Dirt Rag Magazine

Cannondale introduces redesigned 2017 Scalpel-Si

scalpel side

Cannondale’s current Scalpel has often been dubbed a “cross-country trail bike” by many owners. Certainly a racer at heart but it also has good trail-ish mannerisms as well. For 2017 designers undertook the gigantic task of leaning the bike out and with the recent introduction of the Habit trail bike, making the Scalpel XC race through and through.

But, that doesn’t mean they sacrificed performance. Cannondale is calling the new Scalpel-Si XXC—as in extra cross-country or “extreme cross-country.”

I had a chance to discuss the bike one-on-one with Peter Vallance, Cannondale’s mountain bike product manager to get the full details.


“A lot more people are doing marathons or stage races and we wanted to provide a bike for that. This bike needs to fit two bottles in the frame and this is a huge feature and differentiator not only between the new Scalpel and the old one but also verses the competition,” he explained. “And of course it has to be durable for day after day, big mile racing and we wanted it to be easy to own and work on for both the rider and the shop mechanic.”

Another mission was to design the best race bike for all riders, to fit the smallest rider as well as the tallest rider on proper wheel and frame sizes. To do this Cannondale goes little with an extra-small using 27.5 wheels all the way up to extra-large with 29-inch wheels. There’s also a dedicated women’s line with extra-small, small and medium sizes all with 27.5 wheels. For reference the extra-small and small are shared sizes with the smaller wheels. The men’s medium and up goes 29 while the women’s medium stays at 27.5. Each size also finally gets a dedicated head tube stack which means Lefty forks are size specific.


As for performance, “In short we wanted our new bike to be faster up and faster down compared to the competition,” said Vallance. “It’s a pitfall to just say we just have to shave weight (they did to the tune of about 100 grams) and while we’ll never shy away from that the main way we’ve made the bike faster is with our new geometry.”

Geometry updates are substantial with fork off set being dramatically altered to match the new 69.5-degree head angle.

“System Si has evolved to be specific to the Scalpel and the biggest part of it is what we call OutFront geometry. It’s a unique combination of our progressively slack head tube angle mated to a custom 55 mm offset Lefty fork, which is longer than any other bike out there. So we have unique handling that’s made possible because of Lefty. This was actually introduced on the Si hardtail this year and since it will be showing up throughout the line range soon we needed to give it an official name.

“Slack head angles improve high speed and straight line stability as well as steering confidence dropping down steep chutes but often at the cost of slow speed agility, especially picking through rocks or getting around tight switchbacks so the longer offset affords the best of both worlds when mated to that head angle. Stability and agility.”


He continued, “So when you slacken the head angle and grow the rake you’re growing the front center without lengthening the reach so what this does is put the front wheel further in front of the rider and it really helps you get up and over obstacles easier and also, when you’re way behind the saddle charging down a hill it makes it harder to go over the bars, equaling more confident descending. What that offset actually gives you is the equivalent of an even slacker head angle to the tune of 67 or so degrees without that the sluggishness or floppiness that you would encounter in climbing situations or switchbacks.”

Asymmetric Integration stays are another key component with short stays measuring 435 mm.

“Rather than just moving the rear wheel forward and creating tire clearance problems, resorting to single ring only or going with Boost spacing which adds 3 mm of clearance to the driveside, with Ai we were able to move the driveside out a full 6 mm for much more clearance, without changing Q-factor, to match the trend of increased tire volumes to fit up to a 2.35” tire (the new Scalpel comes stock with 2.25” rubber) with plenty of mud clearance as well as double chainring compatibility. This bike uses a normal 142 hub and a normal rim just the dishing is changed to move the wheel to the left—equal length spokes on both sides of the hub for an evenly dished wheel.

Zero pivot stays remain but the rear brake is now finally flat mounted to remove braking forces away from the seat stay.

scalpel link

“The shock mounting axles have been improved to be lighter and stiffer with fewer parts and don’t require any special tools. Shock links are now carbon, even on the lowest cost aluminum framed model. To solve Shimano Di2 compatibility as well as being dropper post friendly the Scalpel houses the battery inside the top tube. Just pop the shock bolt out, put the battery in the holder and slide it right into the top tube and the shock bolt holds it in place.”

