Cannondale Trail 5 Review — Best Beginner Mountain Bike?

cannondale trail 5 review

Are you facing difficulties with your first mountain bike? Are you worried about spending too much money initially, but still desire a bike that performs well in every aspect? If you are, then we have discovered an excellent XC mountain bike specifically for you.

The Cannondale Trail 5 is ideal for riders who are new to mountain biking. We didn’t have to shell out thousands of dollars right away to pursue our new hobby. This bike is priced at a reasonable $767, and it provides us with an outstanding package.

Cannondale has established its reputation through more than 25 years of innovative history. Therefore, it’s not surprising that even the more affordable Trail series bikes boast distinctive framesets that provide a smooth and enjoyable riding experience for casual riders.

Let’s find more about this beginner-friendly MTB in this Cannondale Trail 5 review:

Product Specifications

Product Cannondale Trail 5
Brand Cannondale
Available Sizes XS, S, M, L, XL
Frame SmartForm C3 alloy
Fork SR Suntour XCM
Fork Travel 100 mm
No. of Gears 10
Brake Type Hydraulic Disc Brake
Weight 32 lbs.
Gender Unisex
Ratings 4.5/5

Cannondale Trail 5 Single-track Review

When we were selecting the paths for the Cannondale Trail 5, we aimed for relatively easy trails since it’s a bike designed for beginners. Our team chose the beginner-friendly trails at BikePark Wales, the first full-size mountain bike park in the South Wales Valleys. It offers a variety of terrains suitable for riders of all skill levels.

The gravel trails are perfect for beginners. The Cannondale Trail 5’s 29×2.25″ tires performed excellently in the forested area with its dense trees and intersecting trails. The tread pattern with knobs and grooves provided excellent grip on the ground, giving me a strong support. The spacing between the knobs prevented any hindrance while riding through muddy areas.

Also Read: 10 Best Budget Mountain Bikes Under $500

Moreover, the seat tube angle of 73.5° ensured a comfortable riding position without causing any discomfort. You might think that such stability would make the bike feel sluggish, but let me assure you, it’s not the case. Thanks to the microSHIFT Advent X drivetrain, shifting gears is effortless. I still remember my initial rides, where I could accelerate smoothly with the wind whistling past my ears, creating an unforgettable experience.

I’m certain that once you ride the Cannondale Trail 5 and embark on your own fast-paced journey, you’ll understand the joy it brings. In summary, it’s definitely worth trying out and experiencing firsthand.

Cannondale Trail 5 Downhill Review

When assessing a mountain bike, it’s important to consider its downhill performance. We thoroughly examined the Cannondale Trail 5 and it successfully met our criteria.

One notable feature is its SR Suntour XCM shock forks, which provide 100mm of travel, internal coil springs, and hydraulic cable actuation. These components efficiently absorb shocks while descending, ensuring a comfortable ride. We felt secure and stable on the bike throughout the journey. The micro-suspension system further enhanced our downhill experience with its smart design.

The AdventX shifter proved to be highly accommodating in terms of speed adjustment. The Cannondale Trail 5’s 68° head tube angle is particularly beneficial for beginners, as it instills confidence during downhill descents. Once we became accustomed to it, we found the handling to be exceptionally stable.

For beginners, mastering turns can be a challenging task that requires practice. Fortunately, the Cannondale Trail 5’s WTB Ranger Comp tires offer consistent grip in every turn. This feature greatly assists in maneuvering through similar obstacles, making it easier for all riders to handle such situations.

Key Features and Specifications


When it comes to geometry, the Trail 5 bike has an interesting dual nature. On one hand, its slack head angle and low bottom bracket provide a stable and secure feel when navigating corners. However, there are some drawbacks. The stand-over clearance is limited, and the seat tube is excessively tall. Even with an uncut seatpost, we were unable to lower the saddle enough for comfortable descents.

The Trail 5 boasts a stylish frame and Boost wheels, making it tempting to consider as the ideal bike for an upgrade. However, our test winner offers everything the Trail 5 has to offer and more.


Cannondale Trail 5 frame

Cannondale has always been known for its innovative frame construction technology, ensuring that each bike is equipped with the best frame material suited for its purpose.

