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  1. #1
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    2011 Scalpel (UN)ABLE descender???

    Everyone is raving about the 2011 Scalpel being an incredible climber, light, agile and the best thing that happened since... who knows what.

    I am a bit between two choices now. I really like bikes that climb like mountain goats on crack, but at the same time, I don't want to feel like the king of OTB:s when I try to follow my friends in the descents.

    My choice has come down to an unlikely trio, out of which the 2011 Scalpel 3 is one.

    If I would get the Scalpel, I would probably commit blasphemy and put a telescopic seat post on it.

    The terrain around here (Southern France, Nmes) is not really that rough. We have some good technical trails, but most of the difficulty on descents comes from twisting turns on loose surface. On my regular 2-3h ride, I will have very few bigger obstacles that would require more than just a little bit of suspension.

    My previous full suspension bike was a Giant Anthem with 80mm rear suspension, and a Fox F100 RLC at the front. I seriously loved that bike.

    The latest 2011 Scalpel has however received such rave reviews and attention from bikers everywhere, that I am starting to feel an increased curiosity towards the black/green beauty.

    My only question is... as is mentioned in the topic title:

    Is the Scalpel really that bad in the descents? It has a 69.6 head angle, slacker than most purebred race bikes. Actually, it is the same head angle as a Giant Trance Advanced!

    My guess is that with a telescopic seat post, it would be surprisingly good, but I don't have a chance to try it before buying.

    So my plea to you Scalpel owners is, that you unveil the secret weakness of the Scalpel and tell me that all that climbing efficiency is indeed achieved by extremely compromised descending ability. It would save me from choice anguish.

    ps. Any comparison with previous bikes would be much appreciated.

    ps2. I rode the 2010 Rz One Twenty 1, and really liked how that felt!

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sacke
    Everyone is raving about the 2011 Scalpel being an incredible climber, light, agile and the best thing that happened since... who knows what.

    I am a bit between two choices now. I really like bikes that climb like mountain goats on crack, but at the same time, I don't want to feel like the king of OTB:s when I try to follow my friends in the descents.

    My choice has come down to an unlikely trio, out of which the 2011 Scalpel 3 is one.

    If I would get the Scalpel, I would probably commit blasphemy and put a telescopic seat post on it.

    The terrain around here (Southern France, Nmes) is not really that rough. We have some good technical trails, but most of the difficulty on descents comes from twisting turns on loose surface. On my regular 2-3h ride, I will have very few bigger obstacles that would require more than just a little bit of suspension.

    My previous full suspension bike was a Giant Anthem with 80mm rear suspension, and a Fox F100 RLC at the front. I seriously loved that bike.

    The latest 2011 Scalpel has however received such rave reviews and attention from bikers everywhere, that I am starting to feel an increased curiosity towards the black/green beauty.

    My only question is... as is mentioned in the topic title:

    Is the Scalpel really that bad in the descents? It has a 69.6 head angle, slacker than most purebred race bikes. Actually, it is the same head angle as a Giant Trance Advanced!

    My guess is that with a telescopic seat post, it would be surprisingly good, but I don't have a chance to try it before buying.

    So my plea to you Scalpel owners is, that you unveil the secret weakness of the Scalpel and tell me that all that climbing efficiency is indeed achieved by extremely compromised descending ability. It would save me from choice anguish.

    ps. Any comparison with previous bikes would be much appreciated.

    ps2. I rode the 2010 Rz One Twenty 1, and really liked how that felt!
    It rails, its descending speed and capability will be totally adequate for 98% of people. I rode a 2011 Scalpel Ultimate in Utah and it climbs like a mountain goat and descends like a Porsche, it was really too quick for my skill set.

    I'm sure there are people on this board who could find its faults but unless you are a professional XC racer or a World Cup downhiller ( it would have too little travel for them ), I would be surprised if you could get near its capabilities.

    I don't obviously know at what level you ride but I have a 2009 Rize 3, its a great bike but the Scalpel far exceeds its capabilities. If you want to stay in one piece get the RZ120, the Scalpel's sheer ability might get you in past your abilities.

