Bike Magazine's First Look: Cannondale Habit

Photos by Sam McMain
Video by Scott Smith

The details are out on Cannondale’s new trail machine after a couple months of photos and speculation floating around on the internet. The bike was seen in the wild this past weekend at the Downieville Classic, where Team WTB/Cannondale rider Jason Moeschler pedaled it to a victory in All-Mountain World Championship. The new bike is called the Habit, and it slots into Cannondale’s line between the Scalpel and the Trigger, sporting the dressings of a short-travel trail bike.

First impressions

Cannondale sought to strike a balance with the Habit, aiming to create a bike that would suit both cross-country riders looking for something more capable and more aggressive riders looking for something with less squish and a bit more snappiness. After an afternoon riding the Habit, it seems like Cannondale has achieved its goal, although for our tastes the bike felt more skewed towards pedaling efficiency and lightweight than suppleness and downhill capability.

The Habit Carbon 1 we tested had a snappiness that was immediately apparent on climbs and flat ground. The combination of the bike’s geometry, low weight and 27.5 wheels meant that the Habit responded to pedaling input with quick acceleration and was easily maneuvered on climbs.


It’s no surprise that aggressive descenders won’t find the capability of their longer-travel trail rigs somehow jammed into the Habit’s 120 millimeters of travel. The same maneuverability and light weight that made the Habit a pleasure to blast uphill on had it feeling a bit out of sorts on technical downhills, and we couldn’t help but wonder if this bike wouldn’t have benefited from the stability and rollover offered by 29-inch wheels.


An afternoon isn’t enough time to really feel out a bike, but our short-term impression is that the Habit is a great option as a trail bike for a cross-country rider or a cross-country bike for a trail rider. The Habit’s snappy, poppy disposition make it a pleasure to rip uphill and on flowy, less-technical trails. It’s a bike that will encourage you to climb faster and have more fun without having to go in search of the gnarliest descent at your local network. Stay tuned for more on the Habit here on and in a future issue of Bike. – Jon Weber



Frame Details

The Cannondale Habit is built around an all-new 120-millimeter-travel chassis. Up front is a 68-degree head angle and a 120-millimeter-travel fork. Both the carbon and aluminum versions of the frame utilize Cannondale’s Zero Pivot seat stays, which are intended to compensate for their lack of an actual pivot with built-in vertical flex. The swingarm pivots move on thru-axles which are held in place by expanding collets and require no special tools for servicing. Cannondale’s argument for flex stays is based on weight savings (size large frame weight is just under 2,000 grams) and the lateral rigidity allowed by the pivot-free design.


Braking forces and vertically flexing seat stays don’t play well together, so Cannondale mounted the brake on the chainstay instead. The Lefty, which is featured on seven of the 10 Habit models, gets a 50-millimeter offset and a new damper tune, which Cannondale claims keeps the fork from packing up over chundery sections and also keeps it riding higher in its travel.





Feminine Habits

The women’s Habits don’t get unique geometry, but do feature different contact-point components, as well as different paint jobs. The sizing range is more suited to shorter riders, with the women’s frames coming in extra small, small and medium, whereas the men’s frame runs small through extra large. There are two women’s models: $3,600 buys an XT/SLX build with a carbon front triangle and an aluminum rear end, and there’s an entry-level aluminum option for $1,750.

There’s a total of 10 different trim options configured around carbon or aluminum frames including the two women’s specific models and the slightly more-aggressive Habit SE. The version we rode was rolling on Cannondale’s new CZero carbon wheels, which feature an internal width of 23 millimeters and are likely to be seen on a few other models in Cannondale’s 2016 range. Pricing for the Habit starts at $1,750 and goes all the way to $12,250 for the Black Inc version. You can check out each model here.

Bicycling Magazine - Cannondale CAAD10 Women’s Force - 2015 Editors' Choice

The CAAD10 is a previous Editors’ Choice winner—and the women’s version packs the same racy punch.

