First Ride: 2024 Cannondale Scalpel - The XC Classic Gets Longer & Slacker

Mar 25, 2024 at 23:30
by Mike Kazimer  
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It's an Olympic year, which explains why the season is kicking off with a bumper crop of new XC bike releases. Cannondale is joining in with a new version of the venerable Scalpel, a bike that's been in their lineup since 2002. This time around, all of the models have 120mm of travel, as opposed to the previous iteration, which was split into a 100mm racing-focused version, and an SE model that had 120mm of travel, and slightly more trail-oriented intentions.

Some of the changes to the Scalpel will be applauded by most riders – the head angle is slacker, the reach is longer, and the seat tube lengths are much shorter in order to accommodate longer travel dropper posts – and others will likely receive a more lukewarm reception, namely the thru-headset cable routing. Or, If you go with one of the higher end options, the housing runs thru the handlebar, and then thru the headset.

Scalpel Details

• 120 mm travel rear, 120 mm fork
• 29" wheels
• Carbon frame
• 66.6° degree head tube angle
• Size specific chainstays
• Sizes: S, M, L, XL
• 1780 gram frame (Lab 71) / 1980 g (Series 1)
• Price: $4,000 - $14,000 USD
cannondale.com/
There's a wide range of models, with prices ranging from $4,000 to $14,000 USD. The European versions are spec'd with the single-sided Lefty fork and remote lockouts, while in North America there aren't any lockouts or Leftys to be found, other than on the highest end Scalpel Lab 71 model.

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Frame Details

AI may be all the rage these days, but it's no longer found on the Scalpel, at least if we're talking about Asymmetric Integration. That concept involved moving the hub and cassette 6mm towards the driveside, which Cannondale claimed created a stiffer wheel, a better chainline, and allowed for shorter chainstays. That may have been the case, but needing to re-dish a brand new wheel to fit a frame was an extra step that added a layer of inconvenience. The Scalpel now uses a 55mm chainline, which is fast becoming the new norm.

The Scalpel has also switched over to a threaded bottom bracket from the PF30 standard that was used previously. It's a little surprising to see Cannondale let go of some of the features (quirks?) that made their frames stand out, but the updates should make things a little easier for mechanics. That is, until it's time to replace the upper headset bearing.

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Yes, the Scalpel now has thru-headset cable routing. It's on all of the models too, not just the fanciest ones with wireless drivetrains. Speaking of fancy, the higher end models receive Cannondale's new SystemBar XC-One, an integrated carbon bar / stem combo with a mouth-like port at the front that the brake, dropper, and remote housing run through. Just looking at it gives me anxiety, but I'm sure someone out there likes the clean look that comes with all this 'integration'.

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All Scalpel models now have 120mm of travel.
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The Scalpel uses a flex pivot at the chainstay.

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Geometry

The Scalpel's updated geometry puts it right in the mix with the latest batch of modern XC machines. The head tube angle has been slackened by one degree, putting it at 66.6-degrees, the seat tube angle is a degree steeper, and reach numbers have grown by 10 to 20 millimeters depending on the frame size.

Size-specific chainstays have been implemented, starting at 434mm on the size small and going up to 446mm on the XL in 4mm increments. In theory, that should help maintain a similar balance, and in this instance it's great to see that the difference is more than a millimeter or two between sizes.


Models

29 U LAB71 Scalpel - BPT
Scalpel Lab 71 / $14,000 USD
29 U Scalpel Crb 1 - RAW
Scalpel Carbon 1 / $9,500 USD

29 U Scalpel Crb 2 - SMC
Scalpel Carbon 2 / $6,500 USD
29 U Scalpel Crb 4 - RYW
Scalpel Carbon 4 / $4,000 USD


2024 Cannondale Media Camp

Ride Impressions

My first ride on the Scalpel took place in Braga, Portugal, on a very grey, rainy day. Tackling unfamiliar trails in wet conditions on low-profile XC race tires can be a nerve-wracking endeavor, but somehow there was enough traction to start to open things up without worrying too much about getting spit sideways by shiny roots or the slippery ground. I was also glad to see that 4-piston SRAM Level brakes were spec'd rather than the 2-piston versions - that extra power is nice to have when you're trying to slow down on a greasy section of trail.

The size large Scalpel I rode had a 75mm stem, which put me in what I'd consider a fairly typical XC race position. I was comfortable on the size large, but if this were my bike I'd probably swap to the 60mm bar/stem to make the descents a little more fun. Still, the positioning felt appropriate for the bike's main purpose – going uphill as fast as possible. Even in the fully open mode the Scalpel has a good amount of get-up-and-go when you stomp on the pedals – it's easy to see why Cannondale decided to leave off the remote lockout for the North American versions; this is one of those bikes where it's really not all that necessary, and ditching the remote means there's one less thing to think about during a race or ride.

Even with that firmer suspension there was still enough give to provide traction in rougher sections of trail, and the ride never fely overly harsh or jarring. Our guides led the way onto trails that weren't exactly what I'd call cross-country (my favorite kind), and soon we were working our way down short steep rock moves and off a series of drops.

2024 Cannondale Media Camp

My Scalpel made it through everything multiple times without any issues, but there was an incident that ended the ride prematurely for another journalist. This particular rider, who weighs in the neighborhood of 220 lb (98 kg) went a little deep off a 5-foot rock drop, and the resulting landing force ended up snapping the frame at the seat tube near the shock mount area. Now, I should stress that although the drop wasn't huge, it was also bigger than what you'd see on a typical race course, and the fact that the rider went a little past the sweet spot certainly didn't help.