  3. #3
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    Nobody gets his butt behind the saddle these days with those heavy gadgety telescopic seatposts... Normally, you can pretty much go down a hill as steep with the seatpost where it should be than without a saddle at all. Drop posts are good if you pretty much descend all the time IMO but for the small amount of time they are needed in XC applications, they're just added weight.

    DAN.GEROUS.NET : MOUNTAIN BIKING : CYCLOCROSS : ROAD :

  4. #4
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    I just read the Bikemagic review of the bike, and they described the descending qualities as "not as scary as they feared"...

    I think I'll have to try to get a chance to try one out. I might be a bit tricky with the cheapest models in France starting at 3300 €.

  5. #5
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    Um, why not a Rize 120? Climbs as well an Anthem I would imagine, a guy who was complaining that his new Jekyll does not climb as well as he hoped was raving how his Scalpel AND his Rize 120 climbed (equally good) vs the Jekyll.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sacke
    I just read the Bikemagic review of the bike, and they described the descending qualities as "not as scary as they feared"...

    I think I'll have to try to get a chance to try one out. I might be a bit tricky with the cheapest models in France starting at 3300 .
    How much is the Ultimate in France ?

  7. #7
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    @Duc Hunter: I tried a Rize 120, but despite the fact that it does climb light years better than the Rush it replaced in the lineup, I regret that it's not available in Carbon any longer.

    The other issues that was raised in another forum was the fact that with the Scalpel being taken back to 80mm, the new Jekyll being 150mm of travel, but the Rize carbon models being eliminated. --> It all points to an all new 100-120mm travel carbon bike being launched in 2012. Not my clever idea, just remember reading it, and can't remember if it was here or on a French forum.

    The Scalpel is all new for 2011, and since I tend to keep my bikes for roughly a year at a time, at least I know that in 2012, there won't be an "all new" Scalpel eating away at the resell value of the current one.

    I actually had a chat with the LBS this morning, and might pick up the Scalpel this afternoon. If it doesn't suite my riding style after a few months, I could always sell it without losing any money.

    @BadBoyNY

    The Scalpel Ultimate is 8499 € in France, which is about 11.600 $. Not exactly cheap...

  8. #8
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    The scalpel's rear is basically a leaf spring and needs to be locked out except for dedicated downhills. The rear is springy and requires high amounts of rebound control. That being said the rear travel is like a glorifed hard tail and not plush and cannot be compared to a trail bike or am bike for comfort and down hill control. When the trail gets truely rough, longer smooth travel rules. You need greater skill to bomb a scalpel compared to the Rush, though I have a Push converted rear shock on the rush that gives a plusher ride. The key on down hills is the roughness factor. It will bomb smooth to slightly rough down hills but the rougher it gets the more you wish you were on a trail bike.

    The scalpel is a race rocket that dominates on flats, twisty turny and climbs. The limited rear travel is better than a hard tail on rough decents but not by much as you would expect with the 100mm of rear travel I have. The 80mm has got to be more hard tail like.

    Your trails sound like a very good match for the scalpel's traits with relatively smooth downs.

    I think the rush climbs almost as good is the same speed on flats but is faster and more stable on the downs. Rush is a better marathon and daily use bike but not available anymore.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by cannondale rider 66
    I think the rush climbs almost as good is the same speed on flats but is faster and more stable on the downs. Rush is a better marathon and daily use bike but not available anymore.
    ahhh.... no way champ. ive had both and the rush does not climb "almost as good". the scalpel is light years ahead uphill. no question on the downhill but i think the scalpel is no slouch on XC downhills.

  10. #10
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    I ended up buying the Scalpel.

    Having owned a Rush and had good amounts of time on a Rush, I can only agree with nathanbal. The Scalpel is from another planet. The Rush was the only bike I ever owned, and never liked. Sold it after two weeks. The rear of the Rush would dip so deep, that climbing was either a pain in the ass, or if the shock was rock hard, it would be too harsh in the descents. Descending with the Rush was fun though... but you have to get up the hill before enjoying the downhill.

    Anyways, sorry for hating on the Rush, but I was just really disappointed when I had it in 2008.