What You Need to Know
Price: $2,060
Weight: 16.7lbs (48cm)

I didn’t expect to like this bike. I never loved aluminum. But the CAAD10 changed my mind about the material. I actually thought at first that I was on a carbon bike. At this price, this bike is a great find. Even though it has a slightly taller head tube, I could still get plenty aero. All of my rides on this bike were in groups, so I had lots of chances to volley back for slower riders and sprint ahead to hook back on to the group. The bike had really nice acceleration on the flat stretches, and the cornering was spot-on, even at high speed. The CAAD10 felt super lightweight on climbs, and I had no problem powering right up.—Beth Strickland

More fun than any of the carbon race bikes I've ever tested.—Leah Flickinger

My major takeaway from the CAAD10: It was fun. I don’t usually come home from one of our regular rides and say, “Wow, that was fun.” I'm normally more focused on how fast it was, or my QOMs, or who won the town sprint. But this bike let me forget about all that.—Elspeth Huyett

Bicycling Magazine - Cannondale SuperSix Evo Carbon SRAM Rival - 2015 Editors' Choice

The least costly of the three versions of the SuperSix Evo Carbon frame is still stiff, crisp, and has a smooth-shifting SRAM Rival drivetrain.

What You Need to Know
Price: $2,710
Weight: 17.6lbs (54cm)

I bought my first mountain bike in 1993. I didn’t do my homework, and I knew nothing about riding trails, but the moment I walked into the bike shop, I knew that the deep-purple, $500 Cannondale was the one I wanted—for no other reason than how it looked.

I've had a thing for Cannondales ever since, so it didn’t surprise me when my eyes looked past the pile of Editors’ Choice bikes and right to the SuperSix, with its beautiful blue and purple paint and no-frills appearance. Then I road it, and beneath the paint was a gutsy, sturdy, reliable machine. I felt natural on it, like I was hanging out with an old friend. This was the least expensive bike I tested, and I had just as much fun riding it as I did any of the others. It was also the only bike I rode without Di2, and despite having been spoiled by electronic, I quickly embraced the SRAM Rival shifting. Even compared with the higher-priced bikes I rode before and after it, the SuperSix held its own.—Jen Sherry

Definitely has a competitive bent—quick and responsive to a rider’s will, yet reassuringly stable and predictable at speed in a paceline. Fun to push this bike to my limit.—Brad Ford

Bike Magazine - 2015 Carbon Trigger Carbon 2 - Bible of Bike Tests


Cannondale augmented its carbon-fiber Trigger 29 with a smaller-wheeled sibling in order to cater to the 27.5-inch crowd. How- ever, great efforts were taken to ensure that the two different wheel sized bikes would retain key handling traits and in all other regards be identical.

So, they both get carbon fiber frames, Lefty forks, Fox Dyad adjustable-travel shocks, Shimano XT dual-ring drivetrains, Shimano XT Trail brakes, Mavic Crossroc wheels and tires and KS Lev dropper posts. However, the smaller wheels get more suspension travel (140 millimeters up front versus 130 millimeters for the 29er, and 85-140 adjustable rear versus 80-130), a slacker head angle (68 degrees versus 69 for the 29er) and a fork with more offset (60 millimeters versus 50 millimeters). Ultimately, this begs comparison not just with other brands, but also within the family.

Will riders prefer the big hoops or the small?

In the real world, as much as there are striking similarities between the two bikes, they are still very distinctly different from each other. More aggressive testers preferred the 27.5-inch wheels, stating they made for a more flickable, responsive ride. The old man of the group preferred the 29-inch version, claiming it felt calmer and more stable.

This aside, Cannondale did a remarkable job of creating a similar fit and feel in all other regards. The chassis is incredibly stiff; it’s free from any sort of wag or flex.

Regardless of wheel size, this bike handles well, climbs snappily in the ‘elevate’ short-travel mode, and descends with confidence in the ‘flow’ long-travel mode. It also means that both bikes share complex shock setup procedures, alongside proprietary forks that require bed-in time to achieve full travel and feel somewhat heavily damped. – Mike Ferrentino

Q & A with Bill Rudell, public relations manager – Cannondale

We had questions about the new bikes before we even got our test rigs, so we sent out a few queries—the kind of things we thought you might be asking yourself when you’re looking at this bike. Then we sent out another round of asks if any major questions or issues came up during testing. Here’s the feedback we received from Cannondale public relations manager, Bill Rudell.

Consider this a bonus feature—just a little something extra to chew on if you’re still hungry for information after you’ve watched our video reviews and flipped through the Bible of Bike Tests.
—Vernon Felton, Bible of Bike Tests Moderator

VERNON FELTON: Why produce both a Trigger 29er and a Trigger 27.5?

BILL RUDELL: The intent of the Trigger platform was to create the ultimate all-purpose (OverMountain) bike for the full throttle adventure rider – people who want to gas it on the climbs, then open it up and let it rip on the downhill, and who want the highest performance they can get across the widest spectrum of terrain. Some of these riders prefer the stability, momentum, grip and roll-over-anything-ability of the bigger 29er wheels, while others prefer a little more nimble, precise and quick accelerating bike. Since this is such a huge category, we wanted to create a bike for both rider types and heights. It’s no secret that some taller riders prefer 29-inch wheels and shorter riders like 27.5-inch wheels but we see lots of cross-over – smaller guys on 29 and taller on 27.5 – it’s all about what you like.

