Cannondale unveiled its all-new Cannondale Scalpel 100 at Eurobike, but Interbike’s Outdoor Demo was the first chance we had to actually ride one – Cannondale’s demo tent was one of the most comprehensively-stocked at the demo. We took a Cannondale Scalpel Team for a spin – it does without a lot of the carbon accoutrements of ‘dale’s 18.25lb Eurobike show-stopper, coming in at 22.5lb.
It certainly feels like a suspension bike in a way that the first-generation Scalpel somehow didn’t. With the carbon stays flexing over more of their length and delivering 100mm of travel, the front/rear balance with the Lefty Speed fork is good. Cannondale’s BB30 oversized bottom bracket and carbon/aluminium front triangle contributes to decent drivetrain stiffness, but there’s definitely a bit of flex along the length of the bike in corners. Stir in a steep seat angle and low bars that push a lot of weight over the front and you’ve got a bike that really doesn’t appreciate anything less than 100% rider effort and can become a bit of a handful across challenging terrain.
Our initial impression is that the Scalpel’s strengths are also its weaknesses. It’s undoubtedly a hugely effective race tool, but it’s very singleminded in that goal – it wouldn’t be our cup of tea for recreational fast riding, while rivals like Scott’s Spark or Yeti’s AS-Rc manage to combine very low weight and raceworthiness with a healthy dose of trail-friendly behaviour. If your goal is going as fast as possible, though, the Scalpel has definitely got to be on the shortlist. It’s an unashamed XC race bike, and it’s hard to argue with that.