Cannondale push the limits of carbon by producing creating a Horst Link without a pivot

The Cannondale Scalpel has been around since the Tinker era and now there’s a Cannondale Scalpel SE that Ratboy has been jibbing around on. So, the Scalpel retains its razorsharp response for top flight World Cup racing, while the SE version looks to inject extra pace and thrills into the trail category.

>>> Best XC race bikes: hardtail and full suspension

Cannondale Scalpel pricing

  • Scalpel Hi-MOD 1, £6,800.00
  • Scalpel Carbon 3, £3,500.00
  • Scalpel Carbon SE 1, £4,200.00
  • Scalpel Carbon SE 2, £3,200.00

Scalpel Hi-Mod 1 – PD

The usual Scalpel for lycra lovers

  • 100mm travel front and rear
  • Ocho single-side fork with extra long 55mm fork offset
  • 1,900g frame inc. shock and all hardware
  • Up to 2.4in tyres
  • STASH kit frame storage system in down tube
  • Two water bottles
  • 68° head angle
  • 74.5° seat angle
  • 436mm chainstay length
  • 455mm reach (Large)

The new Cannondale Scalpel range is mostly made up of the 100mm travel World Cup XC lycra-tastic climbing machines. The biggest news about these XC Scalpels is the incedibly slimmed down chainstay section that acts as a flex-stay pivot in a Horst Link 4-bar suspension layout.

>>> 2019 Cannondale Scalpel-Si Carbon SE review

Typically we’ve not seen XC bikes use four-bars as commonly as trail and enduro bikes. This is mostly due to the weight penalty of the system (around 200g heavier than other designs). Designing a four-bar around a flexy chainstay gets around the weight problem. Yeti actually dabbled with a carbon flex pivot with its 575 back in the early noughties, although it was a seatstay pivot, and the original Scalpel utilised the idea with a thinner, flatter section in the middle of the chainstay.

Scalpel Carbon 4 – PD

The downcountry Scalpel SE for baggy short riders

  • 120mm travel front and rear
  • Regular two-legged suspension forks
  • STASH kit frame storage
  • Two water bottles
  • 67° head angle
  • 74° seat angle
  • 436mm chainstay length
  • 450mm reach (Large)

It’s not particularly surprising to see Cannondale opt to cater for the new niche of ‘downcountry’ (basically pumped up XC bikes, as opposed to scaled down trail bikes). The new Cannondale Scalpel SE increases the travel 25% to 120mm at both ends, slackens the geometry a smidge and comes specced with a dropper post and healthier volume tyres.

The Cannondale Scalpel SE also sees the move to a flex-stay four-bar suspension array and also incorporates the same STASH storage system.

Press release in full

Cannondale Debuts Scalpel – The New Cutting Edge

The next evolution of XC performance, the all-new Scalpel redefines everything you know

Wilton, Conn.– May 21, 2020 – Cannondale, a premium brand of Dorel Industries, Inc. (TSX: DII.B, DII.A), today announced the latest evolution of the legendary Scalpel. Featuring ground-breaking suspension, aggressive geometry and feathery weight, riders can go full gas from the gun with unmatched traction, incredible efficiency and unshakeable control over every part of the mountain. The all-new Scalpel delivers both world-cup level XC mountain bike race performance and all-around fun trail-rocket capability.

The new Scalpel is one of the lightest full-suspension mountain bikes on the market, but that’s not even the best feature of the bike. The key to the Scalpel’s incredible performance is Cannondale’s new four-bar FlexPivot suspension. Patented durable carbon fiber flex zones act just like a Horst link pivot without the weight or flex of bolts and bearings. This also allows the bike’s suspension and overall frame-feel to be custom-tuned, by size, via Cannondale’s Proportional Response construction techniques. While others sacrifice performance to save weight, FlexPivot suspension delivers both – providing a ride that is ultra-light, with incredible grip, acceleration and control.

At just over 1900 grams complete with shock, the new Scalpel frame is one of the absolute lightest dual suspension MTB frames ever made. Cannondale’s Ai offset drivetrain delivers clearance for big 2.4” tires while keeping the chainstays short for traction and agility. Scalpel’s progressive geometry has evolved even further to a headtube angle that is a full degree and a half slacker and seat tube angle that is one-degree steeper compared to the outgoing bike. This, combined with Lefty’s extra-long fork offset, creates the latest version of Cannondale’s OutFront geometry giving riders more stability and confidence when things get rough, while keeping the steering responsive everywhere else.

For the ultimate marathon racer and high-speed trail slayer, there is the Scalpel SE version. It takes Scalpel’s trail capability and kicks it up a few notches bumping the travel from 100mm (front and rear) to a plush 120mm (front and rear) and slacking out the headtube angle even further. Larger volume 29” tires and a dropper post combine to deliver incredible speed and all-around capability. It’s the perfect machine for riders who prefer a superlight trail bike.

While suspension is the hero of the Scalpel story, the bikes also get Cannondale’s new STASH Kit. Built into the downtube under the water bottle mount, the STASH kit has everything needed for fast trailside repairs including a Fabric 8-in-1 mini tool in a quick-draw holster, a Dynaplug tubeless plug kit, and a place for a CO2 inflator or small mini pump.

The new Scalpel will be available in 8 models including Scalpel SE as well as a Women’s Scalpel Carbon 2 and Women’s Scalpel Carbon SE. Scalpels will range in size from S, M, L, XL, and the women’s models will be available in S, M, L.