VF: What makes the bikes different (handling wise) from one another and who would be the ideal rider for each bike?

BR: Trigger 29 handling is designed to balance the inherent stability of the big wheels with a level of slow-speed nimbleness that generally isn’t found in longer travel 29ers. We gave the SuperMax 29 fork the biggest offset in the business (60 mm) which reduces the trail measurement. When paired with slacker head angles, this delivers both high-speed stability and low-speed agility, making it an all-around playful bike that can handle aggressive descents and technical climbs equally well. It makes a great Enduro machine on more pedally courses, and just eats up the miles on long adventure rides.

Trigger 27.5 loves to be ridden a bit more aggressively. It’s super flickable and the smaller wheels reward a riding style that is more quick and explosive. It uses a 50-millimeter offset SuperMax fork to keep ideal trail with the 27.5 wheels. Punchy climbs, technical descents or flowing singletrack, this bike is nimble and ready to shred.

VF: The marketing copy states “The new Trigger is a ground-up redesign based on the Trigger 29, but dialed in for 27.5-inch wheels.” What are some of the key differences between the two bikes? Obviously the geo is different (the 27.5 has a much slacker head angle, for instance), but does the 27.5 feature other less-obvious tweaks to the Trigger formula?

BR: Yes, the Trigger 27.5 is based on the 29’er design but, to get the most out of the smaller wheels, we had to completely redesign it. Every tube on it is different. We wanted to keep the ride and handling pretty similar between the two bikes, but play to the strengths of the different wheel sizes. One of the biggest advantages we have is that we make our own forks, so we can play around with offset (rake) to create the best handling for each wheel size. Increasing wheel size automatically increases trail, which can make for sluggish handling at slow speeds. Also, slack head angles –which improve handling at high speed – increase trail. By increasing the rake, we can compensate for both of these factors and bring best of both worlds handling to both wheel sizes.

The differences in the frames are:
- 27.5 has a slightly shorter top tube (1 centimeter in size large)
- 27.5 has a slightly slacker head angle (1.5 degree in size large)
- 27.5 has slightly shorter chain stays (1 centimeter in size large)

There is also a difference in suspension:
- Trigger 29 uses 80 millimeters in elevate mode & 130 millimeters in flow mode
- Trigger 27.5 uses 85 millimeters in elevate mode & 140 millimeters in flow mode
- Trigger 29 Lefty SuperMax has 60-millimeter offset
- Trigger 27.5 Lefty SuperMax has 50-millimeter offset (trail is both wheel sizes is the same)

What is the same:
- Both bikes use our new Trail-tuned damper with Wide Mouth piston to flow more oil and improve small-bump sensitivity
- Both bikes use our Zero Pivot seatstays, which save weight, increase lateral stiffness and help soften the blow if you bottom-out the rear suspension
- Both bike use our ECS-TC System (Enhanced Center Stiffness Torsion Control) which eliminates flex and play in the pivots and links for rock-solid stiffness and instant responsiveness
- Both bike use BallisTec Hi-Mod Carbon frame construction

VF: The less-expensive trigger models come equipped with “normal” Fox forks, while the higher-end bikes sport Lefty models. Right or wrong, some riders still balk at the Lefty. Thus, Cannondale could be seen as limiting the sale of the higher-end Triggers and, yet, you guys are sticking by your guns. You clearly believe in Lefty. Why? What makes it a better choice than, say, a Fox 34 or RockShox Pike?

BR: Yeah, it’s funny. Lefty’s been around for 15 years and still some people just don’t get it or think it’s a gimmick. Generally, they balk and are unsure right up until they ride one. The fact that Marco just won the Kamikaze on a SuperMax should reduce some of the balk, for sure. But absolutely, we love Lefty. We’re stubborn, but I can guarantee that we wouldn’t have championed it for a decade and a half if it didn’t offer serious benefits to the rider.

