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  1. #1
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    Scalpel Suspension tips...

    I rode my Scalpel for the first time last week, and I think I need to be talked down from the "ledge". It's got a Ultra Fatty up front and a Fox RP3 on the rear. I weigh 177lbs. I listened to the shop guys on the recomended air presssure settings and it was too soft up front, and much to harsh in the rear, (kinda sounds like my prom date), but I digress...
    Any input on setting up the suspension?
    Thanks in advance.

  2. #2
    Compulsive Bike Builder
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    How I liked mine, plus my wish list for Scalpel suspension

    Quote Originally Posted by RyderX
    my Scalpel ... was too soft up front, and much to harsh in the rear Any input on setting up the suspension? Thanks in advance.
    I loved my Scalpel, and had a similar experience.

    Since it is a race bike, everyone wants to set up the rear too firm - you must resist this temptation. Set up preload for 25% sag. Look around the web for instructions if you need to. Then season damping to taste using some islolated bumps. I set mine up a little soft. It would bob sometimes, so I would use the lockout. If you let the rear end work instead of setting it up too firm, the Scalpel has the most sophisticated of all of Cannondale's rear suspensions, too bad it cannot seem to be scaled up for more travel. It isolates braking, pedaling, and bump forces extremely well.

    Cannondale may have the crown jewels with the Scalpel's Mid Pivot suspension design and not realize it. After all, they came up with it while they had motorcycle fever. I think they should go back and explore it more. I wish they could figure out how to scale up the travel on such a design, thus giving the world a real new suspension innovation besides single pivots, forward pivot 4 bars, or VPP. I remember seeing a picture of a test mule of the Scalpel with aluminum chain stays and a mechanical mid pivot. Picture that with an upper link the size of an Ellsworth Moment or Id. Could it work? My guess is that it would be flexy, but who knows? Don't dismiss it unless you have access to a full CAD system, I say.
    Last edited by DirtDad; 04-10-2005 at 11:22 PM.
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  3. #3
    `Count Scalpula'
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    I used to own an 04` Team Scalpel. Frame size small. Had a hard time dialing the back suspension. The lefty stem had to be at least 100m in length to clear the Lefty, so I always had to extend my arms straight out and end up too far forward. I set the rebound to full slow on the back DT swiss shock and tried different pressures, but it would still pogo the back into the air after compressing.

    I finally ended all the backend popping up into the air after compression.
    Went to a Cannondale hardtail with a Fatty s I can use a 80m stem and my race lap times have improved alot!

    This is only my personal opinion on the Scalpel. For anyone that is my size (5,4" @ 125lbs) the duallies rebound too much!
    This weekend, I rode with some weekend warriors, so I took my superV (Jekyl swingarm & Ultra 80m) and loaded my Camel Bak with 10 lbs of weights + 100ml of water (19 lbs total) + 2 full water bottles to even things out a bit.
    The extra weight made the suspension especially in the backend work so much better! Noticed the extra weight also helped the tires plant better on the turns. The Scalpel is an awsome bike for a heavier rider because the suspension is setup alittle harsh (must be that carbon fiber chain stays?)
    Now I know why I was so squirelly getting bounced all over the place.
    Thanks.

  4. #4
    Out riding my Scalpel
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    Good job!

    I have my Scalpel set up ok I guess. I'm just getting used to riding it. My last ride I had the RP3 PSI set at 145. Due to the fact I'm 190 lbs. It was plush and stiff when it had to be. For the Lefty I'm still trying to figure that one out. I like my ride to feel plush but not harsh. So I had the Lefty's PSI set at 125. We did a 2 hour XC ride on Sunday it did great. Better then me. Once I get this bike dialed in I'll be more comfortable about riding it. It's only been a few rides for the Scalpel and me. The settings for the Scalpel is nothing like my Jekyll at all. It takes time to get it right.

  5. #5
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    What pressure are you running in the fork? I weigh 168 lbs. and like to run mine at about 125 psi. That's just about 75% of my body weight. For you that would be, what, about 132 psi? Just let me tell you that as little as five pounds in that fork can make a huge difference. How do these numbers compare with what you have been running? I got nothing for the rear as I ride a hardtail.

  6. #6
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    I had about 135lbs in the fork and it seem very soft. In the rear shock I had about 145, based on the 25% sag recomendation from the techs at the shop.
    Quote Originally Posted by GrantB
    What pressure are you running in the fork? I weigh 168 lbs. and like to run mine at about 125 psi. That's just about 75% of my body weight. For you that would be, what, about 132 psi? Just let me tell you that as little as five pounds in that fork can make a huge difference. How do these numbers compare with what you have been running? I got nothing for the rear as I ride a hardtail.

