The Latest Cannondale Scalpel XC Bike Ups the Travel for Rockier Courses

Cannondale increases the travel on the Scalpel cross-country bike and it is as race-ready as ever.
Cannondale Scalpel cross-country bike
Photos: Cannondale

Cannondale has an all-new precision XC weapon on the market, just in time for the World Cup XCO season to kick off in April.

The Cannondale Scalpel gets a handful of new updates, but notably, the frame is made with a sleeker, straighter top tube, compressing the amount of space between the rear shock and the junction at the seat tube and top tube.

What’s new on the new Scalpel

The latest version rides with 120mm of travel–20mm more than the previous–and utilizes Cannondale’s FlexPivot design, still taking the place of a full-on Horst Link design, and saving weight where extra bearings and hardware would sit. Cannondale says the single pivot design delivers the best of both worlds on this bike, including the stiffness that would accompany a single pivot.

“Because FlexPivot remains a true 4-bar system, it retains all the precise anti-rise/anti- squat tuning characteristics mountain bikers know and love from the design. Less moving parts also means greater durability, and every frame is backed by a lifetime guarantee.”

Cannondale also continues to use their Proportional Response philosophy for the Scalpel, so each size gets suspension kinematics unique to the frame.


Geometry evolves on the new Scalpel as well. For the most part, geometry has stayed pretty conservative on XC bikes like this one, but we’ve been seeing the numbers get pushed further and further on bikes like this.

The latest Scalpel gets a 75.5° seat tube angle and a 66.6° head tube angle, a 450mm reach, 1,169mm wheelbase, and 438mm chainstays (size M).

Geometry on the Lefty-equipped Scalpels is slightly different in areas like the wheelbase and trail.

Scalpel build levels

Dedicated race builds still come with a 120mm Lefty fork. It wouldn’t be a Scalpel otherwise, right? But on other builds, you’ll find either a RockShox SID or a Fox 34. Oddly, no Fox 32s are specced on the Scalpel builds.

Other build notes include a one-piece carbon cockpit, integrating both the stem and 760mm-wide handlebar.

There’s a wide array of build specs available for the Scalpel, ranging from 12-speed Shimano Deore-equipped bikes with the top-end bikes getting SRAM XO T-Type drivetrains.


With Cannondale being such a widely sold brand, pricing is generally pretty inclusive, although there aren’t any aluminum frame builds available, as it’s still a dedicated cross-country bike.

The Scalpel Carbon 4 starts at a reasonable $4,000 price and the Carbon 2 sells for $6,500. The Scalpel Carbon 1 retails for $9,500 and the special edition LAB71 Scalpel with a Lefty Ocho carbon fork, SRAM XX T-Type drivetrain and Level Ultimate Stealth brakes, carbon DT Swiss wheels, carbon cockpit, and a very pretty paint job sells for $14,000. See the Cannondale website for more information.