Lefty’s biggest advantages are in weight, stiffness and steering precision – it’s counter-intuitive but the single-legged Lefty is actually stiffer and stronger than traditional forks because of how it’s designed. The Lefty SuperMax delivers stiffness and strength that rivals dual crown DH forks, but is lighter than most regular trail forks. The other factor is that, rather than sliding on bushings, the leg rolls on strips of needle bearings, which means it stays completely smooth under all loads. Having that kind of stiffness and smoothness up front means you can brake later and harder into turns and pick more accurate lines through rock gardens, all while carrying way less weight. Once you get used to its capabilities, it can be hard to go back to “normal” forks. The only reason we don’t use them on every one of our bikes is just cost – all that technology is expensive so there is a threshold below which we simply can’t afford to spec them.

Singletrack Magazine Reviews the Cannondale FSi Carbon 1

There are many solid factors that a cross-country racer needs (or thinks they need) from their bike.

Cannondale FSi

It needs to be lightweight, it needs to be stiff and efficient, preferably with an instant lockout for climbs and sprints, and it needs to nippy enough in the trees to be able to power away from your rivals and crush their spirits. Cannondale’s hardtails (and Scalpel model) have long been favourites of the minimal body fat brigade and, so when Cannondale set about a redesign of the range, it knew that it needed something special to attract the race-curious, that wouldn’t alienate the existing fans.


One of the holy grails that race bike designers seek is the shortest chainstay length possible. With 29in wheels now being derigueur for cross-country racing, getting that back end tucked in is harder than with smaller wheels, due mainly to the front derailleur clashing with the rear tyre. While it’s possible to eliminate that front mech and run 1×10 or 1×11, Cannondale didn’t want to limit its options and force racers to accept a more limited range of gears.

So, it looked at alternative ways of getting that rear end short and decided to move the whole transmission 6mm outboard, both at the double chainset and at the rear hub, without affecting the Q-factor at the cranks. The rear hub sits 6mm towards the drive side; though, by running an undished rear wheel through an asymmetric back end, the rear rim sits perfectly in line with the front rim. An undished wheel is also a stronger structure.

Although this modification means that the bike takes non-stock rear wheels, the components it uses are freely available (and you could fit a regular dished rear wheel in there at a pinch, say in a race situation). Besides, it’s not like the Lefty front hub is that standard anyway… All this achieves a 429mm chainstay length (cue angels singing).

Moving away from the clever transmission for a second, the bike frame is a marvel in contemporary carbon frame manufacture, with big tubes where stiffness is needed and skinny, sculptured seatstays where more compliance is favoured. The frame still carries a lifetime warranty and a rider weight limit of 136kg.

Cannondale FSi

Up front, a new Lefty 2.0 gives 100mm of travel with precise steering, while its new upside-down design offers better bushing wear and a measurable sag-indicator. Other components are fitting for a top-level race machine (although there are two more spec levels above this one available), such as the Shimano XT/XTR transmission and XT race brakes. Mavic supplies the Cannondale-specific new XLR wheels, shod with Schwalbe Racing Ralph 2.1in tyres.

Trail notes

If you’ve not ridden a top-level race bike for a while, the FSi will shock you. Not just with its weight – a sylph-like 21.2lb – but with how normal it all feels. There’s not a hint of flex or sketchiness in riding the Cannondale as fast as you dare. Pedal harder and the bike shoots forward. Any concerns about the shifted transmission or the ‘missing’ fork leg are instantly forgotten as you just get on with riding around at an astonishing speed.

The SAVE 2 carbon seatpost does a good job of flexing under the rider to offer a tiny bit of comfort, which is more than the fork will do when locked out. Using a RockShox Reverb-style push-button lockout, the fork instantly transitions from giving 100mm of smooth travel, to completely rigid and offering absolutely none. (Our lockout lever arrived in dire need of bleeding as it would randomly lock and unlock, but it’s a five-minute job to fix and ours has been fine since.)

Other components have been perfect for the duration – the 2×10 gear selection is great and it’s great to see a race bike with proper, stopping brakes fitted. Too often cross-country racers get the tiny rotors and ineffective brakes, but the XTs on the FSi inspire the confidence to ride faster, knowing you can stop quicker.

Cannondale is keen to point out that the FSi isn’t just a race bike, and there’s some truth in that. Its 69.5° head angle and 100mm of fork travel puts it into the ‘nippy trail hardtail’ category, and even the 700mm bars don’t look too out of place in the trail centre car park. However, it’s on the racecourse, the training loop and flat-out, twisty woodland mates’ races that the FSi is going to really earn its keep.

Frame // Cannondale FSi carbon

Shock // n/a

Fork // Cannondale Lefty 2.0, 55mm offset, PBR Remote

Hubs // Mavic SLR

Rims // Mavic SLR

Tyres // Schwalbe Racing Ralph

Chainset // Cannondale Si, FSA rings

Front Mech // SRAM X0

Rear Mech // Shimano XTR Shadow Plus

Shifters // Shimano XT

Brakes // Shimano XT Trail (Race listed on spec).

