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An all-round nip and tuck with super slick cable routing

Cannondale have applied what they call System Integration (Si) to the Scalpel range to create a complete package that works seamlessly. This means that each bike is now race ready out of the box, no need to change out things like flimsy tyres. They’ve also tailored the set up across the size curve including 650b wheels on the XS and S and women’s sizes.

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While plainly a Scalpel, the Scalpel-Si has brought the design up-to-date with straighter lines and a refined look. Most obvious is the new suspension design which tucks part of the rear shock into the top tube resulting in an elegant lining-up of the seatstay, shock and toptube. There is also now space for two bottle cages in the front triangle. It’s not just all looks either, Cannondale claim the new Scalpel-Si carbon frame is one of the lightest dual suspension mountain bike frames in the world.

The new internal cable routing system plays its part in keeping the Scalpel-Si looking neat. The ports on the redesigned head tube provide an easy way for the cable to enter the frame while also holding the cable neatly in position with a “lockable system” to keep your cockpit neat while riding. Should you desire to run a Shimano Di2 drivetrain, Cannondale have designed a system for mounting the battery inside the top tube just above the shock mount. There is also provision for an internally routed dropper post.

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Geometry updates to improve handling and performance

While the bike may still look much like the Scalpel of old, the geometry has seen a complete overhaul with a number of changes resembling what we’ve seen happening on trail bikes. The previous Scalpel is a take-no-prisoners race bike geared at covering distance and conquering climbs. While the Scalpel-Si still claims to do the same, it acknowledges the technical challenges of modern cross-country courses with a number of dramatic geometry changes to help riders negotiate the tough stuff.

Cannondale Scalpel-Si -28.jpgThe Scalpel-Si Carbon 4.

To improve handling and traction, Cannondale shortened the chainstay length by just under a centimeter to 43.5 cm (on the 29er models) in part thanks to the new, straight seat tube. In order to squash the wheel in a small space (and without having to implement Boost 148), Cannondale shifted the chainrings and front derailleur 6 mm outboard to create more space. At the same time they adjusted the rear triangle to match, allowing for a more evenly dished rear wheel - resulting in more strength and stiffness. Cannondale call this Asymmetric Integration Offset Drivetrain (Ai).

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The 6 mm offset drivetrain and straight seat tube create space for shorter stays and wider tyres.

To complement the handling improvements of shorter stays, the head angle has been slackened to 69.5 degrees from around 71 degrees (depending on frame size) on the previous Scalpel. A slacker head angle generally puts the front wheel further in front of the bike which allows the fork to soak up more of the trail and helps to stop the rider pitching over the handlebars. To counter the sluggish handling a slacker angle might cause at slow speeds, the Cannondale have custom designed the Lefty with a 55 mm fork rake through the use of an off set front axle. Cannondale are calling this combination their OutFront steering geometry. The seat tube angle remains 73.5 degrees, keeping the weight over the pedals for power and traction. The Scalpel-Si also sees a slightly lengthened reach which allows Cannondale to fit a shorter stem for more accurate control.

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Cannondale developed a custom off set front axle with a 55 mm rake to avoid sluggish steering at low speeds.

No more OPI stem and a sleeker rear triangle configuration

Good news for tinkerers, Cannondale have given up on the proprietary steerer standard in favour of a slightly more standard 1.5” which should improve the aftermarket stem options for the Scalpel-Si. The new steerer sizing means that older Lefty forks are not compatible with the Scalpel-Si. The changes in the Lefty’s rake mean the new Lefty hub has also seen some sizing changes and as a result is not backward compatible, although the older hubs can be used on the Scalpel-Si with an adaptor.

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Cannondale have abandoned the OPI stem with the latest Scalpel-Si.

The rear suspension on the Scalpel-Si has also gone under the knife. The previous Scalpel had an awkward bolted together collection of parts fixing the seat stay to the rocker. The new LockR system uses an expanding thru-axle connecting both sides like a single piece without the need for special tools. To improve the performance of the flexible seat stays, flat brake mounts are moved from the seat stays to the inside of the chain stay to allow for better flex.

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When suspension isn’t what you want, Cannondale worked with RockShox to make an integrated single-push lockout control for the Lefty and shock. The rear lockout travels internally down the top tube which contains the top of the shock.

Cannondale have been brave with the Scalpel-Si. While many manufactures remain committed to the traditional cross-country/ marathon bike formula, Cannondale have clearly taken a page from the progressive geometry and packaged it into a serious racing bike. We can only hope that this means fewer queues and more smiles on the single track at our local marathon events.

Cannondale Scalpel-Si -1.jpgThe Scalpel-Si Carbon 3.

Local availability

The local distributor expects the first full shipment of the new Cannondale Scalpel-Si to land in September. Details about each model in the lineup are available in the official press release. The Scalpel-Si Alloy 6 is a model unique to South Africa which will feature Shimano SLX kit with a RockShox fork.

For an early look at the Scalpel-Si, the bikes will be showcased at Sani2c this year for those attending.

Estimated pricing

  • Scalpel-Si Black IncR 195,000.00
  • Scalpel-Si TeamR 150,000.00
  • Scalpel-Si RaceR 135,000.00
  • Scalpel-Si 1R 110,000.00
  • Scalpel-Si 2R 100,000.00
  • Scalpel-Si 3R 80,000.00
  • Scalpel-Si 4R 70,000.00
  • Scalpel-Si Alloy 5R 55,000.00
  • Scalpel-Si Alloy 6R 40,000.00
  • Scalpel-Si Ladies 1R 100,000.00
  • Scalpel-Si Ladies 2R 70,000.00