Is Cannondale Scalpel HT Carbon 3 A Good Bike? [Cannondale Scalpel HT Carbon 3 Review]

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Cannondale Scalpel HT Carbon 3

  • Price: $3025
  • Category: Hardtail bike
  • Frame: Carbon
  • Gear: 1×12
  • Tires: 29×2.25″

What we like about it: Lightweight and durable carbon frame with proportionally responsive design, paired with RockShox SID SL Select+ RL fork and Shimano kit for the ultimate off-road experience.

What we don’t like about it: Fewer color options.

Rating (4.8/5.0)


Cannondale Scalpel HT Carbon 3

Do you want to experience the feeling of freedom? Want to have one more interesting challenge in your life? Want to have a more exciting ride? I think the answer in your mind is the reason that attracts you to come here.

If you haven’t pushed your limits in a long time, take a look at the Cannondale Scalpel HT Carbon 3. This is a hardtail trail bike that will give you a pure racing experience. The Cannondale Scalpel HT Carbon 3 will take you into a whole new world of racing, with every detail carefully designed and high-end components to give us the advantage of a great experience.

We tested the performance, key features, components, and comparison of the Cannondale Scalpel HT Carbon 3 for climbing and descending. Remember to follow us if you’re interested!

Cannondale Scalpel HT Carbon 3 Climbing Review

Our review team has fun riding different bikes to all corners of the world. Sometimes less than stellar bikes can cause us some trouble on our rides. But the Cannondale Scalpel HT Carbon 3 had no problems at all on our trip to Italy, and its excellence made my trip very smooth.

The rugged, foggy Apennines form the backbone of Italy, and we decided to start a whole new cycling adventure from here.

The Cannondale Scalpel HT Carbon 3 isn’t timid when faced with a variety of rocks. Its size-specific rear dropouts and steep seat angle allowed me to balance easily between the front and rear tires. In order to climb over the hard rocks, I needed to stand up slightly and lean over to pedal hard. At this point, the Schwalbe Racing Ray EVO tire showed me its great grip. It was so close to the ground that I was able to use more force on the pedals. Of course, this is also due to its drivetrain.

In addition, the 1×12 speed shifting required little effort on my part to adjust the speed. Its dense gear ratio also gives me more traction for climbing. I have to say, its strong climbing performance gives me more confidence

Cannondale Scalpel HT Carbon 3 Descending Review

Because of its praiseworthy performance on the climb, I was looking forward to its descending performance as well! As I expected, it also impressed me on the descent.

I have to say, its braking and tire coordination are really great! The Shimano M6100’s hydraulic disc brakes are snappy enough to sense combined with the highly stable tires, allowing me to perform with ease on bumpy downhill roads, so I can steer nimbly.

It was the terrain rather than the handling that focused my full attention ahead. Its 100mm fork also played an important role in the downhill. Even with relatively large drops, I still didn’t lose my balance or feel any exciting bumps. This is mainly thanks to the strong and sensitive shock fork. Of course, I think its sunken rear fork also played a role.

Overall, I was really amazed by how well it performed when descending. But as someone who has been riding for years, it would be nice if it had a seat that was a little more comfortable.

By the way, I really like the tire sensors installed on the Cannondale Scalpel HT Carbon 3. With its app, I can see my speed, calories burned, etc. for each leg of my trip. Each record makes my trip more meaningful.

Main Features


Cannondale Scalpel HT Carbon 3

The Cannondale Scalpel HT Carbon 3 hardtail cross-country uses the rugged Scalpel HT carbon material to build the frame. It features a sunken rear dropout fork that reduces vibration and absorbs larger impacts from the road. And it improves the rider’s handling and minimizes fatigue. And of course, there are the water bottle mounting holes that many people need, and this bike comes with two of them.

Such a frame design is nothing new in the road segment. But in the field of hardtail mountain bikes, few brands have made an attempt.

We can say that this bike breaks the mold and provides us with a lighter and more solid hardtail for off-road.

In fact, the Cannondale Scalpel HT Carbon 3 also features an internal cable routing system that ensures the integrity of the vehicle’s exterior and provides protection from wind and rain.