  7. #7
    super absorbent
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    Be aware that simply removing the shock pump will release a little air so put in a little more volume than you think you might need in the end - maybe 3 to 5 PSI depending on your pump. Experiment with your shock and pump to see. Inflate shock, remove pump and then put shock back on and observe the difference.

    I've always followed Cannondale's graphical pressure chart for my Fatty Ultra. For the rear, I run my body weight in full gear multiplied by 70% as is recommended on their site as well. Personally, I've had perfectly good results this way. Maybe it's because I just don't sweat it too much.
    Last edited by ChipAllen; 04-12-2005 at 08:50 PM.
    The more complicated it is, the more that can go wrong.

  8. #8
    taTegOi
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    My weight is about 147 pounds and my settings is 110 front and 100 rear, but im not sure if this is the best configuration. I have got my Scalpel two weeks ago, so i have to experimentalize about the air pressure!

  9. #9
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    I would like to ask you guys to loosen up the bolts (connecting shock to frame) a bit which were tighten by factory mechanics then some of the bike store mechanics tighten them even more. If these bolts are too tight, there is no way to adjust you suspension right. No matter what kind of bike you have. Just imagine what is the case if the shock doesn't move (not compress, my dear) with the linkage. Even the simplest design should let the shock follow the action of suspension. If anyone find their shock "cemented" to the linkage. Just loosen the bolts up a bit, no extra play, but let the shock move with the linkage. My setting is 75-80 front and 115-120 back, I weigh 165lbs.

  10. #10
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    Sooo... I'm new to the lefty. Is there no comp/rebound adjustments other then the air pressure? I'm a motorcycle guy so I know suspensions, but this seems alost TOO simple to be effective.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by TechnoMetrics
    Sooo... I'm new to the lefty. Is there no comp/rebound adjustments other then the air pressure? I'm a motorcycle guy so I know suspensions, but this seems alost TOO simple to be effective.

    my carbon elo has nothing but preload but is valved nicely for me. other newer and heavier ones can have rebound,preload,SPV pressure, and SPV volume

  12. #12
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    Weight: 75kg


    Lefty Pressure: 105psi
    Reboumd set close to mid setting but I chang it on the fly.
    When standing and climbing Is set rebound to full slwo for the fork to stack down but still be active.
    For descents i wind it back to the mid setting.

    rear:
    Fox Float RL Propedal : 120Psi or 6mm sag.
    rebound on the rear shock is set 8clicks from full slow.

  13. #13
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    Well I have a 03 Scalpel 4000 with an ELO carbon lefty... I don't see any work of adjustments on it other then the nipple for the air.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by ChipAllen
    Be aware that simply removing the shock pump will release a little air so put in a little more volume than you think you might need in the end - maybe 3 to 5 PSI depending on your pump. Experiment with your shock and pump to see. Inflate shock, remove pump and then put shock back on and observe the difference.
    Common and quite understandable misconception. The air released when removing the shock pump is from the pump, not the shock. Hence the shock pressure does NOT reduce at this point. When you re-connect the shock pump, air from the shock re-fills the pump again and therefore lowers the pressure slightly. This is the difference you observe. This is all academic if you are setting shock pressure by measuring sag, but remember that every time you re-connect your shock pump you will have to add a little air to maintain the correct sag.

    Back to the original question. I used to have a Scalpel and started off with about 3mm sag on my Fox Float. It was bone shakingly harsh, so I increased it in small increments and finished up with around 9mm sag. It felt a fair bit better, but still quite unforgiving as you would expect with such a short travel rig. The downside I found later to running more sag was that it bottomed out quite often and eventually sheared off the top shock mounting bolt! I'm a fairly big guy (190 lbs) but I wasn't jumping off things. As for the Fatty Ultra front, I was never impressed. It had loads of stiction compared to a conventional fork and the damping was almost non-existent. It just felt like an undamped spring - crap.

    I decided at that point that the Scalpel wasn't for me and switched to a 5.5" travel trailbike instead.

  15. #15
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    RyderX,

    I have this weekend tried out new setting on my Lefty and FAtty Ultra DL70 (on my HT)
    I am now running 7.5wt oil in both, upped the pressure to 115psi and the result is remarkable.
    Both bikes feel like they have a degree of SPV, especially the Lefty. THe rebound dial is more responsive so the stack down works more effectively and on the Headshok Fatty the damping is simply brilliant.

    UKTM, the stiction you refer to can only be if the fork has been standing for a while. If you continually have stiction there there is something very very wrong with your Headshok.

    But sorry, you have a 5.5" travel trail bike so why not buzz off to that section of the forum instead of providing negative comment here.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brad
    RyderX,

    I have this weekend tried out new setting on my Lefty and FAtty Ultra DL70 (on my HT)
    I am now running 7.5wt oil in both, upped the pressure to 115psi and the result is remarkable.
    Both bikes feel like they have a degree of SPV, especially the Lefty. THe rebound dial is more responsive so the stack down works more effectively and on the Headshok Fatty the damping is simply brilliant.

