Cannondale Scalpel Carbon 29er 29er Full Suspension

4.46/5 (26 Reviews)
MSRP : $7600.00

Product Description

Designed from the ground up and incorporating the best features from our Flash 29’er, Scalpel, RZ and OverMountain bikes, the new Scalpel 29’er is a lightweight, plush and precise all-around trail rocket. It will give racers an edge on longer, rougher courses and put smiles on the faces of fast trail riders everywhere. The new Scalpel 29’er – get ready to operate.

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Reviews 1 - 15 (26 Reviews Total) | Next 15

User Reviews

Overall Rating:1
Value Rating:3
Submitted by Ex-Cannondale a Racer

Date Reviewed: May 9, 2016

Strengths:    Light

Weaknesses:    The frames are so fragile, better not to ride these off-road.

Bottom Line:   
I think this is a great bike if it stayed in one piece for more than five rides. I broke my first on on the chainstay, was climbing a hill and heard the crack. I got a new frame - great - that one lasted three rides before the downtube cracked at the BB junction. It looks like something whacked it but I can assure I was riding a fast relatively smooth descent and heard a very loud crack. There may have been some stones on the trail, one may have kicked up but this is supposed to be a mountain bike, should be able to withstand a pebble hitting it. Cannondale has refused to replace it, way to stand behind your product. I see the new Scalpel SI is now released, I hope that's note a one time use bike like mine have been.

I am a 165 XC racer, don't do drops or anything remotely crazy.

Expand full review >>

Favorite Trail:   Trout Brook

Duration Product Used:   7 rides

Similar Products Used:   Niner Jet9, Niner Air9

Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:4
Submitted by Todd a Cross Country Rider

Date Reviewed: October 15, 2015

Strengths:    Fast, holds a line, climbs like a goat and yes nimbel for a 29er.

Weaknesses:    Magura brakes are just ok. Not bad but not shimano

Bottom Line:   
Ok, I've been mtbing for 30 years and that includes short races, 24hr and Xterra Tri's. So, I've ridden, raced and demoed everything out there. From single speed to Enduro bikes.

This bike is NOT for beer drinking baggy pants out of shape chair lift riders. It's a pure X country bike that gets you from point A to B fast and true. So, please if you fall into one or more of those categories above don't get this bike or post a review on it. Just come to the realization that you got the wrong bike. Because, let me tell you it's not about the bike in this case.

10 months I've been riding this machine and I've found very few flaws. I've got the 2015 Carbon 3 version and I'm 51 so that's the only reason why I passed on the Carbon 2 with the 1x. Plus. I think the grey/red looks better than the blue/white. 1st flaw, Magura brakes are just average but I do like the magmatic pistons in the brake calipers to hold the pads in place, very nice design. X7 shifters and front der are fine but come on Cdale couldn't you've made the full groupo x9 instead of just the rear der. It's a $4k bike! Anyway, the bike performs well in all areas and has a super tight feel to it. This is my first lefty and it out performs any XC front fork I've ever raced on. No mechanical issues other that the wedge recall that was installed for free. Not sure why they didn't just replace the steerer tube?? I'm no engineer though

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Favorite Trail:   The one I'm riding on

Duration Product Used:   10 months

Price Paid:    $4000.00

Purchased At:   REI

Similar Products Used:   Ellsworth Truth and Evolve, Litespeed Ti frames, Trek Fuel and Specialized

Bike Setup:   Factory setup

Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by scott

Date Reviewed: May 13, 2015

Strengths:    Its an out of the box 23lb 3 oz x-large full springer 29r with single lever lock out on the bars

Weaknesses:    adjustments when dealing with the OPI stem system are limited and not exactly easy but its worth the pain for the gain for such a rigid structure

Bottom Line:   
This review is for the 2015 Team Model which is got all the stuff one would want to end up with a XL 23 pound full springer.with 29r wheels. I have been riding and racing over 25 years and have had or ridden a lot of mtb bikes in that time.
This bike is simply the best I have ridden thus far. The carbon lefty makes my thru axle fox fork seem primitive, its just plain butter on the trail but tracks like nothing I have ridden before. Push the pedals and this bike moves forward, no flex even remotely detected.

Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by Andrew Eckel a Cross Country Rider

Date Reviewed: April 21, 2015

Strengths:    So many. Super light. Great spec. Climbs like a goat. Nimble for a 29er. Very fast.

