Scalpel 29 Ride Report
I picked up my new Cannondale Scalpel 29 Carbon 1 last Saturday. Wow! It is a very visually appealing bike to say the least. Some things the photos have not really shown were the width of the top tube and the “S” bend of the seat tube to make way for the front derailleur, very unique to be sure. The rear seat and chain stays are also very thick. In person, the bike just looks very aggressive and robust; it is nothing short of awesome. I ordered a large and elected to replace the XO brakes for the World cup version of XX. I decided to keep it a full SRAM kit for simplicity sake and also because my lbs has SRAM parts readily available. Weight on my size large was 23.04 lbs on the shop scale. Apart from adding an Arundel cage and XTR pedals it is bone stock.
So after picking it up on Saturday it was not until Monday that I was able to get my first ride in on the new machine. I want to preface my ride report with some of my experience. I am 6’2”, 175 lbs and race CAT 1 XC, 100 milers, 24 hours, etc. I’ve been moving away from XC towards endurance since I’m getting tired of the pain of XC racing at 39! My previous bike was a Yeti ASR-C and I loved it. However, I had the chance to demo an Orbea 29er while the Yeti frame was being warrantied (for the 3rd time) and I really liked the feel of the 29er more underneath my gangly physique. The Yeti was an awesome bike but 3 frames being warrantied really concerned me so I sold it. I own a Cannondale Super Six and that is what led me to starting looking at this bike.
So first ride out: wow! When I first starting riding I knew from experience the big wheels would make the turns flow much more. This bike was better than the Orbea though because it rarely lost contact with the ground, despite how rough things became. Riding on hardback with heavy leaf cover with a root/rock scattered here there, I did not feel like I could override this bike’s ability. I still did not push it to the limits, but I can say those limits are much greater than the Yeti’s. The adjective that kept running through my mind was “direct.” This bike is so precise, direct engagement of pedal input; direct feeling on the steering, direct shifting; everything just felt very “connected” if that makes sense. One example I’ll give is running over a loose rock in the middle of the trail. Previous bikes would absorb the impact and then give a secondary bounce to the left or right, leading to a rough or unstable feeling. The Scalpel addressed this with a very secure feeling lateral bounce and rested back down with a very direct/solid feel. I think this has mostly to do with the combination of the Lefty and big wheel, but also contributing to this is the very noticeably light front end. This is the lightest front end I have ever felt on a bike, which has included carbon forks and high end 26” wheel sets. The pedaling input also feels very stiff and direct. It is the stiffest pedal input of any frame I’ve ridden. I expected this because of the size of the PF30 BB and the massive seat stays and chain stays. One slight annoyance was that my calves would regularly hit the seat stay, nothing major and something I was able to overcome. On one climb that is very steep with rocks, I’d have problems spinning out on the Yeti. I expected that not too happen on with this bike and I was right. The big wheels and suspension kept it securely hooked up and I motored up what used to be a 50/50 rideable hill. The Schwalbe’s only spun out one time climbing, but I think that was more gear selection and leaves over loose rocks. They seem like they’re going to work pretty well for me and running them at 27psi probably helped, but I think I may run them even lower next time out because the sidewall flex did not ever appear like I was coming close to the rim.
One other thing about this bike I noticed is that it is quiet, damn quiet. I kept trying to figure out what was different about the ride (besides the feel) and I realized I never heard the chain slap the frame. I’m not sure if this is the XX derailleur or the design of the frame, but I noticed it and I really like it. The Yeti was louder than a busted chainsaw going through rock gardens, so maybe that it is why I noticed this bikes stealthy silence. The shifting also was very direct and quiet and I can tell that I am going to be very happy with the 2x10 setup. Having ridden XTR triple cranks for the last 6 years, this was a huge step up. If you been contemplating 2x10, do it; I’m sold.