The Cannondale Trail 5 features a SmartForm C3 alloy frame, which is designed with precision to distribute wall thickness and shape the tubes perfectly. This enables the material to be concentrated in areas where stiffness and strength are crucial, eliminating unnecessary weight from the structure. This makes it superior to similar products in the market.

Moreover, the Trail 5 incorporates the SAVE micro-suspension system, which adds a flex area to the rear triangle of the frame. This clever feature enhances the ride quality by providing a smoother and more dependable experience.

Additionally, the bike utilizes StraightShot internal cable routing. The cables for the shifters and lift bars are neatly routed through the StraightShot window in the downtube, while the rear brake is securely attached on the outside of the frame. This internal cable routing not only gives the Cannondale Trail 5 a sleek appearance but also simplifies maintenance for riders.

Furthermore, you can ride without worrying about running out of water, as the frame of the Trail 5 is equipped with two water bottle mounting holes. This allows you to conveniently carry water bottles for hydration during your rides.


canondale trail 5 drivetrain

The Cannondale Trail 5 is a great choice for beginners looking for an entry-level bike. What sets it apart is the microSHIFT ADVENT X drivetrain, which offers a pleasant surprise. With its rear chainstay and shifter, shifting through the 10 gears becomes a smooth experience. This is especially beneficial for newbies as it provides both high performance and a wide range of speed options to handle challenging road obstacles.

Furthermore, the bike features microSHIFT’s special Ratchet-and-pawl clutch with a larger pulley, designed to protect the chain from potential damage.

I believe the combination of the Prowheel crank and microSHIFT drivetrain is truly remarkable and stands out as one of the top features of the Cannondale Trail 5. It offers the best drivetrain you can find in this price range, ensuring a satisfying biking experience for everyone.


I believe that the most important thing for a beginner rider is to have a stable bike when they start riding. It’s crucial to be able to stop safely and quickly when faced with unfamiliar terrain.

The hydraulic Shimano MT200 brake system is specifically designed for riders who are new to biking. It allows you to adjust the braking power according to your needs. The brake is mounted on the rear for easy maintenance and removal, and it uses Shimano hydraulic mineral oil, which ensures reliable brake stability.

Moreover, the brake system has a 40% wider pad clearance, which reduces the clicking noise that can occur when the brake pads touch the wheel. This means that you won’t hear any harsh sounds when you need to brake suddenly.

Additionally, the two-piston brake design ensures that the bike remains smooth even when riding on muddy roads. Some people might argue that a four-piston design is better, but for beginners who prioritize their safety during the initial stage, the two-piston design is perfectly sufficient.

Wheelset & Tires

WTB Ranger Comp tires

The bike’s tires are WTB Ranger Comp, measuring 2.25 inches wide, regardless of their overall diameter. These tires have moderately pronounced knobs, making them suitable for both rough and smooth trails. It’s important to note that the wheels and tires have a significant impact on your riding experience, more than most people realize.

Thankfully, Cannondale has invested wisely in these components. So, if you decide to purchase this bike, you’ll receive a set of WTB SX19 tubeless-ready rims. These rims are lightweight and sturdy, equipped with 32 spokes to ensure good durability. Being tubeless-ready means you can eliminate the need for inner tubes and reduce the risk of pinch flats. This feature also helps in preventing frustrating punctures while riding on the trail.

Are there any Drawbacks of this bike?

Depending on your preferences and standards, the Cannondale Trail 5 may have a few drawbacks, or it may have none at all. If you’re purchasing your first hardtail bike or upgrading from a Walmart model, you’ll absolutely adore it. It’s designed with your needs in mind and is perfect for getting started on local trails and building a foundation for mountain biking.

However, as you become more skilled, there are certain components you may consider upgrading. For instance, if you want more responsive handling for aggressive riding, you might think about upgrading the cockpit. Additionally, while the hydraulic brakes are excellent for casual riders, they may not withstand heavy abuse. But remember, it all depends on your riding style.

The Cannondale Trail 5 is an exceptional choice for riders who are new to the sport and are taking their first steps.

Also Read: Cannondale Trail 8 Review — Is it Worth Buying?