The 2022 Cannondale Scalpel HT is a lightweight carbon hardtail with a 66.5° head angle

Freshly unboxed in the Flow workshop is the brand new 2022 Cannondale Scalpel HT – a lightweight carbon hardtail that’s purpose-built for XC riding and racing. It features some of the most progressive geometry we’ve seen in this category, a sub-900g claimed frame weight, and size-specific chainstay lengths that are designed to improve rider weight distribution and stability.

2022 cannondale scalpel ht carbon hardtail
No rear shock here! The Cannondale Scalpel HT is the first hardtail to wear the Scalpel name.

2022 Cannondale Scalpel HT overview

Replacing the outgoing F-Si, the Cannondale Scalpel HT takes the mantle as the brand’s super-light XC bike. No clues for guessing – the ‘HT’ bit in the name stands for hardtail, and that helps to distinguish this new bike from the full suspension Scalpel. It’s actually the first time we’ve seen a hardtail wearing the Scalpel name.

Compared to the old F-Si, the Scalpel HT features dropped seatstays to increase compliance. Additionally, the chainstays taper down towards the dropouts – not quite as dramatically as the full suspension Scalpel, but Cannondale claims the ‘sculpted flex zones’ help to reduce overall trail buzz.

Speaking of flex, Cannondale has stuck with a skinny 27.2mm diameter seatpost. This will provide a smoother ride, though it’s worth noting that fewer dropper posts are available in this smaller size.

2022 cannondale scalpel ht carbon hardtail
Cannondale employs a 27.2mm seat post, dropped seatstays and a leaf-spring shape for the rear portion of the chainstays to maximise compliance.

A lighter carbon frame

As expected, the Cannondale Scalpel HT is fractionally lighter than its predecessor, with a claimed frame weight of just 895g for the Hi-MOD frame. That’s impressive given it has gotten considerably longer and slacker, though it’s not quite as svelte as the Canyon Exceed CFR (835g claimed) or the Specialized S-Works Epic (775g claimed).

The Scalpel HT features a standard tapered head tube that’ll fit a regular fork or Cannondale’s own Lefty Ocho. There’s a huge PF30 bottom bracket shell for maximum stiffness, and a 55mm chainline that helps to maximise chainring and tyre clearance while keeping the chainstay length as short as 430mm.

Privateer racers will appreciate the minimalist chainguide for added security, a Universal Derailleur Hanger (UDH) for ease of replacement, and the Speed Release dropouts. These fit a standard 148x12mm hub, but use a stepped axle and an open non-drive dropout that allows for rear wheel removal without having to take the axle out all the way.

The internal cable routing ports can be configured for full-length or interrupted housing, and there are multiple bottle mounts with plenty of room in the front triangle for a frame bag. Speed-packing anyone?

2022 cannondale scalpel ht carbon hardtail
The top-end Scalpel HT comes with a 110mm travel Lefty Ocho, delivering a very slack head angle for an XC race bike.

Progressive XC geometry

The geometry is perhaps one of the most intriguing elements of the new Cannondale Scalpel HT. The frame will accommodate a 100-110mm travel fork, with the longer option delivering a very slack 66.5° head tube angle. The bottom bracket also sits very low to the ground to further increase stability.

Cannondale has also brought over the ‘Proportional Response Design’ from its full suspension models, which sees a more nuanced approach to geometry across each frame size. In the case of the Scalpel HT, the chainstays are unique to each frame size, with the rear centre length changing in 5mm increments.

A new hardtail in 2022?

It might come as a surprise to some, but hardtails do actually still exist. They may not be as popular as they once were, but there’s also no doubt that they’ve also never been as good as they are right now. Just ask Wil about his new Specialized Chisel.

Indeed for riders who are chasing the lightest and most responsive race bike possible, a hardtail is the obvious choice. They’re also cheaper to buy and easier to maintain compared to a more complex full suspension bike.

It’s not all about racing though. With the rise of gravel, a hardtail actually presents a pretty sensible option for an all-rounder that can take on both trail riding and gravel duties. Sure it might not be quite as light as a dedicated drop bar gravel bike, but it’ll be way more fun and arguably more practical too.

2022 cannondale scalpel ht carbon hardtail rockshox sid sl select+
Our Cannondale Scalpel HT Carbon 3 comes with a super-light RockShox SID SL fork with 100mm of travel and a remote lockout.

Cannondale Scalpel HT price & specs

The Cannondale Scalpel HT will be available in three different spec options for 2022.

The top-end bike is the Scalpel HT Hi-MOD 1, which is made with higher-modulus carbon fibres to achieve that 895g claimed frame weight. It’s equipped with a 110mm travel Lefty Ocho with a remote lockout, along with HollowGram carbon rims, handlebar and seatpost.

Underneath that is the Scalpel HT 3 & 4. These also use a carbon frame, but come in heavier due to the use of lower-modulus fibres. They also miss out on the Lefty, instead coming with a 100mm travel RockShox SID SL fork. All three bikes come with a Shimano 1×12 drivetrain, 760mm wide flat bar and a Schwalbe Racing Ralph & Racing Ray tyre combo.

Our test bike is the mid-spec option; the Cannondale Scalpel HT Carbon 3. We’ll be putting it onto dirt shortly, and hopefully between some race tape, so stay tuned for the full review coming soon. In the meantime, read on for all the specs and pricing on the new Cannondale Scalpel HT range.

2022 cannondale scalpel ht hi-mod 1 carbon hardtail lefty ocho
Equipped with a 110mm travel Lefty Ocho and carbon rims, the Cannondale Scalpel HT Hi-MOD 1 is the top-end model.

2022 Cannondale Scalpel HT Hi-MOD 1

2022 cannondale scalpel ht carbon 3 hardtail
The Cannondale Scalpel HT Carbon 3 gets a RockShox SID SL Select+ fork, Shimano XT shifting and NoTubes Crest MK4 rims.

2022 Cannondale Scalpel HT Carbon 3

2022 cannondale scalpel ht carbon 4 hardtail
The Scalpel HT Carbon 4 features the same frame, albeit with a cheaper Shimano Deore groupset, an alloy seatpost and MT501 disc brakes.

2022 Cannondale Scalpel HT Carbon 4

2022 cannondale scalpel ht carbon hardtail
The paint job on our test bike is so wild!
2022 cannondale scalpel ht carbon 3 hardtail
Is there still a future for XC hardtails? We certainly think so, particularly when they’re equipped with the kind of geometry the new Cannondale Scalpel HT has adopted. Stay tuned for our review coming soon!

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