I don't want to brush that breakage aside, but I also don't want that to be the main focus of this release – It's mentioned here because that's part of my job – to report what happens, the good and the bad. Thankfully, the rider was unscathed, but it did serve as a reminder that even though modern XC bikes are starting to feel a lot like trail bikes, there are limits, and those limits come up quicker than they would on a bike with more suspension, and a burlier frame.

The fact that hitting those drops didn't feel too out of the ordinary is a testament to how geometry is changing the way XC bike are being ridden. Races will still be won on the climbs, but the XC experience is becoming much more well rounded, and the descents are now a whole lot more enjoyable than they were just a few years ago.




Author Info:
mikekazimer avatar

Member since Feb 1, 2009
1,740 articles

214 Comments
  • 152 0
 Regardless of this particular bike I am excited for the future of XC bikes. These could be just the bikes that will fit my riding in the not too distanz future if my personal decline of gnar keeps going on.
  • 67 1
 I am also familiar with gnar negative trends in life.
  • 7 1
 @AndrewFleming: Need more EPOs and TRTs and other acronyms.
  • 10 1
 PDG should become a thing...
  • 41 2
 It's already a gnar gone conclusion
  • 80 1
 gnarectile dysfunction
  • 35 0
 @AndrewFleming: Look at them more as upward chillness trends.
  • 74 0
 Enduro bikes are now DH, XC bikes are now full downcountry, gravel is now XC with drops, and road bikes have become gravel bikes.
  • 6 1
 @Lanebobane: Thanks, good perspective and my chillness definitely has a solid upward trend. I even ditched all data collection on my rides - no more Garmin or Strava!
  • 21 1
 @hohmskullkrishten: DH is now... sky diving?
  • 16 0
 It's a gnarrowing window of opportunity that inevitably ends with gnarcolepsy.
  • 6 0
 @AndrewFleming: if you don't collect any more data, how do you know the trend of your chillness?
  • 13 0
 @lastinline: I don't know what's worse, chronic gnarthritis, gnardiovascular disease, or Gnarzheimers disease
  • 13 1
 @AndrewFleming: dh is now hardline
  • 3 2
 @mi-bike: The lack of data collection is evidence enough of my chillness!
  • 16 0
 Thing is, while personal gnar declines, so does our tolerance for impact. I personally don't need to ride faster, and don't need to hit bigger stuff, than would be perfectly appropriate for, say, a typical 130mm trail bike. But man, my battered body appreciates some cush, so 150mm trail bike it is.
  • 4 0
 Bikes are getting more comfortable as I get older. Nice
  • 19 0
 I can't speak for this bike, but my XC bike gets way more rowdy than most long travel bikes I see on the trails. XC bikes are very capable these days. I still prefer to ride my enduro, but damn this XC bike is a ton of fun to ride, and I think more people should be riding a modern XC bike instead of going electric.
  • 3 0
 @hohmskullkrishten: no, my road bike is still a road bike...
  • 8 1
 Shame they cancelled the long slack by putting the plumbing in the headset
  • 1 0
 @JSTootell: I was thinking to have an e-enduro (sub20kg) and proper XC/Downcountry bike only... I am not willing to perdal 16Kg+ bikes anymore...
  • 5 0
 @brycebee: Hardline is now squirrel suit BASE jumping
  • 6 0
 @JSTootell: For sure, same here man. Being under biked is a great motivator to uncork a little and blow your buddies minds. My BMC Twostroke is a like a spicy pinata on the descents and a ****ing rocketship on the climbs. I love that thing.

I'm always curious when I pass full faced long travel riders on the same trail system when I'm on the Twostroke. "Is there a steeper trail I'm missing around here?"
  • 3 0
 @flipoffthemonkeys: I understand what he meant. Many road bikes entering the market today can fit cyclocross tires nowadays.

Having said that road bikes have always been gravel bikes because gravel roads are roads and most of them are perfectly usable on 22mm tires.
  • 1 0
 @opignonlibre: I raced the San Diego BWR on 28mm Gatorskins. Sure, only 40 miles of dirt, but I really only wanted dirt tires for the occasional sections.
  • 138 3
 The head tube logo looks like it is downloading a picture of some nicer bike
  • 18 0
 It's the Syncros cockpit trying to load
  • 11 2
 Hahaha!!! I can't look at it the same way again!
  • 5 0
 Good eye! This made me laugh! And also it doesn't look like 2 bottles actually fit in the frame (at least with those specific cages)...
  • 2 0
 Forever stuck on almost there
  • 1 0
 @billyballa33: two 750ml bottle actually fit inside the main triangle on the cannondale bottle cagedy
  • 127 53
 Is there anywhere that reviews XC bikes these days with someone that actually races XC regularly? I know Kazimer used to but the last two XC race bike reviews have showed that his reviews aren't relevant to XC racers. Fitting higher bars to the Yeti, riding around in baggy trousers and an enduro helmet and shoes, riding this thing with a stack of spacers a mile high under the stem all undermine the review and mean it's not relevant to the people who will use the bike for what it's meant for.

How easy is it to ride when you can barely see from effort? Does it forgive your mistakes when you've spent four hours riding on the rivet? How does it sprint? How easy is it to work on trackside when your full toolkit is at home (I know it's going to be awful, but just how awful?)?
  • 180 14
 I don’t think my clothing choices should have any relevance to this article. In this instance, it was pouring rain, and I wore the kit that would keep me warm and dry. My options were limited, since I was in Portugal, not my backyard. The same press camp was used to debut the Moterra SL eMTB, so I just brought one helmet and shoes to save packing space.

