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Review of Cannondale Trail 4 [2020]

Jeff Balton

Cannondale Trail 4

Photos from cannondale.com

Cannondale Trail 4 doesn’t cost a fortune but touts some serious trail elements that can easily clench your thirst for adventure. This bike is versatile, fast, good looking, and comfortable.

Trail 4 is proof that you can get a high-quality bike and spend time on the trails without spending a lot of money.

It is characterized by an advanced aluminum frame that feels comfortable and responsive, as well as components that are a good deal for the money.

At $1,000, it has some quirks that need to be addressed, but they’re not deal breakers for beginners and high entry-level riders. Trail 4’s big advantage is that it offers a competitive performance both on and off the trails.

Let’s take a closer look at this big brand hardtail, see what it has to offer, and whether or not you should buy it.


Cannondale Trail 4 Quick Specs

The first thing you notice about Trail 4 is how good it looks. The Crush Orange paint job is called that way because it is obviously very easy to fall in love with it. It helps the bike achieve a much more expensive look.

Cannondale Trail 4 is ready for dirt and trails, but its progressive geometry helps you feel ok on paved roads as well, on the way to the adventure.

  • Frame: SmartForm C2 alloy
  • Fork: RockShox XC30 TK 100mm
  • Bottom Bracket: Sealed Cartridge
  • Hubs: Shimano MT200
  • Front Derailleur: None
  • Rear Derailleur: Shimano Deore GS
  • Number of Gears: 10
  • Brakes: Shimano MT200 hydro disc
  • Rims: WTB STX i23 TCS (27.5″ or 29″)
  • Tires: WTB Ranger 2.25″
  • Weight: 31 lbs. 8 oz. (14 kg)



Full Review of Cannondale Trail 4

Trail bikes with a $1,000 price tag are not cheap, but they are far from expensive as well. This is about the lowest you can spend if you want to get a two-wheeler that will let you practice your off-road skills and let go of the brakes.

To ride Trail 4, you don’t need to specialize in neck-breaking descents, as this bike can do a little bit of everything.


SmartForm C2 Frame with SAVE Technology

Cannondale Trail 4 scores pretty well when it comes to its SmartForm C2 aluminum frame. And that’s good to hear as the frame is the essence of any bike that can make it or break it.

cannondale Trail 4 handlebarTrail 4 uses Cannondale’s signature optimized SAVE technology to makes the tubing strong and sturdy where necessary, but light and skinny elsewhere. The result is a lightweight yet durable premium alloy frameset.

This frameset also boasts a tapered head tube and internal cable routing. It weighs around 31 lbs (14 kg), which is just about right for this price range.


Reliable RockShox XC30 Fork

The RockShox XC30 fork is an adequate choice that fits well with Cannondale’s progressive frame. It will certainly not impress experienced and aggressive riders. However, it will meet and exceed the needs of the average trail visitors.

As long as you stick to blue and red trails and don’t go too crazy, this RockShox coil-actuated fork will make you a happy rider.

It provides 100 mm of rather springy travel as well as lockout and rebound adjust features. It’s compatible with PopLoc remote as well!


Mid-Range Shimano Deore 1×10 Group

Shimano Deore 1×10 drivetrain is considered to be the sweet spot when price and value are considered. It is low on price but high on performance.

Cannondale Trail 4 groupset

The 1×10 Deore groupset

This is especially true when it comes to climbing thanks to Trail 4’s wide-range drivetrain. Namely, the FSA 30T crank is paired up with a Sunrace 11-42T cassette to give you all the gearing you need to fly uphill.

In terms of shifting precision, Shimano Deore is fast, reliable, and can take plenty of use and abuse.


Size-Specific Wheels and Tires

Just like we’re used with the other models from this Cannondale’s series, Trail 4 comes with size-specific wheels and tires that make size-fitting a lot easier.

Namely, size Small rolls on 27.5″ wheels, whereas all bigger frame sizes come with 29″ wheels. The wheelset on all sizes is tubeless-ready WTB STX i23 TCS, whereas the tires are WTB Ranger 2.25″ wide. They’re bang-on for the money.

Though, trail riders could benefit from even wider tires that would improve grip on loose terrain.


Four Sizes and Trail-Worthy Geometry

Cannondale Trail 4 is available in four sizes, which is not ideal but is certainly manageable. With a little bit of effort and research, you’ll be able to find the perfect size for you.

Cannondale Trail 4 sizing

The four available sizes fit riders between 5’2″ and 6’4″:

  • S: 5’2″ – 5’6″ (27.5 inches)
  • M: 5’6″ – 5′ 10″ (29 inches)
  • L: 5’10” – 6’1″ (29 inches)
  • XL: 6’1″ – 6’4″ (29 inches)


With a head tube angle of 68.5 degrees and a 73.5-degree seat tube angle, Cannondale Trail 4 is neither too aggressive nor too sluggish. It offers decent all-around performance on climbs, descents, and bendy flats.


Will Cannondale Trail 4 Fill the Gap in Your MTB Collection?

All things considered, is Cannondale Trail 4 the right bike for you? If you want a race-worthy bike to rise in competition ranks, the answer is no.

Trail 4 is a trail-ready bike that can easily handle easy to moderately hard terrain, including singletracks, all-mountain rides, CX routes, and even some jumps and drops.

