Cannondale Trail 6 Mountain Bike In-Depth Review

Review of Cannondale Trail 6: A Capable Entry-Level Mountain Bike

Cannondale Trail 6 2020 model
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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!

The Trail 6 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 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.

  • Frame: Smart Form C3 Alloy
  • Fork: SR Suntour XCT 100mm (w/ lockout)
  • Gears: 24 (3×8)
  • Wheel Sizes: 27.5 / 29
  • Derailleurs: Shimano Acera & Altus
  • Weight: 32 lbs
  • Brake type: Disc


See Trail Models on REI



The Cannondale Trail 6 comes with a frame that is well balanced and produced of the improved C3 Alloy, which 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.

See Trail Models on REI


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 pretty small. 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 on the front and rear wheels.

Related: Hybrid: Cannondale Quick Series Overview


Saddle and Pedals

The saddle and pedals 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 1 – Top model with excellent components and a 120 mm air fork travel, intended for trail enthusiasts.
  • Trail 2 – High-specked mid-range model with a 1×12 SRAM SX drivetrain and an air fork, made for intermediate trail riders.
  • Trail 3 – 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 4 – 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 5 – 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 – Affordable bike with quality branded parts, front suspension and hydro brakes, perfect for beginner riders wishing to get a taste of the trails.
  • Trail 7 – Versatile MTB with 24 gears, excellent for trails, gravel, and dirt roads, aimed towards casual and recreational riders.
  • Trail 8 – Cheapest Cannondale Trail model with reliable and durable components for the money, ideal for budget-conscious cyclists.


Consider also: Cannondale Trail SL Series

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. Its disc brakes 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.

See Trail Models on REI

Cannondale Trail 6













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


  • Lower end derailleurs

55 thoughts on “Review of Cannondale Trail 6: A Capable Entry-Level Mountain Bike

  1. 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.


    1. 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.

    1. 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. 🙂

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

    1. 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. 🙂

  3. 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

    1. 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 🙂

  4. 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

    1. 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.

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

    1. 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. 🙂

  5. 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!

    1. 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.

    1. 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.

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

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