Cannondale Catalyst 4 Review (Comprehensive and Detailed)

Photo of a bright green cannondale catalyst 4 on a white background. Cannondale Catalyst 4 Review.

Looking for a reliable and affordable bike that can handle a variety of terrains? Look no further than the Cannondale Catalyst 4. This entry-level mountain bike is perfect for beginners or those on a budget, offering a smooth ride and a range of features that make it a great all-around option.

With a lightweight aluminum frame, 100mm front suspension, and 27.5″ wheels, the Catalyst 4 delivers a nimble and responsive ride that can handle everything from smooth pavement to rocky trails.

With disc brakes and integrated rack and fender mounts, you can customize your ride to suit your needs and preferences. Whether you’re commuting to work or hitting the trails on the weekend, the Catalyst 4 has you covered.

Key Takeaways:

  • Entry-Level All-Terrain Bike: The Cannondale Catalyst 4 is an entry-level mountain bike suitable for beginners or budget-conscious riders, offering a versatile and smooth ride.
  • Frame and Weight: The bike features a lightweight SmartForm C3 Alloy aluminum frame, providing durability and a sporty riding position. The bike weighs 31 lbs (14 kg), ensuring manageable weight.
  • Wheel and Suspension: Equipped with 27.5″ wheels and a 100mm front suspension, the Catalyst 4 offers a good balance of speed and maneuverability while absorbing shocks on the trail.
  • Braking System: The bike comes with reliable disc brakes that offer excellent stopping power, crucial for riding on uneven terrains.
  • Gearing: The Catalyst 4 has 21 gears with a Shimano Tourney rear derailleur, providing smooth and reliable shifting suitable for most beginners.
  • Comparisons with Other Models: The article compares the Catalyst 4 with higher-end models like Catalyst 1, 2, and 3, highlighting differences in drivetrain, brakes, and pricing.
  • Maintenance and Accessories: Proper maintenance is emphasized, including cleaning, lubrication, tire pressure, and brake checks. The article also mentions accessories like bike bags, lights, fenders, locks, and more to enhance the riding experience.

Overview of Cannondale Catalyst 4

If you’re looking for an entry-level mountain bike that can handle the trails, the Cannondale Catalyst 4 is a great option to consider. This unisex bike is designed with beginners in mind, offering a comfortable ride and reliable performance.

One of the standout features of the Catalyst 4 is its SmartForm C3 Alloy, 6061 Aluminum frame. This construction provides a sturdy and durable base for the bike while keeping the weight down to a manageable 31lbs (14kg). The frame is also designed with a sporty riding position, making it easy to handle on the trails.

The Catalyst 4 is equipped with 27.5″ wheels, which provide a good balance between speed and maneuverability. The bike also features a 100mm front suspension travel, which helps to absorb shocks and bumps on the trail.

When it comes to braking, the Catalyst 4 is equipped with reliable disc brakes. These brakes provide excellent stopping power, which is essential when you’re riding on uneven terrain.

In terms of gearing, the Catalyst 4 has 21 gears, which should be more than enough for most beginners. The bike also features a Shimano Tourney rear derailleur, which provides smooth and reliable shifting.

Frame and Design

The Cannondale Catalyst 4 features a SmartForm C3 Alloy, 6061 aluminum frame that provides a lightweight and agile ride. The aluminum frame is a great choice for entry-level mountain bike riders who want a durable and responsive bike. SmartForm C3 Alloy is Cannondale’s entry-level construction, but it doesn’t mean that it is any less durable or reliable than their higher-end models.

The frame is designed with Cannondale’s signature SAVE (Synapse Active Vibration Elimination) technology, which includes a flattened seat and shaped chainstays that help to absorb vibrations and smooth out rough terrain. The SAVE rear triangle also helps to increase the bike’s agility and maneuverability, making it ideal for technical trails.

In addition to its performance features, the Catalyst 4 also includes practical design elements, such as integrated rack and fender mounts, making it a great choice for commuters and urban riders. The frame is also available in a uni-sex design, making it accessible to a wider range of riders.

