Cannondale slackens geometry on new 2021 Scalpel

Scalpel has new angles where it counts
Scalpel's redesign adds better descending geometry (Image credit: Cannondale)

Cannondale's 2021 model year Scalpel mountain bike range has finally been revealed, after missing its initial public debut, due to the 2020 Cape Epic cancellation. 

The latest iteration of Cannondale’s well regarded XC racing frames is available in two terrain-taming configurations: 100mm and the 120mm SE.

Read more

Best lightweight mountain bikes under 10kg

Best XC forks 2020: the best cross country forks you can buy today

Best mountain bike tyres 2020: all the top mountain bike tyres reviewed

Cannondale’s designers and engineers have been evaluating industry trends in the XC mountain bike market. As such, the new Scalpel is one-and-half degrees slacker, with a 68-degree head angle, when running the brand’s renowned Lefty Ocho 100mm fork.

Reach numbers have increased too, with a size large Scalpel now featuring a 455mm front-centre, 10mm longer than before. The new Scalpel frame weighs 1900g

Cannondale has retained their all-carbon frame construction for the Scalpel, including its flex stay rear triangle, which has no pivots: saving weight and reducing the maintenance burden.

Notable specification details include Cannondale’s STASH-Kit system, which combines an 8-in-1 tool Fabric tool, Dynaplug and CO2 canister, mounted on the downtube. True to its purpose, the Scalpel has adequate room in the front triangle for two water bottles.

Pricing for the new Scalpel starts at £3,500 for the Carbon 3 version and peaks with the Hi-MOD1, at £6,800. The Hi-MOD1 features a Shimano XTR 12-speed groupset, matching M9100 brakes and rolls Cannondale’s HollowGram 25 carbon-fibre wheelset. It also clamps an ENVE carbon seatpost.

Scalpel SE adds a dropper seatpost and longer fork

(Image credit: Cannondale)

The XC rider's trail bike

Cannondale XC riders who seek a touch more descending capability have the SE model with 120mm of suspension travel. The SE’s longer-travel fork (Rockshox SID, instead of Lefty Ocho), tips the head angle back to 67-degree and shorts reach by 5mm, compared to the 100mm Scalpel.

Rolling a larger 2.3in width front tyre and 20mm wider handlebars, the SE is equipped for technical singletrack duty. Cannondale’s DownLow dropper seatpost is onboard too and is size-specific. The Scalpel SE in a size small, has 100mm of seat drop, medium and large frames run 125mm, whilst extra-large frames get 150mm droppers.

These ‘downcountry’ capable Scalpels are closer to being true lightweight trail bikes and price at £3,200 for the SE 2 and £4,200 for an SE 1. The most significant difference between Cannondale’s two Scalpel SE derivatives are the choice of drivetrain: Shimano's 12-speed XT shifting the SE 1, whilst the more affordable 2 is equipped with SRAM’s 12-speed SX.

Cannondale’s SE 1 also rolls the same 25mm internal diameter HollowGram carbon-fibre wheels found on the Scalpel Hi-MOD1, while the SE 2 is specced with a Stan’s Crest S1 aluminium wheelset.

Lance Branquinho
Freelance writer

Lance Branquinho is a Namibian-born journalist who graduated to mountain biking after injuries curtailed his trail running. He has a weakness for British steel hardtails, especially those which only run a single gear. As well as Bike Perfect, Lance has written for, and Cycling News.