To make the bike easier to work on and maintain, Cannondale is introducing its modular internal cable routing. “We wanted to transition to internal cable routing but we knew what a pain it can be to work on so we wanted to make it super easy. We have continuous housing from the shifter to the derailleur so when you’re routing, gravity pulls the housing out of the bike and we weren’t worried about an additional 20 gams to do this. We also have modular frame pieces that lock onto the housing and come with the bike to suit your cabling needs (likely to come to future models.) This design has also solved the issue with housing rubbing on the Lefty fork, keeping all cable in front of the head tube and away from Lefty.”

On the top two models you'll get RockShox's FullSprint dual lockout. Cannondale is the first to make this internally routed.

On the top two models you’ll get RockShox’s FullSprint dual lockout. Cannondale is the first to make this internally routed.

Models are currently available now at a few select dealers with more to come in the next few weeks. Our test bike will be arriving soon so look for a full test coming soon. As for now, all models and pricing can be found here.




Cannondale issues voluntary recall of OPI stems


Courtesy of Cannondale

At Cannondale, the quality and safety of our products are of paramount importance. We build world-class bicycles, components and parts for riders who demand the highest levels of performance. During the course of regular testing, we identified a potential safety issue with the OPI stem/steering tube assemblies used in certain Mountain Bikes. We informed appropriate regulatory authorities and, while there have been no reported accidents or injuries as a result of this, we decided it would be in the best interest of our consumers to conduct a voluntary recall of the part.

OPI Wedge 2From model year 2011 through model year 2015 Cannondale used OPI stems on certain Mountain Bikes. Some OPI stems were also sold as aftermarket stems. Testing has shown that the nature of the connection between the base of the OPI stem and the top of the steering tube results in a reduced fatigue life. This could lead to fork failure, with risk of a serious accident or injury. To address this risk, all OPI equipped forks must be fitted with a special wedge kit that locks and reinforces the threaded connection between the OPI stem and the steering tube. This remedy restores appropriate fatigue life.OPI Wedge

You can identify that you have an OPI stem that is being recalled if the words “OPI” are printed on the top of your stem. You should stop riding your bike immediately and bring it to your nearest authorized Cannondale Dealer to have the part replaced at no charge. Call ahead to make your appointment and you should be in and out quickly. It should take less then 30 minutes to install the new part.

We know that it might be a hassle to have to take your bike off the trails to do this, but your safety is important to us.


Inside Line: First ride on the Cannondale Habit

Cannondale’s new Habit is a 120 mm travel, 27.5-wheel trail bike. I was lucky enough to spend an afternoon riding one. Here is what I thought.

Habit Hi-Mod 1

Unlike Cannondale’s longer travel offerings, the Trigger and the Jekyll, the Habit has no fancy handlebar actuated travel adjust, just a simple single pivot design with a swing-link actuated shock. Both carbon and aluminum frames have been engineered with enough flex in the seat stays to eliminate the need for a rear pivot.


Our group rode the Habit Carbon 1, top of the line, save for the no holds barred Black Inc model. The Carbon 1 has RockShox’s Full Sprint remote lockout controlling the trail-tuned rear shock and Lefty fork. The other remote is for the now de rigeur Reverb dropper post.

Cannondale_Habit_web-6 Cannondale_Habit_web-7

Cannondale_Habit_web-11 Cannondale_Habit_web-10

Our ride consisted of good sized climb on a mix of singletrack and pavement, and descending a mix of fast, degraded fire road and singletrack.


The Habit was pretty easy to get along with from the get go, with what I would consider pretty neutral geometry. I didn’t weigh the bike, but it was probably somewhere under 25 pounds. Climbing was fast and efficient, and while I used the lockout at times, it was mostly reserved for pavement. The 30-tooth chainring was a nice touch for the shape I’m finding myself in lately. It was also mighty cool looking.


