On the Fence: Specialized Epic EVO vs. Cannondale Scalpel SE

Jun 25, 2020
by Daniel Sapp  

Cannondale and Specialized are both major players when it comes to top-tier XC bikes. With each brand having recently released two new models, a World Cup race machine in the Cannondale Scalpel Hi-Mod and the Specialized Epic, and a more all-around trail-friendly XC bike in the Scalpel SE and Epic EVO, it only makes sense to draw some comparisons.

The Scalpel SE and Epic EVO are both likely the bikes that most riders will be interested in, and it just so happens that they're the two I have on hand at the moment so let's dig in and see how they stack up against one another on paper.,


Cannondale Scalpel SE

The Scalpel has been an iconic bike in Cannondale's line for nearly 20 years. The full-suspension bike first debuted in 2001 as a futuristic 26" wheeled XC race machine with a 2x drivetrain, electronic lockout suspension, Lefty fork, and disc brakes. It's evolved significantly over the years, remaining one of the lightest XC race bikes available and a popular choice for many pros and amateurs alike.

The previous version of the SE was the Scalpel Si, a capable bike that featured plenty of Cannondale’s proprietary tech - Lefty fork and AI offset wheels included. The very latest iteration of the Scalpel that we’re looking at today features a host of changes, including a new suspension design, to make it perform even better and be more user-friendly.

The Scalpel SE sports 120mm of suspension, front and rear. The bikes are available in sizes small-XL with prices starting at $4,000 USD for the Scalpel SE 2 and range up to $9,000 USD for the Scalpel Hi-MOD1 team replica bike.



Specialized Epic EVO

The Epic has been Specialized's flagship full-suspension race bike ever since its introduction some 18 years ago. In that time, the bike has been on the podium of top tier races countless times under the world's top riders. For 2021 Specialized is introducing two updated versions of the Epic. The goal with the new Epic platform was to bring the bike into the category of what Specialized considers "modern cross country."

Previous versions of the full-suspension Epic used Specialized's proprietary BRAIN shock that uses an inertia valve to discern between trail inputs and rider inputs. The BRAIN is still present on the 100mm front and rear travel race-ready Epic, but the Epic EVO cuts the baggage and uses a metric shock to get 110mm of rear-wheel travel. That is coupled with a 120mm travel fork and a dropper post to make the bike more "shred friendly."

The Epic EVO is available in a number of different builds composed of SRAM and Shimano drivetrains and RockShox or Fox suspension. Bikes are available in sizes XS - XL with prices starting at $ 4,125 USD and ranging to $11,525 USD for the top of the line S-Works models, complete with SRAM's wireless AXS drivetrain and RockShox SID suspension.




Frame Details

Both bikes have some unique design elements when it comes to their frames. The Scalpel SE carries over the same frame that the Scalpel has, using a different stroke length shock in order to achieve more travel. The Epic EVO utilizes the same front triangle, as the Epic but the rear end is completely different, foregoing the Brain inertia valve system found on the 100mm travel Epic.

Both rely on the flex of the rear triangle rather than using any bearings or bushings where there normally would be in the chainstay or seatstay area. The Scalpel SE has a flex-pivot built into a point in the chainstay to allow the suspension to work, whereas the Epic EVO uses flex in the seat stay to achieve this. The Scalpel's flex zone is more immediately visible due to the flattened profile of the chainstay.

The flex zone in the Scalpel SE is very obvious.

Cannondale have engineered their own on-the-frame storage stash. On the water bottle mount, there’s Dynaplug's new ultra-light carbon plug tool, a Fabric multi-tool, and a spot for a CO2 in an easily accessible yet out of the way location. If that’s too much weight for you, you can take that off and put a blank plate in its place. The Epic EVO? It comes equipped with Specialized's SWAT steerer tube storage for a multi-tool, master link, and chain tool. This can be removed, without leaving any signs that something was previously there.

The Epic EVO is available in an XS size where the Scalpel SE is only available down to a size small. Looking at the numbers, the size small Epic EVO gives a shorter seat tube than the same size Scalpel SE but, even lacking the XS size, the Scalpel SE has a good amount more standover.

The Scalpel SE uses Cannondale's proprietary Ai - “Asymmetric integration” offset drivetrain to give more tire clearance by moving the drivetrain 6mm to the right. They also claim that this system creates a stronger and stiffer wheel, although it does meant that the wheel is dished to the frame, adding a little bit of work if a spare is needed in a pinch. Additionally, there is a “quicker release” thru-axle in the back to speed up wheel changes by only having to thread into the drive-side of the dropout.

Lastly, frame weights are both light. The Scalpel SE weighs a claimed 1,900g with shock but the Epic EVO is lighter, at a claimed 1,757g for the Comp-Pro models and then 1,659g for the SWorks version...a significant difference.

Tool storage is available on both bikes. Cannondale created room for a multitool on top of the Scalpel's downtube, and Specialized stashed a tool in the steerer tube of the Epic.


Suspension Design

Both bikes look similar, but technically they use different suspension systems. The Cannondale uses a specific point in the rear chainstay, between the main frame and rear axle making it a four-bar system. The Epic, on the other hand, uses the entire length of the seatstay to generate that flex making it a linkage driven single-pivot suspension design.

