Zero Pivots, Zero Competition. The lightest, stiffest, most efficient dual suspension XC race bike on the planet. The Scalpel isn’t just in a class by itself - it’s attending an entirely different school.
Frame: Scalpel, 80mm, BallisTec Hi-MOD full carbon, Zero Pivot, BB30, 1.5 Si headtube
Fork: Lefty Speed Carbon PBR, 100 mm, OPI, Solo Air
Strengths: SRAM 1 x 11 set up, Carbon Lefty 2.0 (yes, it really IS that good), Schwalbe Racing Ralphs
Weaknesses: The only thing that I'm not 100% on is the SRAM X-Actuation shifter...both triggers are under the grip and thumb activated (a bit of a reach on upshifts). Coming from Shimano Rapid Fire where both thumb and index fingers are put to use, I believe that is the optimal configuration. But, the beauty of this rig is that there's only one shifter needed!
Wow! I really don't know what else to say about the 2016 Cannondale Scalpel 29 Carbon Race. It is an incredible, dream-like ride that begs to be pushed to the limit. Every time out it asks, "How fast can you push me?" Speed, ride quality, tracking, turning, fit, components, functionality...Cannondale just knocks it out of the park with this bike. I have ridden mountain bikes for 25+ years and this bike is without doubt the finest representation of a full suspension, cross-country racing rig (some call the 29er platform 'cheater bikes' because they go so damned fast) that I have ever ridden. I had thought that my Sugar 1 could not be topped. This bike is simply no comparison to the Sugar, a great bike in its own right, for its day and as a 26 inch pure racing rig. I've only been riding the Scalpel for a few months now, and have yet to race it, but I'm certain that I have yet to hit any limits with it. Pure speed, pinpoint connection to the trail, spot on turning, suspension set up is just perfect. Forget about not much, there is absolutely nothing not to like about this bike. Even the bright green color grows on you after a while. Having never owned a Cannondale XC bike before, I'm now left wondering, "What took me so long?" Whether its this top-of-the-line model or another in the Scalpel line-up I would venture a guess that you can't go wrong with any of them. Plus, the older we get (I'm pushing 60), there's no looking back to hardtail, carbon or otherwise. Full suspension all the way! Especially if you're going to race of any duration. As an endurance XC racer -- marathons, 12 & 24 hour solo racing -- full suspension is the only way to go. At 24 pounds, this bike gives me everything that I'm looking for in a racing rig. All I can say is GET ONE!
Similar Products Used: Gary Fisher Sugar 1, Kona Hei Hei 29, Gary Fisher Joshua, Specialized Stumpjumper, Trek Antelope
Bike Setup: Stock but for ISM Typhoon saddle and Shimano XTR Ti pedals. Weighs in at 24# on the button.
a Cross Country Rider
Date Reviewed: January 27, 2013
Strengths: I love the Lefty! this is a beautiful rig; tracks wonderfully, really rips up technical stuff
Weaknesses: wait, what?
I've ridden a bunch of different bikes: kona, SC, trek, yeti. This bike is at the top of the heap. Very responsive, fairly lightweight. I thought I'd never be one of those "I can now climb stuff I never could before" poster... Alas. What a blast!
Date Reviewed: December 15, 2012
Strengths: Lefty, stiff, lightweight, FAST
Weaknesses: No rear shock lock-out
I bought a 2013 from my local bike shop and got a great deal on the price. I was a little concerned about the Lefty, but after riding it a bunch, it's fantastic. So, smooth and stiff. I owned a Giant Anthem before and it was more plush than the Scalpel. However, I was looking for something that was faster and climbed better. Going from alux to carbon made a huge difference. However, the Scalpel is stiff, fast and less plush than I was used to. However, I'm getting more into racing (Xterrra, local 1 hr races, etc) and it's a much better bike for me. This is a race bike. It could be lighter, but that's a function of spending more $$$ and simply getting the Scalpel 1 with carbon hoops. Very specific bike, but for what it does, it does well.
a Cross Country Rider
Date Reviewed: December 13, 2012
Strengths: light weight; handles like a dream; responsive
This is a great, relatively inexpensive way to get a podium-quality steed. You won't be disappointed with this ride. I've ridden turner, fisher, yeti, kona and many others. The only other make that comes close IMO is the Turner 5-spot.
I bought the 2013. Paid $4600. I had the 2012 flash carbon before this and I did not like it. This bike is amazing. It does what I want it to do. My confidence has increased. My body is not tired like it was on the HT. took me three bikes to get here but now I am completely satisfied. Aluminum wheels very light weight.
Date Reviewed: July 30, 2012
Strengths: Super light, super fast...climbs like a dream and goes way faster than I can push it. Tried some North shore trails and stands up to rough stuff better than I thought a bike this light would. Truly a cross country bike par excellence.
Weaknesses: I'd have to say I'm the weakness with this bike...if you have the skill this bike has the speed. Definately not a downhill bike but it's stronger than it looks.
This is my first carbon mtb so haven't really compared it to others having only ridden 90's hard tails in the past but this is really an awesome ride.
The lefty is strong and agile when it comes to roots and rocks and I'm a 200lb rider that isn't graceful. Heavier bikes tend to plow into stuff where this bike easily floated over terrain I unintentionally went down that would've had me breaking wheels on in the old days.
I love this bike, it is as light as a hardtail 26" 21lbs, and it as fast as a 29er. The zero pivot suspension translates to zero lost energy, is springs you up obstacles and propels you beyond the competition. No question this is the fastest bike I have EVER ridden, I have ridden a lot of bikes 26" and 29er. It is so fun lively that it is my go-to bike for any occasion, never will go back to anything else.