I haven’t ridden a Lefty in years, and I’m happy to report there was very little to complain about here. The fork (or more properly, “strut”) was well controlled and felt plenty stiff for such a light chassis. Descending the Habit was a fine blend of nimble and stable. Cannondale did a fine job matching parts to intended use such as the Nobby Nic/Rocket Ron tires, 760 mm bars that can be trimmed to desired width, and four-piston SRAM Guide brakes.


The new Habit is a trail bike. It doesn’t seem to be trying try to be “enduro-light” or a long-trail cross-country bike. I like that.

Prices range from under $2,000 to over $12,000, so most consumers will be able to feed their Habit, regardless of budget.

BLack inc Habit


Habit Hi-Mod 1

HABIT CARBON 1  $7,460

Habit Carbon 2


Habit Carbon SE


Habit Carbon 3


Habit 4

HABIT AL 4  $2,880

Habit Carbon 5

HABIT AL 5  $2,340

Habit Carbon 6

HABIT AL 6  $1,950



Trail Tested: Cannondale Trigger 27.5 Carbon Team


Cannondale designed the Trigger 27.5 Carbon Team to be the quintessential quiver killer—the one bike to replace all others hanging in your shed. Featuring a 140mm-travel carbon Lefty SuperMax fork and Fox DYAD adjustable rear suspension, the Trigger is meant to climb just as well as it descends and comfortably whisk you through everything from that quick local loop to an all-day backcountry adventure. Loaded with an impressive set of components, it surely looks up to the task. The Carbon Team version comes with a SRAM X01 10-42 rear cassette matched to a 30-tooth front ring, XX1 rear derailleur, Magura MT6 brakes, and carbon handlebars.

Like a lot of people, I hadn’t put in an extended amount of time on a bike that featured something as polarizing as Cannondale’s Lefty fork, so when the opportunity to review the Trigger was presented, I jumped. I wanted to find out what it was all about. What I hadn’t realized is that one of the more interesting things about this slick machine was not in the front but rather in the rear: the Fox DYAD RT2 shock.

dirt-rag-trigger-carbon-team-5 dirt-rag-trigger-carbon-team-4

The DYAD is pretty much two shocks in one. Easily controlled with a handlebar-mounted switch, the two modes of the shock are designed to excel in very different environments. “Elevate” utilizes only one of the shock’s two chambers and sets the travel to 85mm. “Flow” opens up both chambers and delivers 140mm. Along with the change in travel, each mode has a dedicated damping circuit and spring rate.

In addition, the two modes affect the bike’s geometry through what Cannondale calls Attitude Adjustment. Elevate sets your weight farther forward and limits sag, increasing the bike’s steering responsiveness and climbing posture, while Flow drops the bottom bracket by 1cm and slackens the head-tube and seat-tube angles, setting you up for rowdier sections of trail.


Out on the trail, it really does work. Weighing in at a scant 24.8 pounds, the Trigger naturally climbs well in either mode, but Elevate placed my body in a great position and stiffened the rear suspension considerably, allowing me to attack those extended flat and uphill sections. The bike acted more cross-country than I was expecting, but in a good way. The rear wheel remained well planted and provided me with all the traction I needed for some of the more challenging climbs.

While in the DYAD’s Flow setting, the rear suspension was very predictable and plush. Rock gardens, jumps and berms on my favorite trails just felt smoother. I’m not one for complexities on bikes, and I think a shock that has two separate chambers, negative and positive air-pressure settings and dials for both low-speed and high-speed compression is a bit much… but it works.

So the rear suspension is solid; how about the front? Yes, that Lefty SuperMax looks odd, but it works well. The fork is stiff and has a really nice feel at 140mm of travel. The best way I can describe it is smooth throughout its travel. It’s also well matched to the shock. The top of the fork has Cannondale’s PBR system: Rebound (R) is controlled with a dial, while lockout is controlled via a push button (PB) in the middle of the dial. The PB is ingeniously simple to operate, which is great on trail when you need to quickly set your fork for a climb or descent. Just in case you completely hate the Lefty, the Trigger is compatible with a standard fork. The two aluminum Trigger builds even come with a Fox Float 32 fork.