Weaknesses:    The bars are too wide. I clip things in tight situations. Rear hub issue w/ the Tricon XM 1550 - a common ailment - requires rebuild by DT Swiss. Tubeless setup is more of a chore than usual.

Bottom Line:   
Hands down the best bike I've ever owned. I've had 30+ over the years and the Scalpel Carbon One 29er slays them all. The S-Works Epic was my standard XC ride until 2012. I usually flip bikes after a season. I've never considered selling the Scalpel. The bike has heart. It's a heroic climber. Simply astonishing how well it tracks and hooks up on steep ascents. Incredible traction below 25psi. It's carves well, is very nimble for a 29er. Stable and sturdy in choppy terrain. Set up tubeless with XTR pedals my 2012 Large weighed in at 22.9lbs. Did I mention it's fast?

The only mountain bike I've ridden for 2+ years now. I've had no reason to look elsewhere..

Expand full review >>

Favorite Trail:   Tom Paul

Duration Product Used:   Two years

Purchased At:   Gear Works Leominste

Similar Products Used:   S-Works Epics & Stumpys, Numerous 29er & 26" hardtails, Orbea Oiz, Gary Fisher Superfly, Giant Anthem and Trance.

Bike Setup:   Almost entirely stock. XTR pedals. Am running Conti Xking 2.2s tubeless.CrankBros grips.

Overall Rating:4
Value Rating:4
Submitted by hoiminglee a All Mountain Rider

Date Reviewed: February 23, 2015

Strengths:    No issues after 2 years of ownership
Strong, no breakages (knock on wood), i've seen postings around frame and chainstay breakages...
Reynolds wheels have held up great
2013 Lefty Carbon XLR 100mm fork holding up well
Feels light and fast on the trails, easy to pick up front end and move the bike around in technical

Weaknesses:    Price,
Relative complexity of BB
Stock Schwalbe racing ralphs suck... too thin, easy to puncture

Bottom Line:   
Purchased in 2013 and after 3,500 kms of riding I wanted to post a follow up review. Why... well the bike deserves it and people paying top dollar would appreciate a follow long term review. Honestly i've had no issues with the bike, i'm take jumps and bash through rock gardens etc.. and haven't found a fault with this bike. I would happily put down my $$ and do it again, there is value in the bike believe it or not... (Light, fantastic fork, solid wheelset, handles great, fast)... choose something more expensive however it will weigh more and probably won't handle as well.

Expand full review >>

Favorite Trail:   Any...

Duration Product Used:   2 years

Price Paid:    $7000.00

Purchased At:   Bikebug

Similar Products Used:   Previous generation of scalpel team

Bike Setup:   Recently put on Hutchison Mojo tubeless tyres, they are great!
Cane creek aluminum handlebar
Fox RP23 rear shock

Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by markrose a Cross Country Rider

Date Reviewed: November 3, 2013

Strengths:    Handling,weight,stiffness,responsiveness and comfort.
As a result of all of the above,speed,and lots of it.

Weaknesses:    Noisey brakes when wet.
Get the right size and stem as there is less adjustment than other bikes out there.

Bottom Line:   
Done just over 700ks so far.
I have been riding mountain bikes for close to thirty years and have tried just about every brand out there and this is the best bike I have ever riden.
Fast and resposive with sharp handling.
Rolls over heaps of stuff that would slow down a 26er and is super stable.
So far I have not found any of the so called diss-advantages of the 29 wheel size and am completely sold on the concept.
This bike climbs and decends well and is quick accelerating too.
I am noticably closer to the front of my group and even first to the top occasionally.
The bike is an XL and I am 6'2' and the fit is perfect if a little racey compared to a short stem trail bike.
Those riders used to 6" travel trail bikes my struggle with 4" as it is not plush and rides more like a hard tail.
You don't notice the suspension working and for me that's nirvana.
If you want to travel quickly over all sorts of terrain and arrive at your destination feeling fresh then this is the bike for the job.
I just love it.

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Favorite Trail:   Te Aroha NZ

Duration Product Used:   2 months

Price Paid:    $6000.00

Purchased At:   Vello espresso,Hamil

Similar Products Used:   Most

Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by Ryan Densem

Date Reviewed: September 1, 2013

Strengths:    Efficiency in tackling the hills.

Weaknesses:    Only weakness is wondering how good the Scalpel 1 is.

Bottom Line:   
Beginner to intermediate rider. Done the upgrade from a 26er Alloy. Had a slight touch of buyers remorse trying to justify spending the money on this. First 2 hr ride would have paid a further 25%.
Outstanding bike!!! Great climber, smooth over the rough, clean sharp & hassle free gearing & brakes.
Anyone on the fence of buy or not to buy. My recommendations is grab one.

Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by gashgash1 a Cross Country Rider

Date Reviewed: June 1, 2013

Strengths:    In one word - FAST.

Weaknesses:    None so far

Bottom Line:   
Coming off an Ibis Mojo SL 26". The Scalpel makes me ride 25-30% faster. It feels like this bike begs to be ridden fast. It has snappy acceleration, stiff pedaling platform, and maintains momentum like nothing else.
I swapped the stock SRAM XO brakes, shifters and rear derailleur with XTR Race components and very happy with theis build. Did not have to mess with the cockpit as it is perfectly built for this bike. The Raynolds wheels and Racing Ralph tires are perfect match for pushing you faster on rolling hills and hard packed single tracks.
Look in the blogs for the optional white/magnesium color scheme. Its not on the official Cannondale website but the dealers can order it for you. Much better looking compared to the default red/blue colors.
Total weight at 22 lb (10 kg) for a small frame with XRT pedals and a bottle cage!
The bike is stiff no matter how hard you pedal. When engaging the front and rear lockouts it feels like a road bike. It is so stiff I only use it on asphalt. Read some reviews about the lockouts blowing out in some occasions, I never had this issue with my 155 lb weight.
Due to its short wheelbase the bike is easy to maneuver in tight single-track, and is supper fum when going downhill. But given the overall stiffness and limited travel, don't expect a plush ride when the going gets rough. The Racing Ralph's will reach their limits when climbing over slippery rocks and lose terrain.
Overall this is a supper bike which will make you better rider and definitely faster. I'm not talking about a small marginal improvement, you will feel a significant improvement in any loop you do.
If you can afford it, just go and get it. You will not regret.

Expand full review >>

Duration Product Used:   1 month

Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by joshua west a Racer

Date Reviewed: March 21, 2013

Strengths:    I am coming of of a well equipped hardtail and I was a little nervous about the climbing. But the Scalpel climbs as good as a hardtail its different but more traction and easier on you if that makes sense. Corners like its on rails. Not sure if its the lefty or the rear suspension but super easy to throw into corners and the front wheel really holds. Super light and looks amazing as well. I couldn't even imagine going back to a hardtail. The bike just feels fast while you are riding it. First ride on my normal loop produced several PR's even with me stopping and fiddling with this and that and I felt way fresher after. Also had a PR on a 1.7m climb where you would think the hardtail would have it.

Weaknesses:    None really just small things. Bottle mount only allows a small bottle and even then it is still hard to get in and out. Also I have a bit of squeaking from the front end. But minor considering how awesome this bike is!

Bottom Line:   
A fast race full suspension thats worth every penny.

Overall Rating:4
Value Rating:4
Submitted by AdamAlter

Date Reviewed: January 28, 2013

Strengths:    Light, fast, and smooth. Looks great too, for those that care about that.

Weaknesses:    DT Swiss wheels
Not much room for a water bottle

Bottom Line:   
I have the 2012 in a large.

I'm 210, without gear. While I don't ride to break things and look for huge 4'+ drops to air off of, I do ride fast and hard on intermediate trails (XC mostly) and don't avoid advanced sections. I was blown away with how fast and well it handles yet somehow smoothes out some rough DH sections that used to beat me up on other FS bikes.

The DT Swiss wheelset seems to have problems. They perform well and aren't super heavy, but my hubs are slipping and it looks like I'm not along. It started with the brakes feeling like they were shuttering and wasn't smooth. But when I took it in, they knew exactly what it was, having had the same problem with other customers as well as the pro tech who rode the same bike. Cannondale gave me no hassle and is replacing under warranty. I've been waiting a couple weeks for the replacements to come in, but when they do I'll be swapping them for some Mavic SLRs.

My other issue seems silly, but is the ability to hold a water bottle. The biggest I've been able to squeeze in my large frame, is a single 20oz bottle my daughter had on her bike. I wonder if a med frame could even hold one. While a Camelbak is fine, and some prefer, it does limit the ability to monitor water/liquid calories for many 1+hr laps in Texas heat... for those who like to regulate it with bottles. The Camelbak raises your center of gravity and somehow tends to make my back stiff over time.

