Editor choice

Cannondale Trail 7 Review

Cannondale Trail 7 is an all-around capable hardtail bike aimed toward entry-level riders who enjoy cycling recreationally and going off the beaten track from time to time.

RATING: Great!

BEST FOR: Beginners

FEATURES: Heavy-duty aluminum frame, internal cable routing, hydraulic disc brakes…

Cannondale Trail 7 is a g00d-looking bicycle intended for beginners, but more experienced commuters and recreational riders will love it as well because of its decent list of components. 

Frame: SmartForm C3 alloy, SAVE, 1-1/8 in. head tube, post-mount disc, StraightShot internal cable routing
Fork:
S: SR Suntour XCT DS, 100mm, Coil, 42mm offset
M: SR Suntour XCT DS, 100mm, Coil, 46mm offset
L: SR Suntour XCT DS, 100mm, Coil, 46mm offset
XL: SR Suntour XCT DS, 100mm, Coil, 46mm offset
Crankset: Prowheel alloy, 42/32/22
Bottom Bracket: Sealed cartridge, BSA-73
Shifters: Shimano Altus Rapidfire Plus, 3×8
Front Derailleur: Shimano Altus, 34.9 clamp
Rear Derailleur: Shimano TX800
Rear Cogs: Sunrace, 11-34, 8-speed
Number of Gears: 24
Brakes: Tektro M275 hydro disc, 160/160mm rotors
Brake Levers: Tektro M275 hydro disc
Rims: WTB SX19, 32h
Wheel Size:
S: 27.5 inches
M: 29 inches
L: 29 inches
XL: 29 inches
Tires:
S: WTB Ranger 27.5 x 2.25
M: Front: WTB Ranger 29 x 2.25; rear: WTB Ranger or Nineline 29 x 2.0
L: Front: WTB Ranger 29 x 2.25; rear: WTB Ranger or Nineline 29 x 2.0
XL: Front: WTB Ranger 29 x 2.25; rear: WTB Ranger or Nineline 29 x 2.0
Saddle: Cannondale Stage 2
Pedals: Cannondale Platform
Chain: KMC Z72, 8-speed
Weight: 32 lbs. 14.4 oz.
Gender: Unisex​

S – 5’2″ – 5’6″  (Wheel size 27.5″)
M – 5’6″ – 5’10” (Wheel size 29″)
L – 5’10” – 6’1″ (Wheel size 29″)
XL – 6’1″ – 6’4″ (Wheel size 29″)

REI – MSRP $560

What We Like About Trail 7:
  • SmartForm C3 alloy frame
  • 100 mm front suspension
  • Size-specific wheels for added stability
  • Awesome looks
  • Internal cabling
  • Hydraulic disc brakes
  • A versatile 3x8 drivetrain
  • Rack and fender compatible
Points of Improvement for Trail 7:
  • Heavier coil-powered suspension
  • Entry-level components
  • Cheap pedals

Full Review

Cannondale Trail line is a selection of eight entry-level hardtail models that Cannondale built with the beginner enthusiast riders in mind.

The Trail 7 is one of the cheapest and the most basic one of them, so it’s the perfect starting model for anyone who’s just getting familiar with the sport. Even though it is the most affordable model, it has a lot to offer to its future owners.

Some of the materials and some of the components used on this model cannot be seen on any other bike in this price range. Thus, we can say with certainty that Cannondale Trail 7 is a bargain.

One of the elements that we should start our review with and that all models from the Trail series have in common is the SmartForm C3 alloy frame. It represents the company’s latest technology in frame development and manufacturing.

SmartForm C3 alloy frames are light, modern, durable, and feature internal cabling and dropper post compatibility. It’s the first thing you spot on a bike, so it easily gets you interested straight away.

The 2020 Trail 7 Model

The 2020 Trail 7 Model

What We Liked

Apart from the advanced frame that you wouldn’t expect on a bike that costs just $560, there are other things to like and desire on the Cannondale Trail 7.

For example, this hardtail bike has a coil-powered SR Suntour fork with 100 mm of travel. This fork is a bit heavier than the air-powered one found on the more expensive Trail models.

But, that’s not something you should be worried about as a beginner. The 100 mm of travel is the perfect amount to get you over any bumps on a singletrack ride or a school ride.

Thumb upCannondale Trail 7 has a large number of Shimano components on it, such as the derailleurs and shifters. They let you select one of the 24 gears on the 3×8 drivetrain smoothly and with ease.

The 3×8 drivetrain is common on entry-level bikes. It’s a great choice as it gives you more gears than you’ll ever need for any type of terrain that you choose to ride.

Being able to stop quickly and efficiently is essential both for beginners and experienced riders. Cannondale would not be one of the best companies in the world if they didn’t understand that.

That’s why all Cannondale Trail models, except for Trail 8, come with hydraulic disc brakes.

