New Hotness: 2021 Cannondale Scalpel & Scalpel SE

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The Cannondale Scalpel has been a staple at XC races for as long as I can remember. With the svelte but capable Lefty and race-optimized rear suspension, the Scalpel has been an easy choice for the fast kids. And, with the Scalpel SE, those seeking a little more squish could have their cake and eat it too.

For 2021, the Scalpel now gets two distinct and purpose-built models: Scalpel Carbon and Scalpel Carbon SE. Each one features an all-new frame, suspension kinematics, travel and capabilities. Continuing from the previous model, you’ll find two water bottle mounts — hallelujah! But, different from the previous model, the suspension gains a pivot that’s not a pivot. Well… let me explain.

2021 Cannondale Scalpel FlexPivot

The magic of the FlexPivot. All the Horst on the Atkins Diet.

For several decades now, the Horst Link suspension design has been used on all types of full suspension bikes — from XC to downhill. It’s a proven, efficient system. Last year’s Scalpel featured what was essentially a single-pivot design with flex stays. For 2021, the new Scalpel and Scalpel SE utilize a FlexPivot Chainstay in place of an actual pivot in front of and below the axle. This results in a 200 gram weight savings, but more importantly, a custom-tuned pivot for every frame size.

2021 Cannondale Scalpel Hi-Mod 1

The Hi-Mod 1 doesn’t shy away from XC domination.

2021 Cannondale Scalpel Hi-Mod 1

With the venerable Lefty Ocho Carbon, the 100/100mm Scalpel is racy.

2021 Cannondale Scalpel Carbon Highlights

The Scalpel is a race-bred machine, built to tackle the most demanding cross-country race courses. But, this is no wimpy XC bike from yesteryear. Have you seen the latest XCO courses? They are wicked enough to send most people packing. Because of that, the 2021 Cannondale Scalpel has 1.5-degree slacker (68°) head tube and 1-degree steeper (74.5°) seat tube. This is all wrapped around the new FlexPivot suspension design in the rear and outfitted with the Lefty Ocho up front.

  • All-new 100mm FlexPivot suspension acts like a Horst Link, but lighter, better-tuned and more durable
  • 100mm Lefty Ocho suspension fork (1, 2 & 3 models)
  • Lightest frame/fork XC race bike
  • Size-tuned suspension kinematics
  • Includes STASH Kit with everything needed to keep you on the trail
  • Room for two standard water bottles
  • OutFront steering geometry for added stability
  • Integrated wheel sensor works with Cannondale mobile app
  • DirectLine cable routing offers tube-in-tube routing
  • Top models include Shimano’s new 12-speed XTR, XT and SLX drivetrains
  • MSRP: $9000 (Hi-Mod 1), $6000 (Carbon 2), $4500 (Carbon 3)
2021 Cannondale Scalpel SE 1

At $5500, the Scalpel SE 1 is a killer package.

2021 Cannondale Scalpel SE 1

The Scalpel SE 1 is ready to rip — everywhere.

2021 Cannondale Scalpel SE Highlights

The fast kids aren’t the only ones joining the party. No, Cannondale is also delivering the new Goldilocks bike for the masses. The 2021 Scalpel SE is just that — a 120/120mm trail slayer that’s light, fast and fun. In my opinion, 120mm travel is the ultimate sweet spot and the new FlexPivot suspension will combine with the latest RockShox SID forks to deliver a smooth and fast ride on any terrain. With the increased travel, the head tube angle is 1-degree more relaxed (67°) and seat tube angle 0.5-degree (74°) slacker than the race-bred Scalpel.

  • All-new 120mm FlexPivot suspension acts like a Horst Link, but lighter, better-tuned and more durable
  • RockShox SID 120mm suspension forks
  • Size-tuned suspension kinematics
  • Dropper posts to descend more aggressively
  • Includes STASH Kit with everything needed to keep you on the trail
  • Room for two standard water bottles
  • OutFront steering geometry for added stability
  • Integrated wheel sensor works with Cannondale mobile app
  • DirectLine cable routing offers tube-in-tube routing
  • Shimano XT or SRAM SX Eagle 12-speed drivetrains
  • MSRP: $5500 (SE 1), $4000 (SE 2), $4000 (SE W)

More Info: Visit Cannondale.com

About Author

A native of the Pacific Northwest, Jason quickly developed a love for the outdoors and a thing for mountains. That infatuation continues as he founded this site in 1999 -- sharing his love of road biking, mountain biking, trail running and skiing. That passion is channeled into every article or gear review he writes. Utah's Wasatch Mountains are his playground.

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