At the front end of the bike, the aggressive 66.5° head tube angle provides the control and stability we need when descending. Giving the Cannondale Scalpel HT Carbon 3 more confidence and speed than other hardtail bikes when encountering steep descents.

Not only that, the 75° seat tube angle with a specific size rear lower fork gives us better traction and power when climbing hills, helping us to achieve more efficient climbs.

And the 115.4cm wheelbase means the bike has a more responsive body, which is exactly what a high-performance mountain bike needs.

Components and Specifications

Shimano XT Drivetrain

Cannondale Scalpel HT Carbon 3 Shimano XT Drivetrain

The Shimano XT drivetrain has 1 x 12 speeds. Not only does it incorporate a low-speed range, but it also provides a high-speed range.

The tight spacing of the gears is a clear advantage in steep terrain. The three rear ratios in particular are very smooth and easy to shift. This makes the bike much easier to handle the more difficult climbs. I don’t think this is comparable to other mountain bikes on the same terrain.

And, for riders who do a lot of trail riding, it’s a joy to have a drive that’s easy to adjust and dial in. the Shimano XT has a B-gap alignment gauge built into the chainstay, which is designed to help riders set it up easily. Otherwise, the complicated drivetrain can be maddening if you need to adjust the drive yourself midway through the ride.

Shimano M6100 Braking System

Cannondale Scalpel HT Carbon 3 Shimano M6100 Braking System

The Shimano M6100 is a hydraulic disc brake that is sensitive and stable enough to be mountain trail friendly. Its brake levers provide intuitive braking that doesn’t distract us from the ride, allowing us to focus on the road ahead.

In addition, it has chosen the ergonomically designed I-SPEC EV shift lever. It increases the stiffness of the lever by moving the brake clip inward, and the additional contact points formed between the lever and the bar greatly increase the bike’s control and braking combination. And the 10-degree swivel angle provides a wider range of adjustment for our riders to achieve a precise and excellent blending action.

Schwalbe Racing Ray EVO Tires

Cannondale Scalpel HT Carbon 3 Schwalbe Racing Ray EVO Tires

The tires on this bike are paired with Schwalbe Racing Ray EVO tires. The most distinctive point of this tire is its material.

It uses ADDIX SPEED, the composite material of XC race specialists. It combines speed with grip and durability to provide the rider with superb rolling power. Hardtail bikes are the most ideal choice.

And, the Stan’s NoTubes Crest MK4 rim has a reinforced spoke bed and welded seams. It can withstand both the higher pressures of a 40mm gravel tire and the lower pressures of a 2.3″ mountain bike tire. In addition, the Crest MK4 rim has improved spoke angles to create a stronger tire. It also still offers the easiest inflation and most reliable air-tight vacuum tire seal found only on Stan’s patented Bead Socket Technology rims.

Also, Stan’s NoTubes Crest MK4 rim features an M-pulse ultra-low drag magnetic jaw adjustable hub with 1.66° engagement. This means it only needs 1.66° of rotation for instant acceleration.

What’s even more surprising is that the Cannondale Scalpel HT Carbon 3 also has tire sensors on the tires. This means that it requires only 1.66° of rotation to achieve immediate acceleration.

I thought how could the Cannondale Scalpel HT Carbon 3 not be appealing with such great tires to back it up?

Other versions of the Cannondale Scalpel HT

Cannondale has never left riders with only one choice, and in order to fit more people, there are other versions of this bike to look at. Here I have chosen the Cannondale Scalpel HT Carbon 4 and the Cannondale Scalpel HT Hi-MOD 1 to compare.

Cannondale Scalpel HT Carbon 4

2022 Cannondale Scalpel HT Carbon 4

This bike is actually not as high spec as the Cannondale Scalpel HT Carbon 3 equipped with some of the finer components, but it’s still a nice bike.

First of all, it comes in Acid Red and Black Pearl, which are not the same as the Cannondale Scalpel HT Carbon 3.