Similar Products Used: Rocky Mountain Element Team RSL 29er
Santa Cruz Tall Boy
Specialized Stumpjumper 29er
Litespeed Niota 26"
Titius Racer X 26"
Bike Setup: Stan's Wheels
XLR 100mm Lefty
Rock Shox Monarch
Elixir 9 Brakes
a Weekend Warrior
from Redmond, WA
Date Reviewed: February 19, 2012
Strengths: Super stiff aluminum front frame, Lefty looks unique and dampens everything, The full package is light and strong.
Weaknesses: If I had to gripe about one thing...it would be the slight side to side lateral flex of the carbon rear triangle. Only really feel it riding on road.
This is a review for the 2006/7 Team Replica. I came across this bike on a local Craigslist listing with the description of a blown front Lefty fork. The price was tempting and after 30mins looking over to ensure nothing else was wrong I pulled the trigger. The set up was full SRAM X-0 except an XTR front derailleur. Turned out the fork was beyond repair and after waiting four weeks for Cannondale to replace the Lefty, I had the pleasure to pounce on local trails today. First impression was this thing climbed like a goat on red bull. I felt I could tackle the steepest hills. Although I haven't spent the time to dial in the Lefty, it felt nice and smooth on the hardest hits and biggest ruts. It is a strong feeling to on the Lefty as it just doesn't look right. But boy does it feel great. The full package of the bike worked really well. I wanted an exceptional climber with some comfort from a full suspension frame. Could not ask for more! Only issue as mentioned above is the flex of the rear triangle...not major, but most noticeable on concrete.
a Cross Country Rider
from SW, UK
Date Reviewed: November 14, 2011
Strengths: Super Light - 20.0 lbs (9.18kg) with pedals. Rides pretty well on most XC terrain.
Weaknesses: Unreliable. Way too Fragile. Awful post-sales service from CSG. No use for long-endurance or multi-day events - it will let you down...
If you are not a sponsored rider and don't have a mechanic in support with a spare bike and a van full of components then this bike is probably not for you. If you live in Northern Europe and regularly ride in wet conditions, it's definitely not a good choice. I've not ridden it enough to make any great claims about how it handles - seems OK so far, but that's based on 3 rides. It has been sat in the retailers shop since it's first ride in the wet when it demonstrated how fragile it is. continuous chain suck damaged the chain stays; after the protective plate came off. Further damage was evident under the neoprene cover - I can't imagine this was from debris, so it must be a result of how the pivotless rear triangle flexes. The BB bearing seized and the rear brake cable carved out a massive gouge in the lefty fork where it was routed past and 'missed' the little protective patches that are supplied... CSG claim this is not a warranty issue but just a result of 'British Weather'; it wasn't even in the winter!
Awesome. I am a 100kg rider and hammer everything. Those that criticize dale 'it'll break' have never ridden one - owned 5 dales and never broken one! They are superbly engineered and thought through. Highly recommend - but expensive - value for money because they are so good.
Similar Products Used: Pivot Mach 4, cannondale rize
Bike Setup: Factory spec, what would you upgrade?!
a Cross Country Rider
Date Reviewed: September 17, 2011
Strengths: Look at the spec's, not much that's worth an upgrade!
Weaknesses: The price, at least on this side of the Atlantic
Well, what can I say? Out of the box the weight for a complete bike was 8.6 kg (Sub 19 lb) so still way under 9 kg with pedals, truly amazing! The bike is stiff and really responsive and the Lefty works better than almost everything I've ever tried before.
This is my first bike with a Hollowgram crankset and I', totally impressed! Lighter than everything else (beside Clavicula perhaps) and solid as a rock, unbeatable!
The price is high but you get what you pay for, trust me!
Similar Products Used: Specialized Epic S-Works, Scott Spark RC
Bike Setup: Close to stock, swapped the tires for a pair of RK Supersonic and changes the grips to a pair of Ritchey WCS .
a Cross Country Rider
Date Reviewed: March 7, 2011
Strengths: The lightest full suspension XC bike you can get!
Weaknesses: It’s the best for XC racing or trail, but don’t try to go hard core downhill with it!
The white grips are good looking but get easily dirty (well, they are white!).
The 2011 Scalpel is just the greatest bike I have ever ridden!
I have the Scalpel 2 which offers a great gear upgrade in comparison with the Scalpel 3 and I thought the Scalpel 1 price was just not justifiable (though the Carbon Lefty would have looked great).
I bought the European model because the frame is the same colour than the Scalpel Ultimate (and not black like in the US), full Sram X-0 and with great DT Swiss Rims and Spokes.
The remote lock on the handlebar for the Lefty is nice to show-off with friends but actually I don’t really need to save 0.3 second to lock/de-lock my fork!
During the week days, I even put 1.5’ tires to train on the road/ easy dirt-road and gain a lot of speed (you could even put 1.3’).
Weaknesses: cannondale's handle bar grips move and twist on the bar
bike is good for what it was made for XC going outside the parameters you may run into some problems. its light, fast, maneuverable the lefty and the 110mm of travel make for a smooth ride up front,the rear with 4" of travel on a pivot less carbon fiber chain stay makes for stiff cornering and the climbing ability of a hard tail due to very little bob, all tho cannondale's lefty maintenance schedule is a little ruff at bearing resets and regular fork maintenance approx every 25-50 ride hours.