REVIEW: Cannondale Catalyst 4 – Should You Buy It?

Cannondale Catalyst 4 Review

Hey there bikers! It’s time for another bike review. As we head towards prime biking season, you might be looking for a new ride. Today, we’re going to give you an official review of the new Cannondale Catalyst 4, the newest edition in the Catalyst line. 

Cannondale’s bikes come suited for various types of terrain, and the Catalyst 4 is specifically geared for mountain biking. This means it should be a viable option for taking trips out on the trail. However, if you’re going to do mountain biking you want to be sure you’re getting the best.

You might have some questions about it – is the Catalyst 4 going to meet your needs? Is it going to be a definite step up from its predecessor, the Catalyst 3? Before you make up your mind on a bike, you want to know these things.

So, let’s explore a little more about the Cannondale Catalyst 4 and go through the pros, cons, and overall specs!

Tech Specs

First up in the Catalyst 4 review we have an overview of the specs. Below, we’ll let you know what Cannondale offers regarding the frame, brakes, shifters, and rims – the most important features that can constitute a top-tier mountain bike.


Seasoned mountain bikers know that a strong frame is all-important when it comes to making the right decision. You’ll need a frame that can handle a beating, to say the least, and do it well. When you’re riding down a trail, the last thing that should be on your mind is fear that your frame can’t handle the bumps.

Luckily, on the Cannondale Catalyst 4, you’ll find a lightweight, sleek SmartForm C3 Alloy frame. Made of aluminum, it’ll be durable and able to survive hard turns and bumps on the trail. If you’re the type to seek out upgrades in the future, this frame can be a great starting point, although otherwise, it’s really solid on its own.

We’d say that this frame is great for riders of all skill levels, but is especially beginner-friendly because it offers a sizable range of speeds without too many complicated features. If you’re a more experienced mountain biker, you might want a crankset with fewer gears as they do add some extra weight to your ride.

Overall, the frame is of solid quality and doesn’t differ much from that of the Catalyst 3. If it ain’t broken, no need to fix it!


The brake system on the Cannondale Catalyst 4 falls under the Shimano umbrella, more specifically the Shimano Tourney group. One thing about this is that Shimano Tourney isn’t the best system relative to others offered by Shimano. For that reason, we wouldn’t rank the brake system as a standout on the Catalyst 4.


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    However, it will definitely do the job and isn’t a system to sneeze at. Just because it’s not the top of the line doesn’t mean you’ll be in any danger; it just might not be as smooth when shifting gears through tension. There’s solid stopping power with these brakes and they should be fairly strong on tougher trails.

    Another important note on the brake system is that it’s a disk structure, as opposed to V-brakes and hydraulic models. A plus about this is that disks offer more stopping power than others in rougher weather conditions, but might be a little harder to adjust on the fly.


    Speaking of the shifters, they also come from the Shimano brand. The Shimano EF41 shifters will ensure that you can shift gears smoothly and precisely. There are 21 gears in the system, so with these quality shifters you can explore and feel out all of them to find your desired configuration.

    The 21 gears is a downsize from the Catalyst 3’s 24-gear system, but that doesn’t mean it’s of lesser quality. In fact, these gears should prove to be more than enough to get you out on the trail and having fun. 


    Overall, the rims on this bike are well-suited for offroading. These rims are Alex DC 6.0s, which are made of strong, durable material. The tires under them are thick and meant for rough terrain, so out on the trail, you can rest assured that you’re well supported.

    While the tires are super durable, they could be a bit wider. They’re made of thick material, but size-wise they aren’t that big compared to other models. In general, these tires will perform just fine but you might want to consider upgrading them if you’re a more experienced mountain biker. 

    To review, the tires and rims on the Cannondale Catalyst 4 could have used some wider tires for more complicated terrain running (2.2” to 2.4” is ideal), but they’ll get the job done at a more affordable price.

