Cannondale Scalpel carbon full-sus drop-bar 26er

Fatal Swan

Senior Retro Guru
I posted about this when it was an idea, but as of today it's an actual, working, rideable bike. I'd bought a really decent gravel bike earlier in the year and have been pretty underwhelmed taking it anywhere off-road, though I still wanted to try normal road bars and hydraulic STIs off-road on somthing more like my MTB. The plan emerged to make a full suspension drop-bar MTB based around my old Cannondale Scalpel Hi-Mod 26er at the same weight as my gravel bike (or less, if possible). I've put quite a lot of thought into this one to make sure that when it was built up it would actually all work together and hold its own as a modern bike rather than some kind of curiosity, to be honest I haven't seen any equivalent bike that isn't some sort of frankenbike hodgepodge :) It's built, I've test-ridden it briefly on and off-road and I'm really pleased.

The groupset is Shimano 1x11, using a pair of used 8020 Ultegra STIs, a new GRX R812 rear mech, new XT 11-42 cassette, XTR 9020 crankset, with a new set of Deore 6100 brakes. It's the first time I've installed a hydraulic brakeset from scratch myself which was pretty daunting but actually it all went great first time. The chainring is a new Superstar 38T specific to the XTR crankset, which fortunately just about clears the chainstay, though not by much 😬

The geometry has been the next fiddly part to get right, and I've played around with a few configurations of bars, stems and seatposts. the layback post with a 100mm stem that I'd previously had on the bike with a flat bar was way too stretched. I tried a 50mm stem with a carbon Cannondale Escape Hanger bar (shortish 70mm reach) but the ride was a bit twitchy. Then I got hold of an inline post to move the saddle forward and that allowed me to run a 65mm stem which now rides really, really nice.

The Poploc remote lockout for the fork wouldn't fit on the drop bar so I've used an accessory mount thingy, not the neatest and the cable is too long at the moment, but does the job.

The other remining spec was straightforward, a superlight Hope XC3/Stans ZTR 355 wheelset that I bought off here a few years back (with the funky 3-bolt rotors), S-works tyres (might change these and go tubeless), a Syntace P6 Carbon hiflex post. I've just finished the setup today installing a double-layer of bar tape which feels really nice (the outer layer is the nice thick tacky Prime tape from CRC), and for once I didn't make a total pigs ear of the bar wrap. Only thing left is probably to put on some beefier QRs than the Ti allen bolt ones on there now.

I'm yet to weigh it fully assembled but it's in the region of 9.6kg. Some initial photos from its first short outing below:

IMG_20230826_182205.jpg IMG_20230826_181925.jpg IMG_20230826_182007.jpg IMG_20230826_182119.jpg IMG_20230826_182215.jpg IMG_20230826_182225.jpg
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I read these frames will take a "27.5 x 2.1 quite happily
I had considered it, but it would've meant getting hold of a new set of wheels when I've got two really good sets of 26" doing nothing else (the other is a 1400g pair of Roval Controle SL) plus loads of semi-slick, lightweight hardpack/gravel and full MTB tyre options kicking about. And I'd probably have to get the new wheels built up specially as there aren't many 27.5 rear wheels that can take QR axles off the shelf as far as I know. Plus I'd have to change the Sid XX fork since it definitely can't handle a 27.5.