Overall Rating:4
Value Rating:4
Submitted by Mark

Date Reviewed: January 3, 2013

Strengths:    Light full susser, large size came in with pedals at 23.8lbs (Crank Bros 4ti), I have the 2013 version.
Suspension feels more like 5"
Goes pretty fast, holds speed
Love the carbon rims
Eye candy, some people don't like the black, blue, red look of the 2013 carbon 1 but you have to see it in person to appreciate it. The old matt black, white look of 2012 and other bikes is getting stale to be frank..

Weaknesses:    Lefty and Pressfit BB30 comes with a level of new "complexity"
Rock Shox monarch rear shock is hard to dial in, I weigh 174lbs and still not sure if it's set correctly, the manual does not give psi settings, just sag recommendations so you have to play around with it. Also I've got the rear shock pumped up close to that's high and still not sure... prefer Fox RP23, lower air pressures and easier to set up.
Also I prefer not to have the lock out cable feeds, prefer to reach down to lock out shock and forks since the cables add weight and unncessary complexity

Bottom Line:   
I've only had the bike for several weeks, it goes like like mad, the other day i was hit 39km/hour on flat tarmac against a roadie, albeit it was for a short distance but hell it was only a leisure ride....

I'm new to 29ers but I can definitely say it has some advantages, maintains speed well, when you jumpo it lands like a cat.

Note, with so much cabon on this bike I highly recommend you buy a torque helped me re-torque some items and found around 6 bolts not torque correctly as per specs. This makes a difference in terms of safety and reducing squeaks.. Carbon transfers noise like no other...

Will post a more thorough review after a few months of really putting it through the paces.

Expand full review >>

Similar Products Used:   2010 Cannondale Scalpel Team with Fox fork (no lefty installed).

Overall Rating:2
Value Rating:2
Submitted by TX XC a Racer

Date Reviewed: November 20, 2012

Strengths:    Bike is very fast, very light, looks sharp

Weaknesses:    Very poor frame reliability. I have broken 2 frames so far (I get about 15 rides on each one). I am 175lb xc racer living in Texas. I have another friend who bought his at the same time and has broken a frame as well. Either the carbon layup or the design of the frame is very poor. I am going to sell mine so I can have something reliable to race on.

Bottom Line:   
Make sure you have a backup bike, or another bike to train on if you are planning on buying one.

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Similar Products Used:   Giant Anthem XO Carbon, Specialized Epic 29, Intense Spyder 29

Bike Setup:   Stock Setup

Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:4
Submitted by sugoipnw a All Mountain Rider

Date Reviewed: October 17, 2012

Strengths:    Light, fast, rolls uphill like a goat, rolls over rock gardens with ease.

Weaknesses:    Travelling (need adapters for fork mounts), would swap out for XT/XTR brakes.

Bottom Line:   
Excellent bike, designed for XC and All Mountain. Would be an excellent performer in longer/endurance races. Love this bike will be upgrading in the future to the Scalpel 1.

Expand full review >>

Favorite Trail:   Squamish, BC

Duration Product Used:   1 Year

Price Paid:    $4500.00

Purchased At:   NA

Similar Products Used:   YETI ASR, YETI ASR 5, Ellsworth Truth, Specialized Stumpjumper

Bike Setup:   Mostly stock.

Overall Rating:3
Value Rating:2
Submitted by RiderRob a Cross Country Rider

Date Reviewed: August 22, 2012

Strengths:    Best climbing, riding, turning mountain bike I have ever ridden! I could not believe this corners better than my 26" race bike!

Weaknesses:    Fragile frame, slow after the sale response times, underwhelming customer service.

Bottom Line:   
At the end of last season, I got a great deal on a Giant Anthem SL0. Then this spring, Cannondale came and did a demo days in my town here in central Ohio. After one ride on the Scalpel 29 Carbon 1, I was sold!

I called Cannondale and learned enough to feel confident in the toughness of the BallisTec Carbon and was told a story of a guy who bought a used Cannondale, broke it, and how the company sent him a new frame. While I have never heard of, or would expect, any company to replace a second hand used product, the point I got was "we look after our customers", especially ones who buy our higher end products. My experience as you will see and what I have found looking around the web recently is that Cannondale typically takes 4-6 weeks to consider any warranty issue...which is not "looking after their customers" in my opinion.

While I do not know what "qualifies" under the warranty policy, at the seven week mark of owning this bike I had my first fall. I went over the handlebars, something that has happened on most bikes I have owned and ridden over the past 30 years, never resulting in any frame issues. While the frame did not actually come in contact with anything, the saddle impacted the trail as the bike continue over and that stress caused my frame to crack in two separate places.

