Monday, 5 November 2012

Cannondale Trail SL 29ER 3 SS photos and first impressions

She's a bute
It's finally mine and she's beautiful.

I've only had a 15 minute ride on her, but I'm already a pleased owner.

When I buy a bike I'm always on the look out for odd angled photos so I can work out what upgrades I can make or what to expect etc. So here's a whole host of random photos taken with my iPhone. Look out for the huge clearance and the rear wheel configuration.

I'll be posting a review soon after my first ride this coming weekend, but for now, here are my first impressions.

Cannondale Trail SL 29ER 3 first impressions

  • The colour is lovely and it's not something I've seen on many bikes before. It's sure to be unique on the trails
  • It's not too light, but not too hefty either. I can't weigh it, but having owned many single speeds before, this is a 'good' weight, albeit subjective
  • The fork is outstanding, solid yet comfortable and with stacks of mud clearance
  • The 1.5 inch headtube (not tapered) means the front end is rock stable and with just a 15 minute ride under my belt I felt no deflection whatsoever. Really pleased with this
  • The brakes aren't as bad as I thought they'd be. I haven't owned cable disc brakes for nearly 10 years, but they stop me, they don't squeak and I think for the speeds I can expect from this bike they'll do a fine job
  • Levers are Pro-max for Cannondale and feel cheap, but they're solid and offer a good enough level feel
  • Handlebar is quite nice too, although I'm swapping mine out for a new carbon Thomson handlebars (they're currently on back-order)
  • Saddle was nicer than I was expecting and neatly co-ordinates with the bikes colours. So does the seat collar, but I've replaced that with a Thomson model
  • Tires were cheap and nasty and they've been replaced already. They were wire models, relatively heavy and looked like they had no puncture resistance whatsoever. They would however be good on the roads from a rolling resistance perspective
  • The stem that comes with the medium is about 80mm. My new Thomson stem is 75mm and it almost feels too small. The inline post from Thomson as well (yes, I love Thomson stuff :) means the cockpit is quite short
  • The pedals that came with it are tat, dangerous in the wet, but decent enough spares for emergencies or mates bikes
  • The cranks are square taper!? Hoping they last, but I presume the bottom bracket is a cheap Tange model
  • The eccentric bottom bracket was well greased, but I haven't taken it apart yet
  • Grips were nice, with single bolts to keep them on the bars. I've swapped mine for ODI Rogues, but if you like ODI Ruffians, then the originals would be ideal - the bar clamp is also in matching colours to the bike
  • There are no gear tabs for cables or mechs
  • The brakes have full outer cables on them, front and rear - in white, which is 'fetching'
  • It sure is purty
I'll get out on it at the weekend and will share my thoughts again.

Note the huge clearance

I'm 5'11" with a 31" inside leg and a medium is perfect
The frame looks tiny, but it's just the massive wheels

No mech guides. Massively stiff bottom bracket shell

Rear wheel is solid. Dishless too I think. 20t cog


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Conti Mountain Kings. Steve get out of here and buy that thing already.

  3. Hi Steve,

    Yup, as Plum says I'm running Conti Mountain King Protection II tires. Great for summer conditions, dry and dusty. Not so great for wet and mud. I talk about them a bit here:

    Do as Plum says anyway, go and buy one. It's a great bike.

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  5. some people say i'm nuts but i just got this as my first mountain bike :)

  6. Replies
    1. Hey Maciej, Cannondale have stopped offering this particular bike. But at times I do see them crop up used on eBay and similar.

  7. Sean
    I bought a 2015 in early spring 2017, really like it (though I'm an odd duck... it "replaced" a 1987 Beast of the East, which I still have as art on the wall, being the odd collection of rare components, geometry and color that it is).

    Anybody convert to a 1x?? drivetrain?
    - What components (brands, # of speeds, etc.)?
    - Does this hub support any multi-speed cassettes? Limited to a 1x9 or 1x10?
    - Any issues with the EBB on a multi-speed drivetrain?

    Sorry if this sounds very newbie... long out of the saddle, now just happy to be on periphery, from which I admittedly am not an expert on the thing.


    1. Hey Unknown,

      Welcome back to the fold and hope you're enjoying your ride!

      The bike in this post is already a single speed. It can't take gears. So either you have a different bike / year or one which has a rear mech hanger.

      In general, any normal mountain bike could be converted to have a single chainring at the front (which is a special retaining chainring - v. important) and between 9 - 13 at the back. Commonly today it's 11 or 12 gears at the back. The easiest upgrade is a Shimano 11 speed as most rear hub freehubs would accommodate the 11spd body. Sram offer 11 and 12 speed cassettes, but depending on which one you get you might need to replace the shimano / standard freehub with their XD splined version.

      The rear hub on the Cannondale single speed will only accept a single gear, so that means a new rear hub re-laced the same rim, or a new rear wheel.

      EBB has no bearing on what gears you run, but if the bike doesn't have a rear mech hanger (like mine doesn't), then you're not going to be running gears at all.

      Happy to answer any further questions :)