Cannondale Prophet 2 £1199

Value-packed all-mountain machine

BikeRadar score 4.5/5

Compared to some of the current crop of multi-pivoted wonder machines, the Prophet 2 looks somewhat basic. With a mish-mash of tube sizes, a distinct lack of fashionable hydroforming and workmanlike, chunky welds, it’s not a particularly pretty bike. But it’s a proven design, and at £1,199 it’s cheap for a Cannondale. Racing snakes would be better served elsewhere, but for the rest of us this is a bargain all-day all-rounder.

Ride & handling: Blistering downhill performance but less nimble on climbs than some of the competition

The Prophet’s lofty bottom bracket height makes its presence felt before you’ve left the car park. Less experienced riders may find it off-putting at first, and even trail-hardened weekend warriors may think twice before tackling a potentially dab-worthy section of slow, technical trail aboard the Prophet. But it’s worth persevering with, because this is a bike that can be powered full-tilt through the kind of pedal-gouging trail sections that would stop the majority of lower-slung bikes in their tracks.

If that gives you the impression that the Prophet likes to be ridden hard then you’d be right. This isn’t a bike for pootling around on. With 140mm of travel on tap for both front and rear, a fork that’ll steer accurately through a boulder field and enough pedal clearance to power over whatever comes your way, the Cannondale only really comes alive when your eyes are streaming and your legs are screaming for sweet mercy.

On slower uphill grunts the rear shock does a good job of filtering out the worst of any pedal-induced suspension choppiness, although this does come at the expense of some grip in the rough. We like the easy-to-use fold-out travel adjuster on the fork too, which makes it easy to reduce the front end’s height on steep climbs. 

Our only significant niggle is a trivial one – the chain clatters loudly on the underside of the swingarm when you’re letting rip on a bumpy descent. On the positive side though, at least any errant walkers will know that you’re coming up behind them!

Frame: Simple, light and reliable, but construction could be tidier

The Prophet’s single-pivot design may lack the fancy axle paths and spring rate curves of more recent full-suss designs, but its enduring popularity is testament to its durability and adaptability. And it should be easy to look after, too. 

The double triangle main frame provides a shock mount, lower standover and plenty of strength and stiffness. The chunky head tube is designed to house Cannondale’s unique single-sided Lefty fork – and in the meantime provides oversized bearings for great durability and steering precision. 

The one-piece forged, CNC machined swingarm pivot adds stiffness to this highly stressed area, while an internally routed rear gear cable reduces the chance of ghost shifts under suspension compression and looks neat too, even if it makes replacement a bit of a pain.

Equipment: Great kit for the money, with well-performing shock and fork

Although the budget must be stretched for a US-built full-susser at this price, there’s little sign of penny-pinching in the Prophet’s kit. 

A Fox Float R shock at the rear and RockShox Pike fork up front deliver good value and decent performance to boot. The basic shock offers only adjustable rebound damping and comes with a middling level of compression damping, which should suit all but the choppiest of pedallers. It’s plush and easy to set up though, and should be reliable enough for most of you.

The fork, meanwhile, offers both rebound and compression damping adjustment and a range of travel from 95 to 140mm. So knob twiddlers are well-served, but so are those seeking performance. Although the coil innards aren’t adjustable for different rider weights and styles in the same way that an air fork is, the Pike’s unruffled smoothness and accurate steering make it a willing accomplice in just about any trail scenario.

The basic Shimano crank has a full complement of replaceable chainrings, the own-brand finishing kit looks good and works well, and Avid’s budget Juicy 3 hydraulic disc brakes do what’s asked of them without fuss.

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