted looking at the 2010 Scalpel which combined materials.
  • 5 1
 Sweet review Mike! I was curious about this one, and your thoughts were nice and detailed. Much appreciated!
  • 2 1
 Glad you liked it Smile
  • 2 0
 @mikelevy could I be wrong saying that older Scalpel around 2010 also had some engineered flex in the chainstays and not the seatstay? they had that weird bend in the chainstays and they were quite flat.
  • 5 0
 It didn't even have a main pivot!
  • 1 0
 Yup, that was a weird-looking one. The previous version from 2016 is different again: www.pinkbike.com/photo/13430509
  • 3 0
 Good grief. Peeps bitching cuz Cannondale DID warranty the rim? Sheesh tuff room! What response would you like to see? It’s an honest response IMO.
  • 2 0
 That section of trail where the wheel broke looked smoother than the sidewalks in my town. Is the expectation that people who buy these will be 130lbs and ride on mountains that aren't rocky? I don't understand.
  • 3 0
 That grey color is quite beautiful. Very clean&elegant bike,no big logos. To me Cannondale has the best paintjob and color scheme in both bikes.
  • 1 0
 Still being a relatively new mountain biker, I'm learning to look a bit more at the numbers, but seat tube escaped me on my current bike. I had a large that was too small for me, went up to an XL, bought a 150mm dropper like my old bike had, and it's just on the verge of being too tall. Looking back at the geometry, didn't realize my current bike has a 520mm seat tube, seems to be like 50-70mm longer than most other bikes I've look at. Whoops!
  • 1 0
 "Remember, all of them were fitted with the same rubber, and I used a digital gauge to ensure tire pressures matched for each day's back-to-back laps."

Where they all on the same rims? At least the same width? All hookless, or not?

All of those are as important as pressure to ensure a matching contact patch and tread & sidewall deformation. If those factors don't match, having the identical pressure doesn't really matter that much.
  • 1 0
 "I also have to point out the 480mm long seat tube that doesn't leave you with enough room to use a long-travel dropper post"

In the pic right below, there is a good 6cm of post above the clamp. Looks like the _length_ of the seatube isn't the limiting factor there, though of course the _max insertion_ might be a factor, except that's not how it was reported here.
  • 1 0
 @mikelevy Do you think you could get away with riding an XL SE? (Other than the seat tube length issue you pointed out). The XL dimensions don't seem radically larger than the large (or other bikes large frames)
  • 4 0
 Yeah, I could ride an XL, but at 5'10" I wouldn't ever buy one with that in mind. This is the recommended size for my height.
  • 1 1
 I love the look of the bike. I love the asym rear frame, wish everyone did it, totally is common sense. But 10+ years ago I was left holding the bag when cannondale was utterly unable to support a garbage innovation (headshock sealed directly to frames polished head tube) that they foisted on me , their customer. Never again Cannondale. I will only trust your bikes as far as I can throw them.
  • 1 0
 I test rode a Cannondale gravel bike and found the geometry off for my (average) proportions. With the long seat post it felt like it was designed for a long legged guy like Lachlan Morton. This bike seems similar.
  • 1 0
 The review seemed hellishly similar to the one of the regular Scalpel. I am aware that its the same main frame, but actually the two Scalpels seem really identical in their capabilities. Or did I misunderstand something?
  • 3 0
 @mikelevy any noticeable difference between the SID Select+ On the Scalpel vs the SID Ultimate on the Spur?
  • 2 0
 That rim should be called "Wall of Voodoo, Mexican radio"...... Cause it's a one hit wonder.
  • 1 0
 Ring of Fire was pretty good though.
  • 3 0
 Could you post a picture of the cracked rim? Great review thanks.
  • 2 3
 Summary of DC filed test thus far:
Spur: eliminated - too much bike for the flats of N.Texas
SB115: eliminated - heavy and outdated
Scalpel SE: eliminated - questionable quality, proprietary crap
it's now down to EPIC EVO vs. Ranger
I'm not a Specialized fan to say the least but worried the Ranger is too much bike for me...
  • 6 0
 There are a fair number of other bikes in the segment. Trek Top Fuel, Giant Trance 29, Evil Following (which bucked the trend and went more XC for the new v3), Spot Ryve, and Scott Spark (non-RC) just to name a few.
  • 1 0
 I looked at it the ranger on geometry geeks. It’s remarkably similar to a trance or perhaps slightly more conservative on some measures. It will be interesting.
  • 2 0
 @ChristophColombo: I'm an Evil fan.. and at first I thought 'Where the f*** is the V3 Following?'.. then I saw the avg. weights of each bike tested.. and thought.. oh. Thats why... the Evil would likely be pushing 28-30lbs and would likely be 'DH category' winner and nothing else in this company..
  • 2 0
 "it's now down to EPIC EVO vs. Ranger"

