First Look: 2021 Cannondale Scalpel adds spring to its step

Cannondale lifted the lid on their all-new Scalpel cross-country race bike today. The latest Scalpel has a completely new suspension design, updated geometry, and has managed to shed those all-important grams.

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Keen-eyed South Africans might have had a little teaser of this bike as the Cannondale Factory Racing team did a fair amount of testing in the Cape. Those taking part in pre-COVID lockdown racing might have spotted Manuel Fumic and Henrique Avancini riding the bike at the Tankwa Trek ahead of the ill-fated Cape Epic. Also if you hung around at the right coffee shop in Stellenbosch, you’d have gotten a glimpse of a lightly camouflaged bike during the summer. Well, the speculation is now over as we’ve got all the details about the all-new Scalpel.

 

We rode the previous iteration of the Scalpel in early 2018 and the Ocho version when it was released later that year. Back then we sang its praises and even by 2020 standards the bike mostly holds its own.

 

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So what does a brand improve on when the existing platform is already well optimised?

 

Scott Vogelmann, Senior Product Manager at Cannondale, explained the process they followed in developing the new Scalpel via a Zoom call. Driven by feedback from the Cannondale Factory Racing, the ability to not hesitate during any part of the race was a guiding principle for the product team. Among other things, that means knowing you have traction on a slippery climb or not having to ease up when charging into a downhill corner with confidence in braking power.

 

All-New FlexPivot Suspension


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The most obvious change is the all-new four-bar FlexPivot suspension design. The out-going bike used a single pivot with a swing link that dropped down from the nook of the top tube and seat tube. The new design utilises a more compact rocker that now connects to a mounting midway down the seat tube. Vital to the new Scalpel’s suspension system is the flattened carbon fibre flex zones into the rear of both chainstays. Cannondale says that these flex zones perform similarly to how a Horst link pivot would. The advantages of this system to racers is weight savings and a stiffer rear end with fewer parts to flex under power. An important consideration for hot South African marathon riding is that there is still plenty of space for two water bottles within the front triangle.

 

Cannondale Scalpel 2021-1.jpgThe FlexPivot bends to provide a pivot-like compliance for the Scalpel's new suspension system.

 

Of course, on the front of the bike is Cannondale’s iconic Lefty Ocho fork.

 

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Geometry and Frame Details


Along with the new suspension, the Scalpel has undergone the knife on the frame shape too. The tubing has been refined with a more angular shape that carries the new Cannondale design language. The geometry has been adapted to be more forgiving with a 68-degree head angle (that’s one-and-a-half degrees slacker than the outgoing bike) and sharper effective seat tube angle (now 74.5 degrees) to give the rider a commanding pedalling position in the saddle. The reach on the Large frame we tested is 455 millimetres with a 1175 millimetre wheelbase. Cannondale claim that the new Scalpel frame weighs just over 1900 grams with the shock.

 

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This is the first Scalpel with Boost 148mm rear axle spacing and the bike continues to employ Cannondale’s Asymmetric Integration (Ai) by outwardly offsetting the drivetrain and rear hub. This allows Cannondale additional space to shorten chainstay length (which is 436mm) while widening tyre clearance and improving wheel stiffness. The bottom bracket is PressFit with Cannondale’s HollowGram cranks fitted across the range. Cross country riders who appreciate the benefits of higher volume tyres will be pleased to hear that the Scalpel is rated for up to 2.4” tyres. The nifty Speed Release axle, developed in partnership with Mavic and carried over from the disc road bike models, allows for quick removal of the rear wheel.

 

The Scalpel has full internal cable routing. The chainstays now tuck neatly into an alcove just above the bottom bracket which allows for a completely internal cable path to the back of the bike while the shock lockout moves through the top tube.

 

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It’s mountain biking and you’re bound to have a mechanical or flat. The all-new Stash Kit hopes to make carrying spares convenient. The Stash adaptor attaches neatly to the downtube of the Scalpel under the water bottle mount. A Fabric 8-in-1 multitool slides snuggly into a compartment with attachments for a Dynaplug tubeless kit and a CO2 canister or a mini pump on the other side. It’s an included item on some of the higher specification models.

 

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First Ride Impressions: Cannondale Scalpel 2


Testing out a new mountain bike during lockdown presents some unique challenges. My five-kilometre radius offers little in the way of terrain suitable for a proper thrashing of a bike destined for World Cup courses. With some imagination my neighbourhood transformed into an urban cross country circuit, but still lacked the features needed to truly test out the bike.

 

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While I can’t yet attest to the grip or braking performance under pressure, initial impressions are good. Visually, the new bike is still unmistakably a Scalpel with some modernisation. The Stash Kit is very neatly integrated with the frame and easy to access even while riding. The orange fade colourway on the new bike didn’t appeal at first, but it’s slowly growing on me.