The Trigger’s 68-degree head tube (67.5 degrees when the DYAD is set to Flow) is right in the sweet spot for a trail bike. There’s enough there to get you through the rough stuff, but not too much to hinder your climbs. The bike is also very light, responsive, and incredibly fun to ride. Braking is good. The Team comes with Magura MT6s and big rotors: 180/160. The Reverb Stealth dropper performed well but exhibited noticeable play out of the box.


One pretty big disappointment for me was the Mavic CrossMax SLR wheels and Schwalbe tires. The internal width of the rims is a paltry 19 mm—way too narrow for such an otherwise capable bike. I would have much rather had something in the mid-20s. Pair the Team’s narrow rims with Schwalbe Racing Ralphs and you’ve got a tire that feels like it’s going to fold when you really push it hard into the corner—not the most confidence-inspiring setup. It’s worth noting that the Black Inc. build does come with Enve 650B AMs, which are 24mm wide, but that will run you an additional $2,500.

Overall, I think Cannondale did an incredible job with this bike and came very close to the “one bike to rule them all” that a lot of us are looking for. It’s a great climbing machine that, with the flick of a switch, turns into a screamer going back down. I’m definitely going to use it as a benchmark for many of my future reviews. You will have to pay a bit for all its prowess, though: The Trigger Carbon comes with the pretty hefty price tag.


Vital stats

  • Price: $8,340
  • Sizes: S, M, L (TESTED), XL

First Impression: Cannondale Rush 29 2

Editor’s note: This is one of six bikes we’ve gathered together that fall between $1,900 and $2,600. Read our introduction to see the other five and watch for our long-term reviews of each in Dirt Rag #182, due on newsstands and in mailboxes any day now. Subscribe now and you’ll never miss a bike review.

 Cannondale Rush-1

The Rush is could be looked at as a rowdier little brother to Cannondale’s well-regarded Scalpel. The 100 mm travel 29er is may be the quintessential East Coast mountain bike—enough travel to take the edge off the rough terrain, but not enough to get in the way when dealing with the inevitable short, punchy climbs we see so much of around here.

Cannondale Rush-5

Nothing fancy here—the rear suspension uses a basic single pivot with a swing link. A proven system and perhaps the most widely used in the industry, and a stark contrast to the Scalpel’s proprietary pivotless rear triangle.

Cannondale Rush-8  Cannondale Rush-4

The quick release axles front and rear speak to both the price ($2,170) and the cross country leanings of this bike.

Cannondale Rush-3

Not so common anymore: the triple crank. Cold weather riding + big boots = worn logos after a few rides.

Cannondale Rush-7

The full Shimano drivetrain and brake set-up, with a remote lockout for the fork, is perfect for when the time comes to sprint for that first World Cup podium.

Cannondale Rush-11

While the stock tires are admittedly narrow, there is a ton of clearance on this rear end for both bigger tires and mud.

Cannondale Rush-10

So far, I’ve had a lovely time on the 29-inch Rush, and have been impressed by how well those skinny little race tires are handling the wet trails. I did swap out the stock 120 mm stem for a 70 mm piece because, well, it is not 1995 anymore. But overall, the Rush has been a easy bike to get along with, other than relearning how to ride a triple crank.



Blast From The Past: Cannondale Delta V Prototype


Cannondale has a rich legacy of pushing the boundaries of mountain bike design. In 1991 sharp-eyed readers spied Gunnar Shogren riding a prototype Delta V full-suspension bike in a Cannondale advertisement that appeared in Dirt Rag #20. Our favorite lab rat spilled the story behind this vintage photo.

That was a prototype bike with the Headshok and all that. I got to race it at Mt. Snow [NORBA] that year, where the photo is from, because I was the ‘top’ rider.

And if you look closely you’ll see that my right knee is all banged up. I got several stitches in it from that big stupid rock off-camber rock that you had to go down. There was a good line and there was a bad line, and if you let your confidence slip for a moment on the good line you were going down. Luckily I went down in practice and not in the race.

Yeah, that was a pretty big one in my book.

Here’s the advertisement, as it appeared in the magazine.


