Cannondale Trail 7 Review: A Gateway to Budget Mountain Biking

Cannondale Trail 7 Review: Exploring Trails on a Budget

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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 current version is even better than the previous one.

With a relatively low price, 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 for 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 specs of this bike, it’s 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.

See All Models on REI


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.

Height Range 4’6″ – 5’2″ 5’1″ – 5’4″ 5’4″ – 5’8″ 5’7″ – 6’0″ 6’0″ – 6’3″
Wheels 27.5″ 27.5″ 29″ 29″ 29″

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 width of the versatile WTB Ranger Comp is 2.25″ with both diameters. This is a great width for multi-surface rides on gravel, dirt, and pavement.


The Main Highlight: Hydraulic Disc Brakes

How often do you see entry-level trail bikes with a price tag of under $700 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 Shimano MT200 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. They allow the rider to adjust the amount of braking power they need more precisely.


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 components

However, these are components from some of Shimano’s lowest groupsets. 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 2-speed.

If you keep your rides moderately relaxed and don’t push the bike too hard, you’ll be 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 wheel sizes Trail 7 offers. The XS and S sizes 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 thousand miles if abused excessively. However, they are not that expensive to upgrade and keep riding.


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


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.

Consider also: Cannondale Hybrid Series – Quick

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.

See All Models on REI

Cannondale Trail 7













  • Affordable
  • Hydraulic brakes
  • 27.5" & 29" wheels
  • Versatile 2.25" tires
  • Great looks and comfortable geometry


  • Entry-Level components

37 thoughts on “Cannondale Trail 7 Review: Exploring Trails on a Budget

  1. Good info on this bike, I have a Trail 7 large frame and use it mostly for gravel, it’s a little heavier than I like but it holds up well on those bumpy roads. It was used when I got it and have to agree with you about the front derailleur, it does not hold up well on dirty rides. I will be changing it out, along with the chain; what derailleur would you suggest for this bike?
    Thanks in advance.

    1. Hi Terry,
      Thanks for the positive feedback! Well, it really depends on what brands you like for your upgrade. One thing to note is that you cannot mix and match Sram and Shimano. The Trail 7 is OK for typical trail roads but not really for slamming into stuff. You might want to check this interesting review about the best derailleurs this year. It will help you decide which one to buy. Here’s one more tip I can give you. Always have your bike tuned up at your local bike shop before a ride. Usually, having the bike have a general tune up once a month will save you money. The procedure can also give you better rides.

  2. Hey Jeff,

    I am currently weighting 144kg and I want ro buy thia bike for comuting to work in order to loose some weight. It will be used only on the street, do you think it is ok?

    1. Hi George,
      I think it is a perfect bike for commuting. It is also more comfortable. This is also a good choice because the Cannondale brand is excellent. That is if you are doing a lot of off road riding.

    2. Hi George,

      Yes this is a good bike, especially if comfort is important to you. I suggest you get it!

  3. Hello Jef,

    For someone weighting 144kg think this is a good purchase? Will be used only on the street to comute to work in order to loose some weight.


  4. Hello Jeff

    Hope your are in good health.
    I am 6 feet 3 inches and weigh around 213 pounds
    Please suggest me the right bicycle for me good decent Shimano components .
    I am looking to invest $700 on my bicycle

    1. Hi Thona,
      The following are the best(and popular) bike suspension forks you can check out today:
      Fox 34 Float 34 Factory/RockShox Lyrik Ultimate RC2/RockShox SID Charger /Manitou Mattoc Pro/Marzocchi Bomber Z2…but be sure to read the reviews first before deciding. Cheers!

  5. I am a 16 year old high schools student. On this bike I would plan to do some fairly small jumps on a track near my house. I am also planning to get a job this summer so I would need a bike that could do both. I also do a few trails that have a decently heavy descent on them. Would this bike suffice or should I look for an upgrade?

    1. Hey Aiden, I think you’d need a higher-spec’d bike for those things. Trail 7 can definitely handle some jumps and descents (it’s not going to fall apart), but they’d have to be very mild. This is a bike intended for recreational riding.

  6. I want to replace my son ( almost 9 years old ) bike and I am looking for Trek Marlin 5 vs. Cannondale trail 7.
    I found them for a similar price at a local bike store and I don’t know what to choose. I know that they are all good . What might be your choice and why?!
    He already tried the Trek Marlin 5 and is very light. he likes that. I know more about Cannondale, I like it more.
    Thank you very much.

    1. Hi Cristian, I’d recommend Cannondale Trail 7 as it comes with better components (Altus/Acera) compared to Trek’s Shimano Tourney. Plus, it has a 2×9 drivetrain compared to Trek’s 3×7, which is lighter and more efficient.

    2. Thank you very much for you feed back. What about Specialized Rockhopper 27.5?!
      I believe that this will be the the last option between the Cannondale, Trek and Specialized….
      Thank you again.

    3. It’s a nice bike and you won’t make a mistake if you get it, but I still think Cannondale is the best deal of the three. 🙂

  7. Im a larger guy (6’1″ & 250) looking to get into riding for fitness and fun. I want something that I can take on bike rides with the kids on the paved trail but also some rides through the woods. Do you recommend the Trail 7 or Trail 6 or something else? I don’t plan on doing anything to crazy as Im new but want something that can handle some off road.

    1. Hi Josh, Trail 7 and Trail 6 are excellent choices. If you have the money to spare, Trail 6 offers better components. But Trail 7 would get the job done for you as well, considering the needs you mentioned.

  8. Would this be an “OK” bike for my son – who is not an entry level biker but doesn’t want to bike a new higher “level” bike until next year – he will only be home for about 4-6 weeks so he has a limited time to ride this year but wants to at least get out on the trails a few times (but doesn’t want to spend $2,700+ on a better bike right now).

    1. If he will ride moderate trails or just explore dirt roads, then it’s a good choice. If he plans to do jumps, drops, or heavy descents, he needs something better spec’d.

  9. Can you provide a comparison between a train 7 as and a comparable cannondale quick cx. I am a 62 year old Male 5′ 5″ weigh 150 lbs inseam is 30″ I think I have my choices limited to these two models mainly because of affordability. I plan on gravel and some trail.
    Th as no you
    Terry Williams

    1. Price-wise, Cannondale Trail 7 can be compared to Cannondale Quick CX 4. I’d say Trail 7 is a better buy because it has more gears, slightly better components, and hydraulic disc brakes, instead of mechanical discs.

      Trail 7 is more suitable for off-road riding, whereas Quick CX 4 would be more at home on paved roads and hard-packed dirt. Take that into consideration as well.

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