Cannondale Scalpel Black Inc first ride review£8,999.00

Race suspension doesn’t get more cutting edge

Cannondale’s Scalpel has always been a minimum mass favourite of the shaved leg and skin suit brigade. This latest, more technically capable version doesn’t just reflect more radical XC courses though, it also makes it a lot more fun on the trails. It’s even got a tech friendly 740mm handlebar and routing for an internal dropper post.

Cannondale Scalpel Black Inc spec overview

  • Frame: BallisTech Hi-MOD Carbon
  • Fork: Lefty 2.0 Carbon
  • Shock: RockShox Monarch
  • Wheel Size: 29”
  • Drivetrain: Shimano XTR Di2
  • Brakes: Shimano XTR
  • Head Angle: 69.6
  • Seat Angle: 73.5
  • Reach: 445mm (L)

Cannondale Scalpel Black Inc ride impression

Obviously we’re talking ‘more trail capable’ in relative terms and even with the 55mm OutFront offset on the single legged, full carbon Lefty fork the 69.5-degree head angle certainly isn’t slack and low by contemporary enduro standards.

It’s impressively balanced and traction-rich as far as the 100mm front, flex stay rear travel and Schwalbe Racing Ralph semi-slick tyres go though. The massive 1.5in head tube, Lefty fork and ENVE M50 rims are impressively stiff tracking too and while the back end is twangy it’s never treacherous.

The Lefty fork offers longer than standard offsets
The Lefty fork offers longer than standard offsets

A complete bike weight of 10.13kg (the large frame weighs just over 2kg) means every turn of the gorgeous looking Cannondale SpideRing Si 30mm axle cranks accelerates you far faster than normal and it climbs up loose and rocky slopes with outrageous, ego boosting ease even on the last lap of a 24hr race (more on that in a later feature).

Alternatively, hit the remote controlled, double ended hydraulic hard lock suspension and acceleration is even more savage.

Shimano's electronic XTR Di2 is on board
Shimano's electronic XTR Di2 is on board

Gear geeks will love the precision and adjustability of the electrically operated Shimano XTR Di2 transmission, but there’s an almost identical analogue XTR ‘Race’ version for £6,800, a SRAM 1x12 Eagle ‘Team’ bike at £6,500 as well as cheaper Ballistec carbon versions down to £3,299.

While they work really well, idiosyncrasies like the Lefty fork front wheel and Chris King hubbed asymmetric Ai rear wheel potentially make upgrading challenging, although it’s hard to see how you’d improve the Black Inc.

This article was originally published in What Mountain Bike magazine.

Guy Kesteven

Freelance Writer, UK
Guy started filling his brain with cycle stats and steaming up bike shop windows back in 1980. He worked the other side of those windows from '89 while getting a degree in “describing broken things covered in mud" (archaeology). Dug historical holes in the ground through the early '90s, then became a pro bike tester in '97. Guy has ridden thousands of bikes and even more components the world over since then and can remember them all in vivid, haunting detail. Can't remember where the car keys are, though.
  • Age: 45
  • Height: 180cm / 5' 11"
  • Weight: 68kg / 150lb
  • Waist: 76cm / 30in
  • Chest: 91cm / 36in
  • Discipline: Strict sadomasochist
  • Preferred Terrain: Technical off-piste singletrack and twisted back roads. Up, down, along — so long as it's faster than the last time he did it he's happy.
  • Current Bikes: An ever changing herd of test machines from Tri bikes to fat bikes and everything in between.
  • Dream Bike: His Nicolai Helius AM custom tandem
  • Beer of Choice: Theakston's Old Peculier (not Peculiar)
  • Location: Yorkshire, UK

Related Articles

Back to top