So 3 rides and 60 miles now on my 2013 Scalpel 2 29er. Some initial thoughts. I'm 190 or so lbs.
I've spent most of the past 3 seasons on a Santa Cruz Tallboy Carbon (135 x 10 rear and 15qr fork up front), with a big chunk of last season on a Giant XTC composite hardtail.
Brief stints on a Ellsworth Evolve 29er (gigantic mistake) and a 2012 Ventana El Rey (nice bike, but not what I needed).
Cannondale has absolutely nailed the torsional stiffness of this bike front to rear, and the handling is on rails as a result. There is no hinting of twisting or flexing in this frame. The Tallboy Carbon is no slouch but the cannondale is stout. Absolutely love the handling on this bike so far.
Rear Suspension. On the firm side of 4 inches. If you consider this 4 inches of travel, then the Tallboy is plush and feels like more. If you consider the tallboy to have 4 inches of travel this may feel like less. Just more firm in general. So far very sensitive to shock set-up. I ran 60% of my body weight (in terms of what my shock pump read) and I used all my travel. When going to 65% on the same loop, I didn't quite squeek all of it out of it. I really liked it at 60% of bodyweight and 3 clicks out from full fast on the rebound.
2013 Lefty - Still playing with it. Also seems pretty sensitive to air pressure. It's not quite as sensitive to the small stuff as prior lefty's I've ridden, but also doesn't blow through the first half of travel. Today ran 65% of my body weight, managed to get 90 out of the 100mm of travel which is similar to other forks. It's smooth and a very good match for the rear of the bike. Tracks outstanding.
Traction on rough climbs is a slight edge to the tallboy, but just a smidge. I should mentioned I have not converted the Scalpel to tubeless yet either which may affect the traction. From a speed standpoint the Scalpel just flies. I'm very confident carrying more speed into corners on this bike than even the tallboy. I think that's the torsional stiffness (as mentioned the tallboy is also strong, but not quite as much as the scalpel.).
That said the only bike that was unerving in corners that I ever have owned was the noodle of a rear end on the ellsworth evolve.
All in all pretty happy thus far, it's a great bike for where I live here in Michigan. That said, was never unhappy with the Tallboy either. I know these bikes get compared a lot, and both are excellent. They are different though.
Will post more here if my thoughts change as I play with shock pressures a bit more.
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Thread: 2013 Scalpel 2 29er mini-review