Wheel and Tire Details

When it comes to the wheels and tires of the Cannondale Catalyst 4, there are some important details you should be aware of. The bike features 27.5-inch wheels, which are a popular choice for mountain bikes due to their ability to roll over obstacles and provide a smooth ride. The wheels are paired with Innova tires that have a width of 2.1 inches. While this width is not ideal for rocky conditions, it is suitable for most off-road scenarios.

The tires are mounted on double-wall Alex DC 6.0 rims, which are known for their durability. The rims have 32 holes and are designed to work with alloy disc hubs. The hubs use a quick-release (QR) system, which makes it easy to remove and install the wheels.

One thing to keep in mind is that the tires are not tubeless-ready. This means that if you want to run tubeless tires, you will need to purchase new rims or convert the existing ones. However, if you prefer to run tubes, the Innova tires are a solid choice.

Suspension and Control

When it comes to mountain biking, having a good suspension system is crucial for a comfortable and safe ride. The Cannondale Catalyst 4 comes equipped with a 100mm SR Suntour M3030-27 front suspension fork, a popular choice for entry-level mountain bikes. This fork provides a decent amount of travel to handle rough terrain and absorb shocks, making it ideal for beginners.

The SR Suntour M3030-27 fork is designed to provide a smooth ride and responsive handling, giving you greater control over your bike. This is especially important when navigating tight turns or technical sections of the trail. With the Cannondale Catalyst 4, you can expect to have a stable and predictable ride, even on challenging terrain.

In addition to the front suspension, the Catalyst 4 also features disc brakes, providing reliable stopping power in all weather conditions. This is important for maintaining control and preventing accidents, especially when riding downhill or at high speeds.

Drivetrain Components

When it comes to a bike’s drivetrain, the Cannondale Catalyst 4 has a solid combination of parts that work together to provide a smooth and efficient ride. The drivetrain components include the Shimano Tourney front and rear derailleurs, Prowheel crankset, Sunrace cassette, Shimano EF41 Easyfire shifters, and KMC Z51 chain.

The Shimano Tourney derailleurs are entry-level components that provide reliable shifting performance. The Prowheel crankset features 42/34/24T chainrings, which offer a wide range of gearing options for different terrains. The Sunrace cassette has a 7-speed range, which is suitable for beginner riders who are just starting to explore mountain biking.

The Shimano EF41 Easyfire shifters are designed to make shifting gears easy and intuitive. The shifters are located on the handlebars, allowing you to change gears without taking your hands off the grips. The KMC Z51 chain is durable and reliable, ensuring that your drivetrain components work together smoothly.

Brake System

The Cannondale Catalyst 4 mountain bike comes equipped with a Shimano Tourney group brake system. This system is a mechanical disc brake system, which is not the best relative to other systems offered by Shimano. However, the Jak-7 cable-actuated disc brakes provide decent stopping power for the bike, even in wet conditions. The bike uses standard 160mm rotors on both ends, which are sufficient for most riders.

The mechanical disc brakes on the Catalyst 4 are easy to maintain and repair. They are also more affordable than hydraulic disc brakes, making them a good choice for beginners or riders on a budget. However, they may not provide the same level of stopping power as hydraulic brakes.

One thing to keep in mind is that the brake system on the Catalyst 4 may not be suitable for more advanced riders or those who plan to take on more challenging terrain. In this case, upgrading to a hydraulic brake system or a higher-end mechanical disc brake system may be necessary.