You can probably tell I am a huge fan of this bike, however; it can’t always be all puppy dogs and ice cream. Some things that weren’t what I expected. As I mentioned I changed out the XO’s to the XX WC brakes. I’ve had Avid brakes in the past and I haven’t been a fan. I’m not sure I’ve changed my mind on these brakes. After riding XTR these felt really industrial on their modulation. I just don’t like the metal on metal feeling you get with Avid/Sram brakes. I may switch the pads to organic to see if that will help because overall power is fine. One other strange thing is the cable routing on this bike. It looks like an afterthought. The derailleur cables run on the underneath side of the down tube, but the rear brake line runs on the top left of the down tube, being secured by a clamp that doubles as the lower bolt for the bottle cage. It makes for a weird juncture at the left side crank arm and really just kind of looks ugly on an otherwise beautiful bike. I don’t know why they would not have just had all 3 cables/lines run down the bottom of the down tube. Nothing major, but I thought I’d mention it. The area reserved for the bottle cage is also a little tight, but I was still able to use a 24oz bottle with just a slightly different process to get it removed and resecured quickly. These are not huge issues and do not take away from the primary purpose of the bike.
I have a pretty good bar to seat drop and I really feel secure and fast on this bike. I think I read on another forum somewhere the feeling of sitting “in” the bike vs. “on” the bike. I just feel it “click” in as soon as the pedals start turning. This bike does everything very well and I have no doubt we will see several thousand miles together, miles that will be seen a lot more quickly and comfortable than I have experienced in the past!
(A few pics from the maiden ride)
EDIT: Put paragraphs back in!
WOW! Santa plz I just want this bike...
Now that's one big paragraph!
Ha! Yeah, I cut and pasted it and lost my formatting. Hopefully it was still easy enough to follow.
Asbury - really like your bike!
How is the pedal efficiency if you keep the shock open? Does it bob a lot?
I am in love with the Scalpel 3, that of aluminium, but here in Spain they were starting coming in March - April, 2012.
thanks for the very nice review, now i really can't wait to have mine...
Great review! I've been considering a 29er fs and this one is at the top of the list right now. Can you tell me your saddle?
Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts.
drool and drool. BTW what width are your handlebars? They look narrow or is it just the angle of the shot?
Cero - I did not really notice pedal bob. I had read in some of the professional reviews that pedal bob was an issue, but I did not notice it as being overly active. Once I get some more time on it I'll post back up on that issue. When standing and climbing the front shock was very active though so the lock out will come in handy for that type of stuff.
Cocheese - The saddle is the Fizik Tundra that came stock. I thought it was pretty hard, but it may just be that it takes a while to break in. If it doesn't soften up in the next few rides; I am switching back to my all time favorite, the Gobi.
Thanks for the info Asbury.
I´m thinking to get myself a scalpel 2 and where I live there won´t probably be any available until march thats why all this questions.
So do you think that this bike can allso be used as a XC race bike?
I think you could absolutely use it as a cross country bike, I plan to.
I picked up my Scalpel 1 yesterday. Went full XTR except for the Cannondale SI Cranks which I kept. Swapped out for a carbon seat post, and a Sella Italia at 135grams, the bike w/o pedals or cage came in at 22.56 LBS. I got to ride it today for about an hour over a local dirt road up about a 1500 foot climb. I was concerned because unlike my old bike you cannot fully lockout the rear shock, though you can the front. Not to worry, during the climb there is very little peddle bob. There is an adjustment on the rear shock and for the climb I went to stiff mode and of course locked out the front. Super responsive handleing, very direct power to drive train and as Asbury says "direct engagement" is right on. On my 26er the 2 inch deep gravel near the top of the road was always troublesome. The 29er just rolls through this stuff with much less problem. On the way down, despite the much shorter travel of both the front and rear shocks than my old Jekyll 2000, this handles rocks, ruts and washboard with no problem. The scalpel seems very aptly named. Light, precise, direct and accurate, yet vs. The 26 e version of the Scalpel,
more dampening in the shocks and a smoother ride resulting both from the suspension and the larger wheels.
Nice report. Bike looks ace.
Can anyone measure the distance between the chainstays, ca 190mm behind the BB.
I would like to know if it's possible to mount XX 156mm crankset, or a SI SL with 122mm spindle.
