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Pro bike: Alex Howes' EF Education-Nippo Cannondale Scalpel-Si

Alex Howes might be more well known for his achievements on the road, riding for EF Education-Nippo and current US National Road Champion, however he is also partial to riding off-road as well.

Growing up and living in Colorado meant he has some of the best mountain biking on his doorstep as well as taking part in his team's 2019 'Alternative Racing' calendar, which saw the team take on a variety of events such as Leadville Trail 100 mountain bike marathon, the Dirty Kanza 200 (now known as Unbound Gravel). Howes and teammate Lachlan Morton were also ready to race the 2020 Cape Epic which unfortunately had to be canceled just days before starting due to the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Whether it's riding local trails in Boulder or racing mountain bike marathons, Cannondale is EF Education-Nippo's long-time bike sponsor and has the perfect bike. Alex Howes is riding a Cannondale Scalpel-Si race bike which has been beautifully finished in EF Educations now-synonymous pink and blue livery.

The Cannondale Scalpel-Si is an uncompromising XC frame that uses a flex pivot in the chainstay, by positioning these heavily manipulated flex points near the rear dropouts produces a virtual horst link system. Cannondale has used its top-grade BallisTec Hi-Mod Carbon and claims the Scalpel-Si to be one of the lightest full-suspension mountain bike frames available at 1900 grams, complete with shock.

Upfront is Cannondale's striking and ultra-light Lefty Ocho fork which uses needle bearings to maintain lateral stiffness and offer very smooth performance. At the rear, there is a Fox Float Elite shock which manages the 100mm of travel at the rear.

EF Education-Nippo's other sponsors help spec the Scalpel-Si with an equally high-performance mountain bike kit. FSA KFX I25 carbon wheels are strong yet light and are paired with Vittoria's Martello Trail on the front and Morsa Enduro tires in the rear to add durability on rocky Denver trails. The stem and handlebars bars are also from FSA.

The drivetrain is handled by SRAM using the XX1 AXS 12 speed Eagle groupset including the wireless RockShox Reverb AXS dropper post and SRAM Level TLM brakes. Howes is using Shimano XT pedals.

Final details come in the form of navigation from a Garmin 1030, two EF Education-Nippo branded Tacx bottles and Cannondale's STASH kit which features a Fabric 8-in-1 multi-tool stored under the downtube bottle cage and a frame-mounted Dynaplug.

Tech Specs: Alex Howes' Cannondale Scalpel-Si

  • Frame: Cannondale Scalpel-Si
  • Fork: Cannondale Lefty Ocho 100mm
  • Shock: Fox Float Elite 100mm
  • Groupset: SRAM XX1 AXS
  • Brakes: SRAM Level TLM
  • Wheelset: FSA KFX I25
  • Stem: FSA
  • Handlebars: FSA KFX Carbon MTB Flat handlebar
  • Seatpost: RockShox Reverb AXS
  • Saddle: Prologo Dimension 143
  • Pedals: Shimano XT
  • Tires: Vittoria Martello Trail (front) and Morsa Enduro (rear)
  • Computer: Garmin 1030
  • Bottle cages: Tacx Radar
Graham Cottingham
Senior reviews writer, Bike Perfect

Graham is all about riding bikes off-road. Based in Edinburgh he has some of the best mountain biking and gravel riding in the UK right on his doorstep. With almost 20 years of riding experience, he has dabbled in downhill, enduro and, most recently, gravel racing. Not afraid of a challenge, Graham has embraced bikepacking over the last few years and likes nothing more than strapping some bags to his bike and covering big miles to explore Scotlands wildernesses. When he isn’t shredding the gnar in the Tweed Valley, sleeping in bushes or tinkering with bikes, he is writing tech reviews for Bike Perfect and the muckier side of Cyclingnews 


Rides: Canyon Strive, 24 Bicycles Le Toy 3, Surly Steamroller

Height: 177cm

Weight: 71kg