    What We Like

    Catalyst 4 MTB

    With the Cannondale Catalyst 4, there’s a lot to like. Now that you know a bit more about what makes up this bike, it’s time to take a look at some of its main selling points.

    For one thing, this mountain bike has a frame to be proud of. Any frame made of aluminum will ensure that there’s no excess weight as a result. And if you’re a regular mountain biker, you know that too much weight is a nuisance. The frame on the Cannondale Catalyst 4 is lightweight, sleek, and versatile. 

    What’s more, it comes in different colors for you to choose from, such as midnight with neon accents, jet black, lime green, and more. With this bike, you’re sure to stand out while riding with a group.

    The ride quality on this bike must be mentioned here – it’s as stable as can be with the tires, despite their thin appearance. They’re thick enough to withstand lots of pressure and rough terrain, and the treads are substantially responsible for the (relative) smoothness. When navigating more uneven landforms, the flatter seat on the Catalyst 4 can help absorb some of the shake-inducing mini impacts.

    Overall, this bike is a great standard for mountain biking and riding cross-country. The great thing about it is that since it’s a relatively affordable model if you think it could use a boost in a certain area it is highly upgradeable.

    Here are the core pros for this bike:


    • Sleek design
    • Impact-absorbing and smooth
    • 21 gears
    • Comes in different color options
    • Upgrade-friendly
    • Lightweight
    • Easy to ride

    What We Don’t Like

    One thing we’re not as psyched about regarding the Catalyst 4 is that it’s not as versatile as some other mountain bike models when it comes to terrains it performs well on. Overall, this bike is probably the right choice if you’re more geared towards cross-country or flatter terrain riding in general. It’s not going to be the top-of-the-line if you’re looking for something that can handle intense downhill and incredibly rough ground.

    The brake system also isn’t the best that it could be, and so it’s likely that many buyers will get this bike as an upgrade-ready baseline. It isn’t uncommon in the mountain biking world to go for upgrades, but make sure you’re ready to spend a few extra dollars if you want to improve your Cannondale Catalyst 4!

    Landscape limitation


    • Limited downhill capability
    • Thinner tires
    • Brake system less adjustable
    • Upgrading could be necessary

    Should You Buy It?

    Cannondale Catalyst 4 on the road

    And now for the most important question in this Cannondale Catalyst 4 review: should you buy this bike? Is it going to be the right one for you? Right now, you might still be weighing the pros and cons of the bike as we laid them out. Here’s our overall take on whether those pros outweigh the cons!

    We’d say go for it if you are a cross-country rider but maybe go for a more high-end downhill bike if that’s your thing. But, for those with who this bike fits, there’s no doubt that it’ll be a good experience and a solid pick. 

    This bike isn’t just the right choice for those who are looking for a ready-to-go mountain bike. If you’re someone that is all about upgrading your bike to meet your exact needs, go with the Catalyst 4. It’s hailed by its loyal users as an S-tier base point, ready to undergo upgrades that will make it your dream vehicle. It’s good not to be afraid of shelling out for a few upgrades here and there, as that would essentially eliminate any of the cons we found with it.

    For some upgrade ideas on the Catalyst 4, consider some extra frame protection, a new stem and bar set, or a better fork. These upgrades are just a few within an endless sea of options. Bike building is a passion you’re sure to see in the mountain biking community, and it can be an excellent way to make friends (or go down a rabbit hole!).


    Overall, this is a great mountain bike option for those just getting into the sport or looking for a nice frame to build up their dream bike with. The Cannondale Catalyst 4 is a respected bike and you’re sure to love it if you buy one of your own.

    For the price, you could be looking at great value here. When you do choose the bike you’ll go on adventures with, make sure you’re getting the best deal – remember, there are bikes with more bells and whistles than this one, but make sure you couldn’t get a better deal upgrading this one with separate parts!

    We wish you good times and a great future with this new bike should you decide to get it.

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    REVIEW: Cannondale Catalyst 4 - Should You Buy It? — Bike Hacks