Cannondale's Scalpel HT Carbon 4 Is XC Goodness on a Budget: Start Taking Home Gold Medals

Scalpel HT Carbon 4 10 photos
Photo: Cannondale
Scalpel HT Carbon 4Scalpel HT Carbon 4 BrakesScalpel HT Carbon 4 CockpitScalpel HT Carbon 4 CranksetScalpel HT Carbon 4 DrivetrainScalpel HT Carbon 4 (Color Option)Scalpel HT Carbon 4 CockpitScalpel HT Carbon 4Scalpel HT Carbon 4
"There I was, minding my own business, when all of a sudden, I heard a 'Whoo hoo!' and before I knew it, I had a face full of mud, and that rider was gone. Lesson learned, I tell ya; don't take a siesta by a muddy road." "What was he riding?" "I don't even know how to describe it. It looked like a gravel bike but had suspension and fat knobby tires. I think it was one of them cross-country thingies."
Actually, yes, Cannondale's Scalpel HT Carbon 4 is a cross-country machine, but there's so much going on with this one that I felt obliged to bring it to your attention. To kick things off, this carbon two-wheeler you see is selling for no more than $2,225 (€2,300 at current exchange rates), which should be reason enough to continue reading.

Ok, so this bicycle is built out of carbon. While that's neat and all, there is more to the HT than meets the eye. Part of the story has to do with the shaping of said carbon. By "sculpting" the frame with specific "flex zones," Cannondale created a two-wheeler that absorbs trail chatter like a champ, in the process, helping the rider experience less fatigue and helping offer a smoother adventure.

Then there's the way this bike sits or the geometry. To help cyclists stay in control and centered on the bike, the manufacturer has the seat tube angle set between 73 degrees and 75, depending on the bike's size. Then there's the head tube, which sits at 67 degrees, so rather slack. What does this mean for riders? Smooth fluid, almost surf-like descents, and hard-hitting ascensions.

Scalpel HT Carbon 4
Photo: Cannondale
All that's supported by a RockShox SID SL fork with 100 mm (3.9 in) of travel. Because this fork includes remote lockout, if you run into any asphalt along the course of your rides, you'll easily be able to direct all of your body's energy into that rear wheel, losing none to unwanted compression. Versatility is a side effect of a lockout function.

Personally, I've been covering bicycles for some time, and with the sort of carbon frame and fork you find as standard equipment, the value of this machine should already be near the price that Cannondale is asking. However, the rest of this bugger brings some added value too.

For example, the drivetrain is a Shimano Deore tuned to a 1x12-speed gearing. To offer an adequate shifting range, a 10-51T cassette is used. Word of advice, if you end up grabbing an HT from a local dealership, check the drivetrain as some shops change some of these components without warning, incurring extra costs and, sometimes, less value. Hydraulic brakes and Schwalbe tires complete this budget-friendly bike.

Scalpel HT Carbon 4 \(Color Option\)
Photo: Cannondale
As I explored more of the HT, it soon became evident that this isn't the sort of bicycle you take to the store; it's designed to be taken out on trials, ridden across finish lines, and used to beat your existing lap times. No fanny packs, cargo racks, or sleeping under the stars with this one. The only added features you should vouch for are a couple of water bottle cages.

If you're to consider Cannondale's history, what this bike is for is even more evident. Since 1971, this manufacturer has been shaping the cycling world through innovation, "creativity," and a will to change the norm. Today, they continue to do so and are seen carrying athletes across finish lines no matter the race style and all that's poured into the Scalpel HT Carbon 4. Just a little something-something to consider if you're looking to get your hands on a rocking XC bike for low bucks.
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About the author: Cristian Curmei
Cristian Curmei profile photo

A bit of a nomad at heart (being born in Europe and raised in several places in the USA), Cristian is enamored with travel trailers, campers and bikes. He also tests and writes about urban means of transportation like scooters, mopeds and e-bikes (when he's not busy hosting our video stories and guides).
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