cannondale scalpel 26" or flash 29er

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  • cannondale scalpel 26" or flash 29er
  • Premier Icon sefton
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    I’m looking to buy a xc bike for racing duties.

    cannondale f29 (flash) about £2100 and around 23lb

    or a

    2012 scalpel 26″ wheels £1600 and around 23lb

    hard decision…do I go 26″ and save myself £500

    Premier Icon on and on
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    I still love my 2012 scalpel and it’s still the best frame I’ve ever ridden (regardless of wheel size)
    But that’s just me and I’m a bit stupid.

    I raced on a 26er this year, and tested a 29er for some time, my conclusion was that the 29er was 90 seconds faster per hour.

    Over a 3 hour race that’s quite a lot.

    wobbliscott
    Member

    I had a 2012 Flash Alloy 29er with lefty. Was a very efficient mile muncher and climbed like a train. I got rid cause I wasn’t really using it for XC duties, but having said that it stood upto being misused and abused very well. If I was going to do more XC stuff I certainly would look at one again.

    Premier Icon sefton
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    if I went down the scalpel route I ‘could’ use the saved money on better wheels & some 0X grips & poss light bars/post etc

    Premier Icon amedias
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    and climbed like a train

    fine on very gentle gradients but next to useless on any thing steep or slippery?

    I know what you were trying to say but that’s a pretty awful analogy!

    Premier Icon njee20
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    I know what you were trying to say but that’s a pretty awful analogy!

    Haha, I was going to say exactly that!

    Is it just those two? What about Canyon etc?

    Premier Icon sefton
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    always wanted a lefty.

    I’m not too concerned with groupsets. I have some shimano brakes I can replace the avids with.

    I’d also probably get some grip shifts

    I’d like a great frame, good xc fork, good wheels, tubless, 2×10

    I have seen f29 carbon 2 bikes for little over 2k (possible dodgy colour scheme though)

    Premier Icon on and on
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    Oh, I forgot to ad that you can fit 650 wheels in a 26 scalpel frame.
    Quite a few details online but mud clearance is quite tight on the rear bridge.

    Just thought I’d put that out as an option.

    wobbliscott
    Member

    Depends what type of train though – what about a Fenicular?

    The lefty was good and i’d love one of the new SuperMax Lefty’s on my AM bike if they did a 29er version with 140mm/150mm of travel. It was super stiff, no flex in it whatsoever. When I look down at my RS Revs (not the stiffest fork available I know) it noticably flexes under braking and over bumpy fast terrain.

    larrydavid
    Member

    I’ve got a 2013 alloy F29 1 with a Lefty, Sram 2×10, Magura brakes. It was my first 29er, for reference previous bikes were a Titus FTM Carbon, Kinesis XC 130 and a Cannondale F3000 set up SS. Can’t comment on a Scalpel though.

    Personally, I love it – it feels exceptionally fast, climbs like no other bike I’ve ever ridden (a limited range admittedly…), stable yet more than agile enough. Seems to give up more grip than previous bikes too. Didn’t miss the 140mm of travel in the Lakes either. Cost £1400 in the sale, so that would give you plenty of change for upgrades, although I’m guessing you want a carbon frame?

    I’ve been very impressed with the Lefty too, so if you fancy one definitely get one.

    6079smithw
    Member

    larrydavid – Member

    You should curb your enthusiasm 😀

    F29 carbon for Olympic bronze. It’s what the pro team use and they won the overall UCI team title this year.

    wobbliscott
    Member

    Beware of carbon Flash’s. There was an issue with the early models of the chainstays cracking and failing. I’m sure they’ve fixed this now so if you’re getting a current model you’ll be OK, but just check it out before you take the plunge.

    Premier Icon Bolt
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    Got an alloy f29 1 (2013) a month or two ago, great bike and good deals at pauls cycles.
    Under 10kg with some bits off my old frame and lighter rear wheel.