 

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On the bike my position felt a touch more comfortable relative to the previous Scalpel, with less of that aggressive “over the bars” feel. I was happy to throw it down a few steep staircases, despite the lack of a dropper post I’ve become too dependent on. Uphill the bike is light and responsive, even helping to set a new PB on a sprint up a regular tar climb. Not bad with knobblies, but the real test will be on slippery, technical trails.

 

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Cannondale Scalpel 2021-25.jpgThe Wheel Sensor records speed, distance and time which it transmits to your device or the Cannondale App.

 

Although this is an admittedly thin “First Ride Review”, the new Scalpel has us excited. Let’s be honest, it was hard to go too far wrong coming from the old platform. Aside from the visual refresh, under the “hood” the new four-bar suspension linkage promises meaningful improvements in braking and traction performance. Finally, despite the death spiral in the value of the ZAR, the R 99,995 price tag is reasonable in the context of high-end carbon mountain bikes.

 

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Available Models


The new Scalpel is available immediately in South Africa from your local Cannondale dealer. At launch the following models will be available Scalpel Hi-MOD 1, Scalpel Carbon 2, and Scalpel Carbon 3. There will be more models at varying specification levels announced in the near future but for now, take a look at the details of the available bikes below.

 

Scalpel Hi-MOD 1


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  • FrameAll-New, 100mm travel , BallisTec Hi-Mod Carbon, Proportional Response Tuned, FlexPivot Chainstay, PF30-83, Tapered Headtube, Speed Release 12mm thru axle, Ai Offset, Stash compatible
  • ForkLefty Ocho Carbon, 100mm, Chamber Damper with remote lockout, OppO Spring System, tapered steerer, 55mm offset
  • Rear ShockFox Float DPS Factory EVOL, 100mm, remote lockout, adjustable rebound
  • RimsHollowGram 25, Superlight Hi-Impact Carbon, 28h, 25mm IW, tubeless ready
  • Hubs[F] Lefty 60 [R] DT Swiss, 12x148
  • SpokesHollowGram 2.0/1.8/2.0
  • Tyres[F] Schwalbe Racing Ralph, 29 x 2.25", Snake Skin, Addix Speed Compound, tubeless ready, [R] Schwalbe Racing Ralph, 29 x 2.25", Snake Skin, Addix Speed Compound, tubeless ready
  • CrankHollowGram, BB30a, OPI SpideRing, 34T, Ai offset
  • Bottom BracketCannondale Alloy PressFit30
  • ChainShimano XT, 12-speed
  • Rear CogsShimano XT, 10-51, 12-speed
  • Rear DerailleurShimano XTR, Shadow Plus
  • ShiftersShimano XTR, 12-speed
  • HandlebarCannondale 1 Flat, Carbon, 31.8mm, 9° back, 760mm
  • GripsESI Silicone 32mm Grips
  • StemCannondale 1, 7075 Alloy, 1-1/8", 31.8, 7°
  • HeadsetIntegrated, 1-1/8 to 1.5", sealed angular contact bearings
  • BrakesXTR hydraulic disc, 160mm Ice Tech rotors
  • Brake LeversShimano XTR hydraulic disc
  • SaddlePrologo Dimension NOR, Tirox rails
  • SeatpostENVE Carbon, 31.6 x 400mm, 0mm offset
  • SizesS, M, L, XL
  • ColourTeam Replica Carbon w/ Cannondale Green (REP)
  • ExtrasStash Kit (Fabric 8 in 1 Mini Tool and Dynaplug tubeless puncture repair tool)
  • Claimed Weight (excluding Stash)9.76 kg
  • Suggested Retail PriceR 139,995.00

 

