Cannondale are known for pushing the boundaries of cycling technology. One of their most distinctive innovations is their Lefty suspension fork which they have been making and refining for years. Cannondale’s mountain bike range includes bikes that use their own suspension systems, like the lefty, and plenty that use off the shelf forks and shocks from the likes of Rockshox and Fox.
Even where Cannondale are using conventional suspension they continue to push boundaries elsewhere with their use of high end aluminium frames, cutting edge carbon and innovative frame designs. One of Cannondale’s mountain bikes that has been making a lot of waves in the last few years is the Habit, a versatile short travel trail bike that is fast enough to race. Elsewhere their electric mountain bikes have been gaining a lot of positive press for their innovative motor mounts.
The 2018 Cannondale mountain bike range covers everything from general use hardtail mountain bikes up to full on race machines. Below we take a look at the different groups of bikes within the Cannondale mountain bike range and the types of riders they are most suitable for.
Cannondale Women’s Mountain Bikes
Cannondale’s range of women’s mountain bikes for 2018 is pretty limited. Like Trek, Whyte and a number of other brands they are not doing a completely separate range of women’s mountain bikes. Instead they are doing men’s and women’s versions of their Trail hardtail and Habit full suspension bikes. While these are super versatile bikes that will cover many female riders it does mean there are only 5 women’s bikes in the whole 2018 Cannondale mountain bike range, compared to 35 for men.
Cannondale’s Trail hardtails are the entry point into their mountain bike range. They start with the Trail 7 at £549 and go up to the Trail 1 at £1399. Cannondale class the Trail range as ‘sport hardtails’. They use a similar system to Trek’s ‘smart sizing’ where the bikes with smaller frame sizes come with the 27.5” wheel and the larger bikes comes with a 29” wheel.
Cannondale’s Trail hardtail bikes all come with hydraulic disc brakes and 100mm travel suspension forks. These bikes do tend towards the ‘trail riding’ end of mountain biking. They have relatively slack geometry, very short stems and wide handlebars, all of which makes the bikes highly manoeuvrable and more stable on steeper descents. They also have very short chainstays at the back (something of a trend with 2018 Cannondale’s) which means they climb and accelerate better. All of this means that the Cannondale Trail bikes have been setup to be ridden off-road and to tackle properly technical off-road riding.
All of the Cannondale Trail range use the same frame you can pick the bike that suits your budget and then upgrade components as you go. Cannondale made their name with their high quality aluminium frames and the Trail range is a good example of hem. If you are just starting to get into mountain biking one of the Cannondale Trail bikes is a great place to start.
Alongside the Trail Cannondale’s ‘sport hardtail’ bikes include the Cujo. The Cannondale Cujo is one of the new generation of long travel ‘plus’ bikes that have started to appear in the last couple of years. The Cujo comes with a 120mm fork at the front rather than the 100mm ones on the Trail bikes and they come fitted with 27.5” x 2.8” tyres. These super wide tyres are the ‘plus’ bit.
The plus sized tyres on the Cujo give it massive amounts of traction and the effect of having an extra chunk of suspension at both ends. If you are planning to do a lot of technical off-road riding, especially on loose and muddy ground.
The Cannondale Cujo is not a bike you are going to win any cross country races on and you wouldn’t want to have to ride it huge distances on road. These bikes really come into their own if you want to do really tough and challenging off road riding and they are pretty popular for bike packing adventures. There are three Cujo bikes ranging from £699.99 to £999.99.
The Cannondale F-SI is their carbon cross country race bike. There are seven F-SI bikes ranging in price from £1799.99 to £8999.99 and all, except the cheapest model, come with Cannondale’s Lefty fork fitted. The Lefty is super light, super stiff and gives really precise handling, which is exactly what you need from a cross country race bike.
All of the Cannondale F-SI bikes have frames made using Cannondale’s Ballistec carbon fibre with the top two models using the Hi-Mod variant. This weave of carbon is stiffer and stronger meaning Cannondale can use less of it to make bike from.
Although the F-SI is a cross country race bike Cannondale have made it with a fairly slack head angle, This makes the bike easier to control on technical downhills. To further improve the traction on the F-SI Cannondale are using their AI system which moves the line of the chainrings, rear cassette and rear hub to allow for shorter chainstays. The video below explains the technicalities of how this works but the upshot is a bike that corners and climbs better. It’s another example of Cannondale’s innovative thinking on bike design.