After two and a half weeks of constant prodding communication with my LBS and email correspondence with the area Cannondale rep, my LBS and the rep are working to replace my frame under warranty with one model lower, the Carbon 2. While I am very thankful for this there are a few troubling points...

1. Everyone involved had all the information, pictures, and the bike within hours of the mishap...why it took two weeks to come to this decision or for any action baffles me.

2. When I ordered the bike it came in sooner than expected, was assembled, and ready for me to pick up and pay for way ahead of schedule. With this warranty issue, things have moved and continue to move at a snails of checking yesterday the bike still had not arrived after a week of "being on the way".

3. My request was for Cannondale to stand behind my very high end, still brand new, purchase, with the same frame. I actually got the carbon 1 because of availability and how much I loved the matte back and white frame (the components were less of a concern because I plan to eventually put the xtr drivetrain from my Anthem on this bike). While I know the frame on the Carbon 2 is the same other than the "paint job" (and possibly a few extra grams that go along with that), it seemed much less professional to offer a downgrade as my only option...other than buying the same frame I am still paying for at a better price than I got the first one for weeks ago.

The bottom line for me is that this is honestly the best bike I have ever ridden, and I still cannot believe this bike handles as well as it does. It really seems like the best of all worlds and the first 29er where you don't have to compromise some of the benefits that have been typically only found with 26ers!

While I appreciate that there has been a measure of resolution that should have me back up and running about a month after the fall...I am completely underwhelmed with the time this has taken and the lack of professionalism in the resolution I have reached.

So if you are looking for the best riding bike available I cannot recommend anything more than the Scalpel 29 Carbon 1! If you need this high end work of art to last under normal incidence or a company that will stand behind you after the sale in ways you would expect at this level...the jury is still out and you may need to look elsewhere.

The only other note I have is that my LBS and the owner there have really tried to step it up and do everything they can...I have been considering an EVO road bike, but this experience is pushing me to look at lesser brands with better customer service and care.

Expand full review >>

Favorite Trail:   Mohican

Duration Product Used:   7 Weeks

Purchased At:   Ride On

Similar Products Used:   Anthem X SL0, Moots Mooto X 29er.

Bike Setup:   Stock for now.

Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by Jon G a Cross Country Rider

Date Reviewed: July 27, 2012

Strengths:    Scalpel 2 was an amazing buying decision. In sum, this bike should be defined as "refined" in all aspects. Handling, braking, acceleration, sprinting, climbing and descending this bike excels in all areas. The carbon chassis is so wonderfully stiff that it is able to telegraph exactly what kind of terrain it is you are riding on. Geometry is brilliant and super comfortable to ride on long rides. Components, wheels and suspension bits are top of its class for the price range. I don't think that I was able to find a better combination of items for the 2012 year other than this bike. Absolutely love the 2x10 gear set up, really intuitive. Lefty is amazing as well, I am new to the technology but am super impressed that I can have active suspension while turning and while on the brakes and while descending (what a luxury). Bike weight was exactly 24.0lbs with my crank bros pedals. Which brings me to another topic, the bike is so wonderfully light that it accelerates while climbing and on the flats as though there is no bike beneath you at times. Front Lock out was a feature that I though was worth paper-value only... however find myself using it all all climbs (extra efficiency).

Weaknesses:    Seat post is creeping on me... keeps on lowering the seat while riding. Not sure if this is a greece issue or not (shop should look at it and there is really no real issue here.). Handle bar grips look great but were too narrow for my hands. Racing Ralph Swalbe tires are great but don't really last a long time... not a cannondale issue.

Bottom Line:   
Amazing Bike, if you have the money and don't want to settle for mediocracy buy this bike. If the price tag is too high, then I would consider going back to a 26er... as all other bikes this year were really too heavy.

When riding the scalpel 2 I find that it rides as though there is no suspension at all... however in reality there is a lot of suspension working underneath me.

Love the brakes.

I would recommend someone to buy this bike with confidence of not having to upgrade any significant part of the bike. This kit is fast right out of the box.

Just keep mindful of how fast you are actually rolling, because this bike moves quick!

What a great bike, I wish that all bikes were this good!

Expand full review >>

Favorite Trail:   Don Valley Toronto

Duration Product Used:   2 months

Price Paid:    $4600.00

Purchased At:   Sporting life

Similar Products Used:   Gary Fisher Pro Caliber 2007

Bike Setup:   Completely Bone Stock

Reviews 1 - 15 (26 Reviews Total) | Next 15

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