Scalpel Carbon 2


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  • FrameAll-New, 100mm travel, BallisTec Carbon, Proportional Response Tuned, Flex Pivot Chainstay, PF30-83, Tapered Headtube, Speed Release 12mm thru axle, Ai Offset, Stash compatible
  • ForkLefty Ocho, 100mm, Chamber Damper with remote lockout, OppO Spring System, tapered steerer, 55mm offset
  • Rear ShockFox Float DPS Performance Elite EVOL, remote lockout , adjustable rebound
  • RimsHollowGram 25, Superlight Hi-Impact Carbon, 28h, 25mm IW, tubeless ready
  • Hubs[F] Lefty 60 [R] DT Swiss, 12x148
  • SpokesHollowGram 2.0/1.8/2.0
  • Tyres[F] Schwalbe Racing Ralph , 29 x 2.25", Snake Skin, Addix Speed Compound, tubeless ready, [R] Schwalbe Racing Ralph , 29 x 2.25", Snake Skin, Addix Speed Compound, tubeless ready
  • CrankHollowGram, BB30a, OPI SpideRing, 34T, Ai offset
  • Bottom BracketCannondale Alloy PressFit30
  • ChainShimano XT, 12-speed
  • Rear CogsShimano XT, 10-51, 12-speed
  • Rear DerailleurShimano XT
  • ShiftersShimano XT, 12-speed
  • HandlebarCannondale 2 Flat, butted 2014 Alloy, 31.8mm, 3° rise, 8° sweep, 760mm
  • GripsESI Silicone 32mm Grips
  • StemCannondale 1, 7075 Alloy, 1-1/8", 31.8, 7°
  • HeadsetIntegrated, 1-1/8 to 1.5", sealed angular contact bearings
  • BrakesShimano Deore XT M8100 hydraulic disc, 160mm XT rotors
  • Brake LeversShimano Deore XT M8100
  • SaddlePrologo Dimension NDR, STN rails
  • SeatpostCannondale 2, 7075 Alloy, 31.6 x 400mm
  • SizesS, M, L, XL
  • ColourSlate Gray (SLT)
  • ExtrasStash Kit (Fabric 8 in 1 Mini Tool and Dynaplug tubeless puncture repair tool)
  • Claimed Weight (excluding Stash)10.71 kg
  • Test Bike Weight (Large)10.95 kg
  • Suggested Retail PriceR 99,995.00

 

Scalpel Carbon 3


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  • FrameAll-New, 100mm travel, BallisTec Carbon, Proportional Response Tuned, FlexPivot Chainstay, PF30 -83, Tapered Headtube,Speed Release 12mm thru axle, Ai Offset, Stash compatible
  • ForkLefty Ocho, 100mm, Chamber Damper with remote lockout, OppO Spring System, tapered steerer, 55mm offset
  • Rear ShockFox Float DPS Performance Elite EVOL, remote lockout, adjustable rebound
  • RimsStan's NoTubes Crest S1, 28h, tubeless ready
  • Hubs[F] Lefty 60 [R] Shimano MT510 12x148
  • SpokesDT Swiss Champion
  • Tyres[F] Schwalbe Racing Ralph Performance, 29 x 2.25", Addix Compound, tubeless ready, [R] Schwalbe Racing Ralph Performance, 29 x 2.25", Addix Compound, tubeless ready
  • CrankHollowGram, BB30a, OPI SpideRing, 34T, Ai offset
  • Bottom BracketCannondale Alloy PressFit30
  • ChainShimano SLX, 12-speed
  • Rear CogsShimano SLX, 10-51, 12-speed
  • Rear DerailleurShimano XT
  • ShiftersShimano SLX, 12-speed
  • HandlebarCannondale 2 Flat, butted 2014 Alloy, 31.8mm, 3° rise, 8° sweep, 760mm
  • GripsESI Silicone 32mm Grips
  • StemCannondale 3, 6061 Alloy, 31.8, 7°
  • HeadsetIntegrated, 1-1/8 to 1.5", sealed angular contact bearings
  • BrakesShimano Deore M6000 hydraulic disc, 160mm RT54 rotors
  • Brake LeversShimano Deore M6000 hydraulic disc
  • SaddlePrologo Dimension NDR, STN rails
  • SeatpostCannondale 2, 7075 Alloy, 31.6 x 400mm
  • SizesS, M, L, XL
  • ColourBlack (BLK)
  • Claimed Weight (excluding Stash)11.76 kg
  • Suggested Retail PriceR 74,995.00




37 Comments

andreas17777, May 21 2020 03:26

deore*

babse, May 21 2020 03:38

Finally the HollowGram rims are more respectable at 25mm IW. 

 

IMO looks less slick than 19/20 model.

SwissVan, May 21 2020 06:49

Press fit BB.... WHY O WHY

BaGearA, May 21 2020 07:09

Finally the HollowGram rims are more respectable at 25mm IW.

IMO looks less slick than 19/20 model.


I also much prefer the look of the older bike

And flex suspension designs make me cringe.

Pressfit BB... Well ya :/

Super Sywurm, May 21 2020 07:39

Ooooooh, the green frame!!!

morneS555, May 22 2020 05:58

Press fit BB.... WHY O WHY

lets be fair...MOST of the target market for this bike cant even index their own gears....let alone know what the differences are between a threaded and press fit BB's....

:ph34r: 

YaseenEnos, May 22 2020 08:38

not an engineer and dont fully understand all this rear suspension wizardry but I do have one question that puzzles me.

 

Whats with the hybrid thru axle dropout???

 

is that a sacrifice is stifness to ensure quicker wheel changes? Will 99% of buyers care about a few second faster wheel change in sacrifice for stiffness?

 

Maybe I am misunderstanding...someone explain it to me in a dumb down version please.

hansolo, May 22 2020 08:54

I'm also trying to figure it out, looks like it is a "normal" dropout on the non-drive side. You would then be able to remove the wheel with thru-axle in place once the thread is out of the other side.

