The Cannondale Trail 2 presents a gorgeous frame let down by some sub-par components in the £1,000 category of our Hardtail of the Year test
Last year marked 30 years since Cannondale started manufacturing aluminium mountain bikes. That’s a wealth of experience and expertise, and it’s all been packed into the Trail 2’s blue riband frame. Every tube has been shaped, manipulated and butted to maximise lateral and torsional stiffness alongside vertical compliance.
The front triangle uses thin-wall, oversized tubes, while the seatstays and chainstays have been flattened to allow them to flex. To finish it off, the smooth, double-pass welds are almost seamless. And you know what? It’s as easy on the arse as it is on the eyes — akin to letting one or two psi out of the rear tyre compared to the harshest frames.
Elsewhere, the Cannondale Trail 2 falls short of its rivals. The Shimano crank and bottom bracket use an inferior Octalink interface, and smaller, less durable bearings. There’s no clutch rear derailleur — leaving the chain to slap around and derail. And the long stem and narrow bars are relics of a bygone era.
Then, there are the wheels. The last time we reviewed this bike — in the 2013 Hardtail of the Year test — we buckled the rear wheel beyond repair. This time, while flicking the bike into a turn, on the first ride out, history repeated itself.
Yet despite all its shortcomings, the Cannondale shreds. The quality of the frame shines through and the 29in wheels are remarkably adept at carrying speed on bumpy trails. Only on really steep terrain did the top 650b bikes regain the advantage.