Cannondale Trail SL 29er 29er Hardtail

3.95/5 (56 Reviews)


Product Description

  • Relaxed Race Geometry
  • Save Micro-Suspension System
  • Single-Speed Simplicity


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Reviews 1 - 15 (56 Reviews Total) | Next 15

User Reviews

Overall Rating:4
Value Rating:4
Submitted by Tom M

Date Reviewed: September 9, 2014

Strengths:    The thing is a beast on the trails. It's a good value for the money. The components are decent and the bike can take a good lickin.

Weaknesses:    Tires are mediocre at best. If you are riding on anything remotely wet you are going down. I swapped out the front tire with a tubeless 2.4 Psycho Genius and have had no real issues since. There is a lot of chain slap but its typical on a 3X9 setup. I will be switching to a 1X10 in the very near future.

Bottom Line:   
I just bought this thing about a month and half ago and have been very happy with it. I have put roughly over 100 miles on this thing and it is a great trail bike for the money. With a few upgrades this bike will be GREAT.

Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by Tall Yogi a Weekend Warrior

Date Reviewed: July 18, 2014

Strengths:    Comfortable, fits an XL body well (6'6" 240lbs). Climbs like a goat; down hills well; stable; responsive in corners at speed; great fork for larger people - take out 20mm spacer to get 100mm travel and it improves the ride tremendously. Gears are snappy and quick. Brakes are powerful and easy to grab lots of without endos.

Weaknesses:    Seat, pedals, grips. Squealy brakes.

Bottom Line:   
I came from a 2008 Hardrock that was stolen. I loved that bike - rigid frame. I searched through lots of possible bikes - Devinci Wooky & Jack; Rocky Mountain Fusion; Trek Cobia & Mamba; Specialized Hardrock & Rockhopper. I loved parts of each bike, but this one has the best of them all.

The fit for a large person was important. I had the Hardrock fitted and sized and it rode well. When I got onto this thing it changed how I rode dramatically. Things I hadn't felt fully confident on the Hardrock were no bother on this; and now I'm riding like a fearless kid again. I finally feel like I am one with the bike, rather than just on it. It accelerates quickly, turns well, and stops on a dime. Very precise for a large bike. Low speed corners leave something to be desired (like really slow) but that's okay & expected from a 29er. I don't miss the 26" wheels.

I replaced the grips with Ergon GS-1; Saddle with a Specialized Phenom & pedals with some HT AE03. I'm planted in this and find myself getting off much less than I had before. I highly recommend all three of these upgrades - worth every penny. Long rides are a joy and don't leave painful spots next day.

Complaints: the chain seems to be stretching quickly; the front end is actually too light, but can be controlled - found climbing my first time in low gears that I couldn't keep it on the ground and kicked the bike out from under me a couple times - WOW! When needed I will likely put a heavier tire on the front to help. The seat post needs regular lubing to keep creaky noises at bay. I don't see any wearing issues, just an aluminum frame quirk.

Future plans: Aside from lots of riding - I will convert the drive train to a 2 x 10. The lowest gears and highest gears are unnecessary, and the extra clearance at the crank would be a good improvement - though I haven't bottomed it yet. Probably get a better / second chain just to be sure & save some costly wear.

A great all around bike that fits big people and seems to take a beating and keep on going. Great bike store too!!

Expand full review >>

Favorite Trail:   Hydrocut

Duration Product Used:   2 seasons

Price Paid:    $1000.00

Purchased At:   Ziggy's Cycle


Overall Rating:1
Value Rating:1
Submitted by David Hunt

Date Reviewed: May 22, 2014

Strengths:    Superb looking bike in white and green. Looks awesome..

Weaknesses:    Poor lazy gear changes since new.. Appalling customer service from cannondale.

Bottom Line:   
It's a great looking bike. Since new I have been plagued by lazy gear changing issues. I have had the cassette changed and the chain after 750 miles and still the situation hasn't improved.

Cannondale customer service within terms of the warranty has been p@@s poor..

They never reply. Plain and simple.

My bike plays up when the canal path is wet.. It's fine when dry..

Seems that grunge gets stuck in the cassette and it jumps out of gear..

Have tried to sort it our with retailer but no luck.

