Hydraulic brakes helped us check our speed on descents. And we set up the tires tubeless so when we rode hard there’s be less chance of flats. The conversion was easy because the wheels come tubeless-ready. If you ride a lot, the parts won’t last as long as on more expensive bikes.1

You might want to add a dropper post to get the most from this capable and affordable bike. But you can also wheel it out of the shop and head straight for the trail. 27.5 Aluminum 130mm front, 120mm rear Top-notch spec for the price No dropper post $1,600 Built for speed, Cannondale’s Scalpel SE is zippy and fast.2

The cousin of Cannondale’s SI marathon race bike, the SE was created for speed without sacrifice. It’s built with a slack and stable 67-degree head tube, shorter stem, wider tires than on the SI, and a dropper post. The suspension platform is proprietary. It uses a flexing chainstay instead of an extra pivot.3

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Smaller SE sizes roll on 27.5-inch wheels instead of 29-inch wheels to keep the bike agile and quick handling across the board. Dropper post length is also specific to bike size. With 100 mm on the smallest size to 150 mm on the largest, Cannondale uses short chainstays for lively and efficient climbing, and it does this while still leaving plenty of room for bigger tires and mud.4

An integrated wheel sensor recorded speed, route, and distance. We used it and Cannondale’s app to register our bike, schedule service, and to access owner’s manuals. The downtube has mounts for Cannondale’s new Stash on-board tool, which took weight out of our pockets and pack. 27.5 or 29 Carbon 120mm front, 120mm rear Extremely capable and fast, women’s-specific builds also available Stash tool kit not included $4,000 There are three things you need to think about before you start shopping for a mountain bike: where you’ll ride, how you’ll ride, and your budget.5

Many mountain bikes now come with a 1x drivetrain with a single chainring in the front and a range of gears in the back. Having one shifter instead of two makes choosing the right gear much simpler. It also makes the drivetrain and your bike lighter, and it cleans up your handlebar, making space for a dropper post lever.6

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Buy a bike to match your goals. If you’re all about speed, choose a fast and light bike. Dreaming of a bike that can do a little bit of everything? Opt for an all-mountain or trail setup, which will have more suspension than a cross-country bike and less than an enduro bike.7

If you’ll never leave the rec path, opt for a hardtail, which will save you the weight and money. The general rule of thumb is the more money you spend on a bike, the lighter and more durable it will be. If you plan to do more technical riding, get the nicest frame you can afford.8

Also, get the bike with the best suspension you can afford. More responsive and tunable suspension will make you a better rider, and it will be more fun. is built for uphill and downhill speed as well as mellower terrain. Most cross-country bikes have 100mm suspension and come with 29-inch wheels, which are faster than 27.5-inch wheels.9

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But recent advances in suspension design are blurring the line between XC and trail bikes. won’t be quite as light as a cross-country bike, and it will usually have more front and rear suspension. Trail bikes are fast uphill with geometry and suspension that’s forgiving and fun riding downhill. is the most versatile style of mountain bike.10

With 120-130mm suspension in back, if you have your sights set on big rides that balance climbing and descending, a nimble all-mountain bike is the best choice. They rally through anything but the biggest downhill features. is downhill-focused, but a bike you can still pedal. Enduro bikes are usually heavier than all-mountain and trail bikes because they have more front and rear travel, enabling you to sail through technical roots and rock gardens, over jumps, and down drops.11

Many enduro bikes now have shorter chainstays and other modern bike kinematics that make them as good pedaling uphill as crushing descents. But they’re made for races where the downhill is timed, but the uphill is not. If you’re going to ride lifts and hit huge jumps and high speeds and never pedal uphill, buy a downhill bike.

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