Is the Cannondale Trail SE 2 Worth Buying? [Cannondale Trail 2 Review]

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Cannondale Trail SE 2

  • Price: $1850
  • Suspension: 120mm (front)
  • Tires: 29×2.5″(Front), 29×2.3″(Rear)
  • Gears: 1 x 12
  • What we like: Balanced performance and superb handling for trail and mountain riding
  • What we don’t: Too balanced, no standout features
  • Rating: (4.6/5)
Cannondale Trail SE 2
Cannondale Trail SE 2

The Cannondale Trail SE 2 is the higher end mountain bike in the Cannondale Trail series.

It’s very good all-around, but it doesn’t have a lot of standout features. It doesn’t have a lot of outstanding features, but for riders who like it, they won’t let that stop them from buying it.

The Cannondale Trail 2 is our medium ranking in Best Mountain Bikes Under $2000, and we’ll be comparing the Cannondale Trail SE 2’s descent and climbing performance, key features, functions, and specs, and with other mountain bikes to see if the Cannondale Trail SE 2 is worth buying.


The higher-priced Cannondale Trail 2 doesn’t compromise much in terms of configuration. Meaning it’s not a hardtail mountain bike that performs poorly on the descent.

It has an SRAM SX Eagle 12-speed drivetrain with a minimum gearing of 11T for good balance and stability when descending.

It also has a good fork setup: Rock Shox 35 Silver R.51 mm offset, not a small number, but still able to perform well in rough descending terrain.

The 29-inch wheels are capable of fast descents, and the front wheel is 2.5 inches wide, which is a good width to keep the bike stable.

The hydraulic disc brakes with Shimano MT410 have a strong clamping force, and the front discs are 180mm wide, with the strong braking power to get through moderate rocks or tree roots.

The Cannondale Trail SE 2 is well suited for moderately technical descents, and while it looks like it has a 120mm fork, it’s only as good as its ceiling due to its high-quality fork.

What I was also pleased with the Trail 2’s descending performance was its, TranzX Dropper, which at 130mm was more than capable of withstanding the rough terrain of gravel and roots on the descent.

Although the dissatisfaction is that the TranzX Dropper has a little bit of stagnation that is not very noticeable, but still satisfied with the performance of such a descent.


The Cannondale Trail SE 2 has a short rear dropout fork and a steeper head tube angle, which is the secret to increased climbing traction and nimble handling.

This is also the terrain where we are very happy with the Cannondale Trail 2.

Steep climbs require both enough traction from the tires, while its front wheel is 2.5 inches and the rear wheel is only 2.3 inches though, which is guaranteed to have enough handling. Combining the two characteristics, this is what makes it too balanced.

Comparing it to a mountain bike with 2.5-inch tires on the front wheel, the speed drops a bit when climbing.

In addition, we have a SRAM SX Eagle drivetrain that offers a large range of gears and doesn’t hinder it in the slightest on steep climbs.

Not quite light weight but with front and rear Maxxis vacuum tires, the steep climbs are very smooth and still feel lacking in passion.

Long climbs don’t leave me feeling fatigued, which is also due to its geometric design and the right mix of components.

All in all, we think the Cannondale Trail SE 2 is suitable for long non-steep climbs.

General Terrain

General trails or around town, the Cannondale Trail SE 2 will give you a confident and fun riding experience.

Smooth trails are where it shows its charm, thanks to the different widths of the front and rear tires, which are fast and smooth.

With strong grip and traction tires and 12-speed size, responsive shock forks, and a lift seat post to work with if you hit bumpy gravel, it will be a comfortable trip.

We think of it as a mountain bike where XC and cross-country are more blurred, as it’s designed to blaze paths on woodland trails filled with rocks and roots.

But again the geometry has some similarities to a cross-country mountain bike. This of course creates the reason why its components including features are not obvious.

Learn more: Is the Cannondale Trail 4 Worth Buying? [Cannondale Trail 4 Review]

Main Features


Cannondale Trail SE 2 Has SmartForm C2 alloy construction
Cannondale Trail SE 2 Has SmartForm C2 alloy construction

The model of the Cannondale Trail SE 2 is available in Emerald paint color only, which seems to be more in line with riders who prefer a darker paint scheme.