    Fork ramped up quite quick so have removed the volume reducer and its a lot better (for my weight anyway)

    Bolt

    Premier Icon parkesie
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    F29 alloy for me the new leftys a must.

    Premier Icon sefton
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    DanW
    Member

    hard decision…do I go 26″ and save myself £500

    Comes across like 26 is some kind of compromise to save money… how about gaining the benefits of full suspension traction and energy saving of long/ rough events but maintain excellent pedaling and climbing efficiency for a tiny 500g penalty but more pennies in your back pocket 😀

    F29 carbon for Olympic bronze. It’s what the pro team use and they won the overall UCI team title this year

    True but the latest Scalpel isn’t quite the dedicated XC racer of the 2012 and earlier models. I don’t recall the Scalepl being used at all on the WC circuit this year but I may be mistaken.

    I’d go with whichever takes your fancy and base the decision more on if you would like a hardtail or full-sus rather than on wheel size. Both will be excellent for general XC riding/ racing

    Premier Icon Kryton57
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    You are looking at the same two bikes I’ve been looking at to replace my ASR as a race/trail bike rather than a trail/race bike. I also looked at the Canyon Lux 29.

    Today I reset the ASR’s shock as recommended for racing by TFT tuned – 200psi and propedal 3.

    My conclusion is I shall be keeping the Yeti and investing in 2 x 10 and some lighter bits and pieces to get it to approx 25lb.

    If I broke it, I’d probably go for the Canyon.

    Premier Icon ratherbeintobago
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    There was a back-to-back Scalpel 26 v F29 test in the mag a while back. Can’t remember the outcome though.

    Is the S26 not still an out and out race machine with flexing chain stays?

    DanW
    Member

    tiny 500g penalty

    I was too late to edit my post, but the weight difference between a F29 and Scalpel 26 will actually be smaller given the larger wheels and tyres on the 29er. Maybe something like a 200g difference in the equivalent Scalpel 26 Flash 29 build?

    You can read my thoughts on the ride of the 26 Scalpel at the bottom of the first page here on WW

    Basically I built it up to 8.5kg (18.5lbs) including 241g of “extras” (Garmin edge 800, speed/ cadence sensor, heli-tape, chainstay protector). Now down to 8.4kg with a Carbon Lefty, SRAM XX1 to get a wider gear range and some other small additions. Wouldn’t swap it for anything 😀

    Oh, and for some reason every time I drop in to my LBS the same guy always says “nice 29er, that looks fast!” 😆

    Premier Icon Kryton57
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    You can read my thoughts on the ride of the 26 Scalpel at the bottom of the first page here on WW

    Thanks, you’ve made me want it again. 😕

    I didn’t bang on about the detail in my post above but what TfT have done is to have set my shock up so at 200PSI its really only riding in the first half of its travel over normal “trails”, and the’yve lightened the propedal to let it be active in that first half. I get the impression that if I hit a big lump/drop it’d blow past the boost valve and open up the full 5″ if it needed to – otherwise its staying high in its travel now, and feels very sprightly. As an occasional racer, I’ve got the best of both worlds now I feel.

    I’d imagine what I’ve described in the first half of the para is how the Scalpel feels all the time, but 8lbs lighter and a bit stiffer. If I was racing all the time I’d buy it based on your review. There is a BikeRadar review which reveals it as a bit fidgity but this is what you describe I think.

    DanW
    Member

    Just another quick thought before I waffle:

    Faced with the same decision as the OP I would either go for the Scalpel 26 or a Chinese 29er hardtail. I would not be spending £2100 on any hardtail when there are half a dozen decent carbon 29ers in the 1100g region for £300-400. On the £2100 Flash you’ll most likely want to upgrade the contact points, wheels, drivetrain… basically everything except the frame and fork. Spend £350 on a 1100g frame, find a used Lefty (I got my Carbon Lefty for £350 in almost new condition) then spend £1400 kitting it out as you want from the start.

