BUDGET BIKES: Cannondale Trail 2
Cannondale are wizards of aluminium: the welding on the Trail 2 is almost invisible, and the lines are reminiscent of a steel-frame bike – especially the delicate seat stays at the back.
There’s logic behind the daintiness: the Trail 2’s rear end features Cannondale’s SAVE micro-suspension – areas that can flex vertically to absorb shock, and therefore offer a smoother ride.
The frame geometry is progressive, with a 68.5° head angle and boost spacing, and there’s internal routing for a dropper post. There are even mounts for a rear rack and a mudguard, should you wish to turn your mountain bike into a commuter.
The ride position is relaxed and the handling is direct, thanks to that slack head angle and a 760mm-wide riser bar on a short stem.
The fork is a RockShox Judy Gold, which rounds off a super package. It has a through-axle and boost spacing with clearance for up to 2.8-inch tyres, and the 100mm of air travel is as plush as you’ll get at this price.
But now for the confusing part: all of the marketing images show the bike with a 1×11 drivetrain, but our test bike came with 2×11 SLX/XT. The extra bits of metal push the bike over 13.5kg, making it the heaviest on test, and the front derailleur clutters the clean lines of the frame. The components are quality, especially the XT Shadow Plus rear derailleur, but we would have preferred to see Cannondale South Africa make a call and scrap the front derailleur altogether.
At the end of the day, it’s great to see this premium brand venturing into the budget mountain-bike space. Their Scalpel full-suspension is legendary, as is their F-Si carbon hardtail, and the Trail looks to have the makings of an entry-level classic.
GET IT HERE: cannondale.co.za
SmartForm C2 aluminium, boost QR
RockShox Judy Gold RL, 100mm travel, boost through-axle
FSA Comet 36/26T
2×11 Shimano SLX/XT, with clutch rear derailleur
Shimano MT500 hydraulic disc
WTB Ranger Comp 29×2.25”