Stem // Cannondale Si

Bars // Cannondale carbon 700mm

Grips // Cannondale foam lock-on

Seatpost // Cannondale SAVE 2

Saddle // Fabric, carbon rails

Size Tested // Medium

Sizes available // S, M, L, XL

Weight // 21.18lbs (without pedals)

Bike Magazine - 2015 Cannondale Scalpel - 2015 Bible of Bike Tests

The Scalpel is a steep, fast and sharp-handling race machine. With more riders opting for bikes in the mid-travel range, though, the market for XC bikes is becoming increasingly competitive. Is the Scalpel ready for the competition? Watch the video to find out:

2015 Cannondale Scalpel - Bluestone Bike & Run



For the past 13 years, one bike has been synonymous with cross-country racing: Cannondale’s Scalpel. As its name suggests, the Scalpel is a fine-tuned instrument with razor-sharp handling.

Cannondale offers five 29er Scalpel models, ranging from the $11,920 Carbon Black Inc. model to the entry-level Alloy 4 version, which sells for $3,250. Our mid-range test model sports an all-SRAM X01 single-ring drivetrain, Magura MT4 disc brakes and Stan’s ZTR Arch EX 29 rims mated to a Cannondale Lefty front hub and a Formula rear hub. The Scalpel offers up 4 inches of progressive suspension courtesy of a RockShox Monarch XX rear shock and Cannondale’s own Lefty XLR 100 29 fork. Last, but not least, the bike sports a full carbon frame.

Cannondale is the standard bearer of ‘systems integration,’ a philosophy which holds that the biggest performance gains are realized when each component on a bicycle is designed to work together. While systems integration, with its raft of proprietary widgets, can make simple tasks like swapping stems a bit of a pain, the upside is clearly felt on this bike: The Scalpel weighs about as much as a pile of fly spit, yet boasts all-mountain-style frame stiffness. Stand on the pedals and the bike rockets forward. Big climbs are no big deal. Flex under hard cornering is nearly non-existent.

The flip side to those glowing comments is, as one tester put it, “If you slack off, fail to hammer or just sit and pedal, this bike can really bite you in the ass.” The Scalpel is in its element when ridden aggressively and at race pace. Sure, Cannondale sells a lot of Scalpels to riders who’ll never actually compete, but let’s be clear: If you dream of spinning lazy circles while meandering through meadows full of wildflowers and butterflies, you’re barking up the wrong tree here. The Scalpel isn’t a sketchy handler, but its steep head angle, short wheelbase and razor-tight frame don’t tolerate inattentive pilots.

Cannondale sells pricier, spare-no-expense versions of the Scalpel, but it’s hard to see why you’d need to upgrade. This bike is ready to pummel the competition right out of the box. –Vernon Felton

Q&A with Cannondale PR Manager Bill Rudell

We had questions about the new bikes before we even got our test rigs, so we sent out a few queries—the kind of things we thought you might be asking yourself when you’re looking at this bike. Then we sent out another round of asks if any major questions or issues came up during testing. Here’s the feedback we received from Cannondale public relations manager, Bill Rudell.

Consider this a bonus feature—just a little something extra to chew on if you’re still hungry for information after you’ve watched our video reviews and flipped through the Bible of Bike Tests.
—Vernon Felton, Bible of Bike Tests Moderator

VERNON FELTON: Who’s the ideal rider for the Scalpel? Do you see it strictly as an all-out race machine? That’s always been the common perception of the bike.

BILL RUDELL: Well, the Scalpel certainly has a long and storied history on the cross-country scene and it is still one of the absolute lightest XC full-suspension machines available. But what makes the Scalpel such a compelling bike is that, despite its feathery weight and racer pedigree, it’s also a hell of a fast and fun trail bike.

Cross-country race bikes usually sacrifice a solid feel and confident handling on the altar of lightweight efficiency. They can be lightweight, flexy little whippets that might be fast, but aren’t much fun. With Lefty System Integration and BallisTec Carbon construction, the Scalpel manages to be ridiculously light, its razor sharp handling is definitely racy and keeps you on your game while begging to be pushed, both up and down.

