Hardtail Heaven - The Cannondale F-Si

Sitting right at the top of Cannondale's hardtail mountain bike range, the F-Si Hi-MOD World Cup is, as the name implies, essentially identical to the bikes raced by the Pros in the XC World Cup.

Barry's not one to do things by halves, so when he was looking for a lightweight hardtail bike to add to the stable this was a natural choice.

Check out his first impressions below:

My descent into MTB Endurance racing continues unabated, and I recently got a hardtail MTB to complement my full-suspension Epic. To the uninitiated "hardtail" means it's only got a suspension fork up front and is rigid at the back; while full-suspension is both front and rear.

The bike I got is the new Cannondale F-Si launched late last year; and its a sub-9kg weapon.

For someone who mainly does road riding, and now a bit of gravel, a lightweight hardtail is an easy next step. It feels like a gravel bike in many ways...

One thing I do struggle with is on really rowdy bits, when you hit a big bump the front fork absorbs it - but the rear does not and it feels it wants to kick up. I call it the "bucking bronco" moments. But that can be tamed with careful weight distribution, it's just a case of acclimatising to a new sort of riding. However the flip side is that its incredibly light, and very direct (with a frame built from the same superlight, super-stiff high modulus carbon fibre as Cannondale's top road bikes).

The most instantly recognisable feature of Cannondale MTBs is the Lefty fork. Now termed Ocho (as its the 8th iteration) this is an iconic design. It's incredibly smooth and small bump sensitivity is amazing. Perhaps the most surprising thing about the Lefty is the stiffness. It's very much a part of the wonderfully direct feel of the F-Si, if you thought that halving the number of legs would cause flex, think again.

This is the World Cup Replica edition so it gets all the bling; SRAM XX1 groupsets, carbon cockpit and the sublime Enve M525 wheels (full spec at bottom of page).

The interesting thing on this bike is I went size Large, vs the XL on my Specialized Epic FS. Truth is I am probably in between sizes. But what I am finding is that my roadie tendencies shine through and I often put too much weight over the back wheel on twisty sections. With a smaller bike that's harder to subconsciously do; and with more weight over the front end this is seriously fun on nimble sections.

I have not raced this bike yet; that will come in a few weeks and I cannot wait...

Ultimately after having a full-sus bike I think they are the future; I cannot see how that technology can make you slower. But there's a different feel to a lightweight hardtail that gives a completely different kind of ride, and it's addictive.

I do love the simplicity of a hardtail bike; and given I have so many road bikes I think a mere two MTBs is downright modest!

Look out for more hardtail hooning over the coming weeks, I'm really looking forwards to getting it into its natural habitat - a race!

Meanwhile, if you're interested in an XC race bike of your own, get in touch and we can talk you through the many fantastic options.

Cannondale F-Si Hi-MOD World Cup - Tech Spec:

  • FRAME: ALL-NEW F-Si, Hi-MOD BallisTec Carbon, SAVE, PF30A, tapered head tube, Speed Release 12mm thru axle, Ai Offset
  • FORK: ALL-NEW Lefty Ocho Carbon, 29", 100mm, Chamber Damper with cable lockout, OppO Spring System, tapered steerer, 55mm offset
  • RIMS: ENVE M525 Carbon, 24h, tubeless ready
  • HUBS: Lefty 60 front, DT Swiss C36 12x148 with XD driver rear
  • SPOKES: DT Swiss Aerolite (Ai Offset dish - rear)
  • TYRES: Schwalbe Racing Ray 29 x 2.25" front, Racing Ralph 2.25" rear, Snake Skin, Addix Speedgrip Compound, tubeless ready
  • CRANK: SRAM XX1 Carbon, 34T, Ai Custom
  • BOTTOM BRACKET: Cannondale Alloy PressFit30
  • CHAIN: SRAM X01 Eagle, 12-speed
  • CASSETTE: SRAM XG-1295, X01 Eagle, 10-50, 12-speed
  • SHIFTERS: SRAM XX1 Eagle, 12-speed
  • BARS: Cannondale C1 Flat, Carbon, 8-degree sweep, 760mm
  • GRIPS: Cannondale Locking Grips
  • STEM: Cannondale C1, 7075 Alloy, 1-1/8", 31.8, 7-degree
  • HEADSET: Integrated, 1-1/8 to 1.5", sealed angular contact bearings
  • BRAKES: SRAM Level Ultimate hydro disc, 160/160mm Centerline rotors
  • BRAKE LEVERS: SRAM Level Ultimate hydro disc
  • SADDLE: Prologo Zero II, Tirox rails
  • SEATPOST: Cannondale C1 Full Carbon, 27.2mm