Is Cannondale Trail 8 Worth Buying? [2022 Cannondale Trail 8 Review]

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We have reviewed the 2022 Cannondale Trail 8.

  • Price: $645
  • Frame: SmartForm C3 Alloy
  • Gear: 2×7
  • Tires: 29×2.25”
  • Type: Hardtail Mountain Bike

What we like about it: A 75mm travel fork with a wide microSHIFT M26L 2×7 drivetrain that puts every dollar you spend on the knife edge.

What we don’t like about it: The relatively small selection of paint colors.

Rating (4.6/5)

Cannondale Trail 8


For the beginner mountain biker on a tight budget, this Cannondale Trail 8 might be the one for you. You know, as trail riding enthusiasts, we always have high enough standards for trail bike performance. So when we first saw the $645 hardtail bike, we weren’t expecting much. But we didn’t expect to be wowed by its performance in the actual ride review.

Whether it’s the lightweight and durable SmartForm C3 Alloy frame or the microSHIFT M26L 2×7 drivetrain, it not only has flexible handling when riding off-road but also has relatively abundant shifting.

Yes, the Cannondale Trail 8 is affordable and the components have undeniable durability. But for tough off-road terrain, it is not enough to last you for long.

Next, we break down the climbs, gravel rides, key features, components, and specs of the Cannondale Trail 8 and other versions.

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Cannondale Trail 8 Climbing Review

Being a hardtail bike, it’s best at climbing. Based on our pre-knowledge of the bike, we didn’t choose a relatively extreme off-road route, but a more common country dirt trail. It’s an upward climbing trail, hidden among some trees and shrubs, with gravel and small dirt clods everywhere and some raised roots. Cannondale is a solid brand, and this bike lives up to its reputation.

On our actual climbs, it wasn’t as strenuous as we thought it would be, as the microSHIFT M26L 2×7 drivetrain gave us a wider range of speed options. While Shimano gearing is more powerful than Microshift, the idea of microSHIFT is to provide an affordable alternative to the big brands. This bike certainly achieves that goal. And with variable tire sizes (27.5” or 29”), both smaller and taller riders can have a better riding experience.

Of course, I prefer the more controllable 27.5” tires, which allow me to gain easier control when facing upward climbs. And the tightly designed center knob also allowed me to get a better grip on upward rides. I have to say that this bike’s ground saddle is relatively stiff. I hope it can be improved in this aspect for me who is looking for comfort.

Cannondale Trail 8 Descending Review

Being an inexpensive hardtail bike, I didn’t expect it to surprise me on the downhill terrain, but the facts made me decide to retract my opinion. The descent here had more turns, and the bike’s standard mountain bike head tube angle (68°) allowed me to race the wind when facing the descent. And the relatively short trail allowed me to be more responsive in the corners.

On bumpy high-speed descents, the seemingly short 75mm fork travel had me a little worried that I might take a bigger hit. However, on this gravel descent route, it was perfectly manageable and it could easily jump even when encountering some dirt puddles. And the relatively sensitive SR Suntour M3030 fork can effectively rebound compression, reducing vibration.

Even with what many consider mechanical disc brakes, on my ride it felt no different than what I experienced on my 2022 Trek Marlin 5 which has hydraulic disc brakes, equally responsive and powerful. And when I pressed the brakes in an emergency, the Tektro cable-actuated mechanical disc brake exerted a powerful braking force, bringing me to a steady and precise stop.

Main Features


Cannondale Trail 8

What you see is a simple body with grey and highlighter paint. Both of these paint colors have their characteristics. Secondly, the SmartForm C3 Alloy frame has a light enough body and is strong and durable.

Also, you may notice that the bike surprisingly leaves the rear brake cable exposed on the outside of the frame. Honestly, this is my complaint about it as well. Although there is a firm control at the top tube can make the body look relatively tidy. However, the chainstay and lift cables are neatly routed through StraightShot openings in the downtube, housing the important cables inside the tube and effectively increasing its longevity. And it also prevents too many control cables from being exposed to the outside which might cause tangling. In addition, its two water bottle mounting holes are designed to allow you to bring plenty of water for your long trips.


