What are Cannondale
Mountain Bikes?

Cannondale mountain bikes stand out from other bikes because of their Lefty fork design and other unique features of their bikes. The Cannondale company's slogan is "Fighting the Good Fight", which is all about fighting to be different from tradition if it means being the best.

Cannondale Mountain Bike Technology

Lefty Fork-

The Lefty mountain bike fork design is unique to Cannondale mountain bikes and is a design that Cannondale has used for the past decade. The fork is claimed to be stiffer and lighter than other mountain bike forks in its class, yet still very strong and durable. Cannondale's use of their patented needle bearing assembly eliminates friction because needle bearings roll rather than slide like other mountain bike forks.

System Integration (Si)-

Cannondale's philosophy when designing mountain bikes is to shave weight, improve stiffness, and use fewer moving parts. System Integration (Si) is a term that Cannondale uses often, which basically means that their bicycles are developed as one complete system. For example, the front and rear suspension are custom tuned to the frame and rider. Cannondale mountain bikes also have an integrated stem and steerer for ultimate steering precision.

BB30 and Hot Box-

Cannondale developed a larger bottom bracket design that allows for pressed-in bearings and a larger spindle that is 30 mm rather than the traditional 24 mm. This BB30 design reduces weight because it eliminates the need for cups that are normally used to hold the bearings. The BB30 design increases stiffness and durability and is more easily serviced than the traditional bottom bracket design.

Cannondale's Hot Box design uses two slim carbon fiber plates to sandwich the bottom bracket shell on their higher end carbon fiber mountain bikes.

Hollowgram Si SL-

This crankset design was developed by Cannondale. The crankarms are made of 2000-series aluminum, which has twice the fatigue life of 7000-series aluminum. They also enlarged the hollow space in the crankarm to decrease weight. The Hollowgram design is claimed to be the lightest production mountain bike crankset out there when used with the BB30 system.

Feminine- Women specific designs-

Cannondale mountain bikes include some options in designs geared for female riders. Features of their Feminine models include the following:

  • Shorter reach
  • trimmer handlebars
  • Shorter reach brake levers
  • Women specific saddle
  • Shorter crank

Feminine designs in the full suspension mountain bike line-up include:

RZ One Twenty Feminine 2- Trail
RZ One Twenty Feminine 3- Trail
Scalpel Feminine 1- Racing
Scalpel Feminine 2- Racing

These Cannondale bikes all have alloy frames. There are no carbon frame options in the Feminine designs.

Feminine designs in the hardtail Cannondale mountain bike line-up include:

F3 Feminine- Flash: racing hardtail
F5 Feminine- Trail SL: alloy hardtail more for recreational riding
F7, F8, and F9 Feminine: economical options for trail riding or commuting

For more on these models, see descriptions below...

Cannondale Full Suspension Bikes

Cannondale mountain bikes include all-mountain, trail, and xc racing options in their full suspension line-up.

All Mountain:

Cannondale's all mountain mountain bikes include the Moto and the Rz One Forty.

Moto: Cannondale's Moto comes in a carbon or T6 6061 aluminum alloy frame and has 160 mm of suspension to handle big hits. Select models of the Moto come with BB30 and ISCG tabs (International Standard Chain Guide mount).

ISCG tabs allow fitting of a chain device to keep the chain from bouncing around or falling off the chainring. ISCG tabs also allow for the option to install a HammerSchmidt crank system, which is a compact, sealed, one-ring crankset. It is a relatively new innovation for all mountain and freeride mountain bikes.

The Cannondale Moto Carbon has an enlarged carbon headtube (66.6 mm outer diameter) called the Diablo Headtube. These larger proportions are designed to give more precise steering, especially through technical terrain.

The Moto also has the Hatchet Drive design that re-orients shock forces in two directions for better dispersion and to break seal stiction faster. The design looks sort of like a hatchet, which is how it got its name.

Bike Magazine called the Cannondale Moto "A solid climber that's incredibly stiff and respectably light."

RZ One Forty: Cannondale's RZ One Forty comes in a carbon or 6061 alloy and 140 mm of suspension.

The RZ One Forty features a 1-piece seat tube, BB shell, and lower pivot housing. This design is theoretically stronger than traditional designs because it eliminates weak points due to welds. The RZ One Forty also has an oversized bridge on the swingarm to maximize stiffness of the rear wheel.

Trail/Marathon Bike:

The RZ One Twenty is a shorter-travel version of the RZ One Forty, having 120 mm of travel. This bike is built for endurance racing and epic rides. It only comes in alloy.

The RZ One Twenty has a lower standover clearance than most other models, which is good for smaller riders and maneuvering tight, technical terrain. This model also includes the 1-piece seat tube, BB shell, and lower pivot housing for increased strength and stiffness.

This bike comes in women specific options, which include the RZ One Twenty Feminine 2 and RZ One Twenty Feminine 3.

XC Racing Bike:

The Cannondale Scalpel is Cannondale's lightweight full suspension racer. MTBR gave this bike great reviews and the Scalpel has won many World Cup competions over the past decade. It comes in a carbon or alloy frame, ZeroPivot suspension system, BB30, and Hollowgram cranks.

This bike comes in women specific designs, including the Scalpel Feminine 1 and Scalpel Feminine 2. Both options are alloy.

Cannondale Hardtails


The Flash hardtail is designed to be very light, stiff, and fast weighing in at 16.5 lbs. Bob Edwards of Testrider.com reported that "The Flash has the best power transfer I have ever experienced on a mountain bike." The Flash comes equipped with BB30 and integrated headset in either carbon or alloy frame.

The Flash is available in a 29er option.

Trail SL:

The Trail SL is a more economical and recreational hardtail option in the line-up of Cannondale mountain bikes. The frame is double-butted alloy with their smooth-welded frame technology. The Trail SL comes with OnePointFive standard head tube, which helps lighten and stiffen the frame and 100 mm of travel.

The Trail SL is available in a 29er option. 29er Cannondale mountain bike options are next on the list...

29er Mountain Bikes

Cannondale mountain bikes include some 29er mountain bikes in their hardtail line-up. They do not have any 29er full suspensions at this time.

Flash 29er:

The Flash 29er was built with technical singletrack in mind. It comes equipped with 100 mm of travel, BB30, integrated head set, and an oversized head tube diameter designed to improve steering precision. It is available in either a carbon or alloy frame. The Flash 29er is the bike of choice for Matt Lee, 4-time winner of the Great Divide Race.

Trail SL 29er:

The Trail SL 29er is a more economical and recreational option. The frame is double-butted alloy with their smooth-welded frame technology. The Trail SL comes with OnePointFive standard head tube, which helps lighten and stiffen the frame. The Trail SL 29er 4 comes with an 80 mm fork and the Trail SL has a rigid fork.


Cannondale Bicycle Corporation designs, develops, and produces bikes at its factory in Bedford, PA. It has subsidiaries in Holland, Switzerland, Japan, and Australia. Cannondale prides itself on being different from other companies for the sake of building better bicycles.

Cannondale also prides itself on obsessive testing of its products. The company has a large lab facility based in its factory in which the bikes are tested vigorously. Each bike also must pass a 29-point inspection before leaving the factory.

Cannondale is a reputable company that has invented innovative designs in bicycle technology, such as the BB30, Hollowgram cranks, and the Lefty fork.

Cannondale mountain bikes include a nice selection of all mountain, trail, xc racing, and hardtail models in their line-up, including some women specific designs and 29ers. They do not have any freeride or downhill mountain bikes at this time.

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Gary Fisher

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