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Review Of Cannondale Trail 6

Jeff Balton

Cannondale Trail 6

Photos from cannondale.com

Cannondale has released another entry-level mountain bike at a very tempting price. Cannondale Trail 6 comes from the Trail group of Cannondale’s mountain bicycles which vary in price quite a lot. The Trail 6, however, is one of the affordable models and is great if you are on a limited budget but still want to get a decent bike.

The Cannondale Trail 6 is a bike with a great money to value ratio!

This bike comes in two wheel-sizes, both 27.5” and 29ers, depending on the size of the frame you get. S comes with 27.5″ wheels, M, L, and XL come with 29ers. If your idea of a bicycle is a machine that can take you down some paved trails or take you on a fun smooth single-track, the Trail 6 will not disappoint you.

Cannondale Trail 6 (2020) Quick Specs

Cannondale Trail 6Quick Specs
Frame:Smart Form C3 Alloy
Fork:SR Suntour XCT 100mm (w/ lockout)
Gears:24 (3x8)
Wheel Sizes:27.5 / 29
Derailleurs:Shimano Acera & Altus
Weight:32 lbs
Brake type:Disc
Buy from:REI


Cannondale Trail 6 Main Features

Let’s go over some of the main features of Cannondale Trail 6 and see why this bike is a great choice if you do not want to splurge and buy too much bike, but still get decent components for your investment.


The Cannondale Trail 6 comes with a frame that is well balanced and produced of the improved C3 Alloy, that was reinforced and optimized for the trail. Cannondale boasts that their frame technology absorbs a lot of the vibrations from the road, making the ride as smooth as butter.

The frame is light and strong, double-welded, with a weight that is evenly distributed. Moreover, it’s good to know that this is the same frame that is fitted on some of the more expensive Trail models, so you get a lot for your money.

All seven Cannondale Trail bikes, both low-end and high-end models, use the same well-designed aluminum alloy frame.


Fork and Steering

The fork that Cannondale Trail 6 comes with is a Suntour XCT, 100mm, with coil springs. It has a preload option, as well as a hydraulic lockout feature that is remotely handled. A switch is fitted on the handlebar so you can engage or disengage the suspension at any time.

The suspension on Cannondale Trail 6 is responsive and it will work excellently for moderate trail rides and even take some reasonable beating.

The fork on the S-sized frame has a 42 mm offset, while the ones on the bigger models come with a 46 mm offset.

The ergonomics of Trail 6 are not too aggressive. Being that this is an entry-mid level bike, this is a good thing. The rider feels well-centered in the middle of the bike, so an amateur MTB rider will feel balanced and confident.

Related: Other mountain bike reviews


Drivetrain & Derailleurs

This bike is fitted with a Shimano 3×8 drivetrain which offers a great selection of gearing for trail rides. The chain that powers the drivetrain is a KMC X8, 8-speed, which is pretty standard at this price range. If you take care of it, clean it and lube it regularly, it will serve you well for a long time, like any other chain.

Cannondale Trail 6 derailleurs

Derailleurs will work, but they’re not the fanciest

The shifting system on the Trail 6 is pretty standard for this amount of money. It comes with a combination of Shimano Acera (rear) and Shimano Altus (front) derailleurs and Shimano Altus shifters.

While these are not state of the art parts, they are still a good choice for a bike intended for beginners. If you maintain them well and abuse them sparingly, you’ll get years of fun out of them.


Tires & Brakes

The tires that the Trail 6 runs on are WTB Ranger. Depending on the size of the frame that you choose and your preference, you can choose between the 27.5” and 29” diameter. Note that on the S-sized model, both tires are 2.25″ wide. On larger models, the front tire is 2.25″, whereas the rear one is 2.0″.

The tires have a micro-square thread so they give you lots of traction. The knobs are not too emphasized, so excessive traction will not slow you down too much on paved roads. However, due to low-profile knobs, it is questionable how they will perform in wet conditions.

