Cannondale’s Scalpel redesigned for better descending

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Race bike weight. But trail bike geometry. Meet the new Scalpel hardtail. (Photo: Cannondale)
Race bike weight. But trail bike geometry. Meet the new Scalpel hardtail. (Photo: Cannondale)
  • It has been a big year for Cannondale, as the brand is now under Dutch ownership.
  • The iconic Lefty fork distinguishes Cannondale’s Scalpel mountain bikes, from their rivals.
  • And if you want the ultimate in lightweight cross-country mountain biking – that might be this latest Scalpel hardtail.

Cannondale has a storied history in sprint and endurance mountain bike racing.

The Lefty fork has been driving suspension innovation for decades, and the Scalpel range has a very loyal following.

But what if you are keen on that latest-generation Lefty Ocho fork, but don’t require the complexity or weight of a dual-suspension frame? Cannondale’s solution is the 2022 model year Scalpel hardtail.

Designed to be light and supremely confident on the descents, this latest Scalpel departs from the traditional carbon hardtail formula.

Cannondale’s designers have made the new Scalpel a lot more capable, on all terrain types (Photo: Cannondale)

Still great on the climbs - but better going downhill, too

Although it is very light, with a frame weight of only 895g, the geometry is more like a trail bike than a conventional race bike. Cannondale’s Scalpel product team has recognized that even the fittest cross-country mountain bikers want more relaxed frame angles, for greater control on the descents.

Most lightweight carbon hardtails have a head angle of 68-degrees. Cannondale has reshaped the Scalpel hardtail to be much slacker up front, with a 66.5-degree head angle.

What is the benefit of that slacker head angle? It keeps rider weight more centred on steep descents. This helps to deliver slightly slower and predictable steering when pinging down a rocky trail – at high speed.

Designers have also lengthened the Scalpel hardtail frame, increasing reach on all frame sizes.

Cape Epic
For this new Scalpel hardtail, Cannondale has chosen a slightly longer version of its Lefty fork (Photo: Cannondale)

Small seat tube

The one curious frame detail is a 27.2mm seat tube diameter, the smallest tube standard used on mountain bikes.

Although the smaller tube size saves a few grams, it might limit the choice of longer dropper seatposts for taller riders.

Big tyres and a beefy Lefty

With generous tyre clearance in the rear, riders can choose to run large volume tyres without worrying about mud clogging issues in winter.

Bigger tyres also increase grip and reduce fatigue when rolling across rough terrain for hours on end.

A lightweight hardtail with trail riding geometry and the ability to nearly float up climbs, the new Scalpel is an interesting product development.

And of course, it has that single-sided Lefty fork, set at 110mm of suspension travel – which works great and is always a talking point, at the trailside coffee venue.

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