This week we look at the Cannondale team bikes of Team Renvale. Bit of a two for one special as we feature both the hardtail Cannondale F-Si Team and the full suspension Scalpel Team.
Cannondale F-Si Team
The previous Cannondale Flash 29er was one of my favourite hardtails. Light, with brilliantly sorted geometry and great handling it ticked all the boxes. For 2015 the Flash has seen some significant updates. Cannondale’s engineers have worked their magic, shortening the chainstays and headtube and making some revisions to the Lefty fork, these changes have made an already great bike even better. The changes to the geometry have noticeably improved handling, especially cornering, and the shorter headtube makes steep climbs a breeze. Finally, the Lefty is also stiffer which you really appreciate on off-camber rooty sections. All in all the F-Si is an absolute blast and very close to the perfect hardtail.
[caption id="attachment_12567" align="aligncenter" width="450"] The 2015 Cannondale Team F-Si, FAST and the best hardtail I’ve ever ridden![/caption]
Out of the box, the FS-i Team's spec is pretty much perfect: Top of the range Hi-Mod frame, Carbon Lefty, SRAM XX1 and Enve wheels, it doesn’t get much better! I’ve made a few small changes with bits from the Renvale Racing Team - CannondaleSpares.com's super sponsors.
Super light and super shiny. For the big races I’m using the top of the range Crank Bros Candy pedals with titanium hardware. Yum!
The team bikes come with amazing Enve XC rims, for the big races I’ll be using these Enve M50s which are even lighter... every gram counts when you’ve got 3,000+m of climbing!
Despite weighing 160g, the Tundra M1 is one of the comfiest saddles I’ve ever used. Perfect for a long day in the saddle.
For racing only, the ceramic bearings mean the wheels go round and round and round..!
Stages power meter… so you know just how hard you’re trying! Huge thanks to Saddleback for helping with the Stages.
Everyone knows it’s not the legs but the amount of green on your bike that makes you go faster (true fact)!
I’ve put in just over 2,500 miles on the F-Si now so everything’s nicely bedded in! Clearly it’s an amazing race bike but it’s equally at home as a trail bike. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve read “laterally stiff but vertically compliant” in bike reviews, but in this case it’s actually true – the super skinny seatstays and slender seatpost do a great job of smoothing the trail. If I was only allowed one bike, this would be it.
Cannondale Scalpel Team
My original plan was to have two identical F-Si hardtails, one to hammer round on and then another to keep nice for racing duties. However, once I’d ridden the Scalpel 29er there was a last-minute change of plan!
Wow, this thing really flies! Racers are notorious for counting the grams so in the past hardtails have often been their bike of choice. Full suspension bike have now narrowed the gap in terms of weight and the suspension systems are now so efficient that they are becoming the natural choice, especially when the going gets bumpy.
Equipment wise the Scalpel Team is pretty much identical to the F-Si. SRAM XX1 is fantastic – the single ring set-up lets you winch up the steepest climbs whilst the teeny-tiny 10 tooth sprocket allows you to crank up the speed on the flat. Enve rims are super stiff, so you literally point the bike where you want to go.
So how does it ride? Well first up its stiff! You only have to look at the size of the down tube and headtube junction to see that. When you put the hammer down the bike flies forward. There’s very little in the way of suspension movement under power so I haven’t needed the lockout but it’s handy for the road on the way to the trails.
Over rough, rocky and rooty sections the bike flies. Where you may be standing on a hardtail you’re pedalling like a loon. Downhills are sooo much fun, and uphills the rear suspension digs in beautifully, massively increasing traction.
So two amazing bikes, both are genuinely incredible. I’m mainly using the Scalpel for XC races and the Flash for everyday riding and most of the Euro-marathons I’m doing which often have lengthy fireroad climbs and then fast descents so a hardtail is just fine, plus it has two bottle cage mounts which are useful when you don’t have the luxury of a pit crew!
A big thanks to Cycling Sports Group for supporting our team with the incredible Cannondale bikes and ExtraUK for supplying the Fizik saddles and Crank Bros pedals. We certainly don’t have any excuses when it comes to equipment!
Huge thanks to Tim for this weeks Race Bike Focus; and for those of you wondering... A tad under 19lbs for the F-Si Team and around 23lbs for the Scalpel!
If you’d like your steed featuring on Race Bike Focus, then just send us a few details and a couple of good quality pics to info@UKXCNews.com