The bike was set up with that stack of spacers, and given that it has a pretty stubby head tube I wasn’t in a rush to pull it all apart and trim the steerer just for one ride.

Hope this explains things. I can assure you, I know my way around an XC bike - a visor on my helmet doesn’t change that.
  • 32 0
 Flow MTB does pretty good reviews that don't seemed as biased downhill, but they don't get every bike is Australia. Escape Collective also does great reviews from riders who are less progressive, but you have to pay for a subscription
  • 36 1
 I agree and Flow mountain bike generally do a good job reviewing XC bikes for their intended purpose...Pinkbike's take on XC bikes seems to be generally 'How fast can I rally this thing down a hill?', which is fine I suppose... Weight, pedalling efficiency, anti-squat etc are all more important factors. What percentage in terms of time does descending make up in an XC race? 10-15%?
  • 27 44
flag matyk (Mar 26, 2024 at 8:13) (Below Threshold)
 That would be nice to see more presenters with xc backgrounds added to the pinkbike staff for these reviews. Unfortunately, this page is more dedicated to the gravity bruh culture.
  • 90 13
 @matyk, myself, Dario, and Matt Beer all did at least some form of XC racing last season. And Sarah Moore used to race World Cup XC, so I’d say we’ve got things covered pretty well. And Henry Quinney has done some ridiculous endurance feats in the past.
  • 13 3
 Enlighten me - I don't see how more powerful brakes are a good thing when traction is limited. Seems like it would be easier to lock the wheels and slide vs a less powerful brake? I think that more power is only useful if you can actually get that stopping power to the ground with increased traction, right?
  • 15 3
 Escape Collective is a good source for these types of XC bike and tech reviews escapecollective.com/category/cycling/tech/tech-reviews

They also cover all sorts of XC racing escapecollective.com/category/cycling/racing/mtb-racing
  • 4 0
 While I don’t agree with your value judgments, escapecollective has the nerdy road perspective you’re looking for, they review some XC bikes.
  • 8 1
 This is just a "first ride" review. I'm sure some concessions had to be made due to the circumstances of being a press camp, one ride, etc.
  • 20 28
flag Hectorsolo (Mar 26, 2024 at 9:05) (Below Threshold)
 @mikekazimer: ok cool, you all have great xc chops.
That doesn’t change the fact that this first ride review looks like a review for a long travel mtb and doesn’t represent the riders who may buy it.
  • 102 13
 @Hectorsolo, feel free to close your eyes and picture me in head-to-toe Lycra if that helps.
  • 23 7
 I agree Lukeb. The usual XC review trend is

Need bigger brakes.
Need a longer dropper.
Need burlier tyres.
Need the 34/35 stanchion fork
Need the longer travel version.

PB, I know it's uncool but weight is a thing in XC at the highest level!
  • 41 3
 @Madfella, check out the recent Yeti ASR and Specialized Epic reviews and you’ll find that we didn’t recommend different tires or longer travel forks.
  • 8 0
 @billyballa33: 4 piston brakes - generally speaking - have more modulation than 2 pistons. Granted, it wasn’t worded like that.

The new 4 piston levels on a 180 rotor is well matched to the amount of traction you have with a rekon race, in my experience. The old sram 2 piston brakes were terrible powerwise, so it’s perfectly valid to be glad to have more power on tap as well.
  • 4 3
 Sarah did world cup xc?
  • 4 2
 @mikekazimer:
Not for every bike but it's a common trend.
  • 37 1
 @Madfella, I really don’t think you’ll find that’s the case with our pure XC bike reviews - we’re worked hard in recent years to increase the amount of XC content, and to provide a balanced perspective on the latest cross-country machines.
  • 34 8
 I feel with all this defending, you’re missing the point.
Is this a bike you would race in one of the xc races you do. How does it get around right switch backs? Does it bob up steep climbs? Does it have traction up rocky technical ascents? Do you think the pedalling platform works for its use case?
Would you take this to the nimby 50 or Leadville?
Or is it maybe not the best for racing, but as an everyday bike for an xc leaning rider?
  • 37 4
 @Hectorsolo, all great questions, but keep in mind this is just a first ride - those types of things are what we’d address in a long term review.
  • 12 51
flag flembake FL (Mar 26, 2024 at 11:22) (Below Threshold)
 @mikekazimer: calm down an take the L
  • 7 6
 @lukeb isn't that what race results are for? Also the point of pinkbike is people trust the editors and build a connection with them and read all the reviews they provide. If you don't like them. Their subjective reviews aren't for you. You seem to have a personal bone to pick with pinkbike and the tester.
  • 21 4
 @BermSkid72: this is a bike media wide problem. The Singletrackworld reviewer has no XC credentials and even used flat pedals. What use is that to an XC racer reading reviews of an XC race bike?

I know Kaz raced XC. But he put a massive high rise bar on the Yeti. What XC racer is going to ride it like that? It makes the review less useful. My issue isn't with Pinkbike in particular, just where can XC racers read reviews of XC race bikes that actually look at XC race issues?

It's been a problem since Sarah stopped doing XC reviews on here (and obviously she had a kid, so that's fair), but they used to use Dave Arthur as well. Bikeradar used to use Joe Norledge who is proper fast. Not now.