Notably, this year, Epic EVO has jettisoned the Brain platform that the Epic is known for in favor of a higher volume metric shock and a flip-chip adjustable link that gives riders another half-degree of adjustability. This bike uses a very different leverage ratio than the racier Epic, and it has more anti-squat as it has to give more support in the suspension without the BRAIN.

The Scalpel SE uses suspension kinematics which are size-specific, varying with each size frame. The idea of this is not so much centered around the weight of the rider but more on where the center of mass of the rider is.

Can you spy the differences?


Cannondale Scalpel SE Geometry

A size medium Scalpel SE has a 67-degree head tube angle, 74-degree seat tube angle, 436mm chainstays, a 430mm reach, 344mm bottom bracket height, and 757mm of standover.

Epic Evo Geometry

The Epic EVO has a 66.6-degree head tube angle, 74.5-degree seat tube angle, 438mm chainstays, a 436mm reach, 336mm bottom bracket height, and 781mm of standover.

Those numbers are very similar, but the Epic Evo is a touch longer and slacker, and it has a lower bottom bracket height.


Spec Options

Both the Scalpel SE and Epic EVO come in a variety of different specs with Shimano and SRAM options. Taking a Shimano spec from both bikes, as we have here, there are some major differences (yes, one is XT and one is XTR). The Scalpel is only offered with RockShox suspension and in two builds, and a women's version, with the top of the line offering being the Scalpel SE 1, shown here, that sells for $5,500 USD and weighs 25.2 lbs, with the multi-tool, bottle cage, and tires set up tubeless with a generous amount of tire sealant.

The Scalpel SE 2 and the Scalpel SE Women's (different color/touchpoints) both feature a SRAM SX Eagle drivetrain with a RockShox SIDLuxe Select + rear shock and SID Select fork. The bikes both sell for $4,000 USD.

All of the Scalpel builds use a Cannondale seatpost and the SE1 uses Cannondale's carbon Hollowgram wheels.

The Epic EVO is available in four different builds, starting with the Epic EVO comp which sells for $4,125 and is spec'd with RockShox SID suspension, a Shimano drivetrain and a mix of Specialized parts and topping out with the $11,525 S-Works Epic EVO that features a stiffer and lighter frame, SRAM AXS drivetrain and dropper post, and RockShox SID suspension. The model pictured here is the Pro level build that has a Shimano XTR drivetrain and Fox Factory suspension. It sells for $8,250 USD and weighs just under 24 lbs with the SWAT tools in the steerer tube, a bottle cage, and of course, generous amounts of tire sealant.

All of the Epic EVO builds come with four-piston brakes where the Cannondale saves a little weight but sacrifices power with two-piston calipers.









So, which bike is for you? With a number of options, there are plenty of viable aggressive XC trail bikes currently available and a lot of choices will come down to personal preference. Both the Scalpel SE and Epic EVO have their advantages to the right rider. The Epic EVO certainly has a few more options in the build category but not quite as much rear travel, and it's a bit pricier overall. Both bikes are dialed packages that can no doubt provide a fun and fast ride in the forest.



We will have riding impressions coming up for both of these in the XC Field Test that is currently happening in Squamish so stay tuned in the coming weeks!


193 Comments

  • 307 15
 I'd go for the Evo all day long. It's a no brainer.
  • 25 49
flag manuni88 (Jun 24, 2020 at 12:10) (Below Threshold)
 I think I'd have the EVO with the brain...
  • 6 3
 I would actually mind half day on Evo and half day on scalpel. Lemme grab my coat...
  • 106 1
 You can't remove the BRAIN without a Scalpel
  • 9 2
 *slow clap*

You win Pinkbike for the day
  • 4 12
flag manuni88 (Jun 24, 2020 at 14:00) (Below Threshold)
 @R-2VRAS: I like the brain, I wish it came on a the EVO. oh well.
  • 1 0
 @notenduro: You can't use/master a Scalpel without the BRAIN Wink
  • 3 2
 @manuni88: Since you don't have a brain?
  • 180 9
 You are wasting your money on these $11,000 bikes unless you have $150 chain lube.
  • 27 27
 $11k on an xc bike is wasted unless you’re an elite rider.
Hell, if you shop very wisely, you could have a pretty decent DH, AM and XC bike for that.

In fact you’re just wasting money. You could build any 11k bike up for a lot cheaper yourself.
  • 63 5
 @Richt2000: Lot's of people have tons of disposable income, and oftentimes, little disposable time. So gong to the bike shop and saying "I'll take the best one" happens pretty frequently.