Keep reading

We’ve published a lot of stuff in 25 years of Dirt Rag. Find all our Blast From the Past stories here.




In Print: Cruzing to the Top, The Ben Cruz Interview

Cruz 1

At the end of June American enduro racer Ben Cruz of Team Cannondale OverMountain finally earned his first ever international victory at round 3 of the Superenduro Series in the Lombardia Alps of Madesimo, Italy. It was a nasty, rainy event where weather definitely played a role.

Like his WTB-Cannondale OverMountain teammates Mark Weir and Jason Moeschler, Ben Cruz is an all-rounder on the mountain bike, a speed demon unafraid of distance, obstacles or weather. With an unapologetic, never-say-die attitude, the 23-year-old from Novato, California, is a Weir-shaped nut that hasn’t fallen far from the tree. Unfortunately, the only thing keeping him from surpassing the athletic exploits of his teammates and vaulting to the top of the record books in a few years is also the same thing that propels him: his attitude.

While the fun-loving and brash Cruz has become more focused than ever this year, with a keen eye on becoming a top American enduro racer on the international circuit, he still possess a hint of Hunter S. Thompson deep inside. Here’s an uncensored look at enduro racing’s most controversial personality.

Read our interview with Cruz here.


Enduro World Champion Jerome Clementz on the new 27.5 Cannondale Jekyll

Earlier in the week we brought you news that the Cannondale OverMountain team would be riding a new Lefty SuperMax fork for 2014, and here is what it will be bolted to: an all-new 27.5 wheeled Jekyll. The 26-inch wheeled Jekyll was enough to get Clementz to the top of the podium in 2013, so look for him to go even faster on the new 160mm bike.

Watch this blog for more details of the new bike—and its stablemate, the new 27.5 Trigger—in the coming days.


Cannondale OverMountain enduro team switches to Lefty SuperMax


Cannondale has announced that its North American OverMountain team will, for the first time, be racing and adventuring on the all-new Lefty SuperMax suspension fork this season.

A 26-inch, 160mm travel fork has been seen under team riders and the 29er version is currently 130mm. This is a particularly interesting announcement on the eve of next week’s global OverMountain bike launch in Spain where Cannondale will be introducing two new bikes.

The SuperMax’s race debut will be in the Enduro World Series under OverMountain team riders Ben Cruz, Jason Moeschler team newcomer Marco Osborne and eventually Mark Weir who is currently healing from a broken hip.

According to Cannondale its team riders were instrumental in the development of the SuperMax’s new internal components, most of all a Wide Mouth Piston, which is said to increase small bump sensitivity and high-speed suppleness. The SuperMax’s dual crown structure makes it radically stiff, yet the minimalist single-leg design makes it as light as some of its competitors cross-country race forks.

“Going into the SuperMax testing I was a bit apprehensive,” said Weir. “After I got on it and started riding, it is a difference you would have to ride to believe. I’ve been riding the same corners for 15 years, and I try to carry my speed through every time. On the SuperMax, I’ve never been faster.”



Blast from the past – Origin of the Specialty Files

In its present format, The Specialty Files is a recurring print column in Dirt Rag that is written by Jeff Archer, and features a vintage bike from his collection at the Museum of Mountain Bike Art & Technology in Statesville, N.C.

However, the earliest installments of The Specialty Files featured serendipitous discoveries that Maurice spied while jaunting cross-country, during the heyday of the Dirt Rag World Tour. Maurice leaned on Jeff to help provide background details on the unearthed rigs.

The Specialty Files first appeared in Dirt Rag issue #104, which was published on Nov. 15, 2003. It featured Dan Smith’s sweet 1987 Cannondale SM600, with its unique 24/26-inch mismatched wheels.


Dan is a Pittsburgh homeboy that was a regular fixture on the infamous Dirt Rag Thursday night ride back in the early 1990s. Some years ago Dan and his mountain biking wife Sara relocated to Salt Lake City.

As I re-read the original story, my mind got to thinking about that old bike. Did Dan still have it? Was it running? Did he hit any sweet jumps on it?

Click here to find out.

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