Concerning geometry, this Cannondale Trail 8 is designed to be mature, in line with the nature of mountain bikes, and to fit the characteristics of beginner mountain bikers.

First of all, the slack 68° head tube angle makes it easier for you to go downhill and you won’t feel safe enough by going too fast. Secondly, the steep 73.5° seat tube angle allows you to pedal more easily on actual rides, and you can stay comfortably upright even on long rides. It’s worth mentioning that the smallest frame is equipped with 27.5” tires, which allows smaller riders to get more agile handling. And the relatively larger frame is equipped with 29” tires, which allows taller riders to have faster speeds. In addition, the standard five-way height of 29.3cm (XS/SM) will put you in an effective position whether you’re facing the flat ground or raised hills, and won’t cut into the pedals due to changes in terrain.

All in all, the Cannondale Trail 8’s proper geometry allows beginners to both level up in the mountains and enjoy the ride on the commute.

Components and Specifications

MicroSHIFT M26L 2×7 Drivetrain

Cannondale Trail 8 MicroSHIFT M26L 2×7 Drivetrain

The Cannondale Trail 8 has a 2×7 shifting range. Some may think the 2× shifting is too complicated, but you’ll have more fun riding on trails and gravel roads with a simple push of the controller to shift instead.

Similarly, 14 different speeds enable you to choose the right gear ratio on different terrains. Therefore you can save a lot of energy and can hold on to the ride for a longer time.

In addition, the weight of only 294g does not put much burden on the ride at all, and the sturdy steel and composite construction make it last longer than similar products.

Tektro Cable-Actuated Mechanical Disc Brake

Cannondale Trail 8 Mechanical Disc Brake

The Cannondale Trail 8 uses mechanical disc brakes. Some people would prefer hydraulic discs and feel that mechanical discs are not strong enough for braking. But, to examine its braking ability, we deliberately found a time after the rain and went to a muddy trail in the nearby mountains for a ride test. The stable braking ability of this mechanical disc brake is a pleasant surprise on such slippery ground. Also, its relatively low maintenance cost is one of its features.

WTB Ranger Comp Tires

The material of this tire is rubber, which has relatively strong wear resistance. And the orderly arrangement of aramid beads on the tire can also grip the ground well without slipping in the face of sharp turns.

Secondly, the tubeless compatible design allows you to switch to a suitable vacuum tire. Not only does it have better puncture resistance, but it’s lighter, which is good enough for you to climb or descend on.

SR Suntour M3030 Front Fork

Cannondale Trail 8 SR Suntour M3030 Front Fork

The Cannondale Trail 8 is equipped with a fork that is a feature-rich, affordable front suspension option.

First of all, the alloy SR Suntour M3030 is more robust and it can accompany you for longer rides. Although some people think that its heavier weight may affect the efficiency of riding. But in our actual review, I didn’t feel that way.

The seemingly short 75mm of travel may cause you to worry about its damping effect. But for the novice mountain rider, this is enough to ensure that you get comfortable riding while gradually getting familiar with the bumps. So you can take on tougher terrain later on in the upgrade.

Other versions of the 2022 Cannondale Trail 8

In this review, we have examined the 2022 Cannondale Trail 8’s SmartForm C3 aluminum frame, microSHIFT M26L 2×7 drivetrain, Tektro cable-actuated mechanical disc brake, and SR Suntour M3030 shock fork, among other components. To give you a better idea, we have found different versions of the same series.

In the series 2022 Cannondale Trail 8, there are two different versions, 2022 Cannondale Trail 8 and 2022 Cannondale Trail women’s 8.

2022 Cannondale Trail 8

The 2022 Cannondale Trail 8 is exclusively for men, with a clean and handsome body, available in grey and Highlighter colors. It comes in five sizes, covering most people’s heights.

It uses Cannondale Stage 3 for the saddle, which has plenty of support. But for me, long rides can make my butt stiff. But for riders who focus on pedaling on the pedals, it’s a no-brainer.

2022 Cannondale Trail women’s 8

Cannondale Trail women's 8

This bike is for ladies and has an elegant and beautiful body. Compared to the straight top tube of the men’s bike, the top tube of the women’s bike has a little downward curve. This is a very thoughtful design.

