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Cannondale Trail 8 is an affordable mountain bike that helps develop a passion for the trails and serves as the perfect first off-roader.
Having a limited budget does not mean you can’t get a real trail bike and have some fun exploring local dirt roads and bike trails.
Cannondale Trail 8 comes with all the necessary features to do this — front suspension, disc brakes, wide tires — and leaves enough money in your pocket for other important stuff.
WINNER of our Best Mountain Bikes Under $500 review!
The 2020 model Trail 8 costs less than $500 but comes with some seriously dirt-ready components. It’s a versatile bike that works great for commuting, off-roading, casual daily rides, losing weight… you name it!
To achieve such a low price, compromises had to be made in certain areas, but that’s nothing an average rider would notice and should be worried about.
Frame: SmartForm C3 alloy aluminum
Fork: SR Suntour M3030, 75mm
Front Derailleur: Shimano TY300, 34.9 clamp, 3-Speed
Rear Derailleur: Shimano TX800, 7-Speed
Number of Gears: 21
Brakes: Tektro mechanical disc, 160/160mm rotors
Rims: WTB SX19, 32h
Tire Width: 2.25″ (F), 2.20″ (R)
Weight: 32 lbs. 8 oz. (14.74 kg)
Cannondale Trail 8 is slowly becoming one of the most popular mountain bikes in the under $500 price range.
It does not come as a surprise that so many people like it, as it is a good-looking package that includes everything a beginner rider might need and nothing that would raise the price unnecessarily.
These are some of the things that stand out about it.
Cannondale Trail 8, like all other Trail models, is built around a lightweight and high-performing
SmartForm C3 aluminum frame. This is a tried and true frame that has proven its worth time and again.
It features internal derailleur cable routing, two water bottle mounts, and rear rack mounts. The graphite gray paint job suits it well and makes it look like a higher-priced hardtail.
The combination of a lightweight and compliant aluminum frame and a plush Suntour fork make Cannondale Trail 8 a capable and comfortable trail machine.
The SR Suntour suspension fork is fitted on the front, offering 75 mm of travel. This fork is on the heavy side due to a coil spring, but you’ll be happy it’s there when you steer off the paved roads and the terrain beneath the tires turns less than ideal.
One of the things that make Cannondale Trail 8 an entry-level mountain bike are its components. The front and rear Shimano Tourney derailleurs are definitely not made to be abused.
However, as long as you don’t intend to do serious trail riding, jumping, and dropping, Shimano Tourney will do the job well.
The 11-34T, 7-speed cassette and the 42/32/22T crankset put a total of 21 gears at your disposal. The range of gears is pretty wide, so this bike will climb well.
A proper mountain bike can simply not be imagined without a pair of disc brakes. Cannondale Trail 8 more than checks this requirement with its Tektro mechanical discs.
These brakes are paired with 160 mm rotors front and rear, which translates to plenty of stopping power on demand, whenever you need it.
Disc brakes show their true advantages in wet and rainy weather, so Trail 8 is ready for all conditions.
Depending on how tall you are, Cannondale Trail 8 can roll on either 27.5″ or 29″ wheels. Namely, this bike is available in four sizes:
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)
Therefore, the wheel size depends on the size of the frame you choose.
The variable wheel sizing on Cannondale Trail 8 ensures that you’ll get the perfect fit and end up with a bike that feels good in your hands and rides swiftly.
The front and rear tires are not equally sized either. The front tire is 2.25″ wide, whereas the rear is 2.20″ wide. This setup means more grip in corners and better descending capabilities while making the bike faster on straights.
Versatility is one of Trail 8’s main properties. It’s a bike that can suit the needs of the entire family, acting as both a day-to-day commuter and as a proper trail bike for dirt, gravel, and forest roads.
Of course, Trail 8 will feel most at home staying off paved roads and getting dusty and dirty. But thanks to its progressive, upright geometry, it also rides well when taken on long leisure rides on bike paths and tarmac.
Cannondale Trail 8 is an entry-level bicycle with lots of introductory components. As such, it’s most suitable for beginner riders and those who are still learning the ropes of off-road riding.
If you want a two-wheeler to spend more time outside, get fit, improve your health, and explore the area, you’ll be riding Trail 8 with a smile on your face.
However, if you are an experienced mountain biker and you want to improve your off-roading skills, Shimano Tourney components and a low-level Suntour fork won’t cut it for you.
Trail 8 costs just $485, which is hard to believe considering the attention to detail that apparently went into making it. Sure, it has some entry-level components, but it also has both 27.5″ and 29″ wheels, disc brakes, durable quality tires, and phenomenal looks.
Therefore, Trail 8 is definitely worth the money. If you fit into the rider profile we depicted above, there’s no reason not to buy it. It should serve you well for miles and years to come.