Secondly, it has a RockShox SID SL fork with lightweight dampers to power the climbs. The Carbon 3, on the other hand, has a RockShox SID SL Select+ fork. The latter’s new DebonAir™ air springs are specifically tuned to meet the demands of the XC and maintain a higher ride speed for enhanced control.

However, the Carbon 4 is a bit cheaper and is suitable for those who are not on a budget.

Cannondale Scalpel HT Hi-MOD 1

This car has almost twice the price of the Cannondale Scalpel HT Carbon 3, so I guess you’re wondering why it’s so expensive. It was with curiosity that I also took a brief look at this car.

The Cannondale Scalpel HT Hi-MOD 1 has a longer, ultra-light front suspension that is 110mm long, capable of providing extra agility. And it has an OppO spring system selected for its fork for faster response.

Its rims are ultra-light, high-strength carbon HollowGram 25, which drastically reduces the weight of the tires. Not only that but its handlebars are made of Cannondale 1 Flat, which is also made of carbon.

On top of that, the bike uses Shimano’s XTR/XT 15-speed group to provide better traction and braking power for our ride.

When I saw the car, I was truly amazed by it. Likewise, it’s price.

In comparison, the high configuration and price of the Carbon 3 are more suitable for most people.

We have also reviewed other versions of the Cannondale Scalpel HT. If you want to learn more, stay tuned.

What we like about it

  • Strong and ultra-light Scalpel HT carbon
  • Proportional Response Design
  • RockShox SID SL Select+ RL front fork
  • C2 carbon seat post
  • Shimano XT Drivetrain
  • Schwalbe Racing Ray EVO Tires

What we don’t like about it

  • Fewer color options
  • Lack of dropper for some people


1. What is the frame material of the Cannondale Scalpel HT Carbon 3?

Scalpel HT carbon.

2. What is the drivetrain of the the Cannondale Scalpel HT Carbon 3?

The drivetrain of the the Cannondale Scalpel HT Carbon 3 is Shimano XT.

3. What sizes of the Cannondale Scalpel HT Carbon 3 are available?

Size XL
Rider height 5’0″ – 5’5″  5’4″ – 5’10”  5’7″ – 6’1″  5’10” – 6’6″  

Cannondale Scalpel HT Carbon 3 Specs


Frame Scalpel HT Carbon, Proportional Response Design, PF30-83, tapered head tube, 55mm chain line, Speed Release 12mm thru-axle w/UDH hanger BB Standard: PF30, Press Fit Colors: Black; Highlighter
Fork RockShox SID SL Select+ RL, 100mm, Debonair, remote lockout, 15x110mm thru-axle, tapered steerer, 44mm offset
Bottom Bracket Cannondale Alloy PressFit30
Headset Integrated, 1-1/8 to 1.5″, sealed angular contact bearings
Stem Cannondale 2, 6061 Alloy, 31.8, 7°
Handlebar Cannondale 2 Flat, butted 2014 Alloy, 31.8mm, 3° rise, 8° sweep, 760mm
Saddle Cannondale Scoop Shallow Elite, hollow cro-mo rails
Seatpost C2 Carbon, 27.2x400mm
Pedals Not Included
Grips Cannondale XC Silicone


Rear Derailleur Shimano XT
Crank Cannondale 1, BB30 83MTB, OPI SpideRing, 34T, 55mm chain line
Shifters Shimano SLX, 12-speed
Cassette Shimano SLX, 10-51, 12-speed
Chain Shimano SLX, 12-speed
Brakes Shimano M6100 hydraulic disc, 160/160mm RT64 rotors
Brake Levers Shimano M6100 hydraulic disc


Rims Stan’s NoTubes Crest MK4, 28h, tubeless ready
Spokes DT Swiss Competition
Front Hub (F) Shimano MT410, 15x110mm thru-axle / (R) Shimano MT510, 12x148mm thru-axle
Rear Hub (F) Shimano MT410, 15x110mm thru-axle / (R) Shimano MT510, 12x148mm thru-axle
Tires (F) Schwalbe Racing Ray EVO, 29 x 2.25″, Twinskin, tubeless ready, (R) Schwalbe Racing Ralph EVO, 29 x 2.25″, SnakeSkin, Addix compound, tubeless ready