    UKTM, the stiction you refer to can only be if the fork has been standing for a while. If you continually have stiction there there is something very very wrong with your Headshok.

    But sorry, you have a 5.5" travel trail bike so why not buzz off to that section of the forum instead of providing negative comment here.
    Sorry Brad, didn't think it was compulsory to provide positive comment only. My Headshok was fine and I've heard loads of others complain of stiction and lack of damping too (2003 Fatty Ultra). I've heard the Leftys are much better but I never got round to trying one. If the damping on your Fatty is "brilliant" then they have obviously got a lot better too.

  17. #17
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    UKTM,

    I'm sure you mean well. It's just that this forum seems littered with people who appear to only have negative comment on everything.

    The damping on my Headshok fatty is a lot better than most forks I've tried. he reason for this is that I never leave teh shop till I'm happy that the fork is doing what it's supposed too.

    A lot of Cannondale customers buy a Headshok and expect to have a plush ride without actually realising that the purpose of the Headshok fatty is to go racing. It's not a trail fork. It's not supposed to be "Plush".
    It's supposed to be stiff to provide razor sharp handling at speed. It's supposed to be light and easy to service. These attributes I think have been achieved.

    There is a misconception that Headshok cartridges are impossible to service at home. If you have the correct tools then they're no more difficult than other forks.
    and if you or your mechanic takes the time to understand the inner workings then they perform flawlessly between services.

    The headshok is not atrail fork, it's a race fork. Canondale has had for many yrs a Reducing heaset available for people who wanted slower steering forks that are more plush. It's made by Woodman.

    Lefty's are more trail oriented but they can be set to 80mm and then they are great XC race forks.

    So although I understand that you had some issues with your Headshok, I can;t help but feel that you had purchased, or were convinced to purcahse the wrong bike for the riding you do.

    Now just what cannondale were thinking when they fitted a 80MM headshok to a Jekyll I really don't know....

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brad
    UKTM,

    I'm sure you mean well. It's just that this forum seems littered with people who appear to only have negative comment on everything.

    The damping on my Headshok fatty is a lot better than most forks I've tried. he reason for this is that I never leave teh shop till I'm happy that the fork is doing what it's supposed too.

    A lot of Cannondale customers buy a Headshok and expect to have a plush ride without actually realising that the purpose of the Headshok fatty is to go racing. It's not a trail fork. It's not supposed to be "Plush".
    It's supposed to be stiff to provide razor sharp handling at speed. It's supposed to be light and easy to service. These attributes I think have been achieved.

    There is a misconception that Headshok cartridges are impossible to service at home. If you have the correct tools then they're no more difficult than other forks.
    and if you or your mechanic takes the time to understand the inner workings then they perform flawlessly between services.

    The headshok is not atrail fork, it's a race fork. Canondale has had for many yrs a Reducing heaset available for people who wanted slower steering forks that are more plush. It's made by Woodman.

    Lefty's are more trail oriented but they can be set to 80mm and then they are great XC race forks.

    So although I understand that you had some issues with your Headshok, I can;t help but feel that you had purchased, or were convinced to purcahse the wrong bike for the riding you do.

    Now just what cannondale were thinking when they fitted a 80MM headshok to a Jekyll I really don't know....
    Brad,

    You are right in assuming the Scalpel wasn't the right bike for my needs. I still enjoyed riding it, especially on smooth sweeping singletrack and steep climbs, but ultimately found the short travel too limiting over technical terrain. As you say it's a flat out race bike really and definitely not an all-round trailbike. It would have been nice to keep the Scalpel too for specific trails, but I couldn't really justify having two expensive bikes.

    The main reason I posted on this thread was to point out the problem of trying to run too much sag on the rear in an effort to make it more "comfortable". At 9 mm sag, the bottoming put too much stress on the shock mounting bolts. I would stick to a max of 6 mm sag to be safe.

    I like the concept of the Headshok and it tracked stiffer than say an RS SID, but mine (2003 Fatty Ultra) had virtually no damping control and was non-adjustable. Maybe the factory valving was intended for a much lighter rider? The stiction when cold was always evident too, but less of a problem. Perhaps there was a tolerancing issue on the needle roller bearings. I've used this exact same concept myself in another engineering application and they are very hard to get right. Anyway, I can imagine this being a great fork with the appropriate damper valving - which it sounds like you've achieved.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by uktrailmonster
    Brad,

    You are right in assuming the Scalpel wasn't the right bike for my needs. I still enjoyed riding it, especially on smooth sweeping singletrack and steep climbs, but ultimately found the short travel too limiting over technical terrain. As you say it's a flat out race bike really and definitely not an all-round trailbike. It would have been nice to keep the Scalpel too for specific trails, but I couldn't really justify having two expensive bikes.

