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  1. #1
    Livin' the Dream
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    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!
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Scalpel 29 Ride Report-1.jpg  

    Scalpel 29 Ride Report-2.jpg  

    Scalpel 29 Ride Report-3.jpg  

    Last edited by Asbury; 12-15-2011 at 08:45 AM.
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  2. #2
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    WOW! Santa plz I just want this bike...

  3. #3
    LA CHÈVRE
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    Now that's one big paragraph!

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

  4. #4
    Livin' the Dream
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    Ha! Yeah, I cut and pasted it and lost my formatting. Hopefully it was still easy enough to follow.
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  5. #5
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    Asbury - really like your bike!

    How is the pedal efficiency if you keep the shock open? Does it bob a lot?

  6. #6
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    I am in love with the Scalpel 3, that of aluminium, but here in Spain they were starting coming in March - April, 2012.
    We are riders on our mounts of two wheels, by Catxl.

  7. #7
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    thanks for the very nice review, now i really can't wait to have mine...

  8. #8
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    Awesome!

  9. #9
    breathing helium
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    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.

  10. #10
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    drool and drool. BTW what width are your handlebars? They look narrow or is it just the angle of the shot?

  11. #11
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    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.
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  12. #12
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    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?

  13. #13
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    I think you could absolutely use it as a cross country bike, I plan to.
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  14. #14
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    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.

  15. #15
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    Nice report. Bike looks ace.

  16. #16
    LAN
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    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
    LAN

  17. #17
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    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.

  18. #18
    Livin' the Dream
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    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.
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  19. #19
    LAN
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    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:

    http://www.sram.com/sites/default/fi...ifications.pdf

    I would be very grateful if you would measure again :-)

    Best regards
    LAN

  20. #20
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    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.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Spinning Lizard View Post
    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.

  22. #22
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    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.
    Last edited by Asbury; 12-19-2011 at 06:41 PM.
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  23. #23
    LAN
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    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.

  24. #24
    FIRENZE rulez !!
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    Quote Originally Posted by LAN View Post
    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
    LAN
    for the 122mm spindle i am trying to mount it on a Flash 29er HM

  25. #25
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    Any further thoughts as you've had a chance to rude this bike more? Looking at this Scalpel or and expert epic.

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