The quest to develop the 2021 Scalpel began almost three years ago, says Scott Vogelmann, Senior Product Manager at Cannondale. “We already had a great bike and we knew we didn’t need to rush. I met with the racing team at the Mont St Anne World Cup in 2017 and asked them questions about what their bike did well and what their bike could do better.” Here’s what they said…
“The biggest theme that came from this was that they didn’t want to ever hesitate. They wanted to have full confidence in the bike to just smash a technical descent or charge into tight, tricky turns.
This essentially called for a re-look at the suspension and the geometry, which switched the design from its familiar single-pivot to a ‘four-bar linkage’. Four-bar linkage design is essentially a four-sided polygon between the chainstay, seattube, rocker link and seatstay, which typically includes four pivots.
But Cannondale refined this successful design further. Building on the leafspring-style chainstays that helped make the Scalpel’s current/previous models so distinctive, the engineers came up with FlexPivot, a new design that uses partial leafspring chainstays (the most rearward part) to mimic the function of what would be a pivot near the rear axle. This makes the suspension perform with the efficiency of four-bar-linkage but with less weight and fewer moving parts.
Flex Pivot design eliminates the need for a fourth pivot
The new four-bar-linkage design offers more efficient suspension performance
“When we made the decision to go with a redesigned rear suspension system, we never had a Plan B, so we had to make it work and it had to be good!” said Vogelmann.
Team Cannondale Factory Racing’s regular Absa Cape Epic title contenders, Manuel Fumic and Henrique Avancini and their French teammate, Maxime Marotte, got to ride the later iterations of the new Scalpel prototype and offer their feedback.
“After their first test rides, their feedback was that the bike felt slower. This wasn’t the news we wanted to hear, but after their back-to-back testing with the previous model, with a variety of timed sections, it became evident that the new bike is faster, they just felt more in control on it.”
“The confidence out of the braking power and traction made me change my body position on the new bike. Compare pics of me racing last year to early this 2020 season. My body position is completely different because of the bike. I’m more comfortable, but faster. I’m able to attack more and be more aggressive. This new bike allows me to do everything in a better way.”
“I raced bikes for nearly two decades, and Cannondale bikes for the last 10 years. I have raced four models of the Scalpel. I’m not good with numbers, but I’m good with ride feel. Race courses have changed too, becoming more challenging, so the demands on the bikes have also changed. It was great to be involved in the development of this new Scalpel, which I can say has exceeded my expectations.”
International racing has been extremely limited by the Covid-19 pandemic restrictions this year, so there haven’t been many opportunities for the Cannondale Factory Racing team to really ‘not hesitate’. They did however contest the 2020 Momentum Health Tankwa Trek UCI stage race in South Africa in February. The result? Two dominant stage wins for Avancini and Fumic against a strong international field after a freak chainring damage incident on Stage 1 put them out of overall contention.
And there’s more…
Because not everyone is super-fit, flexible and fast, there’s a SE version which, is slightly more burley with 120mm of front and rear suspension, for more ‘average’ marathon and stage-racers (not currently available in South Africa). Also new is the on-bike storage unit, which attaches to the downtube bottle mount and holdsDynaplug’s new carbon plug tool, a Fabric multi-tool, and CO2 bombs.
The previous model Scalpel used a 650b wheel size for the Small. The new version however offers Small in a 29er wheel size, along with Medium, Large and Extra Large. Each model comes standard with a Shimano 1×12 drivetrain.
Details and pricing of the five models currently available in South Africa are:
Cannondale 2021 Scalpel High Mod Ultimate – Copper