The stopping power on Cannondale Trail 6 is well distributed and you will feel like you have a lot of control in your hands when you press the levers.

If you buy an MTB that can tackle some more serious terrain, like Trail 6 is, you expect it to have lots of stopping power as well. That’s exactly what you get with this Cannondale since it comes with Shimano MT200 hydraulic disc brakes. 160mm rotors are fitted both on the front and on the rear wheel.

Related: Hybrid: Cannondale Quick Series Overview

Saddle and Pedals

Not much can be said about both the saddle and the pedals. They are pretty much standard models across most Cannondale bikes in this price range. People who rode the bike and reviewed it didn’t complain about the saddle but this is an individual thing. The pedals are Cannondale Platform, flat pedals as it is clear from their name. They are great for beginners. However, if you prefer clipless pedals, you can easily fit the bike with a pair.


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 6 – MSRP $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.


Do We Recommend it?

cannondale Trail 6 considerationsYes!

The Trail category of Cannondale’s mountain bicycles has a wide range of models that suit different types of rides.

The strongest points on Trail 6 are definitely its frame and its brakes, which have shown to be quite durable and to perform well under stress. The fact that the fork has a remote lockout option is a big plus on the trail as well.

If you are a beginner on the trail, but you plan to stick with it, Cannondale Trail 6 will serve you quite well.

After some time, if your riding becomes more serious, you might want to invest in better derailleurs and some knobbier tires, if you ride in muddy conditions a lot of the time. However, these are pretty standard upgrades on most trail bikes.

Therefore, as you can see, Cannondale has built another decent bike and offers it at an attractive price. If you are just entering the trail life, definitely give this model a try. If you are a more experienced rider, though, check out some of the more advanced Cannondale Trail models instead.


Get From REI.com >

Cannondale Trail 6 (2021)













  • Exceptional frame
  • Reliable hydraulic disc brakes
  • Remote lockout feature


  • Lower end derailleurs


  • Antonio says:

    Hi jeff!I just bought new Cannondale trail 6 for $850 plus tax And the prices are you guys saying the Cannondale 6 retail price $650

    • Editor says:

      Hi Antonio,
      That is a good brand. As for the price, there is really no way to control that as bike prices skyrocketted during the pandemic. However, that is a good investment and wishing you more outdoor fun!

  • Alberto Mitchell says:

    Great article Jeff, you make my choice much easier. Now, I just buy a cannondale trail 6, which upgrade you think is the most important I most do in the bike?

  • Carlos says:

    Hello! GREAT ARTICLE!! I am looking at the 2021 models i don’t know the better option between trek marlin 6 and cannondale trail 6. They both retail at 650us

  • jason says:

    Great articles on the different trails. You really narrowed it down to which one I want to get. I’m 5’9 with an inseem of 30.5 Would the medium be sufficient for me or should I go for the large?

    • Jeff Balton says:

      Hi Jason,

      Your range is between medium and large. They do overlap sometimes. Just stay within the range of 16″ to 18″ frame sizes. Thanks for the positive feedback.

  • Alan jay says:

    hi about the rear hub. what size is it im having difficulty replacing the stock hubs because of its dimenstions.
    Can you help me?

    • Jeff Balton says:

      Hi Alan,
      Just to give you a general idea, the common MTB hub is 135mm. Are you talking about the front or rear hub? Replacing the hubs yourself can be risky. It is better to ask help from a bike professional.

  • Hey I was going to upgrade my pedals on this bike but I don’t know what size it takes, I’m confused in pedal sizes like 9/16 and stuff like that

    • Jeff Balton says:

      Hi Luis,
      Most of the pedals these days are 9/16. Here’s a good link to give you an idea how to tell if your pedals have 9/16.

