Cannondale Scalpel SE

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Release Year
Wheel Size
Number of Gears
Gearing Type
25.5, 27.2 lb
Brake Type
Frame Material

Summary of Reviews

We have read all expert and user reviews on the Cannondale Scalpel SE. In summary, this is what cyclists think.

13 reasons to buy

  • Buyers can choose between two carbon-framed builds in different price ranges, the SE 2 and SE Ultimate.
  • The SE Ultimate uses Cannondale's lightweight Lefty Ocho fork and HollowGram carbon rims.
  • Cannondale's FlexPivot suspension design is streamlined and lighter, swapping the traditional Horst link pivots for carbon fiber 'flex zones.'
  • The XC design fits two water bottle cages in every frame size.
  • The Scalpel SE's suspension kinematics are optimized for each frame size (Proportional Response design).
  • Reviewers like the gearing range provided by the SRAM drivetrain on the SE Ultimate (34t chainring, 10-52t cassette).
  • Flip Chip technology allows owners to adjust the bike's geometry for different terrains and riding styles.
  • Both Scalpel SE builds have a sensor on the front wheel. This allows riders to track their ride through Cannondale's app.
  • The Scalpel SE Ultimate has a frame-integrated storage compartment with a tool kit included.
  • Reviewers appreciate the sleek lines and internally routed cables.
  • Cannondale offers a five-year frame warranty, which includes the fork.
  • The Scalpel SE has a high 303lb max weight limit.
  • A new rear wheel release design lets it come off without sliding the axle out.

6 reasons not to buy

  • Some experts believe the Scalpel SE's geometry is too conservative, so it isn't as capable as other trail bikes.
  • The Lefty Ocho fork used on the SE Ultimate limits wheel hub options for future upgrades.
  • Reviewers are disappointed by the dropper seatpost's meager 125mm of travel.
  • Multiple testers say the Maxxis Ardent Race front tire lacks grip.
  • Experts note that Cannondale doesn't cover the carbon rims under warranty.
  • Several reviewers believe the 160mm brake rotors are too small for this type of bike. They are prone to overheating on long, steep descents.

Bottom line

Cannondale's Scalpel SE is a trail MTB with 120mm of suspension front and rear. Testers describe it as a lightweight and capable machine. It's available in an 'entry-level' and high-end build. Experts are disappointed by the bike's front tire, small 160mm rotors, and conservative geometry. Nonetheless, reviewers consider the entry-level Scalpel SE 2 a great all-rounder that can still compete with more expensive bikes. In contrast, racers will appreciate the lower weight, carbon wheels, and electronic SRAM AXS drivetrain on the top-end SE Ultimate.

Expert Reviews

74/100 based on 3 rated expert reviews

Cannondale Scalpel SE LTD Lefty Review

…while there’s no getting away from its ability to cut comfortably through the singletrack, this particular Scalpel could be a little sharper.

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Cannondale Scalpel SE LTD Lefty: A Little Bomb [French]

The Scalpel SE LTD Lefty is not as dazzling a range-topper as other brands can offer. However, it comes at a lower price than competitors.

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Cannondale Scalpel SE LTD Lefty, the Most Amusing Scalpel Ever [Spanish]

Stiff, light, and tremendously efficient, the Cannondale Scalpel SE has made us fall in love with its perfect balance between XC and maximum Trail fun.

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Mountain Bike Action

Cannondale Scalpel SE 2 Carbon XC Bike Review – XC Race Pedigree With Trail Bike Chops

Thanks to a little more travel and a smart mix of components, the Scalpel SE 2 can ride cross-country all day and moonlight as a heck of a fun trail bike, too. 

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The Manual

Hitting the Trails on Cannondale’s Scalpel SE LTD Lefty

The Cannondale Scalpel SE LTD is for anyone who just loves to get out and ride and wants a capable bike that can take them wherever they want to explore.

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Cannondale Scalpel SE LTD Lefty 120mm Test: Race or Trail? [Spanish]

The Cannondale Scalpel SE LTD is emblematic of the new downcountry concept: a bicycle with the lightness, rigidity, pedaling efficiency, and stability of an XC rocket, but with suspension and components to challenge many pure trail bikes.

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1000KM With the New Cannondale Scalpel SE LTD Lefty [Spanish]

The Cannondale Scalpel SE LTD Lefty takes the Scalpel SE concept to the max and comes very close to the ideal of an “all-in-one” mountain bike.

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Video Test – Cannondale Scalpel SE LTD Lefty: The 120MM Ocho Debuts [Italian]

I think it’s the perfect bike for everyone that likes to leave the stopwatch at home in favor of fun riding.

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Scalpel SE LTD Lefty [Test]: The Downcountry According to Cannondale [Italian]

I find it to be a well-executed bike that will surely make owners happy and that doesn’t shy away from demanding marathons, either.

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Cannondale Scalpel Carbon SE LTD Lefty [Spanish]

…this more “capable” version of the Scalpel LTD stands at a higher level. Does it need a geometry update, especially considering the most recent creations? Perhaps… But the truth is, it’s a bike that is above average.

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Planeta MTB

Cannondale Scalpel SE LTD Lefty Test: The Happy Medium [Italian]

A true Downcountry, one that riders in lycra will know how to exploit to overtake fully armored enduro riders at twice the speed.

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New Cannondale Scalpel & Scalpel SE in First Test [German]

The Scalpel SE… shines at first glance with its efficiency uphill and convinces with its versatility in different terrain.

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Cycling Sunday

Cannondale Scalpel Carbon SE LTD Lefty [German]

…if your rides take in a lot of trails, I can only recommend the Cannondale Scalpel SE.

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MTBPro Magazine

Cannondale Scalpel Carbon SE LTD Lefty [Spanish]

With the new Scalpel Carbon SE LTD Lefty and “only” two centimeters more travel, Cannondale has created a universe of greater possibilities, ranging from classic XC to aggressive trail riding.

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Test | Cannondale Scalpel SE LTD 2022 Full Suspension [Dutch]

With its slacker geometry, 120mm of travel, dropper post, and, above all, its phenomenal ‘pop’, the Cannondale Scalpel Carbon SE definitely invites more play than its competition-oriented stablemate with 100mm of travel.

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Test: Cannondale Scalpel Carbon SE LTD Lefty [German]

With a top chassis, the finely crafted Scalpel scores uphill and downhill. The low weight is impressive, as is the general agility. However, it needs a skilled hand in tough terrain.

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User Ratings

75/100 based on 4 ratings
  • 5 star
  • 4 star
  • 3 star
  • 2 star
  • 1 star


Compared to other bikes
#59 Best Trail
Bottom 10%
#28 Best Cross Country
Bottom 10%
#24 Best Cannondale Bike
Bottom 10%
#642 Best of All Bikes
Bottom 20%

Bike Comparison

Cannondale Scalpel SE in comparison to averages

Forum Discussions

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