Of course, this site is populated by young people or the anti-wealthy, so of course that sucks, regardless of whether that high end tech trickles down to your $3500 bike in a couple of years.
  • 98 2
 @Richt2000: I disagree. You can't build an $11k bike without spending $11k.
  • 34 0
 @AndrewFleming: what is heavier a pound of carbon or a pound of $100 bills?
  • 6 1
 @Paddock22: to the heart or to the brain?
  • 4 0
 @Paddock22: trick question. But one would disappear much faster than the other if left on the sidewalk
  • 44 0
 @hllclmbr: Thats an excellent way to put it. I took an entire econ class that modeled the Hedonic Wage Model, which finds and calculates income substitution. I try to sum it up by saying people who have high hourly compensation (lawyers, doctors, dentists) have a high cost of recreating and vacation per hour, since you are giving up hundreds of dollars of income for every hour not working. This leads to high hourly wage earners substituting time for nice stuff, like a big house or an overpriced car. But just saying "disposable income instead of disposable time" sums it up so much better. If you only have 4 hours a week to ride, of course you are going to spend much more money to make sure you maximize the pleasure you get out of that time.
  • 13 3
 @hamncheez: i.e., frustration spending
  • 7 0
 @hamncheez: Thanks, I like to think that I think, on occasion.
  • 27 2
 @BenPea: it really depends on how one prioritizes one time, doesn't it? I don't have anything beyond a BS and barely approach a 6 figure income, but I get to dick around online (pinkbike, mtbr, reddit) and spend 10 or more hours riding, running, swimming and lifting weights per week, all while cooking nice meals for myself and my wife.

Now, if I really busted my ass, and kissed some ass, I might be able to make 200K a year, but I would probably be less happy because my job would be my primary focus, and that isn't worth 100K+ per year, to me. Yet, to some, it is.

I don't judge people either way.
  • 12 0
 @hamncheez: Plus, if you're spending 12-15 hours a week training, paying $200-$2500 dollars (varying from state-level XC race with some travel up to BCBR) per race, spending an extra $200 bucks for the 100 grams lighter dropper post doesn't seem like that much, if that 100 grams saves you a minute or whatever over a 4 hour race. I don't have more time to train, but I have plenty of money. If I finished 20 seconds out of first, or 20 seconds off the podium, and I had just decided against $600 more additional for the carbon wheels, or cranks or whatever that could've saved 200 grams, I'd be kicking myself, because 200 grams can easily make up 20 seconds in the 50 mile type races I do. If I finish 5 minutes behind the next higher guy, I figure that's on me, and don't worry about it Smile I can't buy additional training time.
  • 1 0
 @hllclmbr: as a reformed dentist, I agree.
  • 7 0
 @hllclmbr: Absolutely true... Remember the days when paddle shift gear box were limited to Ferraris or Lambo and we lusted over them? Or that high end PC that you wanted but could never have? We should be encouraging people to buy these if they can afford to and not mocking them as rich dentists... If they didn't do that back in 1995, we would be riding with suspension or disc brakes today.
  • 4 3
 @hllclmbr: I don't think any of what you described applies outside of USA. Almost
Nobody makes over 100k a year, even dentist and such make less.
  • 3 0
 @zede: it's all relative. The principle stands, just divide by 3. Time is the greatest luxury.
  • 1 0
 @zede: Plenty of people make that much. Its not hard, just go to a coding bootcamp
  • 1 0
 @zede: It's probably relative, though, at least in first world countries. If nobody is making good money then the cost of living won't be as high. Median home price in my town is &280K, and that's just a little above the US as a whole. What is it where you live?
  • 1 0
 @zede: Speaking of gross salary?

A lot of department heads etc. make that money, easily. In Europe. In Euro.
  • 1 0
 @zede:
Not sure what country yoh are talking about but 1% of the UK earn over 100k pa. Doesn’t seem that many, but that’s 700,000 people.

I would have thought it a lot more, mind.
  • 4 1
 @hamncheez: that people over here often don't make as much money is only one side of the story - the other is, we need to spend (much) less on private healthcare, childcare, education amd the likes. Kindergarten, good schools and universities are free in Germany, for example. This leaves us with a larger share of income disposable for bikes Smile
  • 6 1
 @jansibar: No, you still pay for those services. You just pay higher taxes.

Everyone likes to try to compare the USA to Europe, and its a very hard thing to do because life is complicated.

However, if Sweden left the EU and joined the USA, it would be poorer on average than nearly every USA state, when total consumption (both private and public) is taken into account:

www.aei.org/carpe-diem/if-sweden-left-the-eu-and-joined-the-us-it-would-be-the-poorest-u-s-state-below-even-mississippi

Obviously, there is a lot of complex things going on here more than just "USA good, Europe bad" or "Government healthcare good, private healthcare bad"
  • 6 0
 @hllclmbr: $280K for a house??? We haven't seen those prices in the Greater Vancouver Area for thirty years. And that's in CDN $!
  • 3 0
 @rrolly: The median home prices in the US is $223K, but that doesn’t stop a 3 bdr house in San Francisco from being 5 million. I live in Albuquerque where you can get a very nice house for $300k, but if you drive an hour north to Santa Fe you’ll have to double that amount for the equivalent home.

