Can­non­dale Scalpel-si Car­bon 3

A finely honed in­stru­ment for se­ri­ous cross coun­try rid­ing

Canadian Cycling Magazine - - CONTENTS - re­viewed by Matt Stet­son

A finely honed in­stru­ment for se­ri­ous cross coun­try rid­ing

The Scalpel has long been Can­non­dale’s flag­ship dual-sus­pen­sion cross coun­try race bike. It has en­joyed much suc­cess in both pop­u­lar­ity, as well as race wins. Christoph Sauser rode that bike to many podium ap­pear­ances, in­clud­ing his Olympic bronze medal in Syd­ney. Named for its pre­ci­sion on the trail, the Scalpel is of­ten the bike of choice for rid­ers look­ing for the ef­fi­ciency of a hard­tail as well as some respite from rocks and roots. In 2016, Can­non­dale launched a re­designed Scalpel and dubbed it an xxc bike. The ex­tra “X” is in re­sponse to the in­creased tech­ni­cal dif­fi­culty of World Cup race cour­ses. I was cu­ri­ous. Would the change dull the Scalpel’s ra­zor-sharp edge on the trails? I spent some qual­ity time on the Car­bon 3 model to find out.

The new Scalpel-si has a much slacker head tube, now mea­sur­ing 69.5 de­grees; it’s the most no­table dif­fer­ence from pre­vi­ous ver­sions. The slacker ge­om­e­try fol­lows the long-and-low trend we are see­ing in moun­tain bike ge­om­e­try. Help­ing to keep the bike’s han­dling sharp, Can­non­dale got the chain­stays to a short and nim­ble 43.5 cm (on the medium to ex­tra large mod­els) by mov­ing the driv­e­train out­board by 6 mm. These two changes in ge­om­e­try re­ally in­spire con­fi­dence when de­scend­ing. Your weight is no­tice­ably far­ther back com­pared with the older Scalpel, which makes a dif­fer­ence when things get steep and tech­ni­cal. Can­non­dale also sup­plies the bike with a 760-mm-long han­dle­bar that adds more con­trol on rough ter­rain. The pro­vided 2.25" Sch­walbe Rac­ing Ralph tires seem a bit nar­row when paired with a wider han­dle­bar.

Hav­ing spent some time on pre­vi­ous ver­sions of the Scalpel, I can say the new Si edi­tion stays true to its lin­eage, while rid­ing like a true hard­tail al­ter­na­tive. Can­non­dale’s new two-piece car­bon rear link­age not only shaves weight from the pre­vi­ous alu­minum ver­sion, it re­ally gets the power to your rear wheel with­out leak­ing en­ergy into pedal bob. The 100 mm of travel soaks up roots and small rocks,

which al­lows you to fo­cus on tick­ing over the ped­als rather than avoid­ing ev­ery ob­sta­cle. At 6' tall, I chose the large frame, which is what I have pre­vi­ously rid­den. I found that I needed to po­si­tion the sad­dle far­ther for­ward on the new model to help main­tain front wheel trac­tion on steep climbs. The Lefty fork’s X-loc full-sprint re­mote did help with grip as I could flip the switch, then stand up and over the front wheel with­out wor­ry­ing about los­ing rear wheel trac­tion with the 29" hoops.

The Scalpel-si Car­bon 3 model I tested came equipped with all the good­ies you would ex­pect from a bike with a price tag around the $7,000 mark. Shi­mano took care of the shift­ing with an Xt/xtr combo and ev­ery­thing was rolling on Stan’s ztr Crest rims. One of my favourite com­po­nents is cer­tainly the Can­non­dale Hol­low­gram Si direct-mount 1-by crank. The crank and 32-tooth direct-drive ring are amaz­ingly stiff; the 11–42 tooth Shi­mano cas­sette gave me plenty of range to tackle any climb and chase down friends on fire-road de­scents. I’m glad Can­non­dale main­tained the same ra­zor-sharp feel with the new Scalpel be­cause it has al­ways been one of the best op­tions for short-travel XC bikes. Now it’s even more ca­pa­ble than older mod­els. In the hands of a skilled trail sur­geon, the new Can­non­dale Scalpel-si will op­er­ate bet­ter than ever.

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