  • Giuseppe Barbagallo says:

    Deal all, I’m going to buy a cannondale trai 6 model year 2020, but I also have the opportunity to buy the 2019 model year. I have seen comments above, but they are not exact as the transmission system is identical on both models year. with the exception of the graphics, the only coss that I noticed is that the rear brake tube passes differently between the two my (in 2019 under the oblique tube of the body, in 2020 under the horizontal tube of the body). can anyone tell me what exactly the differences are and which model year is worth buying regardless of the price? (I found the shop that sells them to me for the same price)

    • Jeff Balton says:

      Hi Giuseppe,

      There are exciting reviews about this model via YouTube if you have the time. Here’s the complete specs. You can compare it to your 2019 model. Cannondale Trail 6

  • Jesse Pnw says:

    2020 trail 6. Can you suggest a fork and do you Railer upgrade? Can I buy a remote switch for my forks on the trail six?

    • Jeff Balton says:

      You can get SR Suntour XCR or RockShox 30 Gold RL, for example, it’s just important for the fork to have a straight steerer. You can get a remote switch as well if the fork supports it.

  • Omar flores says:

    I bought a large cannondale trail 6 (2019)
    And a medium trail 4 (2019) . I’m 5’9 1/2 and the large tube is right there in the area. The medium gave me more room. I am loving the trails but noticed knee pains and a slighter hunch on the medium . Can I adjust the handle bars ? Which one should I keeps, is the tubing size a big factor . I have started riding the trails all of the time

    • Jeff Balton says:

      Hi Omar, Trail 4 is a much better bike in terms of components, but I think size L is a better fit for your height. You could put a longer stem on your Trail 4 to extend the reach, but don’t overdo it as it will also affect your handling. Knee pain could be related to the saddle height or saddle fore/aft position, check if those are adjusted correctly.

  • Rholdin Arias says:

    Between a trail 4 and trail 6… what do you prefer for a beginner on this MTB world!?

    • Jeff Balton says:

      If you’re an absolute beginner and you plan to take things slowly, Trail 6 will do the job more than well enough. However, if you want to pursue mountain biking, ride the trails often, and improve your skills as time goes by, then it’s better to go for Trail 4 straight away.

  • Robbie Brock says:

    Difference in Marlin 6 2x Drivetrain and Trail 6 3x Drivetrain? Bike will be rode on both pavement and trails with pavement being more often

    • Jeff Balton says:

      Hi Robbie, 2x drivetrains are much more common on mid-range trail bikes nowadays because they lower weight and simplify things. You usually still have the same min/max range of gears as on a 3x setup, though you lose some gears in-between. For your needs, I recommend going with the 2x option.

  • Are the hubs sealed bearing? Is it a cassete on the rear? Will it accept an 11 speed cog?

    • Jeff Balton says:

      Hey Charles, the bottom bracket is a sealed cartridge, but not sure about the hubs. I believe the freewheel will accept only up to 10 cogs, you’ll need to replace it if you want to fit an 11-speed cog.

  • Phil says:

    I can get a 2019 Trail 6 or a 2020 Trail 6 for the same money. Which would you suggest?

    • Jeff Balton says:

      Both are good bikes. You should decide whether you prefer a 2x or a 3x drivetrain and choose relative to that preference. 🙂

  • Har Sid says:

    Jeff, how would you compare 2019 Trail 6 vs. 2020 Trail 6? The pictures of 2019 show a tapered headtube (I could be wrong, new to bike world). What are the other areas do you think makes a difference from 2019 to 2020? 2X9 (2019 model) vs. 3X8 (2020 model). 2019 model is nearly 2 lbs lighter than 2020 Trail 6. Thanks for your help.

    • Har Sid says:

      2019 model ($825) is also priced higher on Cannondale website as compared to 2020 model ($650)?

    • Jeff Balton says:

      As you’ve noticed and mentioned yourself, a lot has changed since 2019 for Trail 6. It’s no longer the same bike compared to the 2019 model. Trail 5 2020 is now much more similar to Trail 6 2019, so you can get that one if you want a new 2x setup. I prefer the 2019 model because of the 2x, but it’s also more expensive.

