2012 scalpel ultimate 29er
2012 scalpel ultimate 29er

Still unlisted on the Cannondale website is this ridiculously stealth Scalpel ULTIMATE 29er.  The guys at  Freshbikes debuted one of the first Scalpel 29 complete builds back a few months ago here, and now have their hands on one of the few Ultimate models available globally.  First covered here, this bike has finally hit showroom floors.  Check out a few detail shots and some component highlights after the break.

For the last few years Cannondale has had an “Ultimate” model topping off the range for a few of their bicycle categories; the latest edition to this premier collection is the Scalpel Ultimate 29er.  At an impressive 21.2lbs(9.61kg) with inner tubes, this setup is extremely light for a stock build.  Removing the tubes and adding sealant to this rig could easily bring it to the 20-20.5lb mark.  The mountain bike product management team from Cannondale really went all out for this one.  Differences between the Ultimate model and the Scalpel 1 are primarily component spec changes, but there is a very small frame detail that can make a significant impact.

Scalpel Ultimate 29er frame close up
Scalpel Ultimate 29er frame close up

As you can see, the paint job for this bike is quite minimalist.  Now that bike frames are getting lighter and lighter, paint jobs seem to be making a significant impact on the overall weight of the finished product.  The devil is always in the details, and this setup is no exception.  Removing the white paint seen on the Scalpel 1 model, and keeping with extremely simple and streamlined decals saves precious grams throughout the frame.


scalpel ultimate 29er drivetrain and rear wheel
scalpel ultimate 29er drivetrain and rear wheel

The component group on this setup is top range front to back.  Shimano XTR components take over most of the build on this bike, with the addition of a Cannondale SI SL Hollowgram crank arm set.  The spider, chainrings, and front derailleur all happen to be XX.  The Ultimate build also comes with this slick tubeless carbon fiber wheelset.  Enve XC carbon rims, white DT aerolite spokes, DT 240 rear hub, and a white Cannondale lefty front hub make up the wheelset.


Scalpel Ultimate 29er front end
Scalpel Ultimate 29er front end

Additional spec changes from the Scalpel 1 model up to the Ultimate version also include this carbon flat bar from Enve.  Not shown here are a set of extremely light foam grips from Cannondale.


Scalpel Ultimate 29er seatpost & saddle
Scalpel Ultimate 29er seatpost & saddle


Additional upgrades include a carbon Fizik seatpost, and a matching full carbon Tundra 00 saddle.  Suspension remains the same on this model as on the Scalepel 1, with a Lefty XLR carbon up front and a Fox RP23 in the rear.  At an initial price of $11,000 this bike isn’t exactly the most inexpensive bike available, but it would be extremely difficult to custom-build a similar setup for less.  Considering the complete package, this bike is worth the 5 digit price tag.


  1. Whoa, that is a pretty sweet bike but for 11k I want all XTR and non of this mixing and matching with Sram stuff. They need make a XTR spider and rings for the Si cranks and this bike would be really dialed. That complaint aside, very slick and I would love to have one but i guess I will need to save my pennies.

  2. I think the author of this article needs to learn how much weight can be saved in a tubeless conversion. It’s not going to be a pound unless you’re removing tubes that weigh a half pound each.

    Is it news that omitting paint saves weight?

  3. Aside from the white wheels, scary thin saddle, I think it’s a pretty nice looking bike. The flat black and down-played logos are nice. I mean with a lefty, who needs logos anyway, you know exactly what it is!

  4. The wheelset is surely top notch….but no kashima shock? Would make it a 1×10 also. Will opt for an Sworks instead for less $$$$ but that’s just me.

  5. lighter saddle, handlebars, rotors, and seatpost are def a must on this bike…and lastly add some Maxxis Ikons KABOOM!!! Then we have a nice bike….

  6. Alas…as I understand the Cannondale days are just about over, good riddance…Dorrell is asking C-dale dealers to also carry Schwinn and GT if they want to have access to their whole line. Several Cannondale shops in my area are dropping them due to this and complete lack of availability. Another one bites the dust

  7. @craigsj,
    standard 29er tubes ARE well over 200g each. going with a scoop and a bit extra of stans, you are actually losing about a pound. it surprised me, id never have guessed it was that much until i weighed bikes before n after, then i weighed the tubes…
    funny thing, it actually is supplied with the double setup AND with a 104bcd spider, single ring, and MRP low-direct mount guide.
    i cant speak for all cannondale shops, but nobody ever asked us to carry schwinn or gt. not that we would. and frankly, the products have only gotten better. caad10, evo, jekyll, fresher graphics, better colors, etc..