Markets are weird like that
  • 1 0
 @hllclmbr: My house has roughly doubled in value since I bought it in 2013
  • 1 0
 @hllclmbr: seems so cheap... plus Americans can write off mortgage interest... crappy house in Vancouver is 1.3 million
  • 6 0
 @nert: Vancouver is one of the most expensive cities in the world for real estate. Sort of an outlier and not really a valid comparison to an average American city. Compared to an expensive American city like San Francisco or NYC, Vancouver is sort of affordable. Compare an average Canadian city to an average American city instead of the most expensive city in Canada.
  • 3 0
 @FloImSchnee: People in medicine make a lot less in most European countries (and AUS/NZ) than in America though. I think over 200k only puts you in top 6% in US. Top 24% of households in US are over 100k.
  • 1 0
 @TucsonDon: outlier but 9 of ten of us live there.
  • 1 0
 @FloImSchnee: nah I assume he is talking about net income. The MD and professors I know don't make over 9k a month and that's before taxes. So I'm really curious who makes over 100k net a year.
  • 3 0
 @TucsonDon: yes this is part of my point. I work in pharma, I would earn 4-5 times more if I was living in US and doing the same job.
Overall Salary gap, taxes, food price, housing, healthcare and education etc are really different in US and EU so its difficult to compare anything.
  • 6 0
 @zede: I lived in the US and Canada and worked as a dentist both countries. I make less in Canada but have more to spend on bikes than in the US where I made more but had higher expenses. Taxes work out to the same. The big difference between the two countries is that in Canada I get my taxes back in services I use for my family and in the US it gets spent on Defense and corporate bailouts. Which I can take advantage of in Canada through the stock market. Best of both worlds.
  • 1 0
 @nert: Just look at apartments in SF or NYC and the crappy house in Vancouver will look like a bargain Wink
  • 1 1
 @TucsonDon: Absolutely! The US spend +/- 20% GDP on healthcare, whereas european countries +/-9%, and GDP within Europe varies considerably
  • 1 0
 @zede: Dietrich Mateschitz Wink
  • 40 4
 Which one has the most proprietary 'standards'?
  • 50 0
 Features. They are unique features.
  • 2 0
 Needs less MM for confusion purposes.
  • 27 0
 It seems like Spesh has moved away from proprietary stuff, which is great. Aftermarket shocks work with their frames, and they're not spec'ing their own (crappy) droppers. Cannondale still has a weird wheel dish but at least their fork/head tubes are normal, I think.
  • 6 1
 @Drew-O: and this epic uses Sram's universal hanger too
  • 8 4
 The wheel dish -6mm on the Scalpel is a disqualifier for me.
  • 4 1
 @Snowytrail: Ditto. I share wheels between multiple bikes. I think offset rims are a better solution to getting spoke tensions even (which I think is what the frame offset is supposed to do?)
  • 5 0
 @Drew-O: Yea and it helps with better chainring clearance what not too.

I'm actually in the process of building up a wheel that needs 6mm of dish and I'm excited about the stronger wheel. In the end, dishing isn't a huge deal for an emergency wheel swap, but if your doing it regularly then yea...you'd obviously want the bike that can easily share parts with others.

Both of these bikes are made by huge companies with factories overseas. So there isn't any special in terms of that qualifier. I think Specialized dealerships are actually a little more common, so that's nice, and it might mean getting a deal on one is easier too.

...but for once...and finally, Specialized has ditched all the weird proprietary stuff (Brain, Yoke) and even has a threaded BB all while being one of the lightest bikes on the market.

Yea, if I had the coin, and Epic Evo would end up in my garage.
  • 1 0
 @Drew-O: underrated comment
  • 1 5
flag hllclmbr (Jun 24, 2020 at 18:12) (Below Threshold)
 Why can't I put a Honda head on my Mazda engine!?
  • 33 0
 That’s one good looking fence!
  • 37 7
 Cannondale Proprietary cranks, pressfit BB and wheel offset vs Specialized industry standard stuff. Hard choice....
  • 26 6
 I have Cannondale "proprietary" cranks on my Intense, with a PF BB. Couldn't be happier. There is nothing wrong with a PF bearing if it done right. I mean, do you screw the bearings into your hubs? Do you screw them into your frame? No? Ok then.
  • 12 1
 @LeDuke: press fit headsets are the worst
  • 8 1
 Cannondale cranks aren't proprietary... they use cinch bb spindles and can be run in any frame including threaded bsa.
  • 1 1
 @thegoodflow: Agreed about the cranks as for as install - but is the chain line on those cranks unique. Remember they have shifted everything over 6 mm in the back. They use a 55 mm chain line. I believe shimano is more like 52 mm or less in boost.
  • 2 4
 @LeDuke: You are a lucky one. Google Hambini and Cannondale. Intense likely has tighter tolerances and does PF right. I have been burned on 2 of my last 4 PF frames - a Cervelo and a 3T. Ovality and misalignment on both. The Cannondale cranks have a 55 mm chainline to compensate for the rear 6 mm shift. Google what other cranks have - more like 52 mm in boost. Great if yours works but I doubt Shimano Cranks would work on a Scapel like the stock Cannondales. Less options.
  • 7 0
 @dldewar: the spider is swappable and is available in pretty much every bcd ever made, and there's a lot of spiderless ring options too. The 55mm ai offset you mention happens to be perfect for superboost. There's also a lot of aftermarket options.... wolftooth and one-up both make spiders available in multiple different offsets. They use the cinch interface so spindles are readily available in many lengths. The alloy hollowgram is one of the best cranksets ever made, and I can't think of a crank that's more modular/versatile.