They are powerful, precise, and responsive, so you will not have any issues stopping in all weather and trail conditions. The 160/160 mm rotors will stop on a dime even in heavy rain.

Things get interesting once you get to the wheels and tires. Namely, the 2019 Trail 7 is a size-specific model which means there are both 27.5″ and 29″ versions.

The S frame comes with 27.5″ wheels, whereas all larger frames come with 29″ wheels. This is a great method to help shorter, younger, or less experienced riders be more in control of the bike on the trail.

The 2019 Trail 7 model

The 2019 Trail 7 model

It’s a really thoughtful detail from Cannondale, which is what makes the Trail 7 a good choice for beginners. The tires on the S-sized model are 2.25 wide, whereas larger models have a combination of front 2.25″ and 2.0″ rear tires. 

Are There Any Setbacks?

Being that Cannondale Trail 7 is an entry-level bike and one of the cheapest models in the Cannondale Trail line, it certainly has some downsides. However, considering what we just said, we can’t really take them seriously.

If you keep your expectations realistic and remember that this is a beginner model, you will be quite happy with Trail 7 and ride it for a long time with minor adjustments.

If we were to be nit-picky, we could point out that the wheels are the weakest point of Cannondale Trail 7. They are the aspect that most riders point their finger at in user reviews.

The thing is, they need more frequent truing if you tend to abuse the bike frequently. However, if you ride it recreationally and moderately, you shouldn’t have any problems.

Some riders also mention that they dislike the pedals, which are the basic Cannondale platform model. But, that’s really a personal preference. You can easily change them and even swap them for clipless if you wish to.

Finally, after giving Cannondale Trail 7 a thorough examination, we can say that it is an excellent choice for all beginners out there who are looking for their first trail bike that will help them fall in love with nature and cycling.

We say go for it!

 
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15 Comments
  1. Is the Cannondale Trail 7 2019 tubeless ready?

  2. Hi so I’m in the UK down in Cornwall where we have a lot of trails where you got straight off the road onto them but a few months ago I was using a borrowed bike and broke my wrist on what seemed to be a really nice trail it was at a quite steep and stony area and was wondering if the trail 7 could keep up I’m mainly worried about the brakes too as what happens when they get wet will this bike keep me safe when riding ???

    • I’m sorry to hear about your injury, Hayden. I hope you’re recovering well. 🙂

      You don’t need to worry about the brakes going wet, as they are hydraulic disc brakes, so they will perform nicely in all conditions. The Trail 7 also has pretty wide tires (2.25″), so it will give you a lot of traction. However, it is still a bike that’s intended for moderate rides, so unless you plan to ride it very aggressively over rocks and do jumps, it will have no problem keeping up.

  3. Hello Guys
    I bought the trail 7 a few months ago mainly because I didn’t know what I was getting myself into. So I figured if I buy an entry level bike I’m not gonna be too disappointed if I don’t like riding. And I have absolutely fallen in love with it. My question is is it difficult to upgrade the forks? I’ve recently put a dropper post on it and it was a game changer.
    I’m a bit confused because the gram description mentioned that the head stock is tapered however the forks are described as straight 1 1/8 stem.
    So my question is what exactly would I need to upgrade.
    Many thanks
    And keep riding
    Tim

    • Hello Tim! Trail 7 is a nippy little beast on the trails, so I’m not surprised that you’ve fallen in love with it. 🙂 On Cannondale’s website, it says that the headset has a 1-1/8 reducer which is how it is possible to have that combination. Enjoy your future rides!

  4. what is the difference between Cannondale Trail7 2018 & Cannondale Trail7 2019.

    • There are quite a few differences between the two. The Trail 7 2019 has a different fork, different rims, hubs, as well as the brakes and brake levers. But the derailleurs and shifters are the same.

  5. How much are theses?

  6. I have been riding mountain bikes hard-core for years. Moved up to Washington state from Arizona and haven’t ridden for the past five years because of my career change. So last month I went out and got the trail seven and I love it. I guess I’m old-school because I like the Hardtails the full suspension always seemed to slow me down whenever I was trying to generate speed . Not really into the hard-core stuff anymore but I think Cannondale did a good job on this saddle.

    • Great to hear that you found your way back to cycling, Paul! You are right, both HT & FS have their pros and cons. The Trail 7 is certainly a good MTB, no doubt.

  7. Gearing system doesn’t work properly so the chain slips off front gears while shifting!

    It’s a Cannondale Trail 7 and manufacturing company doesn’t seem to care about the issue!

    • Hi Cusack,
      Sad to hear that. Do you have a MicroShift front derailleur? It might happen because Cannondale used such a weak part there, which is a shame. If you tried to adjust it without any positive results, you might want to upgrade it to Shimano’s Deore, for example. Doesn’t cost much but will add value to this bike.

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