  • Shawn Cart says:

    I was looking into getting a bike to take on various trails and also use for a 4 mile daily commute on the streets. Which would u recommend? Thank you! Cannondale Trail 6 Bike – 2020 vs Cannondale
    Quick CX 3 Bike – 2019

    • Jeff Balton says:

      If you plan to spend more time on the trails, I’d recommend Trail 6. If you plan to spend more time on paved roads and just occasionally hit some tame trails, then Quick CX 3 is more suitable for you. Hope that helps!

  • Steve says:

    I want to put wider tires not necessarily tubeless but maybe tubeless ready. On the Trail 6 what are my constraints, 2.3, 2.4, 2.6? Not really wanting oh plus because I don’t think the Trail 6 can accommodate that.


    • Jeff Balton says:

      Hey Steve, you’ll have to measure the clearance in the fork and the rear triangle to figure that out. But I assume 2.4″ or 2.6″ wouldn’t be a problem.

  • Sergio says:

    How does this bike compare to the Trek Marlin 6? Which would you recommend?

    • Jeff Balton says:

      Marlin 6 and Trail 6 are very similar bikes. You won’t go wrong whichever you choose. Personally, I’d go for Cannondale because of slightly better brakes and components. On the other hand, Trek has a 2x drivetrain. You have to decide what your priorities are. 🙂

  • Oscar says:

    How would you guys compare the 2020 model vs a 2014 and what would be your top price for a new 2014 model ?

    • Jeff Balton says:

      Hi Oscar, Cannnondale Trail 6 from 2014 is discontinued and cannot be found new anymore, only used. The technology has come a long way since then, so the 2020 model is quite ahead in terms of performance, precision, and durability. 🙂

  • Joe says:

    Jeff, can you compare these two and tell me if one is a better purchase/value?
    2020 Specialized Rockhopper Comp 1x VS 2020 Cannondale Trail 6

    • Jeff Balton says:

      Hi Joe, I think Cannondale Trail 6 is a better choice. You get a similar fork with both, similar hydraulic brakes, yet Trail 6 has a lot more gears and costs much less. It’s your call, depending on what your priorities are 🙂

  • A says:

    I have a 2018 Trail 1 – fantastic bike, but want to go tubeless.

    What size tires can (should) I fit front and rear? Riding in the rocky granite around the valley around Phoenix in Arizona

    • Jeff Balton says:

      I believe you could fit it with a 2.3″ tire. But you can send Cannondale an email and ask for their opinion as well.

  • christ leung says:

    hey i have a trail 6. what can u do to upgrade it?

    • Jeff Balton says:

      In my opinion, swapping the derailleurs and the fork would make the biggest difference to your ride.

  • Cr1 says:

    which bike is better Cannondale Trail 5 or Trail 6? New to this MTB world 🙂

    • Jeff Balton says:

      Both are great bikes, but Trail 5 has slightly better specs. However, if you’re on a tight budget, you won’t be wrong even if you buy the Trail 6. 🙂

  • Cosmin says:

    Hello, trail 2 would be a better option? I am kind of new in this world and I am not sure about the components of the bike. Thank you!

    • Jeff Balton says:

      Hi Cosmin,

      Yes, in terms of components, Trail 2 is the better choice. However, depending on what you’re looking for, Trail 6 offers great bang for the buck as well.

  • Narasimhan S says:

    Pros and cons of Cannondale trail 4 2017 & 2018 models

    • Jeff Balton says:

      Trail 4 is an affordable bike with a fantastic frame, fast tires, and decent Shimano components. The only downside is a slightly longer stem, but that can be easily swapped.


    cannondale trail 6 is big dream in my dreams not today but one day i will achieve ….

    • Jeff Balton says:

      It’s a fantastic bike for that price. Stay tuned for discounts which happen frequently. 🙂

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