Cannondale has always been known for building strong frames, so the Cannondale Trail SE 2 carries on that trait with the SmartForm C2 alloy construction, featuring a high-performance tube shape, weight-saving butt joints, and seamless double welds to provide a lightweight, durable and lively frame.

In addition, the clean internal alignment does not make the frame look cluttered. Reinforced downtube for extended life. The aluminum frame adds weight to the body, but it is also the most suitable and cost-effective manufacturing material.

The rear triangle of the frame also has a hidden design, the SAVE micro suspension, which still provides a smooth, more controlled ride when descending or when the terrain gets bad.

The frame design is somewhat traditional, which is in keeping with Cannondale’s design style, which doesn’t surprise me.


We did mention above that it’s a cross-country mountain bike that is a combined version of a forest road and trail. But as we consult the manual, it’s still defined on the off-road end of the spectrum.

The progressive frame design is a fusion of the latest Trail-ready geometry and a dropped rear upper fork, which not only streamlines the look, but also improves ride quality.

The steeper head tube angle and seat tube angle will allow you to descend without fatigue and with great confidence on rough climbs, and it won’t be too hard to maintain a comfortable riding position for flat terrain.

So its geometric design still takes into account the need to ride in a variety of terrains. It’s also very versatile.

Components and Specifications

SRAM SX Eagle Drivetrain

Cannondale Trail SE 2 Drivetrain
SRAM SX Eagle Drivetrain

At the same price point the Cannondale Trail SE 2 doesn’t shrink on the core component of the drivetrain and uses the SRAM SX Eagle drivetrain which is both more expensive and higher performing.

With 12 speeds, it won’t leave the rider feeling a lack of gearing. It requires a bit of mechanical knowledge and a bit of adjustment just after getting started so it doesn’t break easily.

In the plethora of comments about this little component, the misconception of many newbies is still that it needs no adjustment, and that leads to problems at the beginning of the ride. Of course, this is not the rider’s problem, and it has to do with the full range of SRAM products.

Certainly, we are still satisfied that the Trail SE 2 has such a good drivetrain (relative to the price point) that provides high performance drivetrain action on steep climbs and fast paced descents.

Rock Shox 35 Silver R Fork

Cannondale Trail SE 2's Rock Shox 35 Silver R Fork
Cannondale Trail SE 2’s Rock Shox 35 Silver R Fork

While many riders prefer a shock fork with 140mm of travel to be able to participate in more aggressive off-road racing, the Cannondale Trail 2 comes with a Rock Shox 35 Silver R Fork with 120mm of travel, which isn’t too bad.

It’s not a race-grade mountain bike, so a 120mm performance fork is far more important to these riders than a fork with 140mm of travel but made to be downgraded.

The Rock Shox 35 Silver R Fork has plenty of sensitivity and sharp looks, and is an air fork with a perfect rebound damping design, perfect for rough trails and singletrack.

Shimano MT410 hydraulic disc

Shimano MT410 hydraulic disc brakes, which performed very well throughout our testing.

The front rotors are 180mm and provide reliable braking power during descents without much noise, it’s a good mix of components and we don’t have many complaints about such components.

Maxxis Tires

The Cannondale Trail 2 uses different widths for its front and rear tires.

This is to ensure more maneuverability on rough trails. The 29-inch tires provide fast-rolling ability and relatively dense knobs to maintain a strong grip even in slippery terrain.

The width of the rear tire is 2.3 inches, the width necessary for fast off-road, which can effectively improve the speed of riding.

The front tire, on the other hand, is 2.5 inches, so there is no fuzziness when it comes in contact with roots and gravel.

And it is a vacuum tire with reduced weight, which makes the overall body weight hinder fast cross-country and enjoy the ride very well.

TranzX Dropper

Cannondale Trail SE 2's TranzX Dropper
Cannondale Trail SE 2’s TranzX Dropper

The full range of 130mm travel TranzX Dropper is an important component in providing a smooth and comfortable ride. It is also effective in absorbing the impact of the ground in bumpy terrain.