www.wolftoothcomponents.com/collections/camo-spiders-and-bolts/products/camo-direct-mount-spider-for-cannondale#loaded

www.oneupcomponents.com/products/switch-cannondale?variant=31481761665
  • 3 0
 @dldewar: Also, cannondale was producing those cranks prior to the ai offset frames, so most of the oem spiders out there aren't ai offset anyway. But you're right about the Cannondale ai frames not supporting many other common crank options

I have a hollowgram crank on a fugitive 157 frame. The 55mm ai offset makes for a great chainline
  • 1 0
 @thegoodflow: I have hip issues and my heals point in. Anything but SRAM or Shimano and I simply cannot pedal with normal pedals. Hence my frustration that I could not really run my XTR cranks. Also my XC we are one wheels would have to be dished 6 mm to use. Not optimal. Not saying for most this would not be a great bike. I go specialized any day - all day in this battle.
  • 1 0
 @dldewar: yeah, I'd choose the spesh too, and I'm not arguing in favor of the ai rear end... more stating that the hollowgram cranks are a great option for other bikes.
  • 3 0
 I have never used the proprietary MTB cranks, but I adore their Hollowgram road cranks. Super light, mega stiff and just feel good. And press-fit is very good as standards go IF the shell is machined properly. Unfortunately that is a big "if"
  • 1 0
 @dldewar: my latest road frame has a PF BB and it is perfect. Unfortunately for the likes of Cannondale et al, it is a cheap Chinese open mould frame.

I had the BB scanned by a local engineering firm, and it is almost bang on Shimano's specs for BB86. Why the big boys struggle so much is a mystery to me. It goes in line with what Hambini has found, with Deng-fu being slightly behind Look and Time, but far better than Cannondale.
  • 3 0
 @chriscowleyunix: They are literally the same cranks. There is no "road" or "MTB" crank. Just a different spider or chainring, and a different spindle. Hell you can use RaceFace spindles on them. That's what I'm running on my Intense.
  • 1 0
 @chriscowleyunix: I had the BB scanned by a local engineering firm, and it is almost bang on Shimano's specs for BB86. Why the big boys struggle so much is a mystery to me.

A sample of one is not data though. It's an anecdote.
  • 26 8
 The Scalpel is looking a lot faster as a race bike in my book.
  • 21 4
 that cdale is hot and looks like a shredder
  • 9 1
 Regardless of the bike, the SWAT tool in the headtube is wonderful. My 2018 Enduro came with it, and it is so damn handy! I'd like to put that on all my bikes in the future.
  • 3 0
 Agreed, strange they didnt put the full swat downtube smuggling hole in this bike?
  • 5 0
 @pbuser2299: the first ride review and press announcement said the tube was too small compared to the Stumpjumper and Enduro, plus it would have added quite a bit more weight
  • 2 0
 @pbuser2299: Yep, the DT is smaller being an XC bike, and it does add weight to the frame. I love the SWAT storage on my E29, but I don't care about the weight of that bike.
  • 8 1
 I have the SWORKS Stumpy 29 with 160f/153r travel and a new Diverge Comp. They're both awesome. Currently wondering which body organs I can live without so I can pick up the Epic Evo.
  • 22 3
 without brain
  • 1 0
 I'd love to pick up an Epic Evo. But alas, I just bought a Diverge as well!
  • 2 0
 @sammybikes916 Spleen, one kidney. Should do it with some extra cash left over for a new bike rack, the AB chain lube, and a S-Works fanny pack. Of course, then you'll be recovering from surgery for the rest of the year so... Dealer's choice.
  • 5 0
 @expertfailure:

My wife lost her spleen in a car crash, and she seems OK. Has to get a serious shot every few years for immune response. Kidney seems questionable for a mountain biker. If you screw up the spare then it's real trouble, You can give away half a liver and the remainder will regenerate.

How much do you drink?
  • 6 0
 I'd be genuinely interested in a huck-to-flat test on these bikes, say 6 feet/ 2 metres. I.e. something you might realistically 'accidentally' get yourself into when you misjudge a feature whilst aggressive XC riding. They talk-the-talk.. can they walk-the-walk!
  • 1 0
 Yeah, it would be intrtesting to see how proprietary xc stuff works, the xc prototypes are a bit bendy ad far as I remember
  • 2 1
 6ft to flat is pushing it even for a early 2000s huck machine. I cant imagine anyone would get in to that situation on an xc ride
  • 1 0
 @zyoungson: Hold my beer...
  • 6 0
 I'll throw something else out there. What if the Epic Evo never came back to ground but instead kept climbing, to the point that it broke the current Everesting record by 30 minutes? I know that a hand built dentist rocket has insane amounts of thrust/force/speed to get out of the Sprinter Van and onto the finest hero dirt, but could a bike, already traveling at 4k vertical feet per hour doing 20+mph pull the nose up and just keep going? What if that bike was so f***ing light that it just left the gravitational pull of the earth???!?
  • 7 0
 Man I can't wait to see the XC field test, the crop of bikes coming out right now seems like it's a new level!
  • 2 0
 Makes me want to get back into racing. A capable, yet light 120mm fork would be awesome.
  • 8 1
 you can buy a lot of brain with $11,525 USD
  • 4 1
 I figure you have more money than brain if you buy an $11,525 USD bike.
  • 11 6
 I like how Cannondale's warranty is: Lifetime....but not on anything that typically breaks on a full suspension bike. That is some real marketing BS if you ask me.
  • 12 0
 Warranty across the board really depends on if you and or the shop you’re working through have a good rapport with the Brand. Jerk customer and shops will have warranty reps following the company policy.