It's good to see James Huang still racing and reviewing on Escape Collective. That's a great site.
  • 4 0
 Meanwhile,I'm here glad that they test the bikes stock and not like the "overfork+short stem,longer bar" days of old.
Bike testing is in a good place these days.

p.s. @mikekazimer bummed that you came to my sunny country and got rain.
  • 4 0
 @BermSkid72: In racing you have differrent riders with different skills on different bikes with different setups. That's a whole lot of variables for an apples to apples comparison.

Ideally you want a group of people (maybe some racers and some non racers) all have to ride all bikes. In the end some bikes will have the faster avg. times, some will be more comfy to ride, some will be more fun and so on. (I believe that's already how PB did bike comparisons in the past?)
Obviously also not really objective but then again how would you even test a bike without the human factor.

Plus if you are unhappy with parts of the review process you should absolutley say something (as long as you are civil about it). Doesn't mean anything must or will change but you definitly can't improve anything without saying something. After all, these websites are community driven.
  • 3 1
 @mikekazimer: Good to hear Mike and I think we're seeing that. Because globally, XC is where the $ is
  • 20 15
 @mikekazimer: You tested both the Yeti ASR both in Colorado and 5 weeks in Washington... then this bike wearing similar baggy full-length trousers and a baggy long sleeve. That's not meaningless. What if PB published a test of a 170mm enduro bike while the tester is wearing Castelli Body Paint and half finger gloves? Wouldn't the tester's attire seem out of place to the reader, considering the intended use of the bike in the test?
  • 10 7
 @KingPooPing: @mikekazimer "And Sarah Moore used to race World Cup XC"
Her World Cup experience has been referenced multiple times on this site, so I was curious as well.

She raced the Mont Ste Anne and Windham, NY U23 Women's XC World Cups on back-to-back weekends in 2012. I don't see any other World Cup results for Sarah Moore other than these 2 races.

It is hard to research old World Cup race results to be honest. mtbdata dot com for example has a ton of old race result data, but Sarah Moore's MTB race results on that particular site end in 2012.

Back then in 2012 she wrote about the challenges in gaining the necessary UCI points to gain entry to those 2 races in an article on canadiancyclist dot com if you search for "June 8/12 11:44 am - Canada Cup #3, A Rider Perspective: What Happens in the Woods..." Good stories from back in the day. She finished 8th (7:30 behind the winner), 13th (11:21 behind), and 10th (15:09 behind the winner) in local Canada Cup Women's XC races to gain the minimum 20 UCI points.
  • 13 1
 @mikekazimer: cheers for the reply, I look forward to future xc stuff. I hope my critiquing doesn’t come across as a diss, but more of a “what I’de like to see
  • 7 5
 @mikekazimer: PB please don´t loose your gravity roots...@lukeb you have many other XC oriented sites to know... but Kazimer and the stuff here are the kind of riders that represents the core essence mainly present here... so are good indicators and promoters for gravity riders to move back to XC/downcountry again now that we can be friends again...
  • 1 0
 @dhfox322: mtbdata.com has all of her UCI stats back to 2009 when she was U23 so I assume it's pretty complete.
  • 27 5
 @mikekazimer: Mike, it's great you have all these points to defend here in the comments, the point is none of this comes across in the articles themselves.

When multiple people are telling you that XC bike reviews come across as if they're reviewed in exactly the same flavour as bigger travel bikes, that's feedback enough there's an issue.

I've gotta say I agree with the others. The flavour of these articles is "enduro rider takes xc bike for a ride", not "serious xc rider evaluates performance potential of xc race bike"

Great that you have xc backgrounds. Change the style and emphasis of the reviews and let that all come through so you don't have to justify yourselves in the comments.
  • 5 1
 @Ktr0n: Now that XC is getting closer to Trail/Enduro it has never been a better time for Enduro riders to test them...
  • 37 4
 @dhfox322, umm, I'd argue that wearing a long sleeve jersey to test a bike in the middle of winter is meaningless, at least when it comes to trying to learn more about how the bike performs. For the Yeti review, I'm wearing an XC lid and XC pedals / shoes. I'm positive the looser clothing isn't going to make a difference in how that bike rides. But here's a picture of me in my summer XC duds if that's what you're hunting for: www.pinkbike.com/photo/25315549.

All this focus on apparel is one of the reasons the XC scene (and mountain biking in general) gets a bad rap sometimes. There's no law that says you need to wear lycra to have fun (or race) on an XC bike, and I really think the sport as a whole would be better if everyone took down the level of seriousness a little bit. Adults trying to pedal hard and go fast out in the woods is a pretty silly pursuit when you think about it, but it's also one of the best activities in the world, at least in my mind.
  • 5 1
 @Hectorsolo:
I agree with you. Its XC bike review for gravity audience. Nothing wrong with that.
  • 5 7
 @mikekazimer:
There is reason for focus on apparel in XC and that is aero gains at speeds over 25kmh at flat land or uphill. Those are quite significant wattage gains / losses driven by just what you wear. Over 1-2hours racing minutes of time. Those are irrelevant in gravity riding but matters in XC / road racing.
Mike, if you say that it is cultural issue, that is explains why we don't feel that this review is written from XC rider perspective.
And its ok, its gravity audience here mostly as seen from downvotes to most of XC riders points.
  • 1 0
 ASSUMPTIONs
  • 1 0
 @mikekazimer: bad rap I would say it started more by mazinguer Zetas on pijamas down the hill...
  • 6 8
 @mikekazimer: I think the point being here, is….look the part.
If I hire a plumber and he shows up in the three piece suit, it doesn’t come across as he is serious about what he is doing, no matter how qualified he is to be a plumber.
I’ve had the argument in the past on some of the bigger reviews, when someone makes mention of the stem being too short….well, change it out and give us what you think.
Reviewer: “The 50mm stem felt very twitchy.”
“After changing it out to a an 80mm stem, the bike climbed like an XC race bike should.”
(This is a reference to the Ibis Exie review)
  • 7 4
 @HumpDiesel: y’all are talking a lot of shit for a bike review you’re getting for free.