The Scalpel is one of the longest running bikes in the Cannondale mountain bike range. The modern version of the Scalpel is a carbon frame, full suspension cross country race bike. Cross country race bikes tend to be all about light weight and fast handling but as cross country courses have become more technical in recent years the bikes have had to evolve to keep up. Cannondale now use geometry on the Scalpel that would have been found on a longer travel trail bike a few years ago.
The Scalpel uses a lot of the same technology as the F-SI including the AI offset system and the mix of Cannondale’s Ballistec and Ballistec Hi-Mod carbon fibre at different price points. The Scalpel also has some extra tweaks including an integrated battery housing for Di2 systems and compatible dropper posts.
The Cannondale Scalpel uses Cannondale’s lefty fork on all but the cheapest model and uses variants of the Rockshox Monarch shock to provide suspension at the back. If you are looking for a super fast race bike, or just a super fast bike generally, that is a little different from the norm then the Scalpel is a great bike to look at.
The Cannondale Habit has been winning rave reviews for the last couple of years. It is a bike that doesn’t fit neatly into a lot of the bike industry categories but does fit the way a lot of people in the UK ride their bikes. The Cannondale Habit was a favourite with the staff at our 2018 mountain bike demo day to it’s fun and responsive handling. The Habit has a super short wheelbase which makes it really easy to throw about in the corners and means it accelerates really quickly.
The Habit is a 27.5” wheel full suspension bike with 130mm of travel. This would normally class it as a trail bike. However, unlike a lot of trail bikes, the Habit is also fast and light enough that it can be used for endurance and marathon racing or even for cross country racing. If you want a bike that can cover a lot of miles fast, climb quickly and handle rough and technical terrain then the Habit can do all of it well. Cannondale describe that Habit as “the perfect “do-it-all, and do-it-well” MTB fun machine”.
There are 5 models of the Cannondale Habit available in the UK for 2018. The top two models in the range come with a carbon fibre frame while the other three models use an aluminium frame with carbon links. All of the bikes in the Habit range (other than the Habit 5) use a 130mm fork at the front and a 120mm shock at the back.
Cannondale describe the Trigger as a ‘All Mountain’ bike. It is designed to be able to tackle almost any terrain you thrown at it whether you are going uphill, downhill or on the flat. With 145mm to 150mm of suspension travel and slacker geometry than the Habit or the Scalpel the Trigger is a bike designed to be super capable rather than just purely super fast. It is a bike designed for big rides where you will have to tackle a wide range of terrain.
The 2018 Cannondale Trigger’s all use carbon fibre frames and come with Fox shocks front and rear. Cannondale have gone for 27.5” wheels on the Trigger, which is the conventional choice for all mountain bikes. Where they have mixed things up a bit is with the use of their AI, offset chainset and rear wheel to provide a bike that accelerates and handles better. They have also used adjustable settings on the rear shock to give the bike two distinct geometries.
Cannondale call the two geometries of the Trigger Hustle and flow. The Hustle mode pouts the travel othe rear shock down to 115mm and puts you in a much more upright riding position ideal for rising uphill or on flat terrain. The Flow Mode gives you 145mm of travel and effectively slackens the angles on the bike, making it handle better on downhills and technical terrain. With the addition of a dropper seatpost you can really alter the way the Trigger rides, and your position on it, to almost get two bikes for one.
The 2018 Cannondale Jekyll is designed as an Enduro race bike and Cannondale claim that the Jekyll is the best enduro race bike on the planet. Even if you have no intention of racing the Jekyll is equally capable as bike for those who want to have plenty of fun going downhill but still have the ability to pedal back up for another run (essential in parts of the UK where uplifts are few and far between).
The Jekyll runs 27.5” wheel and is available in 4 versions. The cheapest version (the Jekyll 4) comes with an aluminium frame and then the rest of the bikes come with carbon frames. As you’d expect the Jekyll uses Cannondale’s AI offset system but it’s party piece is a bespoke tuned suspension setup co-developed with Fox which they are calling Gemini. The Cannondale Gemini system uses a custom Fox Float shock that has the same type of Hustle and Flow setup used on the Trigger. This gives you a stiffer and more responsive ride for flat and uphill sections and then a smoother and fuller ride for going downhill.