I have found myself to be more of a trail rider than an XC rider and would like to get into downhill. I have a cannondale scalpel 3 and I was wondering if I can make this bike work. Possibly buying the new 130mm lefty supermax or other mods. Or just trade in for a new bike.

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    The 25th Infantry rode from Missoula Montana to St Louis Missouri on bicycles made of wood. In 1897. They did pretty well with no suspension at all. (The big innovation was metal wheels, instead of wood.) Mar 3, 2014 at 20:45
  • I don't think you could put a longer travel fork on the Scalpel, it's built as a lite xc racer so may not handle the stress. I think if you are finding the headtube angle too steep and wanted something slacker (especially downhill) you'd be best trading in for a Jekyll which is built for the longer travel lefty, or leave cannondale altogether. Otherwise if you don't find the bike bad to ride the components will stand up to pretty much everything you throw at it (apart from pure DH) but you'll get more enjoyment out of something slacker.
    – DWGKNZ
    Mar 3, 2014 at 21:31

1 Answer 1


A lot depends on what you mean by "trail/downhill" and by "work".

It wasn't that long ago that a full squish 100mm fork bike was a full on downhill machine. However, the big drawback to that bike as a descender is the relatively steep head angles.

Putting a bigger fork will help with that, but it won't help with the issue of how robust the parts are relative to the use. Lefty forks are meant for XC lightweight applications, not for landing 10 ft drops. Putting a slightly longer and more robust fork on that bike will help a lot with feeling in control on descents, but it's still an XC bike and has limitations in how hard you can ride it.

It all depends how rugged your trails are and how hard you intend to ride. If you still want a mostly XC bike that handles descents more effortlessly then a fork upgrade makes sense. However, if you're looking to go beyond that then you really should consider getting a different bike.

Having said all that, outside of a terrain park, I don't think there are many trails that couldn't be descended with that bike. It's just a question of how fast, how much fun and how much skill is required.

  • I agree with most of this (I was writing my comment at the same time you were preparing this novel!) apart from being able to fit a long travel fork on. I think the force would be too great and could lead to a failure at the head tube/ down tube weld. But agree essentially this bike would handle most trail riding.
    – DWGKNZ
    Mar 3, 2014 at 22:23
  • It's probably not manufacturer recommended, but I've had no problems running forks as long as 140mm on 100mm XC bikes. But I also don't push my bikes that hard. Mar 3, 2014 at 23:30

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