And don’t even with the “x” brand hooked me up or that’s not true of “x” brand. Everyone can deny anything for any reason and most every reason a bike fails isn’t manufacturing defect. Everyone’s warranty is snake oil because people have bastardized it into a complete lack of personal responsibility and Think that bike companies are making things that should survive every clip of the Friday fails and live on for one thousand years after. Doesn’t work like that.

Pin it wide open and admit when you case it will go a f*ckload further to a warranty rep’s willingness to help you out than being a weasel and emailing the brand because you didn’t like what the shop said. Extra points if you can get the rep to quietly whisper “aw f*ck yea” when they see the damage from sending it.
  • 1 0
 Five years for the chainstays and seatstays is still pretty long if you were actually racing it. They can't just overbuild them if they need to flex. They have to limit their exposure somehow. Most folks that are actually into racing would have upgraded by then anyway, and like all other brands, warranty is to original owner only.
  • 1 0
 @TucsonDon: Yeah, not arguing that 5 years is bad, as it seems pretty standard across the board for the industry. I think its somewhat mis-representing your product by having the warranty read "lifetime on the frame, except for the linkages and rear triangle" As the likelihood of something breaking is going to be in that second category.
  • 1 0
 @usedbikestuff: Yep. I've had two warranty calls in two different brands, but legit warranty, both handled without argument. Though, one was handled with a mix matched chainstay, the other was a completely new bike ????
  • 2 0
 @JSTootell: well, in cases where they see enough failures from an issue, I’ll mention the trek scratch because a lot of stays failed, they made new ones to handle warranty claims with a proven solution. I’m guessing that the whole bike warranty was due to e fact they didn’t have a replacement for the part in question and that was less expensive. Lot cheaper to order a few extra complete bikes than stock stays that are painted uniquely each year. Plus you have some parts in a warehouse Incase a random shock goes or something
  • 1 0
 @usedbikestuff: I'm guessing I got a complete bike because it was an unusual model, and just discontinued. Just send another bike and get it out of inventory.
  • 1 0
 @usedbikestuff: Yeah to echo what you said I Martin in LA has a really good rapport with the Cdale rep, ive had friends get frames warrantied that had absolutely ZERO business being warrantied. Cannondales warranty is one of the best if you have a good shop.
  • 8 1
 Supercaliber! [hides under a table]
  • 4 0
 Prettiest Spesh for a while. The evo is slacker than my 2013 Reign. I wonder how the pros will react to riding a proper mtb at last ????
  • 2 0
 Crazy to see how pared down that tubing is om the spesh. Massive design convergence. No room for trademark split TT or swoopy headtube when youre chasing grams. Kudos for building function over form.

If you want to know how to construct a light frame, this is it (compare to those hideous pinarellos for ex.)
  • 3 0
 Curios to hear if/how these flex pivots vs. flexing seat stays make an impact on the performance of the rear end when actually riding!
  • 5 0
 The C'dale being a four bar should remain more active under braking compared to the faux bar setup of the Spec. Not sure if there's enough travel to notice much of a difference though.
  • 1 2
 I never seemed to notice it being a problem on an '18 Epic I used to race. Bottomed that bike plenty of times too.
  • 1 0
 @JSTootell: Well I am hoping none of the approaches are a problem, just curious if one is noticeably better or what is the difference when riding.
  • 1 0
 Specialized's Flex Seat Stays design is like the 2016-2019 Orbea Occam Tr design. It is slacker though. I wonder how much more efficient the pedal platform is, if any. $ saving opportunity? The Orbea is 120mm rear travel also.
  • 3 0
 I wish i could afford either of them. What happened to the alu Epic Evo? Short travel bikes seem to have higher starting prices than longer travel bikes
  • 1 0
 good question
  • 1 0
 @motdrawde There are no aluminium Epic's anymore, H/T or F/S. Rather disappointing as it is very rocky here and I'm still not quite sold that carbon is as survivable in this environment. It looks like they're really pushing to go all carbon in several of their higher end lines. I guess I'll find out in a couple of years.
The reason the Race versions starts at a higher price is there is no "Comp" Race version, only the EVO. The Race version starts with the Expert model and is the same price as the EVO Expert. At the Pro level the EVO is the more expensive of the two and when you get to the S-Works models they're back to the same price.
  • 1 0
 @Augustus-G: it’s a new model, I’m sure the alloy version will follow.
  • 1 0
 @NickBit: I hope you're right but I don't think so from what I'm seeing. The Epic H/T has been out since late summer of '19 and the "Epic Hardtail" model is their lowest model, even below the "Comp", it is a FACT 11m carbon frame.