    A couple of interesting facts about the Scalpel in comparison to a Giant Trance X Advanced.

    Trance X Adv head angle: 69,5
    2011 Scalpel head angle: 69,6

    Trance X stock rims: DT XR430
    2011 Scalpel stock rims: DT XR430

    The rims are not exactly relevant, but the head angle is.

    As I mentioned, the terrain here isn't that rough, and the difficulty comes form steep climbs/descents with tight switchbacks. They are very seldom fast speed wise.

    I plan on building the Scalpel to be a solid, abuse resistant, yet feathery light all 'round steed.

    It does descend well, but with the stock seatpost and stem, my weight is slightly too much over the handlebars. A +5 stem, a 25mm setback seatpost and riser bars should fix that.

    Even if the downhills might be a bit slower than on other longer travel bikes, the amazing climbing ability will get me to the top so much faster that I will have a good head start on my fellow riders.

    Some other things that I didn't like that much:
    - SLX shifters. The downshifting lever is way too long and had to be moved significantly towards the center, in order not to annoyingly touch the index fingers all the time.
    - The Avid Elixir brake handles. The lever is too long/badly shaped. When braking with two fingers, the end of the lever comes down and at times pushes on the pinky and ring finger.
    - The FSA cranks. Already on the first ride, I heard annoying clicking sounds from the cranks. I never had a problem free FSA crankset, and they don't seem to have gotten any better.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by nathanbal
    ahhh.... no way champ. ive had both and the rush does not climb "almost as good". the scalpel is light years ahead uphill. no question on the downhill but i think the scalpel is no slouch on XC downhills.
    Absolutely agree!

  12. #12
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    Going from a scalpel to a rush the deterioration in climbing was very noticeable for me. The Scalpel is always going to be a bit of a handful on rough downhills though - it's OK, but I'd say you need to be an excellent rider to really blast it downhill. There's a lot of weight on the bars.

    I've not ridden the newest scalpels, but I always found the ones from a few years back to be pretty comfortable on all dayers. Although it's a race bike it was fine taking it out on an epic - I hope you enjoy the bike.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by JBone
    Going from a scalpel to a rush the deterioration in climbing was very noticeable for me. The Scalpel is always going to be a bit of a handful on rough downhills though - it's OK, but I'd say you need to be an excellent rider to really blast it downhill. There's a lot of weight on the bars.

    I've not ridden the newest scalpels, but I always found the ones from a few years back to be pretty comfortable on all dayers. Although it's a race bike it was fine taking it out on an epic - I hope you enjoy the bike.
    I noticed the weight on the bars, and I think Cannondale got it right with the Ultimate model. On that one, the seat post has a good amount of setback that probably take some weight off the handlebars.

    I just put on Crossmax ST:s on the bike, since I wanted something bombproof with a wider profile and something that aesthetically would fit the Scalpel. The stock wheelset was 200g heavier, not tubeless, just 24 thin spokes.

    One of the spokes got bent on the first ride when a smallish stone hit it, so my confidence in them was not all that great.

    The black and white ST:s look nice. If the 1680g weight at some point starts feeling sluggish, I'll probably order a set of wheels with ZTR Crest rims.

    But to get back to the subject of weight on the handlebars. Another modification to come is to swap out the -5 stem for the +5(or 6?) stem and a riser bar.

    Concerning the required skills to blast down hills... I guess it's a good way to force oneself to get better at bike handling.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sacke


    If it doesn't suite my riding style after a few months, I could always sell it without losing any money.
    what??

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by V.P.
    what??
    Choosing the Scalpel was/is a bit of a gamble. I haven't yet (before the Scalpel) owned a Cannondale that I really liked, but the rave reviews of the Scalpel and wanting to prove my own prejudices wrong, I thought I would give it a try.

    I got an ok discount, and with considerable delays on Scalpel deliveries, there is demand in the second hand market.

  16. #16
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    In regards to the brake levers smushing your fingers - you can remove the shift indicators easily and then move the brakes inboard of the shifters. I have my levers almost as close in to the bars as they can go for one finger shifting.