What we like about it

  • Premium SRAM SX Eagle components provide years of hassle-free performance
  • Fast-rolling and grippy tires that are perfect for trails and around town
  • Sturdy progressive frame design enhances ride quality
  • Shimano MT410 hydraulic disc brakes provide reliable braking power
  • Full range of TranzX Dropper for more rider confidence in descending and climbing
  • Cannondale offers stock pedals, no need to purchase separately

What we don’t like about it

  • Front fork doesn’t lock
  • Body weight is not light


  • How much does the Cannondale Trail 2 weight?

33 lbs.

  • What is the widest 29 inch tire that can fit on the front and rear of the Cannondale Trail 2?

At the rear, the widest tire this bike can fit is 2.4 inches. The front tires cannot exceed 2.5 inches in width.

  • What frame sizes does the Cannondale Trail 2 come in and what height rider does it fit?
Height Range4’6″-5’2″5’1″- 5’4″5’4″- 5’8″5’7″- 6’0″6’0″- 6’3″

Cannondale Se 2 Specs


FrameAll-New, Smartform C2 Alloy, SAVE dropped seatstays, tapered headtube, post mount disc, StraightShot internal cable routing, dropper post compatible BSA 73, 12mm thru axle, Boost 148
ForkRock Shox 35 Silver R, 120mm, 15×110 thru-axle, 51mm offset
HeadsetIntegrated Sealed Bearing, Tapered


RimsWTB STX i25 TCS, 32h, tubeless ready
Front HubShimano MT400, 15x110mm thru-axle
Rear HubShimano MT400 12×148
SpokesStainless Steel, 14g
Tires(F) Maxxis Minion DHF, 29 x 2.5” Exo Casing, Tubeless Ready / (R) Maxxis High Roller II, 29 x 2.3″, EXO casing, tubeless ready
Tire Size2.5
Wheel Size29
Front TireMaxxis Minion DHF 29 x 2.5” Exo Casing, Tubeless Ready
Rear TireMaxxis High Roller II, 29 x 2.3″, EXO casing, tubeless ready


Rear DerailleurSRAM SX Eagle
ShiftersSRAM SX Eagle, 12-speed
ChainSRAM SX Eagle, 12-speed
CrankSRAM SX Eagle Power Spline, 30T
Rear CogsSRAM SX Eagle, 11-50, 12-speed
Bottom BracketTruvativ Power Spline


HandlebarFSA Alloy Riser, 15mm rise, 760mm
StemCannondale 3, 6061 Alloy, 31.8, 0°
GripsFabric FunGuy
SaddleCannondale Ergo XC
SeatpostTranzX Dropper, 31.6, Internal Routing, 100mm (S), 120mm (M – XL)


BrakesTRP Slate G4 4 Piston hydraulic disc, 180/160mm rotors
Brake LeversTRP hydraulic disc


Wheel SensorCannondale Wheel Sensor

Comparison Table

Marin Rift Zone 27.5 1$1899130mm (front) 120mm (rear)27.5×2.3″Shimano Deore, 11-SpeedCLICK VIEW
Trek Roscoe 7$1729.99140mm27.5 or 29×2.6”Shimano Deore, 12 speedCLICK VIEW
Ragley Mmmbop Hardtail Bike$1699.99150mm(front)27.5×2.5”Shimano SLX, 12-SpeedCLICK VIEW
IBIS Ripmo AF GX$4,557160mm (front) 147mm (rear)29×2.5”SRAM GX Eagle, 12 speedCLICK VIEW


Marin Rift Zone 27.5 1 vs Cannondale Trail SE 2

Marin Rift Zone 27.5 1
Marin Rift Zone 27.5 1

The Marin Rift Zone 27.5 1 has a strong descending performance, which is why it is a full-suspension trail mountain bike.

When the price is similar, hardtail mountain bikes usually have very good components. Whereas a full-suspension mountain bike will have quite a bit of drop in some components.

The first thing we see is its drivetrain. The Marin Rift Zone 27.5 1 uses a Shimano Deore, 11-Speed drivetrain, which has a smaller gear range than the Cannondale Trail SE 2 and has a significant difference in service life and drivetrain efficiency, but that doesn’t mean the Marin Rift Zone 27.5 1 will not be enough to use.

