Dreaming of warmer weather and dry trails? Same here. While we wait for the upcoming season over here though, things are in full swing in South Africa with the conclusion of the 2020 Momentum Health Tankwa Trek presented by Biogen. The four day stage race looks like an awesome event for both amateurs and professionals alike. And for 2020, thanks to the Cannondale Factory Racing pro team, we might have gotten a look at the next generation of the Cannondale Scalpel. With the last major update for the frame in 2017, Cannondale could certainly be very close to launching a new version soon. Maybe this will be the 2020 Cannondale Scalpel? 2021?

Unfortunately for the Cannondale Factory Racing team of Manuel Fumic and Henrique Avancini, a major mechanical was suffered 12km from the finish by Fumic during stage one. Apparently a rock kicked up from the front tire destroyed his chainring and caused them to lose almost 30 minutes on the first stage. Stage two wasn’t much better when according to the Stage 2 racing video news, another mechanical for Fumic involved a broken derailleur hanger 25km from the finish.

In spite of winning both the third and fourth stages, it proved too big of a set back for the duo to come back from. But still, winning 50% of the stages (and all the stages without a mechanical) is pretty impressive.

Fortunately for us, that second mechanical meant a solid close up of the potential prototype Scalpel from Tankwa Trek’s excellent video coverage of the event (you can check out the highlights and race news from each stage on their facebook page here).

One of the biggest changes that we noticed from the (likely) new Cannondale Scalpel is a revised suspension linkage on the solid colored, logo-less frame. While the shock is still in roughly the same location as the current Scalpel, there is no longer a link hanging down from the top tube and connecting to the lower shock mount.

Instead, there is a new lower shock mount protruding from the seat tube, and what appears to be the potential for an all new pivot location at the chainstay. If you look closely at the screenshots above, you’ll see what looks like covers that could be meant to conceal the location of this pivot. Note that the black covers are found on both chainstays, left and right, and appear to be split on the underside like it was a rubber cover that snaps over the pivot. They’re too far back and too short to be part of the chainslap protection elements, and there also would be no point to having one on the non-drive stay if that was the case.

What’s underneath? Who knows. The bulk and shape seems to imply that it could just be a standard bearing pivot. Though Cannondale could just be fooling us and maybe there’s really some kind of advanced carbon pivot-less system underneath? (Spoiler alert, it is a new pivot-less chainstay).

Cannondale Scalpel Si now with Lefty Ocho fork XC race mountain bike

Compared to the current frame (above), there is definitely a revised main pivot, with the chainstay mounting inside of the seat tube rather than around it as shown. This would also indicate that the chainstays are now one solid piece, rather than separate halves on the current gen. This also seems to support the idea of a new pivot location since it would be a way for Cannondale to maintain or improve frame stiffness with the addition of a chainstay pivot location.

The cable routing looks to be slightly revised, and the frame in the screenshots has some interesting reliefs in the carbon under the water bottle mounts. Clearly, the Lefty is still in the picture, though the pros aren’t using the lower headset cup spacer. To be clear, they apparently weren’t using it on the previous generation, but it could mean that the geometry has been tweaked to eliminate it on this version.

What do you think? Is this the new Cannondale Scalpel? See anything we missed? Drop it in the comments below.

Thanks to Tobias for the tip! Feature image c. ZC Marketing Consulting for Tankwa Trek.


  1. My guess is crazy-flat chainstay sections to better mimic a Horst link without an actual pivot.
    I hope that’s not the cable path they intend. Definitely prefer it along the chainstay. But maybe not possible with the flattened section I think it has… interesting also how forward the upper pivot is.

    • From the video, it looks like the original routing is through the chainstay. My guess is that the shroud prevented them from rerouting the cable housing properly at the emergency aid station, which is why they had to zip tie new housing on it the way that they did, in order to get the riders back on course ASAP.

  2. Finally! I have been harping on Cannondale for years to abandon their drop link design. If they want to be competitive in the XC & Marathon racing they need to go the Titus Racer-X, Specilalized Epic, Momsen Vipa Ultra, Canyon Lux route with a seat mounted swing link. The swing link design stiffens the suspension in the initial part of the stroke by putting a portion of the seat stay force into the seat tube. As the seat mounted swing link pivots from 45 degrees to 90 degrees the amount of force going into the seat tube decreases as a function of sine. The swing link is initially stiff to resist pedalling forces but also allows the shock to be run with lower pressure and less lock out and making the suspension more supple in the last half of its travel.

  3. The frames they brought are preproduction. Not all feattures were complete or installed. Bike is only due for launch at the first world cup in May. They will use a more refined chassis at the Cape Epic. The team wanted to verify the suspension was doing what Cannondale wants it too and also test reliability for the Cape Epic.

  4. More interesting is that the chainstay assembly seems to be ^inserted^ into the mainframe, instead of surrounding it as on basically ever other suspension bike. Could be quite the weight savings and possible stiffness benefit, similar to how Scott uses the BB area to mount the shock on current Spark and Genius.

  5. All cables will mpunted directly to the frame by using the zip-tie?? 🙂

    BTW,frame shape looks very similar to previous versions of Specialized Epic fs frames.

  6. Any guess on the amount of travel? would be cool to see a 120mm front and back Scalpel, with a 120mm Ocho, but probably not happening.

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