I have had 1 cassette change. 1 chain.. 3 cable changes and still I have lazy gear changes.

1st and last cannondale I ever buy.

Oddly enough the local independent specialised dealer tried to warn me about cannondale lack of customer service however I wouldn't listen ..

Be warned. Superb looking bike. Absolute sh@@e customer service..

Very very dispsapointed cannondale owner

Overall Rating:4
Value Rating:4
Submitted by Kent H. a Cross Country Rider

Date Reviewed: November 8, 2013

Strengths:    Great frame, nice details, looks like a "high end" bike.

Weaknesses:    Heavy and not well dampened fork, rebound is very slow an unadjustable, tires slick when wet to the point of danger.

Bottom Line:   
Wonderful entry level bike, had it for a few months now with regular weeks consisting of 100 miles or more of single track. As parts wear out I've been replacing them, at this point my bike is set up ss for winter. I love this bike and it's worth keeping and upgrading.

Expand full review >>

Favorite Trail:   Blue Marsh single track, central pa

Duration Product Used:   500 miles

Price Paid:    $650.00

Similar Products Used:   Santa Cruz chameleon.

Bike Setup:   Single speed, hopefully a niner fork soon. Replaced tires with maxxis cross mark tires.

Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by SSpeeder

Date Reviewed: June 23, 2013

Strengths:    High quality frame and fork
Great value
Clean lines
Light blue paint job with orange accent parts looks great


Weaknesses:    Low rent parts

Bottom Line:   
I get compliments from other bikers about how great this bike looks. And it rides just as good as it looks.
I listed low rent parts as the bike's weakness, but for me it is a good thing because I like to get my own up grade parts. I immediately replaced the cranks (square taper bb?) with XX1 along with carbon bar, vintage 90 gm Kooka brake levers, Thompson post, etc. Although, it seems silly to put wheels that are more expensive than the entire bike, I plan to put orange Industry Nine wheel in the near future to finish out the bike. At conclusion of all the fun upgrades, I have a perfect bike and it is still way less expensive than getting a stock alloy Niner single speed bike.
With that said, I wish Cannondale offered a higher spec model for serious single speeders.

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

Date Reviewed: June 11, 2013

Strengths:    bike flies over everything although tires dont help it much, lightweight frame sram groupset isn't buttery by any means but will get the job done for now, like the fork other than the response is tricky to get dialed in right.

Weaknesses:    tires are fairly slippery on wet rocks and roots, pedals will break your shins already replaced them with SPD clip less

Bottom Line:   
great bike for the price, frame is very good will be using it as a base to build my dream bike around other than that not in love with the group set or the front fork but other than that love the bike so far

Overall Rating:4
Value Rating:5
Submitted by Harold a Weekend Warrior

Date Reviewed: June 9, 2013

Strengths:    Lightweight, smooth ride, and a great value

Weaknesses:    Some cheap components, and other parts do not inspire confidence in rougher terrain.


Bottom Line:   
I am mostly a street/light trail rider and I don't think you could ask for a better bike for these conditions. Hard core riders and heavier trail riders will probably need something a bit more high end. The value was great for this bike and for the uses I put it thru on a daily basis couldn't have made it a better purchase. I have had it less than a month and have not had any mechanical problems. I typically ride around 50 miles a week. It is my first 29er, and would recommend for anyone looking for a new bike.

Expand full review >>

Duration Product Used:   About a month

Price Paid:    $899.00

Purchased At:   Cycle Path, Athens,


Overall Rating:1
Value Rating:2
Submitted by BikesN=N+1 a Weekend Warrior

Date Reviewed: May 14, 2013

Strengths:    Looks nice

Weaknesses:    EBB is rubbish
Exccessive flex , frame and fork
frame welding average
Full price is a joke


Bottom Line:   
SERIOUSLY disappointed!!!
First ever Cannondale .... and definitely the last!
Eccentric BB is crap, wasn't even assembled correctly from the factory and forget tightening it to the recomended torque, the BB shell will distort at about 80% tight !! constantly creaks !!
Geometry is not right for a 29er at all, works way better as a 650B cause the BB is way too high.
Bought from Bicycle Express in Adelaide SA (and certainly would NOT recommend them either!!!),
fortunately i got it on clearance at around half price, if i'd paid full RRP i think i'd have asked for a refund!!!
So now i've machined a new BB sleeve and running 1x10 with 27.5 wheels and it's a way better bike
If you are considering one of these P.O.S. , be careful, take it for a thorough test ride and make sure you get a good one ... or just buy something else !!!

