Cannondale Scalpel Mens Mountain Bike In-depth Review

The Cannondale Scalpel is an iconic mens mountain bike, but the recent models have taken this mtb on another level: the new carbon frame and new suspensions have made the Cannondale Scalpel smoother and lighter: not only this is one of the lightest full-suspension mountain bikes in the market, but it’s also one of the fastest!

Part 1: Overall Evaluation: Advantages, Disadvantages

The Cannondale Scalpel mens mountain bicycles have been around for more than 20 years (the first Scalpel model was launched in 2001), and the last Scalpel was launched in 2016. So, what has changed with the new 2021 and 2022 Scalpel mens mtb?

When you look at the new mens bike mountain, it may not seem that different from the old 2016 version. However, a deeper look would reveal some important novelties that make this mtb mens bike not only lighter but also more stable and, therefore, faster.

New Frame, New Suspensions, New Geometry

We’ve already mentioned the new suspensions and frame enough, now it’s time to dig deep into these two important improvements, starting with the new suspensions.

New Suspensions and Geometry

In the older Scalpel mens mtb bikes , the upper shock link swings from the top tube; in this new mens mountain Scalpel, instead, the rear shock is driven in a tiny alloy link mounted to a forward strut patway up the seat tube. When you look at it, it doesn’t seem such a huge change; however, this new geometry completely changed the suspensions’ behavior: the new Scalpel has a much higher leverage rate and it’s more progressive.

The Scalpel also has a new flex-stays position: it doesn’t occur through the seat stays but it’s put on the chainstays. This way, it can create a more active suspension system that is less influenced by the use of brakes.

New Carbon Frame

Usually, men’s mountain bicycles with four-bar suspensions need to accept a compromise when it comes to weight: these bikes are often heavy because they have many elements, and because they need to be strong.

The new Scalpel mens mtb provided a solution to this with a new carbon frame; the new Scalpel not only is the lightest among the Scalpel models that have occurred over the years, but they are among the lightest four-suspension mens mtb bikes in general!

Anything We don’t Like

The new Cannondale Scalpel mens mountain bike is one of the best men’s mountain bicycles in the market, and yet we were able to find a couple of things that could be improved.

The first is the lefty Ocho: it is a brilliant performer, but it’s heavier than its competitors. Second, the wheel removal could be smoother and easier. This might not be a problem if you remove the wheels only when you are in your garage taking care of your bicycle, but some need to remove one wheel to carry their mountain bike in the car and reach the mountain path, or park, or spot they’ll start their riding from. For them, an easier mechanism would have been appreciated.

Part 2: Product Brand Introduction

Cannondale does not need an introduction. It’s one of the most known and trusted bike manufacturers in the world. While they also produce road bikes, Cannondale is also very appreciated in the mountain bike sector. They design and produce mountain bikes for any need: for beginners, amateurs, professionals, and also – just like they’ve done with the Scalpel models, for advanced amateurs and semi-professionals.

With their Scalpel mtb mens bike, Cannondale provided bikers with a racing mountain bike, with enhanced speed and performance. Within the Scalpel range of models, furthermore, there is also the SE one: it’s a more affordable version of the Scalpel mountain bike, for those who want advanced features and performance but don’t have an interest in racing.

mens mountain

Part 3: Product Main Parameters Details

Despite suspensions and frame, what are the most important features in the new mens bike mountain Scalpel?

Longer Frame

One thing that you don’t expect is that, despite being lighter than its predecessors, the new Scalpel is longer than them with the reach growing by 10-15 mm across the four-frame size. However, the chainstay length is not changed and it’s still 436 mm.


We’ve already mentioned that one of the purposes of the manufacturers was making this mens mtb, stable and light, but also fast. How do they make it?

With the 34t chainring and the tires – that is a 2.35-inch Maxxis Ardent Race on the front, and a 2.25-inch Maxxis Rekon Race on the rear – you are provided with one of the fastest mens mtb bikes; the rest is up to your legs and heart!