The Scalpel is a great bike for the hardcore XC racer to an everyday rider looking for an edge when things get rough; that’s why we offer five Scalpels in the line ranging from the Black Inc at $11,920.00 to the Scalpel 29 Alloy 4 at $3,250.00

VF: What sets the Scalpel apart from other contenders in the cross-country race niche, such as the Specialized Epic or Niner Jet 9?
BR:Both of those bikes (as well as many other contenders for the XC crown) are amazing machines – really well thought out, great riding bikes, but the Scalpel has an ace up its sleeve that none of our competitors do—our Si (System Integration) approach to bike design.

Rather than simply building a frame and then kitting it out with other companies’ stuff, we look at the bike as a complete system. Our frames are designed specifically around components like the Lefty fork, OPI stem/steerer, and HollowGram SiSL2 cranks, so we can optimize the entire system for weight, stiffness and ride-feel benefits, and it shows. The Scalpel has end-to-end system stiffness and a rock-solid feel that no other ultra-light XC bike can match, which explains why it appeals to both racers and trail riders alike.

Singletracks' Long Term Review of the 2015 Cannondale Trigger Carbon 27.5

Posted on December 12, 2014 by Greg Heil

The 2015 Cannondale Trigger Carbon 2 27.5 is a part of Cannondale’s new Overmountain lineup. All of the Overmountain bikes were designed to provide a 2-in-1 ride quality, thanks to their unique suspension design. When I heard that the Trigger was on its way over, I decided that the Crested Butte Ultra Enduro would be the perfect testing grounds to pummel this new bike and unique concept… and to see if it could stand up to the challenge.

Note: the front tire pictured here is an after market WTB Breakout, while the rear is the stock Maxxis Crossroc.

Build Kit

Before we get to the core of the Trigger–the suspension–here’s what you need to know about the parts spec: the Trigger Carbon 2 features a full Shimano XT 2×10 drivetrain with Shadow Plus rear derailleur, as well as bombproof XT brakes. Simply put, these parts are tried and true, and over the course of my review they performed admirably, and I experienced no issues. A dependable KS Lev dropper post, WTB Silverado saddle, and Cannondale C1 carbon riser bar with Cannondale lock on grips round out the cockpit.

The wheel and tire combination were both Mavic Crossrocs, and to be honest I was extremely underwhelmed with the Crossroc tires. They were too narrow, didn’t have very good tread, and didn’t want to ride well on the rim when mounted tubeless. I even burped a tire on a rocky wall ride on my first shakedown, which might actually be the first time I’ve burped a tire–oh joy! In my opinion, the Crossmax tires would be a much better fit, and the Crossmax wheels wouldn’t go amiss, either. However, with a different pair of tires mounted up, the Crossroc wheels performed well, even if they felt a bit under-gunned. If you’re going to push the Trigger more toward the all-mountain end of the spectrum, a beefier pair of wheels wouldn’t be a bad choice. But if you’re comfortable with long pedally and climbs and not blasting off big drops on the descents, the Crossroc hoops will be more than adequate.

The Carbon 2 build kit I reviewed retails for $6,170, with two models priced above it and the top-tier Carbon Black model hitting the registers at $10,830. There are also two models priced below this one, with the most affordable Trigger 4 alloy model retailing for $3,140.

With its stock setup, my size-medium Trigger weighed in at a very respectable 27.8lbs without pedals.

Geometry and Frame

The Trigger features 140mm of suspension, placing it squarely in the “trail bike” category. Riding a 27.5 trail bike was a new experience for me, but the shorter amount of travel, lighter build, and slightly-steeper geometry make it much more pedal-friendly, which is one of the reasons why I chose to race it during the Crested Butte Ultra Enduro. The Trigger sports a headtube angle of 68 degrees, an effective seat tube angle of 73.5 degrees, an effective top tube length of 59.8cm, 43.8cm chain stays, and a wheelbase of 115.1cm. All of these stats combine to create a bike that’s a fast, capable climber, yet one that can descend at high speed.

The Trigger Carbon 2 is fully-carbon (no aluminum rear triangle or chainstays here), and utilizes Cannondale’s BallisTec Hi-MOD Carbon. The carbon is covered with a beautiful glossy red paint that shines brilliantly in the sun.

Suspension: SuperMax Lefty Strut

While the frame is beautiful, the parts are dependable, and the weight is light, what really sets the Trigger apart from other bikes is its unique suspension set-up. Most visibly, up front the Trigger is rocking the new SuperMax Lefty. In short, the new SuperMax is designed to be lighter, stiffer, and better than ever before. My test bike came equipped with the 140mm model, which features the same chassis as the 160mm, but is internally limited to just 140mm of travel. The massive tubing makes the SuperMax extremely stiff, with a 36mm lower tube and a huge 46mm upper tube. However, even with these large tubes and dual crown, the single strut keeps its total weight down to 1,850g.

