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2021 Cannondale Trail 8 [Review]

Aluminum // 75mm travel // Mechanical Disc Brakes // 27.5″/29″ wheels // Trail-Ready geometry

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

MSRP $575

The new 2021 Cannondale Trail 8 is the cheapest mountain bike by Cannondale. It features all the modern features to get the beginner cyclist on two wheels and out on the trails. Sure, $500 for a mountain bike is pretty much the lowest you can go, and expect a solid ride out of it, but it the bike is definitely worth every dollar of it!

Main Specs

Cannondale Trail 8 is an entry-level mountain bike that offers excellent value for the money, reflected in the following specs:

  • Frame: SmartForm C3 alloy aluminum
  • Fork: SR Suntour, 75mm
  • Bottom Bracket: Sealed Cartridge
  • Front Derailleur: Shimano Altus 2-speed
  • Rear Derailleur: Shimano Turney, 7-Speed
  • Number of Gears: 14
  • Brakes: Tektro mechanical disc, 160/160mm rotors
  • Rims: WTB SX19, 32h
  • Tire Width: 2.25″ (F), 2.20″ (R)
  • Saddle: Cannondale Stage 3
  • Weight: 32 lbs. 15 oz. (15 kg)

Check Availability  – REI.com


2021 Cannondale Trail 8 – Full Review

Cannondale Trail 8 is a phenomenal mountain bike that doubles as an everyday commuter. It has everything a beginner rider would be looking for — low price, dependable components, durable build, and good looks! Even though Trail 8 has wide tires that make it suitable for off-road riding, it is not intended for extreme trail rides and abuse. Its entry-level components wouldn’t be able to take it for very long.

One of the things that owners of Cannondale Trail 8 praise the most is handling. This is neither a light nor a small bike, but its geometry makes it swift and efficient both on and off trails. The variable wheel size (27.5″ or 29″) ensures the best possible fit. Short people find it easier to control smaller and lighter 27.5″ wheels, whereas taller riders will get to enjoy the more functional benefits of the huge, 29-inch trailblazers.

Trail 8 is a bike made for casual riders who wish to have some fun on dirt roads, explore unpaved routes, and take short commutes in the city.

cannondale trail 8 on an angle

Aluminum Frame & Fork

  • Aluminum frame that Cannondale uses on many of its bikes. The SmartForm C3 alloy, as the material is called, is light and feels nimble on trail rides.
  • Semi internal derailleur cable routing, rear rack, and fender mounts, and two water bottle mounts. The geometry is comfortable and upright and the design is sleek and simple.
  • The SR Suntour fork with 75 mm of travel, which is enough to eliminate vibrations, help you jump curbs, and conquer potholes.

Entry-Level Components

The reason why Trail 8 costs just $575 is due to entry-level components, but that does not necessarily mean they’re bad. Those level of components is intended for beginners cyclists or intermediate commuters who go easy on the bike. Shimano Altus derailleur on the front and Shimano Tourney on the rear make up 14-speeds. They’re excellent for weekend adventures, casual commutes, and easy-going workouts. If you plan to use them for a lot more than that, you’ll find them lacking in precision and durability.

Disc Brakes

The Cannondale Trail 8 is equipped with mechanical disc brakes which are not fancy by any means, but the performance and stopping power they offer is much better compared to V-brakes. Disc brakes ensure excellent braking in all conditions, which is especially important if you plan to ride in wet weather, snow, and mud.

Wheels and Tires

The burly wheels and knobby tires are the most important parts of the Trail 8 bike. They give it versatility and make it suitable for off-road riding and ready to tackle some serious terrain.  The smallest frames (XS, S) come with 27.5″ wheels, whereas larger frames are built on 29″, 32-hole rims. The tires on all wheels are WTB Ranger Comp, 2.25″ wide. These wheels are a bit heavy, but they are durable and roll well over obstacles. The tires are quite knobby, so you should expect plenty of grip.

cannondale trail 8 rear end


Cannondale Trail 8 Frame Size Recommendation

Cannondale Trail 8 is available in five distinct frame sizes, which is enough to find the right fit no matter your height.