Comparison Table

Bicycles Price Drivetrain Brakes Tires Click view
Trek Procaliber 9.6 $3099 1×12 speed Shimano MT410 hydraulic disc 29×2.20” Click view
BMC Twostroke 01 FOUR $2999 1×12 speed  SRAM Level T  hydraulic disc 29×2.25” Click view
Specialized Epic Hardtail Comp $2900  1×12 speed Shimano SLX M7100 Hydraulic Disc  29×2.35” Click view
Bianchi Nitron – 9.2 – XT/SLX $2,743 1×12 speed  Shimano M6100 hydraulic disc 29×2.20” Click view

 Cannondale Scalpel HT Carbon 3 vs Trek Procaliber 9.6

2023 Trek Procaliber 9.6

Both of these bikes are at the $3,000+ price point. However, the Trek Procaliber 9.6 differs from the Cannondale Scalpel HT Carbon 3 in that this Trek Procaliber 9.6 has a RockShox Recon Gold RL fork, which has a slightly shorter 42mm offset compared to the Cannondale Scalpel HT Compared to the 45mm offset of the Carbon 3, it’s 42mm offset is slightly shorter. This makes the fork a little less shock-absorbing for mountain bikes.

The Trek Procaliber 9.6 is the Bontrager XR2 Team Issue, which has a very good grip and traction. However, for the balance of speed, grip, and durability, I would recommend the Cannondale Scalpel HT Carbon 3.

Learn More: Trek Procaliber 9.6 Review – Moderate Geometry Design

Cannondale Scalpel HT Carbon 3 vs BMC Twostroke 01 FOUR

2023 BMC Twostroke 01 FOUR

The BMC Twostroke 01 FOUR uses SRAM’s SRAM GX Eagle drivetrain with SRAM Level T braking system in the package. As a result, both the SRAM GX Eagle drivetrain and the Shimano XT drivetrain have a smooth and comfortable shifting experience. But the former is better suited for slightly flat or undulating trails, with its friendly mid-range spacing. The latter, on the other hand, is more adept at playing on steeper terrain.

But my friend thought the BMC Twostroke 01 FOUR with an integrated fork was not interesting enough. In comparison, we all agreed that the Cannondale Scalpel HT Carbon 3 was a better choice.

learn more:BMC Twostroke AL 24 Review – A Bike Designed For Kids

Cannondale Scalpel HT Carbon 3 vs Specialized Epic Hardtail Comp

2022 Specialized Epic Hardtail Comp

The Specialized Epic Hardtail Comp is also a carbon hardtail trail bike. But it looks mediocre in front of the Cannondale Scalpel HT Carbon 3. It has a RockShox Reba RL fork and no remote controller.

It also has Specialized tires front and rear, Specialized Fast Trak in the front, and Specialized Renegade in the rear, and it has excellent grip in most situations, but not necessarily on wet trails.

But it does cost a little less as well. If you don’t need to care about the $100 difference in your budget, then I would recommend the Cannondale Scalpel HT Carbon 3 even more.

Learn more : Is Specialized Epic Hardtail Bike Worth Buying? [Specialized Epic Hardtail Bike Review]

Cannondale Scalpel HT Carbon 3 vs Bianchi Nitron – 9.2 – XT/SLX

2022 Bianchi Nitron - 9.2 - XT/SLX

We chose this bike compared to the Cannondale Scalpel HT Carbon 3 with people who may not be on a budget in mind. This Bianchi Nitron – 9.2 – XT/SLX retails for $2,743, which is considerably cheaper than the Cannondale Scalpel HT Carbon 3.

And its components on the specifications are also mid to high-end configurations. For example, it has a RockShox SID fork, a Shimano XT RD-M8100 drivetrain, and a Shimano M6100 braking system. This configuration is suitable for riding on rugged terrain with drop-offs of less than 61cm.

But in terms of weight and steering, the Cannondale Scalpel HT Carbon 3 is a much more refined design. And the Cannondale Scalpel HT Carbon 3’s tires are incomparable.

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