Mike sat on a plane for many hours to get you this review and then also rode a bike in the rain, and didn’t want to freeze to death. Let him ride a bike and get off your high horses.
  • 1 0
 @billyballa33: I don't see Rally cars or motocross bikes skimping on braking power, ensuring you can reliably and effortlessly control the bike's speed is important. The later you can brake, the faster you are. Thats not to say that you can't over brake a bike but level 4p aren't even in the ballpark of over braking. Additionally, if you check the weight of the 2p vs 4p level breaks you will see that there is no penalty for the 4p, Sram's website even lists the Ultimate 2p as 9g heavier than the 4p version. And what if you run a more aggressive tire for a particular course? I'll take the added power any day over the potential loss of control because I can't slow the bike down appropriately.
  • 5 0
 I think some comments on the pointier end of XC racing are valid in a review. That being said modern XC bikes aren't just for high level racers anymore. And many who do races here and there also use their bike as a daily driver. Well rounded reviews are necessary for that reason alone given the intended customer.

Sure I'm in lightweight baggies and a visor at a race, and 800+gram tires when not, so consider the source, but both racing and trail riding are important to me when considering a bike.
  • 4 0
 @northboy: That's precisely it. It's written for general audience in am attempt to answer the question "should this be your next bike for casual rides you do in your local area?"

Instead of "should this be your next race bike you take to compete?"
  • 2 0
 @billyballa33: Having more powerful brakes is great because you can always modulate how hard you pull that lever. Less hand fatigue from being able to use one digit on the brakes is also a bonus. Lastly, having some margin for those times when you end up on a really long downhill at the end of the day can save your butt and all the other body parts.
  • 1 0
 @billyballa33: A big factor is improved heat management. I have old single piston XX brakes on my XC bike (an old Scalpel) and I've lost the brakes a few times riding easier dh trails in the Rockies. Would love to have 4 piston brakes on it but I keep telling myself I'll just get a fancy new downcountry bike. For XCO style short course racing two piston brakes are fine and I'd prefer them if I lived for that.
  • 7 4
 @mikekazimer: where the heck did all these angry lycra clad weight weenies come from? Please abandon XC bike reviews. We don’t want these types trolling PB !
  • 5 1
 @mikekazimer: 100%. Some of these comments are like the dirt version of traditional road geeks whining about white socks in the 90s. I think the increasing difficult of XC courses and the capability of the bikes gets some people on edge about having relatively less skill with every passing year. From my Western Canadian XC and enduro racing perspective, in the real world and by the average contemporary XC rider of today, this bike will be ridden (and even raced) in baggies most of the time.
  • 2 3
 @milesofkyle: Ha, talking shit…really? It’s about the audience that will be interested in this bike.
Mike knew he was going to a launch of an XC bike, you can just as easily pack warm clothing for that.
I think the clothing just shines the light on the issue that XC bikes are a necessary evil it seems, until the next high pivot gravity sled comes out.

It would be the same if the next high pivot came out and Dario or Mike had on Lycra, the enduro guys would be tearing the house down.
  • 2 0
 Seriously are you asking Kazimodo to provide an XCO oriented review on a XCO race bike? You must be new around here
  • 48 3
 Oh snap!
  • 37 7
 The return of the Cannondale Crack'n'fail
  • 11 5
 It’s a bit of a problem when the bike’s geometry encourages manoeuvres that the frame construction can’t reliably handle.
  • 25 2
 In a discipline where people pay a lot of money for a bike that's supposed to be as light as possible, it would actually be a failure if you'd exceed the intended use and the frame still wouldn't break.
  • 6 1
 @vinay: agreed. if you want a light frame or component. You have to make sacrifices in strength.
  • 12 0
 @vinay: Yea, I guess if I were looking to purchase this bike I'd wonder if this was just a crazy hard impact by a heavy-ish rider or something more prevalent. I mean 190lbs isn't unreasonable for an average adult dude and you want some wiggle room for if you make a mistake, misjudge something, etc. I wouldn't routinely be taking my 120mm 25lb bike off any 5ft drops but I wouldn't expect it to crack if something happened accidentally every few months. Sometimes, some people just break stuff. I know guys that can't get down a single trail on EXO+ tires without exploding them. Then I hit the same DH trail with Rekons and i'm only like 20seconds behind them on a 8 minute segment without flatting. It's possible some people just know they are frame-breakers and others are not.
  • 2 0
 @BermSkid72: To an extent. I still remember watching Catharine Pendrel hit an absolutely absurd huck to flat off a drop at a XCO stop a few years ago trying to lose Beck Henderson on the descent of the final lap. If athletes are pulling those moves, why should the bikes not stand up to it?
  • 4 2
 @j-t-g: Because they are pushing the limits. Push a race car too hard what happens? racing is about performance. Obviously the bike should last a season. but it shouldn't be built for a 200 pound gorilla who's cheap and wants to ride the same frame for 5 seasons. That customer needs to buy the right bike for their personal style.
  • 1 0
 See, I would fully expect to take it off 5 foot drops. They're making a race focused bike AND a longer travel bike, but they probably shouldn't use the same layup for both. I'd happily take an extra pound of carbon on the 120mm bike if it meant more capability (and peace of mind), and I can't imagine I'm alone on that.
  • 3 0
 @yupstate: I feel called out by that exo+ comment
  • 9 1
 @dirtbaggraeme: that’s why short travel trailbikes like the tallboy, top fuel, trance 29, spur, etc exist.
  • 9 4
 @BermSkid72:

