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Cannondale Trail 7 Review

By Mark   /  Last updated - November 16, 2023   /  Cannondale, Hardtail, Mountain Bikes, Reviews

cannondale trail 7 mountain bike

The new Cannondale Trail 7 is a capable all-around hardtail mountain bike aimed towards entry-level riders who enjoy cycling recreationally and don’t mind turning down the beaten track occasionally.

Ideal for: Low-impact trails, gravel roads, leisurely ride

Cannondale Trail 7 Full Review

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

The Trail 7 is the second 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 one of the most affordable models, it has a lot to offer for its future owners.

Frame: SmartForm C3 alloy
Fork: SR Suntour XCT DS, 100mm,
Crankset: Prowheel, 36/22T
Bottom Bracket: Cartridge, BSA-73, square taper
Shifters: Shimano EF-505 Rapid Fire
Front Derailleur: Shimano Altus, 34.9 clamp
Rear Derailleur: Shimano Tourney
Rear Cogs: Sunrace, 11-34, 8-speed
Number of Gears: 16
Brakes: Tektro MT200 hydraulic disc, 160/160mm RT10 rotors
Brake Levers: Shimano MT200 hydraulic disc
Rims: WTB SX19, 32h
Tires:WTB Ranger 29 x 2.25; WTB Ranger or Nineline 29 x 2.0
Weight: 32 lbs. 13 oz

Main Pros and Cons


  • SmartForm C3 alloy frame – Great geometry for demanding trails
  • 100mm travel front suspension
  • Size-specific wheels for added stability; XS, S – 27.5″ / M,L,XL – 29″
  • Agile looks, great graphics
  • Semi-Internal cabling
  • Hydraulic disc brakes
  • A versatile 2×8 drivetrain
  • Rack and fender compatible


  • Heavy coil suspension
  • Entry-level components such as the Tourney derailleur
  • Cheap pedals
  • There’s a noticeable ‘frame flex’ on L and XL frames which comes from soft wheels

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 semi-internal cabling and dropper post compatibility.

The frame itself is lightweight, and has some nice curves to it, making it a distinguished Cannondale production.

What’s Good About Trail 7?

Trail 7 100mm front suspension

100mm suspension & semi-internal housing

Apart from the advanced frame that you wouldn’t expect on a bike that costs just $700, there are other things to like and desire on the Cannondale Trail 7.

For example, this hardtail mountain bike has a coil-powered SR Suntour XCT 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 it allows for simple adjustability. 100mm of travel is the perfect amount to get you over any bumps on a single-track ride or a daily commute to work.

16-speed drivetrain

cannondale trail 7 bottom bracket

Sealed cartridge bottom bracket

Cannondale Trail 7 has a large number of Shimano components on it, such as the brakes, derailleurs, and shifters. They let you select one of the 16 gears on the 2×8 drivetrain smoothly and with ease. The 2×8 drivetrain is common on entry-level bikes, but 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.

*Bear in mind (especially with cheaper drivetrains) that you’d want to change the gear prior to a descent, or before you put some leg power to the pedals. The gear change might be a bit clunky and noisy, but if you use it accordingly, it will work for a long time.

Hydraulic Disc Brakes

Being able to stop quickly and efficiently is essential both for beginners and experienced riders. Cannondale would not be one of the best bike 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.

Many experienced riders find it hard to believe that a mountain bike this cheap is equipped with hydro brakes. Even though Tektro MT200 might not be very impressive, they do work really well.

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

The XS and S frames come with 27.5″ wheels, whereas medium, larger and extra-large frames come with 29″ wheels. The tires are 2.25″ wide which is great for both commuting and single-track biking.

Where Can Trail 7 Do Better?

cannondale trail 7

Agile looks with a comfortable trail geometry

Being that Cannondale Trail 7 is an entry-level bike and the second-cheapest model 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.

Some riders 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 just under $40 for a decent pair.

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 the first trail bike that will help them fall in love with nature and cycling.

We’d say go for it but keep some minor updates in mind such as pedals, derailleur, and maybe the grips (under $100 in total).

Cannondale Trail 7 Size Chart

XS – 4’6 – 5’2 (Wheel Size 27.5″)
– 5’1″ – 5’4″  (Wheel size 27.5″)

M – 5’4″ – 5’8” (Wheel size 29″)
L – 5’7” – 6’0″ (Wheel size 29″)
XL – 6’0″ – 6’3″ (Wheel size 29″)
2XL – 6’4″ – 6’8″ (Wheel size29″)

Note!: When in-between two sizes, we’d recommend getting a size smaller as Cannondale mountain bikes are well-known for their long top tubes

Where to Buy Cannondale Trail 7?

Find it on REI.com

About the Author

Mark Hartley

Mark is a cycling enthusiast and freelance writer specializing in travel and technology. He has traveled to 56 countries worldwide, cycling through Africa and Europe. You can contact him on Twitter @splshrollstmble. Mark is behind most of the current bicycle reviews in Bikexchange today. You can check his journeys @splashrollstumble. Specializes in best-of reviews, bike brand reviews, bicycle reviews.

19 thoughts on “Cannondale Trail 7 Review

  1. Brian says:

    I just bought my 21 trail 7 and enjoy getting back into bicycle riding. I noticed that their are some “cons” to the bike as far as some gear components go. Are their any parts and upgrades you recommend to make this bike that much better and efficient?

    1. Sam Millers says:

      Hi Brian.
      Congrats on the purchase – Trail 7 is an awesome XC bike to explore the nature and commute in urban areas.
      Depending on how hard (and where) you ride, there are some minor things you can swap out to make the bike ride better.
      Components such as the grips or a saddle are the first thing to try. Some riders swap out the pedals first thing after buying any new bike.

      Towards gearing, make sure that the derailleurs are tuned. A new bike (out of the box) needs to be re-tuned after a while when the components have ‘worked themselves in’.

      Read also our: Should You Pay More Upfront, Or Pay Less & Upgrade Later

  2. Fernando says:

    Thank you!

  3. Fernando Baez says:

    Is the Cannondale Trail 7 2019 tubeless ready?

    1. Sam Millers says:

      Nope, but you can easily use rim tape and buy some TR tires 🙂

  4. Hayden Hawkins says:

    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 ???

    1. Melissa Rae says:

      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.

  5. Tim Claassen says:

    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

    1. Melissa Rae says:

      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!

  6. Nandan Achar says:

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

    1. Melissa Rae says:

      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.

  7. Brandon Davis says:

    How much are theses?

    1. Sam Millers says:

      Hi Brandon,

      The MSRP for Trail 7 is $720

    2. Satana says:

      Hello,ive heard that the trail 7 rides slow
      Is it true

      1. Sam Millers says:

        Hi Satane,
        Yes, it is true. (If the cyclist is slow 🙂 )

  8. Paul says:

    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.

    1. Sam Millers says:

      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.

  9. K Cusack says:

    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!

    1. Sam Millers says:

      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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