However, if your goal is to spend more time on the trails, take your skills to the next level, and enjoy your hobby to the fullest, then we say you should go for it.


Other Trail Series Overviews

  • Trail 1MSRP $1,850 – Top model with excellent components and a 120 mm air fork travel, intended for trail enthusiasts.
  • Trail 2MSRP $1,600 – High-specked mid-range model with a 1×12 SRAM SX drivetrain and an air fork, made for intermediate trail riders.
  • Trail 3MSRP $1,300 – A reasonably priced model for trail beginners and enthusiasts with excellent value for money, 120mm of travel, hydraulic disc brakes, and 12 wide-range gears.
  • Trail 4MSRP $1,000 – Excellent introductory model with a 100mm Rockshox coil fork, 10-speed Deore drivetrain, and tubeless-ready wheels and tires, good for on and off-road rides.
  • Trail 5MSRP $750 – Entry-level trail bike with a solid aluminum frame, decent Shimano components, and 100 mm of travel, that all trail beginners will love.
  • Trail 6MSRP $650 – Affordable bike with quality branded parts, front suspension and hydro brakes, perfect for beginner riders wishing to get a taste of the trails.
  • Trail 7MSRP $560 – Versatile MTB with 24 gears, excellent for trails, gravel, and dirt roads, aimed towards casual and recreational riders.
  • Trail 8MSRP $485 – Cheapest Cannondale Trail model with reliable and durable components for the money, ideal for budget-conscious cyclists.


Interested in more Trail Models? See our review of Trail SL for more.

Our Opinion: Should You Spend $1K on Trail 4?

suggestedCannondale Trail 4 is not a flawless mountain bike. However, none of its flaws can be taken into serious consideration considering a budget price tag of just $1,000.

For this amount of money, you’ll get reliable components and parts from big brands such as Shimano, RockShox, FSA, Sunrace, and Cannondale. You’ll also get a quality aluminum frame that’s worth future upgrades.

With that in mind, we can recommend Cannondale Trail 4 to any beginner or intermediate mountain biker who’s low on the money but high on trail enthusiasm.

Cannondale Trail 4 (2020)













  • SmartForm C2 Frame with SAVE
  • Decent value RockShox XC30 fork
  • Wide-range 1x10 Shimano Deore drivetrain
  • Responsive geometry for the trails
  • Excellent choice of the color


  • Long stem
  • Narrow tires


  • Eric says:

    Are the WTB tires that come with the trail 4 tubeless?? Also, the tire says min 35 psi. Shouldn’t I be running lower than that for trails?

    • Jeff Balton says:

      Hi Eric,
      They are just tubeless-ready. 35 psi is just the “ideal spot” but there are factors to consider like tire width and rider’s weight. You can go as low as you can get them but too low can feel wobbly in corners.It’s all up to the rider’s preference IMO.

  • Luca says:

    Mystery solved!

    It’s a matter of different specs between US and EU models!

    EUROPEAN model

    US model

    The European version has slightly better specs!

    • Jeff Balton says:

      Hi Luca,
      Awesome find! With that in mind, I am sure you have now made your decision 😉

  • Luca says:

    Oh, and another difference from your review! My 2020 Trail 4 came equipped with a Sunrace 100mm air fork, not a coil one! Another improvement!

  • Luca says:

    Hi Jeff, I just bought this bike (Trail 4 2020, Orange Crush) and curiously there is a difference. Mine came with a front derailleur too, so it is a 2×10 (and not a 1×10 like the one you reviewed). I see on Cannondale’s website that the specs say 2×10, which agrees with what is installed on my bike.

    Is it normal for brands to change type of drivetrain (and I would say it’s quite a significant change!) on the run in the very same model year?


  • ABDUL REHMAN says:

    Thanks Jeff

  • ABDUL says:

    Hi Jeff i bought this bike 1 month ago, i mostly use it to ride around roads and side walks, what difference does this and a hybrid bike makes? I am 5.7 and 215 LBS i like this and planning to install a Thudbuster seat post too

    • Jeff Balton says:

      Hi Adul,
      This bike is recommended for cyclists who love riding trails. I think it is safe to say that rising this around the city defeats the purpose of this bike. A hybrid can be used both on trails and around sidewalks. If you live in an area with lots of potholes and uneven roads, then this is a good choice. But this bike truly shines on trail. Thudbuster seatpost has an interesting video. Be sure to check that one.

  • Khalid says:

    Thank you so much for all the informations you shared with us, that was very helpful to me for my purchase.

  • Chuck Louis Fugate says:


  • Hey Jeff! Its chuck again. Have a question. I just bought a trail 4 and I am going to upgrade the cranks. Does the trail4 have a threaded bottom bracket hanger or is it a bb30 or pf30? I am going to go from the stock Alpha Drive 2 + afterburner set. Also I am 5-8 with a 29 inseam and I rode the small and decided on that instead of a medium do you think I made the right choice? Thanks again!

    • Jeff Balton says:

      Hey Chuck, it’s a threaded FSA MegaExo BB with external bearings I believe. As for the size, all charts say you should fit better on a Medium frame. But if Small feels better for you, then that’s all that matters. 🙂

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