Cannondale Scalpel Carbon Team review

Innovation loaded racer that’s a bike of two halves

Our rating 
3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0
GBP £6,000.00 RRP | AUD $9,999.00 | USD $8,670.00

Our review

Impressive integration and front end stiffness but unbalanced front to rear suspension feel hampers ultimate speed and confidence
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With its colour co-ordinated tall carbon rims, huge mainframe front end and massive single carbon leg Lefty fork double clamped onto an oversized single piece stem/steerer the Scalpel is outstanding both aesthetically and in terms of tracking accuracy.


Frame and equipment: race-bred repertoire

Add a steep steering angle and narrow handlebar to skinny, minimal tread Schwalbe tyres and you’re definitely riding a razor sharp race bike.

It’s pro honed speed credentials are further underlined with Cannondale’s own super stiff HollowGram Si crank in the BB30 oversized axle standard the firm pioneered. Together with the tough front end this gives an inspiringly solid feel underfoot when you brace yourself between bars and pedals for maximum torque.

The remote control suspension is set up for uncompromised power delivery too. The Rock Shox Monarch XX rear shock and Lefty are linked together hydraulically so a single press of the ‘Full Sprint’ plunger on the bars means instant and total lockout of both ends of the bike. Despite an average rather than advantageous overall and wheel weight as far as flat-out full sus racers go, this equips the Scalpel with a split-second edge when it comes to snap acceleration on short sections of smoother surfaces.

Head angle is steep, bars are narrow and treads are minimal:
Russell Burton

Head angle is steep, bars are narrow and treads are minimal

Ride and handling: hard to strike a balance

With no intermediate increased low speed compression damping setting on the Monarch XX shock there’s a very obvious contrast between on and off. Unless you deliberately run the shock over pressured so you lose any subtle, supple traction benefits, the back end also has a noticeably soft and bouncy feel under power.

While it’s passively plush and comfortable it’s not particularly impressive in terms of sustaining speed by sucking up blunt impacts from steps, rocks, stutter bumps and so on. Because it doesn’t let the wheel get out of trouble vertically that well it makes it’s tendency to twist and squirm off line more obvious, especially if you add power at the same time and pull it further out of shape. The naturally firmer, stiffer initial feel of the Lefty also makes it hard to achieve a good front to rear suspension or even create a level (rather than nose up) ride feel too.


It would be unfair to be too harsh on the overtly soft or hard character of the Scalpel without mentioning the FS-i Carbon Team hardtail. It’s 1200g and £500 lighter for an identical spec – and has exactly the samew forgiving yet ferociously responsive ride character we struggled to find in the Scalpel, plus a slacker, more trail friendly steering feel. If we were casting an eye over Cannondale’s whole XC stable, it would be our choice.

Product Specifications


Name Scalpel Carbon Team (15)
Brand Cannondale

Description Geometry based on S/M
Rear Shock RockShox Monarch XX, 100mm, Full Sprint remote
Top Tube (in) 21.1
Standover Height (in) 29
Seat Tube (in) 16.5
Chainstays (in) 17.5
Bottom Bracket Height (in) 13.1
Spoke Type DT Swiss AeroLite
Stem Cannondale OPI Adjustable Stem/Steerer V2
Shifters SRAM XX1
Seatpost FSA K-Force Light carbon
Seat Angle 70.5
Saddle Prologo Nago Evo X8 T1.4
Rims ENVE Carbon Twenty9 XC, tubeless ready
Rear Tyre Schwalbe Racing Ralph EVO Snakeskin, 29x2.1", folding, tubeless ready
Rear Hub DT Swiss 350 142x12
Bottom Bracket Cannondale Alloy PressFit30
Rear Derailleur SRAM XX1, Type 2 RBC
Headset Type Cannondale HeadShok Si
Head Angle 70.5
Handlebar FSA K-Force Carbon, flat, 700mm
Grips/Tape Cannondale Foam Locking Grips
Front Tyre Schwalbe Racing Ralph EVO Snakeskin, 29x2.1", folding, tubeless ready
Front Hub Lefty SL
Frame Material BallisTec Hi-MOD Carbon
Fork Lefty Carbon XLR 100 29
Cranks Cannondale HollowGram Si, BB30A, XX1, 32T
Chain SRAM XX1, 11-speed
Cassette SRAM X01, 10-42, 11-speed
Brakes Avid XX, 180/160mm
Wheelbase (in) 42.6