Needs component tweaks to make the most of it.
Like a lot of manufacturers, Cannondale produces the Trail 4 in different wheel sizes – the smaller frames have 27.5in wheels, the larger ones 29in.
The difference here is there are two medium frame sizes with either wheelsize, which is great news if you want to compare them or simply have a preference.
The Trail 4 has the best-finished frame on test, with some nice touches like the slim seat stays, which really help soften the ride over rough terrain.
Like on the KTM Ultra Fire 29, Cannondale specs a budget Suntour XCR suspension fork with a bar-mounted remote lockout. The fork is coil sprung, so you might struggle with it bottoming too easily if you’re particularly heavy, but it does have adjustable rebound damping, which offers more control over the bumps.
Watch: Hardtail of the Year 2017
The Trail 4 has a full 750mm handlebar but Cannondale spoils it by fitting a long 100mm stem. The reach is pretty decent though, so you could improve the handling by halving the stem length, without the bike feeling too cramped.
With its crisp frame and big wheels the Trail 4 covers ground very quickly. The skinny WTB Nineline tyres don’t offer a lot of cushioning but there’s enough give in the frame to stop you getting pummelled.
Compared to the Nukeproof Scout Sport and the Kona Shred, the Trail 4 has a more traditional shape and, while it’s a little bit steep, it’s got good length in the wheelbase and reach and this helps offset some of the twitchiness.
Overall a great foundation, but the Trail 4 needs tweaks to the stem length and tyres to make the most of it.