XS: 4’6″ – 5’2″
5’1″ – 5’4″
Medium: 5’4″ – 5′ 8″
Large: 5’7” – 6’0″
X-Large: 6’0″ – 6’3″

Note! Cannondale bikes are well-known for their long top tube, so whenever you fall in-between two sizes – it is recommended to go for the smaller than you’d get with any other bike. Larger bikes are better for long-distances riding, while smaller mountain bikes have better handling on off-road trails.


Should You Buy the Cannondale Trail 8?

Trail 8 is a safe buy for beginners, casual riders, and first-timers on the trails. If you recognize yourself in any of these three categories, we believe this bike would be a good fit for you.

Cannondale Trail 8 is a versatile two-wheeler that can complete different types of tasks and handle a variety of terrain. Plus, it costs less than $500, which is a big plus.

Its entry-level components are more than good enough for average cyclists who are just looking for a way to get from point A to point B or spend more time outside!

Bottom Bracket Sealed bearing cartridge, square taper

2021 Model Upgrade: 2x front chainrings instead of 3 and new tires.


Cannondale Trail 8 2020 vs 2021 Trail 8 – What has changed?

  • + Suspension Travel. The New 2020 model has a reduced 75mm of travel instead of the previous 100mm.
  • + Chainrings. Cannondale has changed the x3 front chainring to an x2 chainring which is a great improvement in terms of maintenance.
  • + Design. The previous 2020 model didn’t have any visible brand markings on the frame.
  • + 7-speed cassette instead of the 8-speed on the previous model.
  • + Tires. Cannondale is now using WTB Ranger tires instead of Schwalbe Rocket Rick on the previous model.
  • Brakes. Cannondale has downgraded the hydraulic disc brakes from the new model to mechanical disc brakes.

Cannondale Trail-series Comparison Chart

Cannondale Wheels Price Travel Speeds Front Derailleur Rear Derailleur Brakes
Trail 1 27.5″ / 29″ 1,850 100mm 1 x 12 x NX Eagle Hydraulic
Trail 2 27.5 / 29″ 1,600 120mm 1 x 11 x SLX GS Hydraulic
Trail 3 27.5″ / 29″ 1,300 120mm 1 x 12 x SX Eagle Hydraulic
Trail 4 27.5 / 29″ 1,000 100mm 1 x 10 x Deore GS Hydraulic
Trail 5 27.5″ / 29″ 750 100mm 1 x 10 Deore Deore Hydraulic
Trail 6 27.5″ / 29″ 650 100mm 2 x 9 Altus Alivio Shadow Hydraulic
Trail 7 27.5″ / 29″ 575 100mm 2 x 9 microSHIFT microSHIFT Hydraulic
Trail 8 27.5″ / 29″ 510 75mm 2 x 7 microSHIFT microSHIFT Mechanical
Cannondale Trail 8 2020

2020 model had minor differences compared to the latest models


Cannondale Trail 8 ‘2021 Cons

Although this is a hell of a bike for this amount of money, let’s not forget that it is the cheapest mountain bike by Cannondale. It is best suited for those who tackle the light trails or simply looking for a bicycle for urban commuting. Don’t get me wrong, this bike is very capable on the cross-country/marathon type races.

  • Rear Derailleur – Needs adjustments every now and then, not the smoothest nor the most durable of the bunch.
  • Grips – Cheapest, might not be the most comfortable for long-distance riding.
  • Saddle – You kind of get to feel the steel rails after 30mins of riding.
  • Fork adjustments – Unclear how to adjust the forks by the dials.
  • Weight – Even though the bike is on alloy frame, it is quite heavy.
  • Chain slap – You might want to get a neoprene cover to protect the paint and stop the chain-slap noise.

After all – this is a personal opinion from an experienced mountain biker. It costs about $100 to get rid of those cons and enjoy the bike where it is best suited for!

Reviews based on about 500 miles on the 2020 Cannondale Trail 8



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