    The main reason I posted on this thread was to point out the problem of trying to run too much sag on the rear in an effort to make it more "comfortable". At 9 mm sag, the bottoming put too much stress on the shock mounting bolts. I would stick to a max of 6 mm sag to be safe.

    I like the concept of the Headshok and it tracked stiffer than say an RS SID, but mine (2003 Fatty Ultra) had virtually no damping control and was non-adjustable. Maybe the factory valving was intended for a much lighter rider? The stiction when cold was always evident too, but less of a problem. Perhaps there was a tolerancing issue on the needle roller bearings. I've used this exact same concept myself in another engineering application and they are very hard to get right. Anyway, I can imagine this being a great fork with the appropriate damper valving - which it sounds like you've achieved.
    UKTM<

    You make some good points re the set up of the rear shock. I run 6mm sag and thats perfect. More than that and the shock bottomes to easily, less and i may as well be on my Hardtail.
    The Scalpel ride is intended to be harsh but not tiring. This it succeeds in doing. If that is not what the prospective owner is looking for then I would certainly agree that a longer travel bike is needed, I.e a Yeti575, Cannodale Prophet, Scott Genius, Specilaised Enduro, or Intense 5.5 type of machine. I still prefer the single pivots for this so the Prophet and Yeti are tops in my book.

    Re your Headshok, it certainly sounds as if the fork didn't have the correct weight of oil for your weight. All Heashok's and Lefty's come std with 5wt oil. Most dealers never bother changing this because it's too much effort especially since some forks spoil them by having rebound, compression and other external settings. STill proper suspension set up starts with Oil weight and the shim stack. external adjustments should really only be for fine tuningbec ause anythig more leads to the oil breaking down much quicker than the 40hrs recommended by OEM's.

    The Needle bearings take some time to run in so Headshok do feel stiff and stiction is prevalent for the first 20hrs or so. But they do loosen up a lot and then the only time you'll feel it is if the bikes been standing for too long. This break in period is normal for all forks but I think people expect a Headshok to be smooth immediately. You very rightly point out that there are tolerance issues at play as well so some forks take longer than others to loosen up.

    But by all accounts judging by your description of what you didnt like about the Scalpel I can see it was never going to be the bike for you.

    I fail to understand why bike shops sell people bikes that they don't really need.

    I have achieved excellent performance from my Fatty. Mainly because my LBS listens to what I'm saying and then suggests a fix, ie heavier oil, instead of "buy another fork" as so many would do.

    Pity you could not keep the Scalpel as well, but I'm sure that the bike you've chosen has enough adjustability in it to provide a racer like feel when needed (although at a slight weight penalty) and is plush and smooth for those knarly bits

  20. #20
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    Scalpel 1000 '05 rear shock instructions needed

    Dear All,
    I've searched extensively for instruction for my rear rp23 propedal shock but to no avail. Can someone clearly explain the + and - and the blue adjustment wheel? What reduces bob and what provides more pliant suspension. Thanks.

  21. #21
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    + means more compression aka stiffer. - means less compression aka softer.

  22. #22
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    More rear suspension instruction, please

    Great, thanks for the reply. But it wasn't very clear. Sorry, I'm a beginner. So, the reference to the + and - applies to the lever on the RP23? What about the little blue dial? Thanks for all the info!

  23. #23
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    the little blue dial is the amount of propedal, aka low speed compression. I believe that 1 is the weakest, with 3 being the highest (higher meaning less prone to pedal bob, but less active). THe blue lever turns the propedal on or off. So, if the blue dial is turned to three, and the lever is switched off, there is no extra dampening, and the shock is most active. Turn the lever on and you have an initially stiffer setup that has less pedal bob and better acceleration, but the bike wont respond to small bumps as well

  24. #24
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    Thanks Myself 369,

    But, while 'active' and 'on/off' describe the system, they do not describe how to physically move the levers and knobs.

    As I understand moving the lever to + will activate the compression in the shock, thus causing a stiffer ride. Turning the lever to - will deactivate the compression in the shock and cause a softer ride. This is correct, right? (there is also a middle position...)

    Facing the rear shock from the rear of the the bike, one sees a blue dial. If we use the words 'clockwise' or counterclockwise' we can describe how to adjust the system. My dial has about 8 clicks, what does it do?

    How come there isn't any online Cannondale info on this?

    Thanks for your patience.

  25. #25
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    Myself 369,
    I just re-read your post. Thanks again. I guess the only thing I need to know is which way to turn the blue dial for higher or lower propedal.
    Thanks, again.

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