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Cannondale Trail 7 (2020) Review

Jeff Balton

 

MSRP $560

A Beginner’s Ticket to Trail Riding

The Cannondale Trail line of bikes offers some of the best choices of beginner MTBs in the industry. Period. Trail 7 is one of the best models from that line of advanced entry-level bikes, and the 2020 version is even better than the previous one.

With a price of just $560, it fits everyone’s budget almost perfectly. More so, considering that the price is well-justified and that the bike is even slightly underappreciated.

Cannondale Trail 7 should be shortlisted by people who have little experience on the trails and want an affordable ticket into this colorful cycling subculture. It can also be the best buddy of anyone who needs a two-wheeler for recreational rides or occasional cardio workouts.

Let’s see what Cannondale has in store for us this time!

Cannondale Trail 7 Key Specifications

Thumb upLooking at the key specs of this bike, it becomes quite clear that it will not help you become an XC world champion. But, the fact that you’re reading this review probably means that that’s not on your bucket list in the first place.

Nonetheless, Cannondale Trail 7 has some features that should make it feel proud when on a ride with similarly-priced models from other brands. Though that does not mean it does not have weak links as well.

Lightweight SmartForm C3 Aluminum Frame

The real connoisseurs of the Cannondale Trail line know that all of the bikes carrying this name have a premium, in-house SmartForm C3 aluminum frame.

These Cannondale frames offer light and lively design and stiff and snappy performance. They feature a relaxed, upright geometry that improves the handling, gives you a better view of the road in front of you and makes your rides more comfortable.

The head tube angle on Trail 7 is 68° on the S frame, and 68.5° on larger frames.

Flexible Wheel Size: 27.5″ & 29″

Depending on which size of the frame you get, Cannondale Trail 7 can roll on both 27.5″ and 29″ wheels. Namely, this bicycle is available in four sizes: S, M, L, and XL. If you get the S-sized frame, you’ll be riding a pair of 27.5″ WTB SX19 wheels. If you are taller and you opt for the M, L, or XL frame, your Trail 7 will roll on 29″ wheels.

SMLXL
Height Range5’2″ – 5’6″5’6″ – 5′ 10″5’10” – 6’1″6’1″ – 6’4″
Wheels27.5″29″29″29″

The tire size is flexible as well. The S model rolls on 2.25″ tires. The larger models roll on 2.25″ tires on the front and 2.0″ tires on the back.

This is important because shorter riders often have issues controlling bikes with 29″ wheels. Moreover, the standover clearance increases significantly with bigger wheels, which can be a problem if your inseam length is not big enough.

The Main Highlight: Hydraulic Disc Brakes

How often do you see entry-level trail bikes with a price tag of around $500 and a pair of hydraulic disc brakes? We can answer that question for you—rarely.

Yet, Trail 7 sports a pair of powerful and precise Tektro M275 hydraulic brakes with 160 mm rotors on both wheels. If you used to ride a bike with V-brakes or mechanical disc brakes, you’d be impressed with the improvement in braking power and performance you get with oil instead of a cable.

The main advantage of hydraulic disc brakes is that they require much less force from the rider to be fully actuated and allow the rider to more precisely adjust the amount of braking power they need.

Weak Link: Entry-Level Shimano Components

The good thing is that the drivetrain and the derailleurs on this bike are made by Shimano. That, in and out of itself guarantees a certain level of quality and reliability that’s enough for most recreational riders.

Cannondale Trail 7 weak links

However, these are components from some of Shimano’s lowest groupsets, so they are not capable of withstanding a lot of abuse. The rear derailleur is a Shimano Tourney 8-speed, whereas the front is a Shimano Altus 3-speed.

If you keep your rides moderately relaxed and don’t push the bike too hard, you’ll be quite happy with the choice. Otherwise, you might have to consider upgrading.

 

The Main Highlights and Setbacks

To sum up the points from above in a more concise package, Cannondale Trail 7 has a lot of positive features and a few setbacks that you should be aware of when considering whether to buy or not.

First of all, this is a very affordable bike that offers fantastic value for the money you pay, overall. It offers enough in terms of specs for any entry-level rider that’s looking to have fun outdoors.

It comes with a pair of powerful hydraulic brakes that’ll offer plenty of stopping power in any kind of weather and in all riding conditions.

Most riders also appreciate the flexible wheels and tires Trail 7 offers. The S size rolls on 27.5″ wheels, whereas the larger sizes are 29ers.

The only thing to be wary of is the entry-lever Shimano derailleurs which might malfunction after several thousands of miles. However, they are not that expensive to upgrade and keep riding.

Final Thoughts About Cannondale Trail 7

suggestedAll in all, we conclude with more good than bad things to say about Cannondale Trail 7. It’s a bike that will meet the demands of most recreational and fitness riders and even exceed those of some.

It’s a fantastic bike if your plan is to ride it in a relaxed manner, enjoying nature and your surroundings. It will help you lose weight, become more fit, and spend more time outside.

Get From REI

Cannondale Trail 7 (2020)

$560
8.7

Components

8.0/10

Price

9.0/10

Weight

8.0/10

Brand

9.5/10

Durability

9.0/10

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Hydraulic brakes
  • 27.5" & 29"

Cons

  • Entry-Level components

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