Cannondale Launches New-and-Improved Scalpel XC Race Bike

29 M Scalpel Si Crb 4
29 M Scalpel Si Crb 4. All photos courtesy of Cannondale.

The Scalpel is Cannondale’s no-holds-barred cross country race bike, designed to excel on the world cup XC circuit. Here’s some of Cannondale’s marketing spiel about the new Scalpel:

The Scalpel-Si is developed by utilizing the brand’s System Integration approach to design, where key components like cranks, fork, and frame are all developed together. The Scalpel-Si’s proprietary Ai offset drivetrain delivers the shortest chainstays in mountain biking for unmatched rear wheel traction and agile handling, without sacrificing tire clearance, or limiting the rider to single ring set-ups. With the combination of these super short chainstays, an evenly dished Ai-offset rear wheel, LockR locking axles and the brand’s legendary BallisTec Carbon construction, Cannondale has delivered the lightest, stiffest and most durable full suspension cross-country bike on the market.

Cannondale is introducing OutFront Steering Geometry, which pairs Scalpel-Si’s 69.5 slack head angle with a custom 55mm fork offset found only on Lefty. This proprietary technology gives the rider the best of both worlds: a slack head angle for the stability to attack the new generation of technical courses, as well as a tight “trail” measurement to keep the handling quick and XC-nimble everywhere else. Utilizing the lightest, smoothest and most torsionally stiff suspension fork in the world, Lefty’s unbelievable rigidity and confident steering precision out-corners, out-handles and runs circles around its XC competition.

What does this mean? That Cannondale is making the rear end shorter and the front end slacker–just like basically every other mountain bike on the market today.

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The “Si” in the name of the new Scalpel refers to “system integration,” and Cannondale claims that they’re integrating all of the components to make the entire package function better. A major part is the Ai (asymmetric integration) drivetrain. Essentially, Cannondale has shifted the chainrings and front derailleur out 6mm to make room for the rear tire and to still accommodate a 2x system. They didn’t bring up an increase in q-factor, so it seems likely that instead of compromising chainring clearance and limiting the bike to a single ring setup, they are instead compromising the q-factor with increased width. There’s always a compromise to be made.

One of the most interesting things about Cannondale has always been their Lefty fork, and in this instance designing a fork by themselves in order to fit the bike truly does provide some unique system integration. The head angle is slacker than before at 69.5 degrees, but the unique factor that Cannondale can offer for this bike specifically is a longer-than-normal fork rake.

Scalpel SI-Black Inc.
Scalpel SI-Black Inc.

The new Scalpel will be available in a wide range of build kits. The top-level model is the Scalpel-Si Black Inc. Like all of the models, it features 100mm of rear travel. This frame features the top-end BallisTec Hi-MOD carbon, and it’s spec’ed with a Lefty 2.0 Carbon XLRFS fork with XC+ tune, RockShox Monarch XX shock with custom tune, ENVE M50 carbon wheels, Chris King rear hub, Cannondale Hollowgram SiSL2 crank, Shimano XTR Di2 2×11 drivetrain, and Shimano XTR brakes.

This top-level, no-holds-barred build kit will retail for $12,000.

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There are six more intermediate models before arriving at the most affordable model, the Scalpel-Si 5. In addition, there are also two women’s specific models, although aside from a color tweak, the press release doesn’t indicate the differences between the women’s and men’s models. That means there’s a total of 10 models in the new Scalpel line up.

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As for the Scalpel-Si 5, the frame is alloy to keep costs down, but it still features the Ai offset. It’s spec’ed with the Lefty 2.0 PBR with XC tune, RockShox Monarch RL shock with custom tune, Stan’s ZTR Rapid 25 wheels, SRAM GX 2×11 drivetrain, and Shimano Deore brakes.

This build will retail for $3,000.