Cannondale Trail SL 3 review

Top entry-level ride

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0
USD $879.00
Cannondale Trail SL 3
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Cannondale’s Trail SL 3 would have won the test, hands down, if it had 29in wheels. As it is, 26in wheels are still preferable to some riders and on tighter terrain, and this bike is at the top of its class. The frame’s stiff rear end hampered comfort on bumpy terrain, despite use of Cannondale’s SAVE technology – basically, the chain- and seatstays have a degree of vertical flex built in to help soak up bumps.


The tyres were also a bit of a letdown for beginner riders: Kenda Small Block 8s roll fast but lack grip. However, the Trail is the second lightest bike in this group and it really has the best overall component package, from a fork that offers working adjustments and a 1.5in alloy steerer, to category-leading Tektro hydraulic disc brakes and a flawless drivetrain with a Shimano Octalink bottom bracket spindle.

  • Stand out feature: Best complete 26in-wheeled package 
  • Pros: Runner-up fork to the Trek’s RockShox Tora; great handlebar and stem; flawless drivetrain (SRAM X5); Tektro Draco brakes
  • Cons: Slightly flexy front end; stiff rear end hampered comfort; sketchy tires for beginners
  • Weight: 12.89kg/28.43lb. Wheelset: 4.69kg/10.36lb

Product Specifications


Name Trail SL 3 (11) (US)
Brand Cannondale

Available Sizes M L J L M S S S S S S M L X S M L S M L
Saddle Cannondale Stage2 w/ steel rails
Top Tube (in) 23
Bottom Bracket Height (in) 11.4
Spoke Type CN 15G stainless black, brass black nipples
Weight (lb) 28.43
Weight (kg) 12.89
Stem Cannondale C3 1.5", 31.8mm, 5˚
Shifters SRAM X5
Seatpost Cannondale C3 zero offset, 31.6 x 400mm
Seat Angle 73.5
Rear Tyre VP platform w/ toe clip
Brakes Tektro Draco
Rear Shock N/A
Rear Derailleur SRAM X5
Headset Type Cane Creek 1.5"
Head Angle 70
Handlebar Cannondale C3 riser 20mm, 6061 double butted, 680 mm
Grips/Tape Cannondale D2 dual-density grips
Front Tyre Schwalbe Black Jack 2.1", Puncture Protection, wb
Front Derailleur SRAM X5
Frame Material Trail SL SAVE double butted, mechanically formed w/ 1.5" HeadShok head tube, disc only
Cranks new Shimano M4308 Octalink 44/32/22t
Wheelbase (in) 42.6