Not only does it look more in line with the curves of women, but also easier for women to get on and off the car. And the car paint is also available in two colors, namely Sage Gray and Turquoise, with their style.

In addition, its saddle is made of Cannondale Stage 2 Women’s, which has soft padding and a relatively soft package with enough support.

On an actual ride, it’s so comfortable that I would not want to get off this bike.

What we like about it

  • The SmartForm C3 aluminum frame is durable and lightweight, making it relatively easy to lift.
  • The SR Suntour M3030 shock fork with 75mm travel guarantees you a comfortable riding experience.
  • The microSHIFT M26L 2×7 drivetrain with dual sprocket cranks and an abundance of interesting shifts allows you to better adapt to all kinds of terrain.
  • Tektro cable-actuated mechanical disc brakes are fast and responsive to keep you safe.
  • Affordable hardtail mountain bikes will satisfy you in terms of price.

What we don’t like about it

  • With only two colors, it may not meet the diverse needs of people.
  • Some people feel that fork travel is too short. (But as long as it is not in harsh terrain, the rest of the general terrain is also enough)


  • What is the frame material of Cannondale Trail 8?

The frame material of Cannondale Trail 8 is the SmartForm C3 aluminum frame.

  • What is the drivetrain of the Cannondale Trail 8?

The Cannondale Trail 8’s drivetrain is the microSHIFT M26L 2×7 drivetrain.

  • What is the braking system of Cannondale Trail 8?

The Cannondale Trail 8’s braking system is Tektro cable-actuated mechanical disc brakes.

Cannondale Trail 8 Sizing Chart

Size Rider Height
XS 4’6″ – 5’2″ 
SM 5’1″ – 5’4″ 
MD 5’3″ – 5’8″ 
LG 5’7″ – 6’0″ 
XL 6’0″ – 6’3″ 

Cannondale Trail 8 Specs


Frame SmartForm C3 Alloy, SAVE, 1-1/8″ headtube, post mount disc, StraightShot internal cable routing, dropper post compatible, BSA-73 BB Standard: BSA, 73mm, Threaded Colors: Grey; Highlighter
Fork SR Suntour M3030, 75mm, coil, 42mm offset (27.5″) 46mm offset (29″)
Bottom Bracket Sealed bearing cartridge, square taper
Headset Semi-Integrated, 1-1/8″
Stem 6061 Alloy, 31.8, 8°
Handlebar 6061 Alloy Riser, 31.8mm, 25mm rise, 700mm
Saddle Cannondale Stage 3
Seatpost Cannondale 3, 6061 Alloy, 31.6 x 350mm (XS – SM), 400mm (MD-XL)
Pedals Cannondale Platform
Grips Cannondale Dual-Density


Rear Derailleur microSHIFT M26L
Front Derailleur microSHIFT Dual Pull Compact, Band Clamp
Crank Prowheel, 36/22
Shifters microSHIFT, 7-speed
Cassette Sunrace, 11-34, 7-speed
Chain KMC Z7, 7-speed
Brakes Tektro cable-actuated disc, 160/160mm rotors
Brake Levers Tektro


Rims WTB SX19, 32h
Spokes Stainless Steel, 14g
Front Hub Formula, QR
Rear Hub Formula QR
Tires WTB Ranger Comp, 29×2.25″ (27.5×2.25″ – XS, SM), DNA Compound


Comparison Table

Bicycles Price Drivetrain Brakes Front Fork TravelClick view
2023 Trek Marlin 5 Gen 2$739 2×8 Tektro HD-M275 hydraulic disc 100mm Click View
2023 Marin Wildcat Trail 2 $599 3×8 Hydraulic Disc 100mm Click View
Giant Talon 2 $750 1×9 Tektro HDC M275, hydraulic, Tektro rotors [F]180mm, [R]160mm 80mm Click View
Liv Tempt 3 $799 2×8 Tektro HDC TKD 149, hydraulic, Tektro rotors [F]180mm, [R]160mm 80mm (XS) 100mm(S) Click View

2022 Cannondale Trail 8 vs 2023 Trek Marlin 5 Gen 2

2023 Trek Marlin 5 Gen 2

The Trek Marlin 5 Gen 2 and Cannondale Trail 8 are both hardtail bikes with aluminum frames. The former is priced at $739.99 while the latter is only $645. Moreover, the Cannondale Trail 8’s tires are 0.05″ wider than the former. The Cannondale Trail 8 has 0.05″ wider tires, which makes it more stable in real-world riding experience.