  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by mainlane
    In regards to the brake levers smushing your fingers - you can remove the shift indicators easily and then move the brakes inboard of the shifters. I have my levers almost as close in to the bars as they can go for one finger shifting.
    Very interesting... I'll look into that. I already moved the break handles quite a bit away from the handles, and it improved it a lot. I still much prefer the lever design of Formula brakes.

  18. #18
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    I forgot to say that if you remove the shift indicators there are plastic caps to cover the top of the exposed shifter pod - and they're located on the underside of the shifter indicator.

  19. #19
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    I do not see the light years of difference between rush and scalpel climbing but I do have a Pushed rear shock RP23 with a larger air sleave and valving that gives a little movement when locked out and climbing technical terrain but does not help on fire road climbs. When you unlock the rear end it is much more supple than the harsh stock shock. I agree with Sacke with the stock shock set up being hard to get both climbing and decending. Since there is no free lunch the more supple rear also increases the brake jack effect a little since the rear is deeper in its travel.

    Climbing times and a trail performance times over east coast rooty rocky terrain are not much different but the scalpel is faster overall and yes it is faster climber. As the trail gets smoother the scalpel gets even faster.

    However Sacke, a set back seatpost does not help with weight on the bars unless you are moving your seated position out of its proper alignment and moving your seat further back. I use a set back seat post to compensate for my long upper leg and to keep from placing the seat too far back on straight seat post and placing a large amount of force to the seat post bolts. Not fun when you break a bolt. I do use a +20 degree stem and a low rise bar to get a more balanced weight front to rear onboth the rush and scalpel. This matches up the mountainous terrain that I ride and my personal preference for wanting more of a trail bike feel.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sacke
    I noticed the weight on the bars, and I think Cannondale got it right with the Ultimate model. On that one, the seat post has a good amount of setback that probably take some weight off the handlebars.

    I just put on Crossmax ST:s on the bike, since I wanted something bombproof with a wider profile and something that aesthetically would fit the Scalpel. The stock wheelset was 200g heavier, not tubeless, just 24 thin spokes.

    One of the spokes got bent on the first ride when a smallish stone hit it, so my confidence in them was not all that great.

    The black and white ST:s look nice. If the 1680g weight at some point starts feeling sluggish, I'll probably order a set of wheels with ZTR Crest rims.

    But to get back to the subject of weight on the handlebars. Another modification to come is to swap out the -5 stem for the +5(or 6?) stem and a riser bar.

    Concerning the required skills to blast down hills... I guess it's a good way to force oneself to get better at bike handling.
    hi, newb on here and pretty much newb to mountain bikes all round, i have very recently purchased a new scalpel 3 mainly for its light weight as i,m fairly small and 45 years young!! as you guys have said superb climbing & smooth trail ability but looking for some advice as how to calm it down a bit on fast,rugged down hill xc sections i found it to be very nervous perhaps to precise!! i have ordered a set of carbon low risers but looking for more info on the +5-6 stems are they aftermarket, will these stems get me slightly further back on the bike any further sugestions more than welcome thanks...

  21. #21
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    Cannondale Scalpel 2011 frame snapped 3x in 3mnths

    Hi All
    I have a Cannondale 2011 Scalpel. The frame has snapped three times since Dec 2010.
    The break occurs at the base of the seat stay on the disc brake side and has broken on same ride, at same place on ride, every month since December 2010. Cannonodale have been brilliant and have replaced the frame each time but I am worried this will happen on a stage race.No one can explain?? is there anyone out there with same issue?? Or can anyone advise? No pics as frame is once again with Cannondale.

  22. #22
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    Ban

  23. #23
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    The scalpel is fine for DH as is. Experience and skill will make up for any bike deficiencies.

  24. #24
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    Today will mark the day that my 2007(ish) carbon 1 Rush gets replaced by the 2011 Scalpel ultimate. I'm really looking forward pushing the Scalpel and seeing how differently it responds. I also got into Leadville this year. Hope the bikes climbs as well as what I've heard!

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by dgr123
    The break occurs at the base of the seat stay on the disc brake side and has broken on same ride, at same place on ride, every month since December 2010. .

    right...

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