Additional Features

The Cannondale Catalyst 4 comes with a range of additional features that make it a great choice for beginners and intermediate riders alike. Here are some of the key features to keep in mind when considering this bike:

  • Cannondale Stage 2: The Catalyst 4 comes equipped with the Cannondale Stage 2, a versatile and reliable drivetrain that provides smooth shifting and excellent performance on a variety of terrains.
  • Cannondale Platform: The bike also features the Cannondale Platform, a lightweight and durable design that provides excellent stability and control. This platform is designed to keep the rider centered and balanced, even on rough and uneven terrain.
  • Riser Bar: The Catalyst 4’s riser bar features a 25mm rise and measures 700mm in width, providing excellent control and stability for riders of all sizes. The bar is constructed from 31.8mm micro-adjust aluminum, which is both lightweight and durable.
  • Semi-Integrated Seatpost: The bike’s semi-integrated seatpost is designed for easy adjustment, with a 27.2 x 350mm size that provides a comfortable and stable ride. The seatpost is also designed to be compatible with a range of different saddles so riders can choose the one that best suits their needs.
  • Threadless Headset: The Catalyst 4’s threadless headset provides excellent stability and control, with a 1-1/8 inch size that is compatible with a range of different forks. This design also allows for easy adjustment and maintenance, making it a great choice for riders who want to keep their bike in top condition.

Comparisons with Other Models

When looking for a mountain bike, it’s important to consider different models and compare their features. The Cannondale Catalyst 4 is a great option for beginners, but how does it compare to other models, such as the Catalyst 1, Catalyst 2, and Catalyst 3? Let’s take a closer look.

Catalyst 3 vs Catalyst 4

The Catalyst 3 and Catalyst 4 are similar in many ways, but there are a few key differences to note. The Catalyst 3 has a slightly better drivetrain, with a 3×8 setup, compared to the 3×7 on the Catalyst 4. This means you’ll have more gear options for climbing and descending. The Catalyst 3 also has a slightly lighter frame, coming in at around 30 pounds (13.6 kg) compared to the 31-pound (14 kg) Catalyst 4.

However, the Catalyst 4 has a few advantages over the Catalyst 3. It has slightly wider tires, which can provide more stability and better traction on rough terrain. The Catalyst 4 also has a more affordable price point, making it a great option for beginners who don’t want to break the bank.

Catalyst 1 vs Catalyst 4

The Catalyst 1 is a step up from the Catalyst 4, with a few notable upgrades. The Catalyst 1 has a better fork, with 100mm of travel, compared to the 80mm on the Catalyst 4. This means you’ll have a smoother ride on rough terrain. The Catalyst 1 also has hydraulic disc brakes, which provide better-stopping power and more consistent braking.

However, the Catalyst 1 is also significantly more expensive than the Catalyst 4. If you’re a beginner or on a budget, the Catalyst 4 is still a great option to consider.

Catalyst 2 vs Catalyst 4

The Catalyst 2 is another step up from the Catalyst 4, with even more upgrades. The Catalyst 2 has a better drivetrain, with a 3×9 setup, compared to the 3×7 on the Catalyst 4. It also has a better fork, with 100mm of travel and a lockout feature, which allows you to adjust the suspension for different terrain.

However, like the Catalyst 1, the Catalyst 2 is significantly more expensive than the Catalyst 4. If you’re a beginner or on a budget, the Catalyst 4 is still a great option to consider.

Maintenance and Service

Maintaining your Cannondale Catalyst 4 is essential for ensuring its longevity and optimal performance. Regular maintenance and service will help you avoid costly repairs and replacements in the future.


Keeping your bike clean is the first step in maintenance. After every ride, wipe down your bike frame, wheels, and chain with a clean, dry cloth. Use a mild detergent and water to clean any stubborn dirt or grime. Be sure to dry your bike thoroughly to prevent rust from forming.


Lubricating your bike’s moving parts is crucial for smooth and efficient operation. Apply a high-quality lubricant to your chain, derailleurs, and cables regularly. Be sure to wipe off any excess lubricant to prevent dirt and dust buildup.

Tire Pressure

Maintaining proper tire pressure is essential for a comfortable and safe ride. Check your tire pressure before every ride and adjust as necessary. The recommended tire pressure for the Cannondale Catalyst 4 is 50-80 psi (3.5-5.5 bar).


Your bike’s brakes are critical for your safety. Check your brake pads regularly for wear and replace them as necessary. Adjust your brake cables to ensure proper braking performance. If you are unsure how to perform these tasks, take your bike to a professional for service.


