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Are you tired of all this talk about increasingly gnarly XC courses demanding increasingly gnarly XC bikes? Do you roll your eyes a bit whenever a knee-padded, flat-pedaled mountain-bike tester calls the 120-millimeter-rear-travel Transition Spur a cross-country bike? Well, never fear, because Cannondale is still here, making ultra light, ultra focused race bikes like the new Scalpel HT which, full disclosure, does push the gnarliness envelope of XC hardtails just a tiny bit.
So, about that “hardtail” bit, the Scalpel HT is actually designed to have a little more give thanks in part to the new rear-triangle configuration. We’ve seen this on Cannondale’s Supersix Evo road bike and the carbon Topstone gravel bikes. Also in the rear triangle is the hardtail version of Cannondale’s Proportional Response, which lengthens the chainstays as frame size increases.
And up front, there’s the Scalpel HT’s 66.5-degree head tube angle. That’s only a half degree steeper than that category-bending Transition Spur we just mentioned. Though it should be said that Cannondale is still using a standard-offset fork on the Scalpel HT, so you need fear no flop. Most of the Scalpel models are built around a 100mm fork, with the Carbon 2 model using the single-crown (half-cr0wn?) Lefty Ocho, and the Carbon 3 and Carbon 4 models using a Sid SL. But at the top, is the lighter Scalpel SL Hi-Mod, which features a Lefty Ocho bumped up to 110mm of travel.
The size-medium Scalpel Hi-Mod weighs a claimed 21.3 pounds without pedals, and the Carbon 3 jumps to only 23.2. And although weight is often the first topic when talking about hardtail race bikes, we put it last, right where we put the pricing, because seeing them together is actually pretty impressive. Even the top-end build is remarkably austere, with an XT cassette instead of XTR and not an electronic shifter in sight. That helps this pretty cutting-edge race bike go for a pretty reasonable price.
- Scalpel HT Hi-Mod 1: (US $5,000/$6,500 CAN)
- Scalpel HT Carbon 2: (US $4,000/$5,200 CAN)
- Scalpel HT Carbon 3: (US $3,000/$3,900 CAN)
- Scalpel HT Carbon 4: (US $2,200/$2,900 CAN)
Find them at cannondale.com/scalpel-ht
And along with the bike launch, check in with two 19-year-old racers, Ruby Ryan and Tydeman Newman, as they road-trip their Scalpel HTs to race in Lake Tahoe later this month.