First Ride Review: 2024 Cannondale Scalpel



Words by Robert Johnston  |  Photos by Kike Abelleira

Cannondale hosted a selection of journalists in Portugal for the launch of the new Scalpel and the Moterra SL eBike. During this time, we were able to log a solid ride on their new XC Race machine to get a good feeling for its character, being towed down the trails by the WeRide Portugal guides, Josh Bryceland and the U23 Cross Country World Champion, Charlie Aldridge.

The new Scalpel has a good pedaling platform as standard, as you might expect from a machine going after the top step of the XC races. Even so, I found myself using the remote lockout on the bike to improve efficiency even further. A large contributor to this was the high caliber of fitness of the others on the ride – I needed all of the help I could get. The improvement to the pedaling efficiency was notable and the TwistLoc Ultimate made switching between the modes easy. When open, climbing traction was surprisingly high given the slightly moist dirt and the Aspen rear tire spec. Seated climbing was fairly comfortable too, much to my surprise given its rocket ship nature. For my preferences, Cannondale has nailed the balance of pedaling efficiency and traction, with that TwistLoc lever still being worthwhile.

First Ride Review: 2024 Cannondale Scalpel

Climbing geometry was suitably “XC” with plenty of weight on the front wheel thanks to the low – to me – front end. That said, it’s far from the most aggressive position I’ve seen, and was very much rideable for the more gravity-oriented rider that I am. I don’t see any issue with switching the cockpit out for a more descent-focused riser bar and shorter stem combination if you’re like me and focus on descending capabilities over pedaling performance, but in its stock configuration it’s far from unrideable. For those true XC speed demons seeking the most slammed bars, there’s scope to go considerably lower on the steerer tube thanks to a healthy dose of spacers under the stem.

Descending confidence on the new Cannondale Scalpel was impressive. XC bikes are getting very capable these days, and from the small sample of the offerings out there that I’ve had time on, the Scalpel feels to be a very solid offering on the way down the hill. Suspension performance strikes a nice balance between support and sensitivity. It retains an overall efficient nature to generate speed out of the trail, but lets you attack rougher portions of the trail with aggression that was reserved for trail bikes of just a few years ago. Off-the-top is reasonably sensitive and end stroke support plentiful.

First Ride Review: 2024 Cannondale Scalpel

Overall rigidity was a standout for this lightweight rocket ship. It avoids being overly flexible and killing confidence when pushing its limits, but they haven’t added significant mass to achieve this. But, stiffness and strength are two different things, and it’s important to remember what this bike was designed for and what it’s rated to.

In the interest of full transparency, following a severe speed miscalculation, resulting in me going very deep on a step down jump that was already much larger than the remit of a bike in the Scalpel’s category, I did suffer a frame failure during testing. I have absolutely no doubt in how suitable the strength of the Scalpel is for its intended use case. I suppose it speaks to the feelings of confidence and capability that Cannondale has obtained with the new Scalpel, as I wouldn’t usually consider hitting such a feature on a bike in this class.


Aside from the self-caused issue, the Scalpel proved to be impressively capable on the descents and left absolutely no concerns over its pedaling prowess. More versatile than XC machines of the past, the Scalpel could easily serve as a light-duty trail bike for riders erring on the more pedal-focused end of the spectrum, and retains pedaling performance to give riders like Charlie Aldridge the best chance of hitting the top step of the podiums.

Visit to learn more, or keep scrolling down for the release information. 

Press Release: 2024 Cannondale Scalpel


Cannondale’s New Scalpel is Built to Thrill

Today marks the launch of the all-new Scalpel – Cannondale’s iconic ultralight cross-country (XC) race bike. Revealed in time for the biggest season in MTB racing, the new bike unveils technological advances in materials, geometry, suspension, and handling, to lead Cannondale Factory Racing’s 2024 podium campaign.

The new Scalpel sets itself apart from other ultralight XC bikes by focusing on things that enable real speed: traction, confidence, and momentum. The new Scalpel is built to give you an edge in those clutch moments, when being able to stay on the gas, or corner harder, or brake later, or pedal fluidly through the rough stuff means the difference between podium and pack-fill, or between a good ride and one you just never want to end.

At 120mm, Scalpel serves up a generous helping of front and rear travel without impacting weight. Thanks to Cannondale’s FlexPivot technology, the frame features flexing carbon sections instead of traditional Horst Link pivots. The result is a lightweight 4-bar linkage design that mimics the stiffness and simplicity of a single-pivot, free from the additional weight and maintenance of chainstay pivot bolts and bearings.

Because FlexPivot remains a true 4-bar system, it retains all the precise anti-rise/anti-squat tuning characteristics mountain bikers know and love from the design. Less moving parts also means greater durability, and every frame is backed by a lifetime guarantee.

There’s more secret sauce in the suspension system, too. Because a rider’s center of gravity has a huge effect on suspension behavior, Cannondale goes the extra mile to customize suspension kinematics for each individual frame size. It’s a design philosophy called Proportional Response, and it ensures everyone gets the same great ride experience no matter their frame size.

The new Scalpel’s ultra-capable geometry reflects just how far and fast XC bikes can progress. The devilishly slack 66.6-degree head tube angle creates incredible all-round stability for such a rapid climbing machine. Matched to a 75.5-degree seat tube angle and size-specific chainstay lengths, the riding position is tailored to be the most efficient possible whether pointed uphill, downhill, or anywhere in between.

Leading the charge up front is the latest Lefty Ocho 120mm fork. Landing riders on the top step for nearly 20 years, its unique design remains as unrivaled today as it was back then. Needle bearings minimize friction, internal rotation, and wear, to deliver smooth travel and super long service intervals. Lightweight, stiff, and tuned for precision tracking and traction – this is the fork for aggressive XC riding.

Press Release: 2024 Cannondale Scalpel

Crowning the package is the new SystemBar XC-One, a one-piece carbon cockpit that’s both lighter and stiffer than nearly any two-piece cockpit.  Shaped for comfort, the SystemBar XC-One packs a full 760mm of width and has internal headset cable routing that is user-friendly and keeps things tidy up front.

Rounding out the performance package are grippy 2.4” tires and even a dropper post. That’s right: a dropper post’s ability to instantly raise or lower saddle height for technical sections or steep descents is another secret to finding speed that today’s XC riders look for. So it now comes as standard!

Available in five models in sizes small – extra-large. Lefty Ocho 120 will be available on the Scalpel Carbon Lab 71, Scalpel Carbon 1, and Scalpel Carbon 2 Lefty models (Europe only). The SystemBar XC-One Bar comes equipped on Scalpel Carbon Lab 71 and Scalpel Carbon 1. Both the Lefty Ocho 120 and the SystemBar XC-One Bar will be available for aftermarket sale. The Scalpel retails for XX – XX.

For more information, please visit Be sure to join the Cannondale ride on Facebook, X, Instagram, and YouTube for future new releases first.


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