Bicycling (South Africa) - - SHOOT OUT - Model year: 2017 Price: R69 000 om­ za

Cannondale built the Scalpel Si with the ex­plicit goal of giv­ing rid­ers a tool that could con­fi­dently ne­go­ti­ate the steep­est, rock­i­est and gnarli­est ter­rain, but still be light enough to be com­pet­i­tive on the climbs. And of course, it also needed to carry two wa­ter bot­tles in its main frame – some­thing the Spe­cial­ized Epic and Pyga Stage also achieve.

Cannondale’s in­ter­pre­ta­tion of ‘new gen­er­a­tion’ is what they call ‘OutFront Steer­ing Ge­om­e­try’, which pairs a 69.5° head an­gle with a length­ened 55mm fork off­set. The Scalpel Si’s front cen­tre was also length­ened, fur­ther im­prov­ing sta­bil­ity. Com­pared to the pre­vi­ous Scalpel, chain­stays were sliced and diced to 435mm, com­ple­ment­ing front- end agility.

Our testers’ sum­mary of the Scalpel was that it’s a ver­sa­tile pack­age that could nav­i­gate the test ter­rain with speed, bal­ance and pre­ci­sion.

Chris de­scribed his ex­pe­ri­ence as “ex­pect­ing an ag­gres­sive ride, from its ap­pear­ance, but feel­ing re­laxed and com­fort­able when rid­ing it – a great all- rounder”.

Unique to Cannondale, the car­bon Lefty 2.0 of­fers su­perb rigid­ity and locks out com­pletely, with James men­tion­ing this as the high­light of his time on the Scalpel. Paired with a Rock­Shox XX rear shock, the Lefty bal­ances the marathon racer’s need for en­er­gysav­ing ef­fi­ciency ver­sus bodysav­ing and con­fi­dence- inspiring plush­ness over long days in the sad­dle.

The Scalpel 3 we tested was a 2017 model, and the only bike with Shi­mano brakes and driv­e­train – a break from SRAM dom­i­na­tion. The 2018 Scalpel 3 will of­fer the same spec, so ex­pect sim­i­lar pric­ing and per­for­mance.

With re­gard to Shi­mano ver­sus SRAM, testers felt the Scalpel’s 11-46T cas­sette was a bit lim­ited com­pared to the Ea­gle’s 12-speed 10- 50T; but in terms of ac­tual shift­ing per­for­mance, it comes down to per­sonal pref­er­ence at the end of the day. If you love Shi­mano and 1x and are look­ing for more gears, there are a host of af­ter­mar­ket ‘ wide- range’ cas­settes (such as SunRace’s 11- 50T 11-speed cas­sette) that will solve this chal­lenge. And the brak­ing per­for­mance by the XT brake­set was most cer­tainly up to scratch, so no com­pro­mise there.

All in all, the Scalpel’s a bona fide racer, and cer­tainly ca­pa­ble aid­ing you in achiev­ing your best.

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