Racing or not, you gotta have some deep pockets to set 1 season as an expected lifespan for a $4000 frame. Sure, if you are going to build and market a frame primarily for sponsored riders, but the majority of XC racers are non-sponsored amateurs. 190- 200 pounds is hardly a gorilla.
  • 2 0
 @dcaf: 14k is cheap vs a SCCA Race Car. it's all relative. Also, XC racing isn't about money it's about fitness. I fit athlete on a 2 year old hardtail can destroy a 200 pound athlete on a 14k bike. Getting fit is FREE!!!
  • 1 3
 @parkourfan: yes and no, those all weigh even more, and have even more descending focused geo. This is an attractive middle ground between pure XC of the last couple years and trail... provided frames aren't cracking of course.
  • 3 1
 @dirtbaggraeme: Maybe this just isn't that middle ground. This is a bike designed for XC competition at the highest level. For those who compete at that level for the trails they'll encounter in competition. It is light because it isn't stronger than needed there. If you need stronger, you'll be getting something heavier. Maybe Cannondale hears your calls and may release and EVO version just like Specialized does, who knows. Or the other way around, they go the Intense way having their sponsored athletes ride their "FRO" bikes whereas the paying customer gets a stronger and more durable version.

Either way, Cannondale has always been quite clear about this. If you're getting lightweight competition stuff, accept that it is not going to last too long and it will fail under foreseeable impacts. If you don't want that, they also offer stronger and more durable bikes.
  • 2 0
 Cannondale has a reputation to uphold
  • 2 2
 I like that objective truths such as, "short travel trail bikes are heavier and more descent focused than this bike" get down voted into the ground. This is why no one likes XC riders.
  • 2 0
 @dirtbaggraeme: We know that XC riders are down voting that?
  • 1 0
 @dirtbaggraeme: That's quite dramatic. Three downvotes, not even below threshold, you call that "downvoted into the ground"? I didn't do any downvoting so I don't know what's behind that, but you did receive my responses. You like the bike as it is and just wishes it were stronger. Or the other way around, you wish the trailbikes mentioned were lighter than they are now. It may be possible in the future. This is what we have now.
  • 3 0
 @j-t-g: well for starters she probably ways about 115 lbs. There are no male racers north of 220
  • 38 3
 With that cable routing I'd want to snap the frame in half, too. That was no accident.
  • 27 2
 Breaking news! Cannondale have made a cracking new xc bike!
  • 5 8
 +1 for Gryffindor
  • 18 0
 Routing through the headset is bad enough on an MTB, but going through the stem too is akin to the cable tourist that goes on holiday, offends the locals, breaks several traditional customs and gets busted on the way home for sneaking back a piece of ancient national heritage artifact as a “souvenir”…
  • 17 1
 I'm one of the few who's fine with thru-headset cable routing on my own bike, but even I'm baffled by this arrangement. It seems messier, not cleaner - it's impossible to ignore cables sprouting from the middle of the handlebar. They're front and center. At least with Scott's system, or others that exit below the bar, careful trimming can hide the cables under the handlebar. If you're not even getting a cleaner look, I struggle to see what this accomplishes.
  • 20 2
 Did anyone else immediately lose interest after seeing the head tube cable routing?
  • 17 0
 Never buying a bike with thru-headset routing (or thru stem routing). Thank you for showing that detail right away so I know to disregard this bike entirely.
  • 8 0
 @jasonhilton

That new Yeti looks better and better, with each passing new headset routed bike.
  • 15 2
 Hmmm... the US models don't have Leftys or lockouts. Why would anybody buy that bike? It's a serious question. Buy the new epic. you don't have to deal with the stupid cable routing. If for some reason you want an xc race bike without lockouts, get the evo.
  • 4 2
 @packfill
It’s becoming somewhat apparent that they are all trying to play catch up to the Big S.

And agree with your comment..get the Epic 8
  • 3 3
 @HumpDiesel: @packfill New Epic evo 8 has the Trekesque Knock Block steering stop thing. Don't like. Doesn't even seem necessary on that bike because the fork crown wouldn't contact the down tube and the brake lever wouldn't contact the top tube.
  • 2 0
 @pdxkid: you can remove it.
  • 2 0
 I wonder why they spec the Lefty on Europe builds but not the American ones
  • 17 4
 What if you, oh I don't know, wanted to change your bars and/or stem? What then?
  • 13 0
 Adjust your spacers and add them on top. Dual crowns have had the limelight for too long. It's dual bars time.
  • 7 0
 That's easy, NBD.
  • 8 0
 2 steps forward (threaded bb and zero offset rear end) one step back (cable tourism). Kind of a shame, because the head angle is perfect (Up The Irons!!!!).

