Trail bike geometry and flexy chainstay carbon wizardry comes to the new Cannondale Scalpel HT

Cannondale Scalpel HT sharp details

  • 120 or 100mm travel carbon fibre hardtail, purpose built for cutting a line between the tape
  • Amazing carbon tech, with stylish frame detailing and flex stay zones on the back end to help cushion the ride
  • ‘Slack’ 66.5° head angle, size specific chainstays and a steep seat angle
  • Three models to pick from in the UK, starting at £2,600 and finishing at the Hi-MOD 1 for £6,200
  • 29×2.25in wheels and tyres

Cannondale has a new hardtail version of the Scalpel out, and judging by the geometry, it seems to think it’s a trail bike. The Scalpel HT comes with a ludicrously slack-for-an-XC-bike head angle of 66.5° where the idea is to make it confident enough on the descents to tackle the gnarliest of courses.

Sure is a looker

Last year ’dale brought out the Cannondale Scalpel SE, one of the best crosscountry mountain bikes for World Cup racing with a little downcountry geometry thrown in for good measure. And now it’s added to the range with the new hardtails too.

The Scalpel HT has an all-new frame, naturally it’s made from carbon fibre and that helps keep the weight really bonkers low, at 895g. The new bike also uses Cannondale’s Proportional Response size-specific chainstays, the idea being you’re always perfectly balanced between the wheels no matter which size bike you go for.

Skinny = flexy

There’s something else going on with the Scalpel HT that makes it pretty interesting too, Cannondale has built in deliberately flexy chainstays to absorb some of the hits you’re going to take on a hardtail. Making a bike more comfortable and more compliant over the ground is going to make it faster, and easier to ride too… much like a full suspension bike, I suppose.

By now you’ll probably be thinking, who on earth is the Scalpel HT designed for then? If Josh Bryceland took up XC racing it would be ideal, assuming he wanted to jib down the rock gardens of course. But the Scalpel HT also has something else neat going on that’ll pique racers’ interest – a super-long offset of 50mm on its Lefty Ocho fork, giving up some of the stability the slack head angle affords. Why? Cannondale says it lends the bike “agility.”

Lovin’ the Lefty

Cannodale has brought something over from the e-bike world with the Scalpel HT too, a decent level of connectivity. There’s a sensor integrated into the wheel that’ll hook up to its own app and tell you speed, route and distance info, register the bike and even tell you when it needs a service.

There are four models in the new Scalpel HT range. The range-topping Hi-MOD 1 at £6,200 has a 120mm Lefty Ocho carbon fork, HollowGram carbon rims and a Shimano XTR/XT drivetrain. The Carbon 3 costs £3,400, uses a RockShox SID SL Select+ fork rather than the Lefty, Crest rims, and an SLX/XT drivetrain. And finally the Carbon 4 at £2,600 get a SID SL fork, WTB STX i23 rims, and Deore/XT drivetrain.