Ranger - Slowest on the climb. 2nd fastest dh
Epic - Fastest Climb, Fastest lap
  • 4 0
 @hllclmbr: Yes, and the Evo S-Works is also (by far) the most expensive in the comparison. Apples versus oranges.
  • 4 0
 @rlsedition:

The second fastest bike is less than half the price of the EVO, so what does that say?
  • 4 1
 @hllclmbr: It says to me they should have tested the Epic Evo Pro or Expert, not the S-Works version.
  • 2 0
 @rlsedition: I suspect they test what the manufacturers give them to test. So bad on the other companies for not also providing the top-end spec.
  • 3 0
 @PhillyTim: The second fastest bike on the lap the SE1, is the top end spec ( at half the price), this is the difficulty.
  • 1 0
 @CDT77: Yeah, the stock builds would be heavy for the purposes of this test, but my intent was more to point out other similar options for the guy thinking that the bikes in this test were the only things available. And it could be built up reasonably light. I just whipped up an XT build on the Fanatik builder that weighs in at about the same weight as the Yeti for the same price And that's with a regular 34 and alloy wheels - you could knock off another half pound with a SID or a 34 Stepcast, a bit more with racey carbon wheels (like the Rovals on the Specialized), and even more with XTR.
  • 1 0
 People have talked about this but here it is again: of all the field test the Following (not included) have a threaded BB:
- Epic
- Ranger
- Spur
- Ripley
Am I missing any?
  • 3 0
 Where is today's installment?
  • 1 0
 Did the tire survive the rim breakage? If yes, then f*ck that rim. If not, then you can start to blame pressure and line choice.
  • 3 0
 yeehaw
  • 4 3
 If i crash a carbon bike enough too it will develop flex zones lol ba dum tsss
  • 3 0
 Looks like a Stumpy
  • 2 0
 The new stumpy looks very different Wink
  • 1 0
 @thechunderdownunder: what’s the eta on that?
  • 1 0
 @sdurant12: no idea! But If I had to guess I would say very soon...
  • 3 1
 Attach a copy of this review to your RMA
  • 4 2
 Cannondale brought a knife to a gun fight.
  • 1 0
 @mikelevy: why did you swap out the rear cassette to Eagle rainbow? RD too? 52T testing?
  • 8 1
 Probably because cannondale uses a proprietary wheel dish so they had to use the wheel off the other scalpel after breaking the rim
  • 1 0
 @lyzyrdskydr: ah, thanks
  • 1 0
 I finally figured out the opening scene, its a goonies throwback ????????‍♀️
  • 3 0
 Spur and ranger? Hmmm
  • 1 0
 How does the head tube slack out one degree but the seat tube is only 1/2 degree slacker? You said it's the same frame.
  • 2 0
 Different shock
  • 1 0
 @Momentus:
You can't slacken one angle a different amount than the other. The seat tube and the head tube are on the same structure.
  • 2 0
 'Makes for a stiffer package' without taking a pill? Count me in!
  • 1 0
 @mikelevy Could you give a couple sentences on how these DC bikes compare to a Blur in either XC or "trail" setup?
  • 2 1
 I’ll keep my Spark RC World Cup
  • 2 1
 I would have like the Scalpel RC to be there instead of the Lux. I feel more people are considering Scott over Canyon. Nino and Kate are doing quite a job at making this bike the benchmark for XC speed. Looks like the 2021 bikes will come with a 110mm fork but it sounds like a patch before they launch a new platform for Tokyo. How great of a decender is the RC?
  • 1 0
 @maximesl: I Don’t feel the rear end ever holds me back In all but the biggest chunk. The geo is spot on for fast “downcountry” riding. More fork would be appreciated though, 100 gets used up pretty fast in rock gardens
  • 1 0
 They lost me at long seat tube.
  • 1 0
 wait, where is superior lefty?
  • 1 0
 Hey Mike, is this Scalpel any good at cutties?
  • 1 1
 So...it's a 2012 all mountain?
  • 8 2
 No, far more capable than that.
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