    There is a BikeRadar review which reveals it as a bit fidgity but this is what you describe I think.

    The Scalpel 26 is a tough bike to review IMO and takes some time to understand. It doesn’t help most reviewers usually ride 140-160mm travel bikes for “XC” so it will always feel weird. One thing that bugs me is most reviews are happy to trot out the “the extra resistance of the pivotless suspension makes the performance harsh” or similar. If you remove the shock the seatstays can actually be moved through the travel with one finger- the bearings in the link provide more resistance than the pivotless pivot! I feel it is more the very short 80mm travel and shock tune that gives it the less plush/ better pedaling feel.

    In a blind test I don’t think most people could tell if it is a hardtail or full sus. Back to back with a plusher 100mm full sus you would say the efficiency and lack of wallow must make it a hardtail, but back to back with a hardtail you would say it has to be a full sus due to the difference in comfort and grip.

    It is very hard to describe the ride of the frame and my other main observation to add to the WW ride report is that the overall feel of the bike is heavily influenced by the fork- more so than other frames. It certainly has the grip and comfort of a full sus and when pedaling but you feel the shock must be locked/ set up wrong as you get no feeling or bob or wallow when in fact it is working hard to track the rougher ground. The main telling thing is if you lock the fork and leave the shock open and climb out of the saddle. It feels like climbing a rigid bike with 5psi less in the tyres- it really is a subtle feel. I loved climbing with the Magura Durins as the damping is the best I have tried for XC (balancing a supple early stroke but sitting high in the travel unlike the diving Fox/ Rockshox I had before) but when switching to the Lefty the overall feeling of the bike climbing was one of bobbing. The Lefty damping is more linear than the Durin and it is really felt on the bike. Not being able to separate out the frame feel to the frame and fork feel might lead to some of the odd comments I’ve seen in other reviews.

    My main point of this ramble is two very different forks can make the bike feel very different and only when the fork is locked out do you get the true behaviour of the frame- super efficient while somehow magically giving the full sus grip and comfort. I personally feel that the “magic” feel is down to the 80mm travel and shock damping which just gives an XC ride that we aren’t used to in the day of trying to make super plush short travel frames when they aren’t really needed for XC (and even the plush 100mm XC full sus frames seem to be dying out with the influx of 29er hardtails which are more marketable than a 26 inch 80mm frame or 26 100mm frame by the looks of it!).

    Sorry for the ramble!!!

    Premier Icon sefton
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    wow…thats for the reply (the feedback is appreciated)

    I’ll be saving and going down the 29er route….as great as the scalpel sounds it wont scratch my 29er itch.

    I think I have seen a blog with your bike build on it Dan…looks very fine.

    I first have to sell my Turner Flux to raise some funds.

    thanks

    DT78
    Member

    To throw another option out there for you I road the flash, scale and whyte all back to back. The scale was the quickest overall by some margin, whyte was fastest downhill felt more of an allrounder and the flash tried to kill me, twice. Could of course be down to bike setup but put me of! I went for a scale. Picked up a 2013 920 for 1650.

    Premier Icon Bolt
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    Also 6months intrest free at pauls cycles!

    A real bargin as the top alloy 2014 model year retails for £2400!

    Bolt

    DanW
    Member

    I’ll be saving and going down the 29er route….as great as the scalpel sounds it wont scratch my 29er itch

    You can’t really lose either way 😀

    I’d still reiterate my early thoughts of building up a 1100g Chinese frame (such as a Carbonal Gaea 29er) with a second hand Lefty Carbon and XTR 1×10, KCNC, Mt Zoom etc (all new) for the same cost as the F29’s you have been looking at. It should be possible to under 9kg reasonably easily for the same kind of money you are thinking of spending. There are a few Lefty equipped Chinese 29ers on this forum (Chunky and Andy Noble spring to mind) and the only reason not to go down this route would be brand snobbery IMO 😀

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