Also, the Marin Rift Zone 27.5 1 does not have a dropper, while the Cannondale Trail SE 2 comes with a 130mm TranzX Dropper.

In our opinion the Marin Rift Zone 27.5 1 is a great choice if you can live with some downgraded components and can accept the smooth trail experience that comes with the Marin Rift Zone 27.5 1 full shock.

But the Cannondale Trail SE 2 has a very good balance of performance, and if you prefer trails or trail riding around town, the Cannondale Trail SE 2 would be a better choice.

Learn more: Is Marin Rift Zone 27.5 1 Worth Buying? [Marin Rift Zone 1 Review]

Trek Roscoe 7 vs Cannondale Trail SE 2

Trek Roscoe 7
Trek Roscoe 7

The Trek Roscoe 7 and Cannondale Trail SE 2 are similarly priced, but the Trek Roscoe 7 is the latest model with a very significant upgrade.

The Trek Roscoe 7 comes with a 140mm RockShox Recon fork with lockout, and with rebound and less offset, it will be more stable on descents or flat terrain.

But it will be seen that the Trek Roscoe 7 is not as high in the drivetrain as the Cannondale Trail SE 2, still a more suitable Shimano Deore 12-speed.

On top of that are the brakes it needs to be upgraded with the lower-end Shimano MT200, and weaker braking power is the downside of the Trek Roscoe 7 compared to the Cannondale Trail SE 2.

The Trek Roscoe 7, which accentuates the steep descending features and diminishes some of the climbing performance, is where aggressive trail riders struggle.

We think the Cannondale Trail SE 2 is overbalanced, while the Trek Roscoe 7 needs some upgrades to accommodate more aggressive trail riding.

Learn more: Is Trek Roscoe 7 Worth Buying? [Trek Roscoe 7 Review]

Ragley Mmmbop Hardtail Bike vs Cannondale Trail 2

Ragley Mmmbop Hardtail Bike
Ragley Mmmbop Hardtail Bike

The more affordable Ragley Mmmbop is a strong competitor to the Cannondale Trail 2.

The Ragley Mmmbop is more modern in terms of geometry, with a very loose head tube angle and a steeper seat tube angle for aggressive trail riding.

The 150mm-travel Marzocchi Bomber Z2 fork is strong enough to stand up to race trail bikes, and the 27.5×2.5-inch Maxxis tires have decent traction.

But the Ragley Mmmbop’s biggest compromise comes in its drivetrain, the Shimano Deore 1X11 drivetrain, which limits its performance in endurance racing.

The Cannondale Trail 2 is a bit too quiet compared to the Ragley Mmmbop.

The Ragley Mmmbop is perfect for the budget-minded and ambitious trail rider.

Learn more: Is Ragley Mmmbop Worth Buying? [Ragley Mmmbop Review]

IBIS Ripmo AF GX vs Cannondale Trail 2


The IBIS Ripmo AF GX is the bike that crushes the Cannondale Trail 2 not only in terms of price but also in terms of performance.

This is the trail bike for the more budget minded rider.

The IBIS Ripmo AF GX comes with a complete SRAM GX Eagle 1X12 speed drivetrain, a tough damping 160mm travel DVO Onyx D1 Fork, 147mm DVO Topaz D3 Air, SRAM Centerline 6-bolt hydraulic disc brakes, and KS Rage-i Dropper.

All of these top-of-the-line components provide choppy, fast trail rides.

If you compare the Cannondale Trail 2 to a hound dog, the IBIS Ripmo AF GX will allow you to ride it like a bull.

Of course, this is all based on the fact that the IBIS Ripmo AF GX has a relatively high price tag. Even though it is considered one of the better deals among competition trail bikes.

Final Verdict (4.5/5)

Through our detailed review, we see a Cannondale Trail SE 2 that focuses on all components and balances performance.

The Cannondale Trail SE 2 doesn’t try to downgrade some components to achieve outstanding features, which is the same as our close friend in general, who doesn’t stand out too much, but provides a very solid help when you wish to do something.

The Cannondale Trail SE 2 is a mountain bike that can be a “friend”. It’s also a great mountain bike to buy. Our final rating is 4.5/5.

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