Cannondale Scalpel 29er carbon 1

How’d we pick 'em? Our primary evaluation process took place over seven days in January on the trails and back roads outside Tucson, Arizona. We spent three days on mountain bikes on the rugged and rocky singletrack at

Scalpel 29er

Cannondale Scalpel 29er carbon 1    Photo: Courtesy of Cannondale Bicycles

Best For: Endurance racers. 

The Test: As the name suggests, this four-inch cross-country carbon racer is a highly tuned instrument for dissecting the competition. It was nearly the lightest mountain bike we tested, which left everyone gushing about “explosive” starts and “effortless” acceleration. But for a race bike, the Scalpel was surprisingly supple. The Lefty 29er Carbon XLR fork quieted trail chatter, and we loved the convenient bar-mount lockout lever and unflinching stiffness it delivered. The rear suspension got a little squirrelly on anything beyond choppy trails, but not unusually so for such a lightweight ride. 

The Verdict: Do the Breck Epic, sign up for a 12-hour race, or simply take it out and demoralize your buddies by dropping them repeatedly. 23.3 lbs

Brand: Cannondale $7,600
From Outside Magazine, May 2012 Get the Latest Issue