Since the Supermax has the same chassis throughout, if at some point in the future you wanted to convert the 140mm to a full 160mm, it’s relatively easy to do. According to Cannondale, “you would have to purchase a new 160 damper cartridge which fits right into the upper leg. Then you remove the lower air assembly, remove a 20mm spacer that sits in the bottom of the leg, and you’re all set.” Pretty simple. If this was my personal bike, this is an upgrade I’d seriously consider. And even if you think 140mm will be plenty, it’s great to know that the option is there if you need it.

This was my first time riding a Lefty fork, and I was unbelieveably excited! Spending some serious time on a Lefty has been on my bucket list for years, and now I was finally able to give it a go. At first, my brain had a hard time getting over the fact that my fork wasn’t a fork, but was instead a strut. But when I pointed the bike down the trail and just focused on mountain biking, it became clear that the SuperMax isn’t here just to make a visual statement, but it has a real job to do–and it does it superbly well.

The SuperMax rides just like you’d expect any other suspension fork to ride. It’s plush, yet firm when it needs to be, soaking up trail chatter and big hits alike. The unique Poptop lockout system is extremely easy to use on the fly: just slap the big red thing to stiffen it up, and push the blue bit to open it back up. Interestingly, while the Poptop does make for a much stiffer ride and a really great climbing feel, it does feature a blow off valve in case you forget to open it back up when you descend. While not ideal, the blowoff can save your ass in a bad situation, and will keep you from destroying anything on the Lefty internally.

Suspension: DYAD Shock

While the Lefty is the most visually-interesting suspension component, the DYAD rear shock is arguably the most revolutionary technologically. For starters, the DYAD is an incredibly-rare pull shock. Yes, that’s right: instead of pushing into the shock, the suspension pulls it out. Don’t ask me exactly how it works–it just does.

While that might be the DYAD’s weirdest feature, it’s not the most outstanding. The DYAD isn’t just one shock: it’s essentially two shocks in one. While complex shocks like the Cane Creek Double Barrel have adjustable valving that allows you to switch between long travel and short travel mode, the DYAD has two separate sets of air chambers, for a total of four different air pressures to adjust and two different sets of rebound speed to adjust. If you think that sounds complicated, you’re be right–but thankfully Cannondale has provided a handy cheatsheet to give you starting pressures to use as your base values, which you can then tweak according to your individual riding style.

The Trigger ships with its own shock pump. At first I was like, “what do I need another shock pump for? I already have too many of these!” But when I looked at this table of pressures, I understood: most standard shock pumps can’t physically provide pressures this high! The supplied pump, on the other hand, is specially-designed to handle high air pressures of over 500psi.

The benefit of having two completely-separate sets of air chambers is that the rear shock can consequently provide two totally different amounts of rear suspension: 140mm and 85mm in the case of the Trigger. Now, unlike a FOX CTD shock, switching to the short-travel “Elevate” mode doesn’t stiffen or lockout the shock. Rather, the short-travel mode is a fully-active 85mm that is individually tuneable from the longer-travel 140mm option. Especially for real mountain biking on singletrack trails, you really should never completely lock out your suspension. An active suspension, but with shorter travel, functions to provide better traction in steep terrain and soaks up small trail chatter, while providing a firmer pedaling platform than a full-length shock.

I personally found the short-travel mode invaluable on long climbs. Also, I really appreciated the individual tuneability. I set up the short travel mode with a stiffer and slightly-faster rebound rate, while I aimed for as plush of a ride as possible with the long-travel mode. Thanks to a handlebar-mounted remote, I switched between the two settings often.

While I loved the DYAD in Elevate mode, in the full-travel “Flow” mode I found that it left some performance to be desired. When I was riding the bike within the limits of its capabilities, the shock performed admirably and the rear wheel tracked superbly. However, when I pushed the Trigger too far, it fought back. The DYAD bottoms out extremely harshly, with a clunk and a jolt that would whip me forward. Also, I found the rear end to clunk severely on square-edged hits, with the bike almost getting caught on square rocks and stopped in its tracks.

I had a hard time determining the cause of this harsh bottom out. I tried tweaking air pressures and rebound/compression rates, and I wasn’t able to eliminate it. That said, during the course of my test I did ride this bike far beyond the intended application of a 140mm trail bike (keep reading for my general ride impressions), but I’ve done this with trail bikes before that just kept on plugging away, even when abused.