Thanks in advance
Do you think the carbon frame is too unforgiving through the rough stuff? I have always heard that carbon fiber fatigues your body rather quickly, so, I am looking at the alloy 3 or 4 version.
LAN - Not sure exactly what you want measured, but here goes. The inside width of the two chainstays, 190mm behind the bottom bracket, is 85mm.
mudhudgie - I don't the stiffness of the carbon fatigues your body anymore than aluminum. In fact I think the reduced weight of carbon would counteract any affects of the stiffness of the carbon. I've been on a carbon bike for the last 3 years and I think the added stiffness of the carbon helps put more of your energy into the turning of the pedals.
Sorry, I should have explained myself better.
I want to know the distance from outside to outside between the chainstays. I'd like to know if the narrow Sram XX crankset will fit. I think 130mm outside to outside is the maximum if you want to fitt the narrow XX crankset.
If you still don't understand where to measure, look at page 7 on this pdf from SRAM:
I would be very grateful if you would measure again :-)
How do you like the DT Swiss Tricon wheels? Have one on order and cant get the weight of those wheels out of my head. They are a full 1/2 lb heavier then my current wheelset.
Yeah they're not the lightest, but they're built really beefy to take serious punishment. As well, they're wide and seamless and built very well for tubeless compatibality. I think they'll last a really long time, at least I'm hoping they are for the price they get. If you don't like them your LBS would probbly make you a good deal on the bike without them. Retail for about $1100 which is stupid but it is what it is.
Originally Posted by Spinning Lizard
LAN, Looks like approximately 125mm. I say approximate because the chain stays are at different levels, and without calipers it's hard to be too exact. Hopefully this helps.
Thank you, looks like it will fit then. Now I just have to wait for mine to arrive, scheduled for March. At least I got my Supersix Evo for christmas.
for the 122mm spindle i am trying to mount it on a Flash 29er HM
Originally Posted by LAN
Any further thoughts as you've had a chance to rude this bike more? Looking at this Scalpel or and expert epic.
I doubt if I have "enough" when I only have 2x10 instead of 3x9? I like to cycle small when climbing..... because of my knee.
Is it better for my buying a ATB with 3 in front?
I've had several rides now, with the longest being a 4.5 hour training ride. All my initial thoughts are the same. This is the perfect machine for endurance races, I never came off the Yeti feeling as "fresh" as I did after being in the saddle of the Scalpel for several hours. The bike is just so solid. I don't think I'll ever ride a non Lefty bike again. Also, It's a great climber which has been very surprising to me. I wish there was a second bottle cage, but the seat post mounted Spec adapter has fixed that. The 2x10 has plenty of "granny" gear; I wouldn't be surprised to see 3x10's disappear altogether in a few years. All in all, very pleased.
I was out for an hour or so today burning off some overdone holiday cheer from last night. I agree with everything Asbury said though I rigged mine with a triple ring and I'm happy I did. I am not a Cat 1 racer though, just a citizens category guy and where I ride here in CO I use the 24/36 as well as the 42/11 so I enjoy the wider range of gear options. Totally bad ass climbing machine (hard to argue with 5 less pounds!), and although the suspension feels quite a bit stiffer than my old ride, the larger wheels just add enough extra stability that I don't miss the extra cush at all when headed down. Can't wait till spring to get it out on some single track, but I'm sure the XC racing community is going to embrace this bike in a big way. Even the more casual rider like myself will enjoy the precision performance and responsiveness, coupled with the forgiveness and greater stability inherent in a 29er.
MY LBS was happy to swap out the original 2 ring front for a 3, used FSA spiders on the SI cranks, swapped front and rear derailleurs and rear casette for XTR.
Originally Posted by vlinder
Where in Co. do you live Mhersh?....like to see it. ....up here in Fort Collins...
The bike or the route? I live up Coal Creek Canyon between Boulder and Golden ( Hwy 72 a couple miles up from 93) about an hour15 minutes drive to FC. The weathers been so good this week I rode " my hill" again today, about a 1500 foot climb to the top in dry conditions, but the last half mile is snow choked so maybe 1200 feet right now. Tell me how ton post a pic with an iPhone or iPad and I'll happily post a few shots.
