2021 Cannondale Trail 7 [Review]
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.
Related: Cannondale Trail Series Review
Ideal for: Low-impact trails, gravel roads, leisurely ride
Table of Contents
PROs / CONs
Size & Buying
Trail 7 vs Trail 8
Cannondale Trail line 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.
What We Like
- 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
Points of Improvement
- 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.
The frame itself is lightweight, and has some nice curves to it, making it a distinguished Cannondale production.
SmartForm C3 alloy frames are light, modern, durable, and feature semi-internal cabling and dropper post compatibility.
PROs – Why to get it?
Apart from the advanced frame that you wouldn’t expect on a bike that costs just $575, 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.
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 the Tektro MT200 might not say much, but they do work really well (Done & tested!).
Things get interesting once you get to the wheels and tires. Namely, the 2021 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 frame 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.
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 also mention that they dislike the pedals, which are the basic Cannondale’s 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 except for some minor updates (Under $100 in total: such as pedals, derailleur and maybe the grips)
Frame: SmartForm C3 alloy
XS – S: SR Suntour XCT DS, 100mm, Coil, 42mm offset
M – XL: SR Suntour XCT DS, 100mm, Coil, 46mm offset
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
XS: 27.5 inches
S: 27.5 inches
M: 29 inches
L: 29 inches
XL: 29 inches
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 3
Pedals: Cannondale Platform
Chain: KMC Z8.1 8-speed
Weight: 32 lbs. 13 oz
Sizes & Buying
XS – 4’6 – 5’2 (Wheel Size 27.5″)
S – 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
Cannondale Trail 7 vs Trail 8
$600 vs $675
- Trail 7 has 100mm of travel instead of 75mm on the Trail 8
- Hydraulic disc brakes instead of mechanical
2020 vs 2021 Trail 7
- The new model has a matt-finish, while the previous model was glossy – more prone to scratches.
2021′ Cannondale Trail 8 – The cheapest of the Trail series
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