I don't think we're going to see another alloy Epic. I think they're going to go all carbon on the higher end bikes and alloy on the lower end like the Chisel, Fuse, Pitch, Rockhopper, etc. I have a feeling that we're not going to see an alloy Stumpjumper before too long. We'll just have to wait and see.
  • 4 0
 To my eye, the Scalpel is better looking. I like to look at my bikes. My wife thinks it weird.
  • 14 9
 scalpel is better
  • 1 0
 Do you have any scientific data to prove your point?
  • 5 5
 It used to be that Cannondale was a brand apart, with innovations, or at least popularizations of others' innovations, every few years: oversized aluminum frames, Headshok, Lefty. You might not have liked these things, but you had to admit that Cannondale was the most daring of the big brands. At this point though they just look like any other bike, but possibly with some weird rear wheel spacing or flat mount brakes. They might be good bikes, but there's little special about them at this point.
  • 5 0
 Certainly less than before, but funny that Cannondale is still the one using a four-bar, while the Specialized is using a faux-bar. The Cannondale should have better suspension action under braking because of that, which can matter when you're coming in hot to a corner with braking bumps during a race. I miss seeing the Lefties though.
  • 3 1
 @TucsonDon: Get the XC race version of the Scalpel, then, as it has a totes unique single crown lefty.

Whether it's better than a SID is debatable..However, it's for sure more expensive.
  • 3 0
 As a previous owner of a Super V back in the mid nineties, I agree that the Cannondale was definitely the choice if you wanted something that stood out, both in engineering and looks. Some of it worked well, other bits not so well, (I think that summed up mountain bikes in general back then) but at least you felt like Cannondale was pushing the design envelope pretty hard.
  • 4 3
 @hllclmbr: According to Cannondale's own data that they had on Bikerumor when the Lefty Ocho came out, the Lefty Ocho is actually flexier torsionally than a SID. By dropping the dual crown arrangement, they dropped a miniscule amount of weight, ended up with a fork that's flexier than a SID while costing far more, having worse internals and less travel. The only thing good about it compared to a SID is that because of using bearings, it has less stiction. For the money, I'd take a SID any day of the week.
  • 3 0
 More people downvoted me than upvoted. I'm not above correction or learning, can someone tell me where I am mistaken, in what way Cannondale is so much better than the competition?
  • 3 0
 @Insectoid: It's not?

Many brands have fanbois, and waaay back in the day Cannondale, was the shit,

These days, they make a perfectly fine bike, but nothing special. They're pretty well priced, so if you like the geometry and ride, it's a good way to go.
  • 3 0
 I agree sort of. Their latest models looks super boring but their still do quirky stuff. Interesting though that this new Cannondale looks like an old stumpy while the new Epic looks like a Cannondale Habit......
  • 2 0
 @hllclmbr: Yep. Their high-point was back in the day in the ol Train Station in Bedford riding/developing on BlueKnob. They actually produced stellar soft-goods too. I have seatbags , etc from the early 90's that are still solid.
  • 3 0
 I think one of Cannondale's best was the Hollowgram crank design. Way ahead of it's time.
  • 1 0
 I had a '15 F-Si with the Lefty 2.0 that everyone hated, but performed better than anything I have ever ridden (and I love my coil Ohlins). AI rear wheel was stiffer since the spoke angles were closer to being equal. Everything about the bike, as a package, was amazing.

But... proprietary, and people hate that.

That bike was stolen, and I will always miss it. Replaced with a Pivot Les.
  • 1 0
 @JSTootell: I have a 2019 F-Si w/ the Lefty Ocho and it is just a fantastic fork. The bike reminded me that I really missed having a hardtail. Sure, I'm probably faster on an FS XC rig, but I'm having fun. I have a trail bike for when I just want to eat up obstacles.
  • 1 0
 @hllclmbr: I just miss seeing them. The new SIDs look awesome. I want a 35mm stanchion XC fork. I can look at Lefties on other people's bikes.
  • 2 0
 @Carangidae: The headshock on my Super V had the issue that with each bump, it would rotate the dial on the headtube a little more, until after about 6 or 7 good bumps it would lock itself out. Good times coming down National Trail on South Mountain.
  • 3 0
 I genuinely miss the lefty. And the big round tubes.
  • 2 0
 I’d like to see a comparison between the Orbea Oiz Trail and Intense Sniper Trail with these two
  • 1 0
 I wonder how a new bike like the Revel Ranger might stack up, especially on the fun meter. It has similar geometry and the linkage system is getting rave reviews...
  • 11 1
 We’ll have that comparison in the upcoming XC field test.
  • 3 4
 So to recap the ironies:
Specialized ditches the brain and 4-bar and switches to a faux bar single pivot.
Canondale ditches the lefty, and switches from single pivot to 4-bar.
In the meantime, the Scalpel looks like a camber/stumpjumper , while the Epic actually sorta resembles the previous cannondle habit.