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again-headset routing is a cost saving measure at the expense of durability and ease of service. If you’re gonna do that to shave a buck, pass on the savings.
  • 1 0
 Let me edit that for you. "If you're gonna do that; don't" I'll take the standard routing instead of the cost savings. Smile
  • 7 1
 Breakages on bikes like this are inevitable as the geometry is more capable than trailduro bikes from a few years ago but the weight pushes down to XC bikes from 20+ years ago but still with bigger wheels, longer travel, discs, droppers, and wider tires. Bikes have been going through a period of getting heavier so they don’t break as much and while that’s a good thing for a lot of riders, it’s not necessary for others. On the flip side, bikes like this are perfect for some rides and not burly enough for others.
  • 7 0
 Oh wow I fancy a new xc bike.....oooo a lefty, that could be interesting.....ergh wtf is that going through the bar??? No no no no no, kill it with fire, I'll stick to my current bike thanks
  • 7 2
 bro headset cable routing makes a bike so ugly. just have a bike like transition makes them. they make the perfect mechanic bike. no weird bb no weird wheels no weird hanger or shock size. come on how f-ing hard is it bike industry. we aren't roadies we don't need much aero. 99% of us hate headset cable routing and want standardizations. shit sucks
  • 3 3
 Honestly, Other than changing a bearing OR installing a fork headset routing isnt that bad to live with, With cables connected its easier to change out outters etc. I was a hater untill i wanted a bike that had it and in the end its not that bad - Even changing the upper bearing isnt bad,
  • 5 0
 For over three decades, I’ve owned and ridden XC ‘dales. ‘Suffered’ with the proprietary standards.
This Scalpel ticked so many boxes and then put a cross through ‘em.
I’ll be looking over to Spesh’, Canyon or Yeti for the next ride.
Cable tourism is a new one on me! Totally get it, the Cannondale engineer didn’t get the memo.
Won’t the port in the handle bar act like a vent in a car and suck the rain right into the frame and down along the cables? Why so many spacers. Who in their right mind is going to buy an XC bike with the high rise tower of spacers?
LBS mechanics are going to be pi55ed.
“We just sold a Scalpel!”
“Do we have to remove the stem spacers again?”
“Yes we do…have fun.”
  • 10 1
 666 HA? Lol
  • 6 0
 As a lefty owner, I'm quite surprised they are not sending lefty's to the US. It was one of the only reasons I bought my current bike.
  • 4 0
 The Lefty's are so baller. Maybe a bit of a pain to service but they're so cool looking and the reviews are all great.
  • 3 0
 My 2015 Lefty was amazing. Telepathic in handling.

I miss that bike often (stolen)
  • 6 1
 "It's mentioned here because that's part of my job – to report what happens, the good and the bad. "

Can you guys report on the Thibaut Daprela story please?
  • 2 0
 That pricing is just insane... which is exactly what I said last week when the new Epic dropped. Basically the same price though and this doesn't have flight attendant (thanks but no thanks Lefty) or even a power meter. I had the last iteration Scalpel. It made all sorts of racket, and I had so much lateral play in the rear it felt like my axle was loose on descents (which can be fun... but mostly scary)
  • 4 3
 The Scalpel 4 seems pretty reasonable with Deore and SID for$4k
  • 3 0
 What in god's name were they thinking with that seat tube design? So bizarre, and with no obvious benefit. Looks absurd with so many stem spacers too. Flexy horst is a neat idea though.
  • 3 0
 seat tube looks like the ARI (formerly Fezzari) Delano seat tube. It's that way to make longer dropper post insertion possible with a bottle on the seat tube. The dropper post will pass behind the upper bottle bolt instead of hitting the bolt.
  • 2 0
 @Spencermon: It does achieve that. Not a very elegant way of doing it though.
  • 1 0
 @WheelNut: for sure. I feel like Cannondale used to have very elegant bikes but that feelings gone now. I still think the last rim brake supersix evo was the best road bike.
  • 5 0
 Threaded BB, nice finally, but then headset cable routing. Why oh why, Cannondale. 1 step forward, 2 steps back.
  • 4 0
 Reviews for xc race bikes should include the bike weight. An even better test would have been to pin on a number and enter an xc race.
  • 7 2
 Like this? www.pinkbike.com/news/review-orbea-oiz-m-pro-dont-call-it-downcountry-2023.html

This is just a first ride article - all of our longer term reviews have actual bike weights and more in-depth ride impressions.
  • 1 1
 @mikekazimer: Yeah like that. What about racing it? Would be cool to see these bikes put to the test in a race situation.
  • 6 0
 Another headset cable routed bike *sad trombone noises*
  • 2 1
 Maybe I'm missing something but I don't understand some of the geo numbers. The reach and the HA are pretty much identical to say, the Allied BC40, and the Cannondale has a longer chainstay yet the wheelbase of the Scalpel is somehow 8 mm shorter.
  • 2 0
 since reach is measured to the top of the upper headset, the length of the head tube will change the wheelbase. I haven't checked numbers, but I'd guess the Allied has a longer head tube which will increase stack and wheelbase.
  • 2 0
 @Spencermon: ahhhhh didn't realize that, it is significantly longer in the headtube but it almost cancels out the chainstay differences (in a size large). The math not working bothers me but they're small differences. Thanks for pointing out the headtube, I should've realized that!
  • 2 1
 The copy on the Cannondale website is so on point. Dropper post? Game changer! 2.4" tires? You won't believe it! Thanks for the tips Cannondale! And apparently wicked, as in wicked slack, now means equal to or less slack than competitors. Wicked!
  • 5 4
 "...although the drop wasn't huge, it was also bigger than what you'd see on a typical race course..."