General Ride Impressions

I chose the Cannondale Trigger Carbon 2 27.5 as my race bike for the Crested Butte Ultra Enduro because of its unique combination of characteristics. With long miles and many thousands of feet of climbing, I wanted a bike that wouldn’t burden me unduly on the climbs, and yet would be able to descend the singletrack mountain passes at race pace.


Thanks to the light weight, superb adjustability afforded by the DYAD, and the excellent geometry, the Trigger climbed like a champ! I tackled miles and miles of climbing aboard this beast, and I loved it as much as one can enjoy pedaling a bike up a hill.

Rolling Trail

In my opinion, rolling trail is where the Trigger truly excels. 140mm of travel is a good bit but it’s not a ton in the grand scheme of things. However, 140mm is perfect for maching along rolling, rocky trails, with pedally sections, descents, and a general good mix of everything. Hence the “trail” categorization: it’s for riding average trails.


I did indeed race the Trigger through 10 stages of the Crested Butte Ultra Enduro, and I posted some good times along the way! Thanks to an incredibly solid frame, bomber parts spec, and astoundingly stiff and responsive suspension strut (aka the Lefty Supermax), I was able to rip down the mountainsides through ridiculously technical, steep, washed-out trails, at what most people would consider unwise speeds. And the capability of the Trigger is confirmed when I say that this bike doesn’t really do well in this application.

“Wait, doesn’t do well at this? What do you mean?”

When ridden within its boundaries, the Trigger is a stupendous mountain bike. These boundaries can stretch a really long way, and include stupid-fast descents, drops, endless rock gardens, jumps–you name it. But when you push past the boundaries, you’ll know it. The rear shock will bottom out and squwak like there’s no tomorrow. The wheels will start pinging and groaning at you. And while the SuperMax won’t bottom out harshly, you’ll keep reaching for more travel up front and wishing you had it. I quickly pushed this bike past its boundaries while shredding double black diamonds in the Evolution Bike Park.

But let’s be honest here: this bike just isn’t meant to be ridden like that. While some other bikes will acquiesce to the rider’s demands when pushed past their intended use, the Trigger, on the other hand, will protest, complain, and refuse to go further.

But the Trigger is more than capable of tackling chunk like this, at high speeds, all day long. Photo: Nick Ontiveros / Big Mountain Enduro

Bottom Line

For standard trail riding with big climbs, long rolling sections of trail, and moderately-technical descents, the Trigger is a beaut’ of a bike! The outside-the-box suspension components set this bike apart both visually and tactilely. However, if you really want to push the envelope on stupid-gnarly terrain, I’d really recommend stepping up to the Trigger’s bigger brother, the Jekyll. But if you avoid trails that might force your spouse to collect on your life insurance policy or you live in an area where the descents aren’t measured in miles, the Trigger could be the perfect bike for you.

MSRP: $6,170

Cannondale SuperSix EVO Hi-Mod 2 Dura-Ace

Category: $5,000 Race
Winner: Cannondale SuperSix EVO Hi-Mod 2 Dura-Ace

On open roads, the SuperSix felt significantly faster than the other two bikes in this category—perhaps because it weighed substantially less than its competitors. It also possesses a brawny frame—the same one used on Cannondale’s ProTour bikes—that made accelerations easier. For a bike this fast, it had a relatively calm ride that was easy to control. Even though it costs more than the other finalists, all of our testers believed the SuperSix’s superior performance justified the extra expense.

Price: $5,420
Weight: 14.8 lb. (58cm)

Read the Cannondale SuperSix EVO Hi-Mod 2 Dura-Ace review.

Enduro MTB Mag's First Ride...

Review of the Complete Cannondale Overmountain Line

The trigger 29 has been available in aluminum and carbon fiber for some time now, and to complete the lineup, Cannondale has recently introduced the trigger 27.5 “and the new Jekyll 27.5″, offering a choice to those want to try the 27.5″. We had the chance to compare all three models now directly against each other and figure out which bike is best suited to which rider.

Cannondale now has something for every biker in their program, with a bike suiting every personal preference and individual riding style.

Read the full story here: Tests the 2014 Cannondale Scalpel 29 3

Vernon Felton over at put out a preview of his review of Cannondale's Scalpel 29 3.  A full review is coming later, but from the looks of it he's loving this bike!

The Scalpel 29 3 still moves out like it has a fire under its ass. Put a little muscle into the pedals and this thing just moves on out...

Read what Vernon has to say here: 2014 Cannondale Scalpel 29 3

Photos from