  8. I love when a company doesn’t dumb down an awesome frame with in-house wheels/cockpit. How many people would actually own any of that Roval or Bontrager crap if it didn’t come stock on a high-end builds? Well done C-dale for using Enve and Fi’zi:k on this build!

  9. Reguarding wheel weight and tubeless conversions, here’s some interesting data I’ve weighed myself:

    Specialized 29er tubes: 0.44lbs each
    2 full scoops of Stans: 0.18lbs

    So, ditching (Specialized) tubes you drop 0.88lbs, adding some Stans you gain 0.36lbs, so a net loss of 0.52lbs. This doesn’t include adding a tubeless valve or any tape/rimstrip changes that are required.

  10. Interesting how after years of chronic failure covered up with Marketing BS the latest generation Scalpel finally has a lower pivot….I guess Zero Pivot really did not work that well after all?

  11. Wow, the 58 year old doctor who could actually afford this bike is going to crush it on his weekend stomp throughout his gated community.

    Cannondale-making bikes for the 1%, feel it!

  12. Straw Sram,

    Get used to it. Check out the prices for specialized high end stuff (over 10k too).
    Unless you’re a pro or hedge fund manager, they’re basically “dream bikes” for us.

  13. @zack
    “I love when a company doesn’t dumb down an awesome frame with in-house wheels/cockpit. ”

    But an in-house “fork” is totally cool?

  14. @off-roadie
    that in house fork is/was put after market on plenty of bikes
    see one regularly in the shop on an On-One frame
    it is a super light fork after all, just watch the NAHBS coverage here you will see a few of them from the weight weenies
    you also missed the crank is Cannondale too BTW

  15. I was just noting that zack was very pleased about the lack of in-house stuff when this bike has just as much as any other stock bike. If you like their stuff, great.

  16. I personally think that the Cannondale branded fork and cranks are a major selling point for this bike. Saves me the trouble of selling a traditional fork and adding a Lefty myself!

  17. It speaks pretty well for this bike that the guy who made it happen won the Brek Epic last summer. I have ridden the lesser version of this bike and it totally changed my mind about what a 29er dualie could be.

    11G is steep for sure. The reason they make this bike is a perceived market demand. Specialized and others did a 10G+ bike 1st. These guys are just doing there own version.

  18. ok, just saw the XTR cassette, trade for a XX and your even lighter, about 68 grams if I recall correctly. Point being, this bike stock is already lighter then a S-Works epic and with a few changes, well, sub 20lbs seems like a very realistic number

  19. i already bought and resold this bike. too much like a all mountain/trail bike than a xc bike. it was slow and un-responsive. the head tube angle felt too slack as well.

    the single pivot was like taking a step backwards in time, but not in a good way. cannondale failed with this frame. they could have done soo much as an innovative company, but to wait this long in the 29er field and release a old tech, old riding bike for $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ is not very good business on their part.

  20. just a guy,

    Big wheels + FS…..of course, it’s going to be slower and less responsive than a HT 26 bike.
    I think you need to compare your previous scalpel w/ other brand FS 29ers. Probably, the same feel.

  21. Looks like a nice race day bike. Saw a few from the factory team last yer at Leadville. Crazy to see my cannondale dealer selling schwin and gt now. With that being said, the lower end cannondale models seems more affordable this year so far. Got my new flash 29er quickly compared to the old days ofnwaiting months.

  22. Impressive!
    I would only replace the brakes with Formula R1Rs and the shock with a DT XRCarbon. That would save some good 200g and make the ride much sweeter for XCM purposes.

  23. I just rode the Scalpel 29er carbon 1 today and let me tell you that I’m absolutely in love!! That said, I’m definitely more of an a/m or trail rider, but I was still able to ride this bike as hard as anything and it gave it right back. I have never climbed so good or fast either. And about the whole Dorel crap, I work for one of the top 3 C’Dale dealers in the business and we have never considered carrying Schwinn or GT. Dorel has EXTREMELY little to do with the business end of C’Dale and NOTHING to do with their building process. Yes, they moved overseas, but they still demand the same quality standards and their warranty will always be top-notch. You don’t see a lot of advertising from them, but they spent 3x more on R&D last year than Trek and Specialized combined. Cannondale has set the standard for MTB’ing for many years and they will be at the front of the pack for many, many more…

  24. NO need for YOU to like the Lefty. I’ve been riding them for 12 years and WON’T own a bike without one. Keep riding your HEAVY, FLEXY forks……doesn’t bother me at all that people ride them….I wonder why it bothers so many folks to see a Lefty…hmmm…… Some like Specialized, Trek, Cannondale…..It’s America people, doesn’t matter what you ride, JUST RIDE. No need to attack brands you don’t care for, just don’t buy them. Seems simple to me…. NOW GO RIDE IN THE DIRT!

What do you think?