Cannondale Scalpel Black Inc. to Trail and Tango

New 29in mountain bikes push the price envelope on both ends

From a $599 hardtail to a no-expense-spared $11,000 dream machine, Cannondale is pushing the envelope on pricing for 29in mountain bikes this year. Here we look at three new bikes, the beginner-friendly Trail and Tango hardtail 29ers, the reasonably priced Rush 29 dual-suspension bike, and the fetish Scalpel Black Inc.

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The Cannondale Scalpel Black Inc. is a no-expense spared machine. The expense to you? US$11,000
The cannondale scalpel black inc. is a no-expense spared machine. the expense to you? us$11,000: the cannondale scalpel black inc. is a no-expense spared machine. the expense to you? us$11,000
Ben Delaney/Future Publishing
Cannondale’s Scalpel Black Inc.

The Rush 29

The Rush 29 is Cannondale’s new entry-level 29er.

“We took the concept and alloy of the RZ One-Twenty, which goes away this year,” said Murray Washburn, Cannondale’s director of product marketing. “We wanted to create a bike for the entry-level and/or intermediate level cyclist. Either people who are getting into the sport or people who want to go from hardtail to full suspension. It’s light and easy to maintain. A full-suspension bike that’s nimble and confidence-inspiring at the same time.”

The bike starts at $1,840 and goes up to $2,150, depending on the parts package.

The Rush 29 is Cannondale's entry-level full-suspension 29er
The rush 29 is cannondale’s entry-level full-suspension 29er: the rush 29 is cannondale’s entry-level full-suspension 29er
Ben Delaney/Future Publishing
The Rush 29 replaces the RZ One-Twenty

“We spent lots of time tweaking suspension ratios and leverage ratios for rear,” Washburn said. “It has a floaty initial portion of the stroke, then linear progression through the middle for pedaling, then a steep ramp-up at the end. It’s only 100mm [of travel] but you never have that hard bottom-out feel.”

As a first-time buyer’s full-suspension 29er, the bike is ready for light cross-country to heavier trail use, Washburn said.

The bike uses a 1.5in straight steerer and Nine Line tires that Cannondale co-designed with WTB.

“We bit the bullet and went with solid spec: Shimano brakes and drivetrain. We spent money on things that really make a difference,” he said.

The cheaper bike gets a RockShox 30 Gold TK fork and Monarch Ol shock while the more expensive rig gets a RockShox XC 30 TK fork and an X Fusion O2 RL shock.

The Tango and the Trail

Cannondale currently has a Tango SL for women and a Trail SL for men, but for 2014 the company will have US$599 Tango and Trail bikes to “give everybody a taste for what a high-performance mountain bike feels like,” Washburn said.

The Cannondale Trail 29er hardtail starts at US$699
The cannondale trail 29er hardtail starts at us$699: the cannondale trail 29er hardtail starts at us$699
Ben Delaney/Future Publishing
The Trail starts at US$599

Cannondale engineers built some give into the seatstays, Washburn said, for a more comfortable ride, with the same geometry as the company’s F Series race bikes.

The bikes range from US$599 to US$960.

The US$11,000 Scalpel Black Inc.

On the completely other end of the spectrum, the Scalpel Black Inc. is a US$11,000 machine with top-shelf components across the board.

Although a final weight has yet to be determined, it’s likely in the 21lb (9.52kg) range, based on what the current top-end Scalpel weighs.

The Lefty is now a 1.5in steerer
The lefty is now a 1.5in steerer: the lefty is now a 1.5in steerer
Ben Delaney/Future Publishing
Cannondale’s signature Lefty now features a 1.5in steerer and carbon a’plenty

The Black Inc., a concept Cannondale has used on the road side, now features into the company’s mountain bikes. The Scalpel Black Inc. has a redesigned, all-carbon suspension link that shaves 100g off the cast-and-machined aluminum link.

Stealth routing for the Reverb dropper post, a Shimano XTR drivetrain with ENVE rims, Chris King hubs and a Hollowgram Si Sl2 crankset round out the spec.

The bike comes with a double chain ring but, like any Hollowgram crank, can be set up in any configuration.

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Interestingly, the Hollowgram Si Sl2 crankset is the same on the road and the mountain; a testament to its lightweight and durability.