Second, the Trek Marlin 5 Gen 2 has a 2×8 drivetrain, two more speeds than the Cannondale Trail 8’s 2×7. If you are new to off-roading, the 2×7 speed range is perfectly adequate.

If you notice the brakes, you will notice that the Trek Marlin 5 Gen 2 uses Tektro HD-M275 hydraulic discs. While the hydraulic disc is a more advanced brake and sensitive in terms of braking performance, there is no denying that it can be relatively expensive in terms of price and subsequent maintenance.

For newcomers on a lower budget and just for transition, the Cannondale Trail 8’s mechanical disc brakes are a worthwhile option both in terms of braking performance and subsequent maintenance costs.

learn more:Is Trek Marlin 5 Worth Buying? [Trek Marlin 5 Review]-2023

2022 Cannondale Trail 8 vs 2023 Marin Wildcat Trail 2

2023 Marin Wildcat Trail 2

The 2023 Marin Wildcat Trail 2 is designed for women, priced at $599, with a slightly downward-facing top tube for easy boarding and alighting. The two paint colors are also more in line with most women’s aesthetics.

The Cannondale Trail 8 has a relatively high standover height, but it also takes into account a wider range of rider heights. The smaller size has more flexible 27.5” tires, while the larger size uses more efficient 29” tires. Regardless of your height, you will always be able to choose the right bike for you.

Although both bikes are aluminum frames, the 2023 Marin Wildcat Trail 2 uses a Series 1 6061 Aluminum frame, while the Cannondale Trail 8 uses a SmartForm C3 Alloy frame. So the more advanced technology makes the SmartForm C3 Alloy cheaper and longer lasting.

Learn more : Is 2023 Marin Bolinas Ridge 1 A Perfect Selection? – [2023 Marin Bolinas Ridge 1 Review]

2022 Cannondale Trail 8 vs 2022 Giant Talon 2

2022 Giant Talon 2

The body is made of Giant Talon 2 in ALUXX-Grade Aluminum, a material that is both strong and lightweight, as is the SmartForm C3 Alloy of the Cannondale Trail 8.

If you’re looking for a quicker and easier shift, the Giant Talon 2 with its microSHIFT Advent M6195M 1×9 drivetrain might be the one for you. Of course, if you’re looking for more speed, you can go with the Cannondale Trail 8, which has a wider range of gears.

In addition, the 2022 Giant Talon 2 was measured at an average speed of 24 mph, while the Cannondale Trail 8 was faster at an average speed of 28 mph. If you want more speed, you can try the Cannondale Trail 8.

2022 Cannondale Trail 8 vs 2022 Liv Tempt 3

2022 Liv Tempt 3

The 2022 Liv Tempt 3 is a hardtail bike that comes in two paint colors and retails for $799. The Cannondale Trail 8 is considerably more affordable in comparison.

If you notice the tires, you will see that the 2022 Liv Tempt 3 has Kenda Booster tires available in two sizes. The tires also have a tread pattern that increases friction. But the Cannondale Trail 8’s WTB Ranger Comp tires are also available in two sizes, and at 2.25″ wide they are more stable and have more grip than the former.

The 2022 Liv Tempt 3 saddle Liv Sport is quite comfortable to use. But in real-world riding, I felt that the Cannondale Trail 8 saddle Cannondale Stage 3 was superior. In addition, during the actual ride, I noticed that the Cannondale Trail 8 has a non-slip pattern on the Cannondale Dual-Density grip. This design not only feels more comfortable to hold but also makes it easier for you to control your bike.

In case, the above comments are helpful to you, please remember to share the subscription. Have a great day!

Learn more : Is Liv Tempt 2 The Perfect Choice? – [Liv Tempt 2 Review]

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