In-frame Storage

This feature is one of the reasons why this mens bike mountain is closer to a professional bike than an entry-level: Cannondale tucked some niceties into the frame:

  • the tube-in-tube internal cable routing lets you stop worrying about fishing the cables through the chainstay.
  • there is a storage system that includes an 8-in multi-tool and a tire-plug tool; there is also a strap for a CO2 cartridge or frame pump;
  • the lower pivots being inside the tube so that they no longer have exposure to dirt and mud.


The Cannondale Scalpel features Shimano hydraulic disk brakes mounted on 160 mm rotors. Hydraulic disks provide enough braking power to completely stop from high speed in security, even downhill. Plus, with hydraulic disk brakes, you don’t risk warping the wheels under hard braking.

As you may know, hydraulic disk brakes are the most efficient types of brake you can have on a bicycle, and the Cannondale Scalpel couldn’t be equipped with anything less.

Gearing System

The Cannondale Scalpel features the Shimano 12-speed chain and shifters. The rear pie plate features 42 teeth. Furthermore, this mountain bike is equipped with Shimano 12-speed rear cogs and a Shimano derailleur. Such a system provides full control over your speed.


The Cannondale Scalpel features 29’’ Hi-impact Carbon wheels. These wheels, while being impressively resistant, are also extremely light. The 29’’ allows a high degree of maneuverability, but they are also efficient and secure when it comes to gliding over any hindrances along the path.

If this mountain bike was already highly performant, with these wheels the performance – and speed – are even increased.

Part 4: Introduction of the Main Use of the Product

The Scalpel features one of the most advanced suspension systems on the market. This isn’t an entry-level and this is too much for beginners (too much money, too many advanced features). This is a men’s mountain bicycle for experienced mountain bikers that need strong suspensions that provide stability, but also lightness so that they can climb up hills and mountains more easily. The Cannondale Scalpel is the mtb for them.

In the Scalpel models range, there is also the Scalpel SE. For bikers who are too experienced for an entry-level, but are not interested in racing the SE is a good compromise.

Last but not least, as we’ve just mentioned, the Cannondale Scalpel, capable of providing speed, is also suitable for racing.

Part 5: Product Details Introduction

If we want to summarize the Cannondale Scalpel’s main details in a short paragraph, we would say that this is one of the lightest men’s mountain bicycles with a great and unique suspension system. Cannondale thought of every detail providing this mtb mens bike with an in-frame storage system and a new geometry that makes the bike more unique and, more importantly, faster.

It’s suitable for advanced bikers and also for racing; while the SE is the Scalpel version for advanced amateurs, lovers of speed and performance but not interested in racing.

Brakes, gears, and wheels are just the top-level systems you can find on a mountain bike; so, there are – of course – more affordable models than the Scalpel, even cheaper than the Scalpel SE (check the Cannondale Trail models, for example) but it comes to such advanced features, budget is rarely a priority.

Part 6: Product Specification Table

  • Style: Longer-travel XC
  • Frame: BallisTec Hi-MOD Carbon Fibre, FlexPivot Chainstay, 100mm Travel
  • Material: Carbon
  • Wheel Size: 29er
  • Fork | Lefty Ocho Carbon, Chamber Damper w/Remote Lockout, 55mm Offset, 100mm Travel
  • Saddle | Prologo Dimension NDR, Tirox Rails
  • Claimed Weight | 9.76kg
  • Grips | ESI Chunky Silicone, 32mm Diameter
  • Stem | Cannondale 1, 7075 Alloy, Length: 70mm (S/M), 80mm (L), 90mm (XL)
  • Travel: 120mm
  • Drivetrain: Shimano XT 12-speed
  • Cranks: 175mm Hollowgram
  • Chainring: 34t
  • Cassette: 10-51
  • Brakes: Shimano XT hydraulic disc
  • Wheels: Tubeless-ready carbon Hollowgram 25 S Superlight
  • Tires: 2.35-inch Maxxis Ardent Race (front), 2.25-inch Maxxis Rekon Race (rear)
  • Seatpost: 150mm Cannondale DownLow dropper
  • Handlebar: 780mm Cannondale 1 Riser, carbon
  • Stem: Alloy Cannondale 1
  • Tire Clearance: 29 x 2.4 in.