Expand full review >>

Favorite Trail:   Fox Creek

Price Paid:    $699.00

Similar Products Used:   KHS, Diamondback, Norco, Giant, NS, Jamis


Overall Rating:2
Value Rating:3
Submitted by daveprodigy603

Date Reviewed: May 8, 2013

Strengths:    Gorgeous frame and a great name that used to stand for something

Weaknesses:    Good looking frame

Bottom Line:   
I'll be honest I had this bike for 3 days after looking High and Low for my size. After looking up to the Cannondale in the past, I had this bike on a pedestal, and it didn't deliver. I realize that some of that was due to lower end parts (but not really), and the touch points were very cheap feeling. The break levers are plastic and the white shifters look and feel out of place. To make matters worse it shifted horribly. The shop I bought from was courteous and took it back easily. I stepped up a little and got a Trek Superfly and the mostly Shimano parts are solid.

Overall Rating:2
Value Rating:1
Submitted by Bryan1113 a Weekend Warrior

Date Reviewed: April 29, 2013

Strengths:    Best for street use and riding around town!

Weaknesses:    Can't really handle off road terrain at all and has fallen apart in about 4 months of riding on some pretty smooth singletrack. Busted spokes, Fork acting up, Gears mess up, Bottom bracket replaced! My fourth bike since riding the last 13 years and the worst. My old 26er HT's took way more of beating and abuse and kept on going.

Bottom Line:   
Bought this bike year ago and hasn't lived up to anything i thought it would do. Basic singletrack and off roading was too much for it to handle. Currently shopping for a new bike (TREK) 29er HT to replace this dud. Never owned a bike that literally lasted not even a year without pouring $$$$$$$ in it to run right. If you buy this bike use it for casual riding and streets.

Expand full review >>

Favorite Trail:   bell mountain loop

Duration Product Used:   11 months

Price Paid:    $800.00

Bike Setup:   Maxxis Ardent 2.25 front and SB8 in the rear. everything else is stock

Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by robert frazer

Date Reviewed: April 2, 2013

Strengths:    great steering response, i could go on and on and! just buy one!

Weaknesses:    mechanical disc brakes the only real down fall of this gem of a bike

Bottom Line:   
i bought the 2013 gulf racing color sl3 ss really just for the color but after riding it for a week my 2012 anthem x1 has been parked up ever since! this bike is plush on the rear end and still to this day i keep looking back to see if some one has snuck a shock on! there are 5 of us with this same bike now and local shop (ride cycles) (even he bought 1) has struggled to keep up with demand. big pat on the back cannondale.
it corners fast ,responds quickly and front fatty fork is set up just right.
my only gripes would be mechanical disc brakes and little tires, but have got some formula r1S on the go and swapped tires for maxxis ikons( personally i reckon best xc tire made)

this bike was intended just for a commuter to and from work, i put a 33x15 set up on it
but now would rather throw this around the sandy point track than my anthem.
i have used it at bluff hill and with the standard 33x 20 set up it climbs awsum!
33x18 set up is a great all round gear for this bike and i am looking forward to hitting the single speed champs down here in october

Overall Rating:4
Value Rating:5
Submitted by MN

Date Reviewed: March 26, 2013

Strengths:    Frame, Recon Silver, and Appearance

Weaknesses:    none that matter but Grips and Saddle

Bottom Line:   
Super-Clyde in the hunt for a new ride after a long absense from MTBing. I narrowed my choices down to the Cobia, Kahunna and this bad boy.

The Cobia felt like an old-school 26" I was sitting in top of the bike. The Kahunna just didn't feel right. Also the Recon Silver on the Trail pushed me to it over the Kona for basically the same price.

This bike is awesome, I have put over 50Km in the first few days, lots of review are spot on with this bike. Will upgrade the grips, saddle and tires.