I did quite a bit of riding on my Scapel 2 this week. 2 hours thur, 3 friday, 5 saturday and 3 sunday and ive got to say I really like it.
Im coming from a santa cruz blur, this is my first 29er and what hits you the most is how you can really use your upper body and throw this thing into the corners. I mean you can really put some lean on it. I am from a motor cross and motorcycle road racing background and wow this bike was like going home. It honestly took me 15 minutes and I never thought about my blur again.
The other thing I noticed is the 39 front at first but then you realize that it just takes more to get the 29er going on slow tight stuff and when you think you want to spin you have to just put a bit more power to it and all is good. Amazing ones its going, so smooth.
I had a few instances on some really rough S turns that are pretty fast where same as the OP I felt like I honestly can feel the difference in the design of the lefty vs my fox rlc. It was still noticible the roots were there but I was able to just skip a bit and throw in back into the other side of the S every lap. Was never that fast in that S on the Blur.
It comes with 710mm bars....They are too wide for tight trees and I figured out fast I couldnt just wing it until I cut them down ;) Nice flight I had though. Got good points on the full front flip.
Do note that it doesnt come with a down tube protector sticker at all and you will want to grab one. I just used a lizard skin. Also doesnt come with a chain stay guard of any kind, not even sticker.
I will be using this bike for at least 4 100miler NUE races this year and a handful of 6 hours. Not sure of the whole season yet. I am really looking forward to it.
Oh and the Monarch is really sweet. Its one of the main reasons I didnt get the Carbon 1. Very smooth and feels way better than my RP23s. Im running 20lbs less air in the Monarch than the RP23s as well just fyi.
Ride one if you get a chance.
I never had a carbon trail bike.....
Can this be used for a larger (220lb) rider out east where it is rocky and rooty? I don't want to spend this much money if I'm going to shred the bike. I do mostly trail riding - just a little concerned about the durability.....can anyone advise me? Thanks
Just got mine in last week. I had to go out of town right after it was put together.I am anxious to get the new off of it!
Glad to know you guys are enjoying them so much.
very nice review, thanks for sharing it.
what frame size is it?
Are there any XL frames delivered yet ? I'm still waiting for my carbon 2 in XL
complete article here :
Scalpel 29er report « eliflap
a friend has for 2 days this bike , stock version here in Italy , 10,7 kg :
Uscita 07/01/2012 by barone86 at Garmin Connect - Details
his impressions in few words :
great grip when uphilling , no bobbing , great on the descents
Ok despite having no brakes, I decided to hack something together and finally take my bike out for its first ride. Only set of brakes I had laying around was a set of old maguras from my karate monkey...they are too short and pretty beat, but they worked for now.
My current bike is a 2010 Epic 29er marathon and for 2 years I have been very happy with it. I have put about 3500 miles on it..done everything from cyclocross racing, 60 mile road rides, XC racing, endurance racing, downhill runs...pretty much everything. Its been an awesome bike and I really have very few complaints about it. So while I thought I would like the scalpel, I wasnt sure that it would blow me away compared to my Epic.
I took it to my favorite local spot that has a good amount of technical rock gardens, some decent climbs and some fast downhills. First thing I noticed on the mile long rail bed trip into the trail was that I did not notice the brain not being there. The rear just does not bob. I didnt bother to look at which of the 3 setting was the stiffest, so I just left it in the middle for a while. Felt fine. First section of trail I hit was a technical rocky climb and the bike was impressive and felt glued to the ground. compared to epic, the front end felt more planted and not as easily knocked offline. One thing I always loved about my Epic was how solid it felt when you were out of the saddle climbing. I tried this a number of times with the scalpel and I couldn't tell the difference. Feels very solid.
Downhill is where this bike most impressed me. The lefty is far better on rocky descents then the reba on my epic. Absolutely flies downhill.