While it might not be typical, at the Tokyo Olympics Nino Schürter was gapping the entire rock garden that the designers had placed in the landing of the famous drop. Much deeper than whatever broke this bike. That's the type of course an XC bike should be designed for.
  • 4 2
 100% this. XC race bike not being handle drops like that should be recalled as being dangerous to users.
Just hope that it was a failure of that one particular bike and not a feature of entire new Scalpel model line.
  • 2 0
 XC riders have finesse. They can't ride like a piano, they would not finish a race riding so.
  • 1 0
 @GoranNaVAjt: Why wouldn't they finish?
  • 1 0
 @boozed: because they would flat, brake a rim, brake a frame, brake a add>
  • 2 0
 @GoranNaVAjt: If that's the result if a normal person riding one, remind me never to buy one of those bikes.
  • 1 0
 I think it was a good review. I think testing bike like that on the limit is great even if cause a frame failure. I bought a Trek Top Fuel based on a Pink Bike review plus some other reviews. I think you do a great job representing the category. I do think Flow does a good job too but end of the day very similar conclusions and I see that in general.
  • 5 1
 If it aint Lachy's, I don't wanna see it.
  • 6 1
 Bring back a 160mm Lefty
  • 4 1
 That is a lot of stem stack height spacers. Why not just get a riser bar instead?
  • 1 0
 because they use integrated SystemBar XC-One and the only way how to fit are spacers, unfortunately
  • 2 0
 I hate integrated bars and headset routing. Road bike tech only. You aren't saving watts by making a mountain bike more "aero"
  • 5 3
 Fugly front end. But then I guess Cannondale = Focus now they are PON along with santa cruz
  • 2 0
 Having a bike snap a press camp can't be the type of PR they were hoping for.
  • 5 1
 They? no. Us? yep.
  • 2 0
 Holy shit… through the handlebar. I wonder why nobody’s done that before ?
  • 2 1
 I can't look at the handlebars with the opening in front anymore without thinking of the worms from Dune 2. Thank you. You’re welcome.
  • 3 0
 What does this bike weigh?
  • 6 0
 It just feels crazy to have a drivetrain that weighs an extra pound over XTR on a bike this focused on weight
  • 1 0
 @Mtmw: is there a comparison article out there for this? I’m lazy and don’t want to do all the research myself lol
  • 2 0
 Just look at the photos and those ugly thick stem spacers... Not Clean. Not good looking.
  • 1 0
 Is this the beginning of the end of the Lefty? Only the $14k Lab 71 version has the lefty while all the other Scalpels have Fox or RockShox up front? Say it ain't so!
  • 2 0
 In Europe you can get most version with a lefty!
  • 1 0
 @RockCrawler: Looks like it is time to jump across the pond and move to Aosta Valley.
  • 4 0
 No Lefty? No thank you.
  • 2 2
 Interesting. There appears to be some damage control being done. Yesterday the article mentioned a 190lb rider broke the frame, and today that rider weighs 220lb. We see you Cannondale.
  • 5 0
 Update - the journalist who broke the frame had Pinkbike correct the article with their actual weight, which is 220.
  • 3 1
 Decades later, nothing has changed.....Cannondale frames cracking.
  • 2 0
 Damn that's a big hole in the middle of the handlebar....
  • 2 1
 oh cannondale...proprietary parts, stupid fork and ridiculous pricing.... so basically back to normal.
  • 1 2
 You must be real fun at parties. Go outside and enjoy the rain
  • 2 0
 Why dont'you mention the weight of tested model?
  • 1 0
 Why is the suspension seat post straight? It doesn't go with the rest of the bike at all.
  • 2 0
 I wonder if that handlebar gets dangerholm all hot and bothered
  • 6 6
 Put some Assegai's on there, a 140mm Pike... you would have a Downcountry Beast!!! Wink
  • 19 0
 No you would have an xc bike that is heavy with slow tires.
  • 2 0
 Sounds like a potentially 'cracking' idea!
  • 3 1
 @warmerdamj: You missed the wink at the end. The comment was really only to harass Kaz.
  • 4 3
 Cannondale is everything that is wrong with the bike industry
  • 1 0
 Longer slacker “XC Bike”
  • 1 0
 Looks like a snappy ride.

#cracknfail
  • 1 0
 This is exactly what Cannondale needed...More Proprietary parts!
  • 1 0
 XC Field Test coming soon with all of these recent bike launches?
  • 1 0
 Peak cannondale was 20 years ago.
  • 1 1
 I know it’s not it’s purpose, but imagine using that bike for mountain biking.
  • 1 0
 X (trailbike) C
  • 5 4
 Crakondale is back!
  • 4 4
 oh no.. the lefty is back... I thought they finally gave up on that...
  • 3 1
 Yeah, not a big fan either.
  • 1 1
 190lbs ofc he's gonna break a frame.
  • 1 0
 Hmmm... the article says 220 lbs now... @mikekazimer what's with the edit?
  • 1 0
 Fourteen Gs.... Ouch
  • 1 0
 "thru"
  • 1 0
 Thanks, I hate it.
  • 1 0
 Ewww ..hell no
  • 2 4
 reach numbers finally make sense, if only the headtube angle could be slightly slacker
  • 1 4
 Look it's a ASREpicBlurPle
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