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Cannondale Trail Range Review

Cannondale Trail Review


£399.99- £1,399.99

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  • 27.5” and 29” wheel options for the best fit
  • Two lightweight alloy frame options
  • Wide handlebars and shorts stems
  • Limited size options on some models
  • Dropper post only on top models
  • No dropper on women-specific models


Hardtail trail bike


Gravel tracks & singletrack trails


15.1Kg (33.8lbs)*

If you want to ride off-road trails and are looking for a dependable steed that will go the distance, then the Trail is hard to ignore.

Updated: 30th July 2019


The Cannondale Trail is a great bike for getting into the sport of mountain biking. Ideal for recreational off-road cycling as well as more adventurous rides on single track trails these hardtail MTBs offer a confident ride. In this Cannondale Trail review we look at all the models in the range including the women’s specific bikes.

With 14 models in the range the Trail offers a wide choice of component spec. This means that you can find the bike that perfectly matches the type of riding you intend to do. The entry level bikes are great for gentle rides on cycle tracks and canal towpaths while the top end models are ready for epic XC rides and some serious fun at the trail centre. As you move up through the range the bikes get lighter and the off-road capabilities of the Trail increase.

*Cannondale Trail 7 29 - Size Large tested

Cannondale Trail Frame


Two lightweight frame options

ABoth the unisex and women’s specific Cannondale Trails are available with two different aluminium alloy frame options. The Trail 1, 2, 3 and 4 as well as the Trail Women’s 1 and 2 all get the higher spec C2 alloy frame. As well as being lighter weight this frame has a tapered steerer tube and Boost hub spacing for improved steering precision. You also get internal gear cable routing for a cleaner look. The other models in the range have a more affordable C3 alloy frame with conventional steerer and hub spacing.

All the bikes have similar ‘dirt-tailored’ geometry for confident handling. The short chainstays offer an agile feel while the slack head tube angle makes the bike nice and stable. This makes the Trail great for those long fast descents as well as the tight twisty turns. Cannondale is renowned for both the ride and aesthetic quality of their aluminium alloy frames; the Trail is no exception.

There’s a ton of give in the rear end to smooth out lumpy trails bit it’s also direct when cranking hard. MBR

Cannondale Trail suspension


Suspension fork to smooth the trail

With a choice of 100mm or 120mm travel forks the Cannondale Trail has both cross-country and trail centre potential.

Most of the Cannondale Trail mountain bikes have a 100mm travel suspension fork up front. Absorbing the bumps on the trail for a smooth ride, this is an ideal amount of suspension travel for cross-country riding. In keeping with their rowdier ambitions, the top-of-the-range bikes have a longer travel fork. The Trail 1, 2 &3 along with the Women’s Trail 1 all get a 120mm travel fork. This makes the bikes more capable on rough terrain making them better suited to trail centre adventures.

Regardless of the travel numbers the quality of the suspension action improves as you move up through the range. The RockShox forks with air springs offer the smoothest action and are easily adjustable to suit different ride weights. Coil sprung suspension works well enough, but these forks are heavier and less adjustable than air sprung suspension. The lockouts found on some of the forks are great for cycling on smooth paths and roads.

Cannondale Trail groupset


Powerful stopping with plenty of gears

Wide handlebars and short stems complement the stable geometry to give the Trail a confident ride feel.

All the bikes in the Trail range offer a good spread of gears for those steep climbs and long descents. The difference comes in the way that the gears work. The top models all have ‘one-by’ drivetrains. There is only a single front chainring on these bikes, but this is combined with a very wide range cassette 10 or 12 speed cassette. The advantage of this system is the ease of use. You only have one gear shifter for all the gear option and the ‘clutch’ derailleur makes sure the chain stays in place, even on very rough terrain. The other bikes have double or triple front chainrings with smaller cassettes. You still get a wide range of gears, but these more conventional drivetrain setups aren’t as user friendly as one-by systems.

Every bike in the range has disc brakes for all-weather stopping power. Most have hydraulics which offer more powerful speed control. Wide handlebars and short stems help to give the bikes their confident ride feel. This is a real plus point on bikes at this price point. The Trail 1 and 2 are also fitted with a dropper seat post. This allows you to lower your saddle for more control on the descents. With a push of the handlebar mounted remote you can pop the saddle back up again, so you don’t lose any pedalling efficiency on the climbs.

Cannondale Trail wheels


Size-specific wheels

Cannondale makes sure that everyone riding the Trail gets the same fantastic experience by making the range wheel size-specific. This means that every rider will feel comfortable with the handling of the bike. The small and extra small size bikes get 27.5” wheels, while the Medium, Large and X Large get 29” wheels. This is true for the women’s bikes as well as the unisex models.

Looking through the range you’ll find two different flavours of wheels and tyres. The bikes with 100mm travel forks all have tyres with low profile nobs. These are fast rolling on relatively smooth terrain but don’t offer much grip when it gets rough and loose. The 120mm bike on the other hand have tyres that are made to deal with rough tracks. This means you can push your limits on more challenging trails, but you won’t roll quite so fast on smooth surfaces.

The top models get tubeless ready rims, so you can easily get the wheels setup tubeless to gain even more performance.

Cannondale Trail best for

Best for

New or veteran MTB riders

TCannondale Trails make a great first mountain bikes. They’re accessible and give superb all-round performance, both on the trail and on milder terrain like canal paths and forest roads. The higher end Trails are also good for those who want to take on more exiting terrain. Experienced riders who are used to traditional hardtail MTBs will really notice the improved performance of these models.

Being Cannondale’s the frame quality is excellent for the money, especially the C2 frames. These bikes offer a dependable platform for future component upgrades. If you want to ride off-road trails and are looking for a dependable steed that will go the distance, then the Trail is hard to ignore.

Cannondale Trail stem Cannondale Trail saddle
Cannondale Trail handlebars Cannondale Trail wheel hub
Cannondale Trail WTB ranger tyre Cannondale Trail brake lever

Cannondale Trail range models

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