 

2021-cannondale-scalpel-se-mountain-bike

 

 

 

 

not an engineer and dont fully understand all this rear suspension wizardry but I do have one question that puzzles me.

 

Whats with the hybrid thru axle dropout???

 

is that a sacrifice is stifness to ensure quicker wheel changes? Will 99% of buyers care about a few second faster wheel change in sacrifice for stiffness?

 

Maybe I am misunderstanding...someone explain it to me in a dumb down version please.

Rudi Pollard, May 22 2020 09:26

They should drop the year in the model launches. Its May 2020 and we have 2021 launches. We truly are living in mad times!!!

TyronLab, May 22 2020 09:35

Also enjoying the fact that the hero photo is the bike in front of a Pizza mural, when we all know everyone that buys a Scalpel hasn't had gluten, nevermind a pizza, since they entered their first 40km race and shoved their way to the front.

 

Should carbs cross their lips they'll have to do this, except replace the whip with their old ceramic-coated chains:

 

9383850_orig.gif
 

Spinnekop, May 22 2020 10:08

I'm also trying to figure it out, looks like it is a "normal" dropout on the non-drive side. You would then be able to remove the wheel with thru-axle in place once the thread is out of the other side.

 

2021-cannondale-scalpel-se-mountain-bike

Same as on the Supersix Evo.  The axel has a little slot and your remove it about 1cm and the wheel drops out.  
Works very well.

DieselnDust, May 22 2020 10:26

Its the Mavic Speedrelease design. It for XCO racers who need to be able to change a wheel quickly. You can now swap both wheels faster than a normal thru axle design.

It does not give up anthing in terms of stiffness, there is still a 12mm thru axle in there.

I prefer the flexipivot to be on the chainstay where a Scalpel should have it. Overall it's nicely laid out and its back to a case of me fitting either the S or M and not squarely M like the current bike.

Christie, May 22 2020 12:37

They should drop the year in the model launches. Its May 2020 and we have 2021 launches. We truly are living in mad times!!!

Agree. The USA based companies have perfected mining their market - bring out a new model every year or two that "is so much better than the previous model."

Shebeen, May 22 2020 01:41

muizies in da HOUSE!

mon-goose, May 22 2020 01:52

They should drop the year in the model launches. Its May 2020 and we have 2021 launches. We truly are living in mad times!!!

agreed, there is no physical way this can be a 201 model. Unless it's launched after 1 jan 2021 it will remain a 2020 model no matter what they say. Like cars and everything else manufacturers release the year before.

Stevief, May 22 2020 02:06

agreed, there is no physical way this can be a 201 model. Unless it's launched after 1 jan 2021 it will remain a 2020 model no matter what they say. Like cars and everything else manufacturers release the year before.

I wouldnt get this model as im told the 2022 model will be released in November

DieselnDust, May 22 2020 02:16

agreed, there is no physical way this can be a 201 model. Unless it's launched after 1 jan 2021 it will remain a 2020 model no matter what they say. Like cars and everything else manufacturers release the year before.


In all fairness these models will run till September 2021 when the 2022 models are announced. They will be on the market for a little over a year. But yes, they should be 2020 not 2021

RaymondC, May 22 2020 05:17

It rides lekker! Had one for a morning, But it needs a session in Jonkers.

The rear seems to be more responsive than the previous model.

Also the orange is a metallic finish, photos don't do it justice. 

'Dale, May 23 2020 10:09

Does it come in stealth black, please?  :wub:

DieselnDust, May 23 2020 09:04

Does it come in stealth black, please?  :wub:

 

 

not yet but they may offer it as a frame only option.

Bolt, May 23 2020 09:19

Think new 2021 model out early just in time for the “Olympics”  - Scoot did similar thing before last Olympics 

D K, May 24 2020 10:58

It rides lekker! Had one for a morning, But it needs a session in Jonkers.

The rear seems to be more responsive than the previous model.

Also the orange is a metallic finish, photos don't do it justice. 

 

Agree - the photos is surprisingly different to the actual in this case. Was not a fan of the colour until I saw it through the workshop window at CWC - now a big :thumbup:  from me!

DieselnDust, May 24 2020 12:06

Agree - the photos is surprisingly different to the actual in this case. Was not a fan of the colour until I saw it through the workshop window at CWC - now a big :thumbup:  from me!

 

 

 

The colours look a lot better in person. The pearl effect does not come through well in pictures

Stevief, May 24 2020 05:05

Any idea if the weight and spec of the SE?

BikeisLife, May 24 2020 07:09

Any idea if the weight and spec of the SE?


Just over 11kg for the SE1.

SID Ultimate 120mm Fork
HollowGram Carbon wheels
XT Groupset
Cannondale Downlow Dropper
2.35 tyres

Stock of the SE is only arriving later in the year.