If your Cannondale Catalyst 4 is equipped with suspension, it requires regular maintenance to function correctly. Check your suspension forks and shocks for leaks and damage. Keep them clean and lubricated according to the manufacturer’s instructions. If you notice any issues with your suspension, take your bike to a professional for service.

Accessories and Add-Ons

When it comes to accessorizing your Cannondale Catalyst 4, the possibilities are endless. Here are some popular accessories and add-ons that can enhance your riding experience:

Bike Bags

Bike bags are a great way to carry your essentials while riding. Whether you need to carry a water bottle, snacks, or tools, there are many types of bags available to suit your needs. Some popular options include handlebar bags, frame bags, and saddle bags.


If you plan on riding in low-light conditions, it’s important to have proper lighting for safety. There are many types of lights available, including front and rear lights and even lights that can be attached to your helmet.


Fenders are a great way to keep mud and water off of you and your bike while riding in wet conditions. They come in many different shapes and sizes and can be easily installed on your bike.


A good lock is essential for keeping your bike safe and secure when you’re not riding it. There are many types of locks available, including cable locks, U-locks, and chain locks.

Discover More

In addition to the accessories listed above, there are many other add-ons that can enhance your riding experience. Some popular options include:

  • Bike racks for carrying your bike on your car
  • Bike stands for easy maintenance and repairs
  • Cycling computers for tracking your speed, distance, and other metrics
  • Grips and pedals for added comfort and control

Purchasing and Shipping

If you are looking for an affordable bike that can handle off-pavement adventures, the Cannondale Catalyst 4 is a great option. You can purchase this bike online and have it shipped for free to an authorized Cannondale retailer of your choice. Once your bike arrives at the retailer, it will be professionally assembled for free and ready to ride when you pick it up.

To purchase the Cannondale Catalyst 4 online, simply choose the size and color of the bike you want and add it to your cart. During checkout, you will need to provide your zip code to select the closest authorized retailer where you will pick up your new bike. Cannondale will then ship the bike to your chosen retailer, where it will be assembled by a professional bike mechanic.

When you arrive at the retailer to pick up your bike, make sure to bring a valid ID and the order confirmation email. The retailer will verify your identity and then provide you with your new bike. They may also offer additional services, such as bike fitting or maintenance, so be sure to ask if you are interested.

FAQ: Cannondale Catalyst 4

What is the weight of the Cannondale Catalyst 4?

The weight of the Cannondale Catalyst 4 is approximately 32.5 lbs (14.7 kg). Keep in mind that the weight can vary slightly depending on the size of the frame.

What is the price of the Cannondale Catalyst 27.5?

The price of the Cannondale Catalyst 27.5 can vary depending on the retailer and location. However, the manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) for the 2023 model is around $700 USD.

What is the difference between the Cannondale Catalyst and Trail models?

The Cannondale Catalyst and Trail models are both designed for off-road adventures, but there are some key differences. The Catalyst is an entry-level mountain bike, while the Trail is a more advanced model. The Trail has a more aggressive geometry, a wider range of gears, and better suspension.

What is the size chart for the Cannondale Catalyst 4?

The size chart for the Cannondale Catalyst 4 varies depending on the rider’s height. As a general guide, the small size is suitable for riders between 5’2″ and 5’6″ (157-168 cm), the medium size is suitable for riders between 5’6″ and 5’10” (168-178 cm), the large size is suitable for riders between 5’10” and 6’1″ (178-185 cm), and the extra large size is suitable for riders between 6’1″ and 6’4″ (185-193 cm).

What are the available colors for the Cannondale Catalyst?

The available colors for the Cannondale Catalyst 4 can vary depending on the year and location. For the 2023 model, the available colors are blue, black, and green. However, it’s always best to check with your local retailer for the most up-to-date information on available colors.

I've been riding bikes for 30 of my 35 years. Nothing gives me more pleasure than grabbing my Enduro bike and take on the mountains. Learn more about me here.