In the technical bits, again it was impressive. Had no issues with the slow rolling rocky portions of the ride. This was something my epic did really well so I was hoping that the scalpel would be at least as good. I felt it was better. Im not sure of how the bb height compares to my epic, but it didnt feel as low. The scalpel does feel like it is easier to hustle over bigger logs...say like knee high.
I would say that turning feels about the same and I loved how the epic turned.... but when you factor in how well the lefty stays planted to the ground, I definitely felt that the scalpel was faster. Loved it.
In all I think its very much like my epic, but in every area, improved. Faster, climbs better, descends better....No complaints. Im really looking forward to swapping some lightweight parts onto it. As of now, the only things I have changed are the bars, hollowgram cranks, and tires. Brakes as well...but my R1's are not in yet.
First rock garden.
It is here! It has a little drool on it but it's still awesome. I wish I could afford it as well as my Jekyll. But such as life.
I have bought also a C'dale Scalpel 29er Carbon 1 and the only issue I found are the cables. There are 2 cables underneath the frame and 1 cable that goes above. I have got the solution for this "problem": I replaced the C'dale cable guides with cable guides from Specialized...The cable guides from Specialized can handle three cables! Now are all my 3 cables together and the problem is solved! Looks much better! I will post pic's if needed...
I'd love to see those pics if you've got some.
Originally Posted by heumena
heumena...what your take on the new Scalpel? Looking to order one myself...worth the the 8 grand?
I bought mine in Europe voor 6000 euro's (7662 dollar)... It's worth every euro... I have changed the following things:
- Hope RACE Evo M4 2012 (front)
- Hope RACE Evo X2 2012 (rear)
- Hope Floating Rotor 183mm black (front)
- Hope Floating Rotor 160mm black (rear)
- ENVE MTB Stuur Sweep Bar OS
- Ritchey WCS True Grips
- Hope Matchmaker Hope For Sram
- Hope Grip Doctor
- ENVE seatpost (31,6mm x 400mm) and 25mm Offset
- Fizik Antares Versus black
- Maxxis Ikon 29 x 2.2
- SRAM XX front derailleur
Ive ridden over 30 hours on it in the past 2.5 weeks ive had it. All I can say is that it is a great bike. The most confidence inspiring bike ive ever ridden. I can rail around off camber root studded corner like no other. Its a great fun bike to ride.
The grips were too hard so I swithed those out, the seat and my arse didnt like each other at all so back to my WTB rocket v. Other than that im all stock and will remain so for a while. I really have no reason to upgrade right now.
I even bought a second set of the stock wheels off ebay that someone obviously upgraded. Im doing a lot of 100 mile races and needed spare wheels with different tires, cant beat them for the money. Of course id like some I9s ;) but 1300.00 can wait.
Our trails are really tight trees and lots of roots. The bike is amazing. Tomorrow im taking it out of town to do some rocky trails and will see how that goes.
Well worth the money. I thin the 2 is a better deal than the 1, but thats just my opinion and I could of had either one.
Just road my Scalpel 1 for the first ride. Absolutely amazing! Rides so flickable for a 29er. Did not miss my Superfly even for 1 second. No regrets. One thing that was impressive, that had thought would be a drawback with the single pivot, was how it climbs.
Depends on the deal you can rangle with your LBS. When you consider the upgraded stand alone cost of the wheels, SI crank, and Carbon Lefty, not to mention the drivetrain components... I'd say the 1 at least offers solid value for the extra price. About $1000/pound of weight saving:). But, I got my 1 with all XTR and a carbon seat post for $6500 which I think is a pretty good relative price compared to what I believe others are paying. I do still like the paint job better on the 2 frame though.
Originally Posted by zeeke
Glad to hear ...i'm getting closer to ordering one....
Can someone of the scalpel 29er owners please explaine how does the rear thru axle looks like?
I know it´s a 12 mm but it is the quick release or how does it work to take the rear wheel our?
You can use the same tool which you use for your seatclamp. I am not sure what it is in English, but I think a hextool? Looks like a torx...
But you can replace it with a DT-Swiss quick release if you whish...