Also I will be taking the 80mm spacers out to get to 100mm.

Overall this is an awesome bike for the price, love how it looks(black with white letters). My only complaint overall is the limited stock C'dale has I ended up wanting to purchase the Trail SL which is extremely well spec'd for the price but was out of stock indefinitely in March???????? Still not regretting buying the SL2!!!!!

Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by Night Train 57 a All Mountain Rider

Date Reviewed: March 6, 2013

Strengths:    Light, responsive and fast. I'm basing my review on the price and what you get for it. I bought the 2013 this past fall and have been very pleased with the bikes performance. To knock the bike down a few pegs because of stock platform pedals and seat is pretty silly. Yes the pedals are junk, the seat I'm sure is not a 200 dollar seat and the SRAM S5 group is not buttery smooth BUT the bike cost about 1,100 dollars, you are most likely going to crush the rear derailleur off a rock, replace the pedals and replace the seat anyway. Oh, and replace the tires eventually also. Jeez, what do want for the price. If it had slightly better components and fork it would be called the Flash. The bike rolls over roots, rocks and ruts that would have sucked momentum from my 26er. The rear triangle flexes about 5mm to soak up a bit of the chatter also. I think it's a great bike for the price and to expect anything more is just silly.

Weaknesses:    The Rock Shox Recon Silver seems to be a bit over matched bombing down semi-rocky trails. Still working on getting the return dialed in. The tires are super slick on anything other than a packed trail.

Bottom Line:   
Are there better bike out there, of course. They're also more expensive. You would be hard pressed to find an equal bike for the price. Fun, fast and simple is the key to the SL 2.

Expand full review >>

Favorite Trail:   Alligrippis Trails @ Raystown

Price Paid:    $1100.00

Purchased At:   Pro Bikes, Pittsburg

Similar Products Used:   First 29er

Bike Setup:   Stock

Overall Rating:4
Value Rating:4
Submitted by doize182

Date Reviewed: January 20, 2013

Strengths:    sweet frame that has a nice geometry- riding a small and typically on small frame 29ers there is some foot scrub on the front tire- Cannondale did a nice job at designing a frame that prevents this. Love the look of this piece as well, looks only get so far on the trails however it rides equally as great as it looks!

Weaknesses:    I feel it could have came stock w/ better rims and a better choice of a crank- other than that just out of the box it has decent components. Even with spending the extra cash to get the parts I want I still feel this piece is a good value though.

Bottom Line:   
If your looking for a rock solid bike for a great value this is an awesome choice- have no regrets on this purchase!

Overall Rating:3
Value Rating:4
Submitted by Rory a Cross Country Rider

Date Reviewed: November 18, 2012

Strengths:    This is a solid unit, it isn't overly heavy for the size of frame and it powers along if you are commuting on bike paths or hammering on dirt fire trails. Climbing on this is easy and makes the ascent pretty fun. The riding position is relaxed for general riding with an up right position that has your shoulders pretty much over the handle bars. The gear sets and brakes are solid and have caused me no issues.

Weaknesses:    It loves to nose dive, it is like someone put led in the front to try make it go faster bob-sled style. This is nasty when you try hitting a drop-off as you have to throw the bike up to get it to land flat. Where the bike dominates going up it fails at descending at pace as the general geometry and average front forks make you feel like you are going over the handle bars, it is very hard to get your weight back even with the seat dropped.

Bottom Line:   
This bike is great for a commuter and for doing long open trails as it powers along. It will make you take life-insurance out though if you start throwing it down steep descents and through snaking single trails at anything but a Medium/slow pace.
I would recommend this as a good entry level bike to ride to work and hit some fire trails on the weekends.

Expand full review >>

Favorite Trail:   Bruce Ridge

Price Paid:    $1500.00

Purchased At:   Cyclery, Canberra


Reviews 1 - 15 (56 Reviews Total) | Next 15

Review Options:  Sorted by Latest Review | Sort by Best Rating


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Anyone have any experience with this bike? I am going to make my first *big* purchase and am eyeballing this bike. I have a Cannondale F-500 in perfect condition I am going to use this season (my first season) Even tho I am new to the sport, I feel I will progress pretty quickly. I am a avid snowbo ... Read More »

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