Things used to be interesting. Now it's just splitting hairs. 2020 sucks once again.
  • 2 0
 I hope the $11k version rides itself, cleans itself, and irons your clothes.
  • 2 0
 Probably purely psychological but the intentionally dented down tube on the Cannondale does nothing for me.
  • 2 0
 Crazy times these, when a Cannondale looks more Specialized than an Epic...
  • 1 0
 Speaking of field test, how about DH comparison? There's new demo, new commencal supreme... and many other interesting DH rigs out there.
  • 2 0
 2001 scalpel had a headshock.
  • 7 0
 @makripper, the Scalpel 2000 had a Headshok, but the Team Replica edition had a Lefty. Here's the catalog: vintagecannondale.com/year/2002/2002.pdf.
  • 1 0
 @mikekazimer: Thanks for the memories of mtb early birth pangs!!! Wink
  • 1 0
 @mikekazimer: I thought for 2001 it was only called the f2000.
  • 1 0
 @mikekazimer: do you have a catalog for 2001?
  • 1 0
 @mikekazimer: from what I remember in 2001 the team edition was only called the f2000 and in 2002 they changed it to scalpel. Its been 20 years though so I could be wrong haha
  • 2 0
 @lenmerderdenfer: More "angsty teenage years" than "early birth pangs". I still have my 1990 Raleigh Technium, from when there was still debate about whether front suspension was worth having. After spending couple of years with a mid-90s fork on it before going back to rigid, I'm still of the mind that the correct answer back then was "no".
  • 2 0
 @dsut4392: Back then, the elastomer equipped Rockshox Judy XC was a beast and eye candy too back in the day! I loved it and felt full moto! Wink
  • 1 0
 @mikekazimer: check out how long and slack the easy rider is on page 61!!
  • 2 0
 I'd take a Scott Spark if I was in the market for a bike like this
  • 3 0
 Or the sniper trail. Both bikes over either of these.
  • 2 0
 @matadorCE I am guessing we will see a new Spark soon too!
  • 6 4
 Spesh with a threaded bb, mic drop on needing to decide between bikes.
  • 4 1
 My current ride is PF92, and I've been on it for 3 years with zero issues, and it's not even one of those thread-together varieties, though I've had one sitting on my workbench for the same 3 years. Don't believe the anti-hype
  • 2 0
 @hllclmbr: as someone who’s worked warranty at two major brands, a metric f*ck ton of bikes get warrantied for this bullshit. It is a terrible customer experience and a nightmare for shops caught in the middle. It has gotten better but there is a reason that the big guys like trek and spesh are going back and using t47. Every dollar matters to those guys and pf seems great to speed up assembly, but losing your shirt on warranty and customer experience doesn’t add up
  • 2 0
 @usedbikestuff: Exactly.. Same seeing it first hand. The only reason it ever stuck around is because it's a lot cheaper to manufacture.
  • 2 1
 @usedbikestuff: I swear I think pacific-rim manufactured bike tolerances are + / - .03" lol
  • 2 0
 so fast bikes are steep short and light ?
  • 2 0
 4-piston brakes on a 120mm bike. What am I missing here?
  • 1 0
 I’ll let you know tomorrow! ????
  • 1 0
 @legless: the hype obviously.
  • 1 0
 As of two rides in, they are typical SRAM brakes, no power and don’t feel like they’re bedding in well. ????????‍♂️
  • 1 0
 Will trade my kidney and brain for S-Works Epic with BRAIN. A worthy tradeoff, right? Wink
  • 1 0
 "today we are comparing a Specialized-"
stop right there we already know what you're gonna pick.
  • 1 0
 I see one major difference - stand over height. Specialized’s is atrocious.
  • 2 2
 I could never get used to those noodley chain stay ends. They would be constantly on my mind.
  • 3 3
 Why is the seat tube angle on the Evo so slack (in comparison to the 76-77deg most new bikes are today)?
  • 2 1
 Less travel, less slackening of the STA under sag, therefore no need to make it super steep.
  • 2 0
 They both look slacker than their HTAs, and have no forward offset at bottom bracket. Will we see steeper angles on future short-travel bikes, with correspondingly increased reaches and modestly reduced HTAs? Beats me. A steeper STA means hip/torso angle is less acute. For now, it seems like nonracers are better served with something more like an Optic. There's plenty of middle ground, as wheelbase of a Large Evo is comparable to Medium Optic.
  • 1 0
 Je préfère le cannondale pour une fois!
  • 1 0
 at least now you can clearly see which one is which one
  • 2 0
 161st to comment yay!
  • 1 1
 So I guess the EPIC EVO in picture is a "No brianer",cause the owner switched FOX system
  • 2 3
 I’ll take a scott spark rc wc with 100mm front and rear over either of these yahoo bikes.
  • 1 1
 Yawn.......... Bets on which one will break first.
  • 1 0
 Against the fence*
  • 2 3
 but I thought "lefties" were so great and better than a normal fork...
  • 6 1
 Only great if you're right-brain dominate...
  • 1 1
 Yep, just as much as the Specialized FSR suspension was far better than a faux-bar design could be.
  • 1 0
 I absolutely loved the performance of the Lefty I had. Best fork I ever rode. Worst fork to maintain.
  • 3 4
 No lefty & No brain=winner winner chicken dinner
  • 2 3
 For the record, both bikes fit into that category.
  • 2 5
 @A-HIGHLY-EDUCATED-PROFESSIONAL: you figured that out?
  • 1 1
 @madmon:

Wut?

You could just go - "Oh, I'm wrong, my bad"
  • 1 0
 @hllclmbr: what is so hard for you to understand=the lefty is done and the brain is dead making me ecstatic cause both choices are dope without the Albatros
  • 1 2
 Neither, I’d go SB100 or Blur
  • 2 4
 specialized 100% over the crack and fail
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