Recently Cannondale held their mountain bike team camp in Finale Ligure, Italy. Despite the company’s long history of sponsorship, which dates back to the Volvo-Cannondale team, it was the first time they had all their mountain bike athletes in one place. By having both cross-country and gravity athletes in the same place allows Cannondale and athletes a chance to plan and set goals for the coming season. It also serves as a base to distribute and test new equipment early in the season before racing starts. Switchback was invited to join the team for a couple days of riding and to get a glimpse of the riders’ race machines.
For 2012 the cross-country team is made up of Marco Aurelio Fontana, Manuel Fumic and Martin Gujan in Europe with Jeremiah Bishop, Alex Grant Krista Parks, and Tinker Juarez heading up the team’s efforts in the United States. Keegan Swenson and Taylor Smith will focus on the Junior World Cup. The gravity or OverMountain team is made up of Aaron Chase, Jérome Clementz, Mark Weir and Ben Cruz.
As with any team camp the rider’s race machines were on display. On the OverMountain side riders have their choice between the Jekyll and Claymore depending on the course. Both machines share some key features including Cannondale’s The Dyad RT2 shock that gives the bikes two different suspension settings – Elevate and Flow. Each setting has its own air spring volume and damping circuits, and its own ride geometry. The Elevate setting on the Jekyll provides 90mm of travel, while the Claymore increases to 110mm. The flow setting provides 150mm on the Jekyll and 180mm for the Claymore.
The Jekyll is constructed from Cannondale’s BallisTec carbon, while the Claymore is made from their SmartFormed alloy. Both feature Cannondale’s ECS-TC (Enhanced Center Stiffness-Torsion Control) System that uses clamped 15mm thru-axles and doubled bearings at the rear dropouts to reduce flex in the links and pivots.
On the cross-country side the range of bikes is split between four models, the Flash Carbon, Flash Carbon 29, Scalpel and Scalpel 29. The Flash Carbon team bikes are built around a 950-gram frame that is constructed from Cannondale’s BallisTec carbon, which is more resistant to impact. Cannondale then adds high-modulus carbon to fine-tune the ride. For a bit of comfort and to aid in rear wheel traction the Flash Carbon uses Cannondale’s Speed Save rear stays that provide 8mm deflection. Team bikes weigh 17.6 pounds.
The Flash Carbon 29 uses the same frame technology and utilizes Cannondale’s 29 geometry. Cannondale’s 29 geometry employs ultra short chain stays, combined with a steep head tube angle that produces the same wheelbase as the 26 inch wheeled version. The increase size of the Flash Carbon 29 produces a slightly heavier 1050-gram frame.
The cross-country team's long standing dual suspension option is the Scalpel. According to Cannondale the Scalpel is the lightest dual suspension bike on the market with Team bikes tipping the scale at a scant 18.9 pounds. The rear of the Scalpel provides 80mm of pivotless travel.
The Scalpel 29 is new for 2012 and is unique as it takes advantage of technology from both the company’s cross-country and OverMountain bikes. Like the 26 inch wheeled Scalpel the Scalpel 29 uses Zero Pivot flexing seat stays for increase lateral and torsional stifness with reduced weight due to the elimination of the rear pivot. Where the Scalpel 29 diverges from its smaller wheeled sibling is with the addition of a main pivot at the bottom bracket. This was added to achieve better suspension action with the increased 100mm of travel. From the OverMountain side, the Scalpel 29 uses ECS-TC clamped 15mm thru-axles, and a stout integrated seat stay bridge/clamp. This configuration locks the seat stays together and prevents rotational deflection for increased stiffness. The Scalpel 29 is built around Cannondale’s 29 geometry using their BallisTec carbon and features their Si System Integrated front end with a Lefty 29 Carbon XLR 100mm travel fork. The Scalpel 29 hits the scale at 21.5 lbs.
Look for a full review of the Scalpel 29 in a future issue of switchback.