Cannondale Slate Details and Pictures


Note: In my previous race recap, I included a review of the brand new Cannondale Slate.  But, it occurs to me that it might be helpful to break it out as well for better accessibility and readability.  Now, on to the review.

This bike is so new it’s not even on Cannondale’s site yet.  The Slate is a dropbar bike in the vein of the relatively new segment of “gravel racer” but what truly sets it apart is the inclusion of Cannondale’s famous Lefty fork.

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That’s right, that bike is missing half its fork.  You might think it’d be weird to ride, but it never even occurred to me once I was going.  The fork, dubbed the Lefty Oliver, has 30mm of suspension, which isn’t a lot if you’re bombing down mountain trails, but soaks up a lot more than you would think.  I hit several larger, sharp rocks during the race (sorry Cannondale) and the bike never flinched while others were getting flats and banging up their rims.  I’m 99% certain that, without the fork, I would have been on my butt many times during the race when I picked less than ideal lines or simply didn’t execute the line I had picked.  There is a lock-out button at the top of the fork that you can press “to climb,” or sprint presumably, but I did not engage this during the race.  Standing still it worked just fine.

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The wheels are 650b size, as opposed to the usual 700cc found on road bikes.  650b is the size you’d typically find on the smallest size of a road bike.  However, the Slate’s 650b Stan’s ZTR Flow EX MTB wheels have 42mm wheels, which apparently wind up producing the equivalent of a 700 x 22 wheel.  All I know is these tires did not feel small.

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It’s a pretty snazzy bike, right?  I got many comments from spectators on it, everyone intrigued by the genre-defying bike that has been, until recently, shrouded in mystery.

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My bike was set up with an Ultegra drivetrain (“Road gearing?” asked one onlooker), disc brakes, and a super-comfortable Fabric saddles.  Seriously, I became a big fan of these saddles after riding two races on them.  The frame is aluminium, but I BELIEVE the fork is carbon.  Having shouldered it through a roughly 20 yard rock garden, I can report it feels lightweight.

All in all, the only word I can use to describe my experience racing this bike is “FUN.”  I don’t know how it’ll ride on every cross course, but it handled this one magnificently, which I feel qualified to say given my lack of cross experience.  Still, I’d like to believe that I am the first person to ever race a Slate in an official cyclocross race.  Despite a lack of knobby tires, it never felt skittish, even on the gravel and bark dust.  This is a versatile bike that will turn heads when you ride it.  For an idea of some of the terrain, upon which the Slate did not falter, here I give you photographs.

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Now, tell me you don’t want to see what you can do atop this bike.

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3 Responses to “Cannondale Slate Details and Pictures”

  1. Chase R. Says:

    The Slate is not a cross bike, a mountain bike, or a road bike. It’s is just a bike that some will like because they think it has a bling factor. Actually 30mm of travel is useless for anything except maybe riding across a football field turf. And 650b wheel size is not legal for cross so I don’t get how you raced it in a cyclecross event. You’re right about one thing, it will turn my head, completely away.

    • Terry Says:

      So excited about this bike and loved every minute I spent on the demo bike a few months back. It’s really the only bike that has completely captivated my attention in recent years…and I work in the bike industry selling brands that are direct competitors to Cannondale. The Slate is fun and fast (on-road & off) and allows you to get away with a whole lot more (compared to a CX) when on the dirt (i.e. technical singletrack that Chase R has to walk his bike down even with his full suspension 29er ;-). I kid.

      What’s most appetizing is that I can throw my leg over this bike without a plan. i can just make up my ride as I go along. Great option for the burned-out roadie/former mtb racer, etc.

      Thanks Cannondale for thinking outside the box…orr…creating a new one? 🙂

  2. Ole K Says:

    Hey from Germany, nice Bike! I have one question. What framesize is the Bike you were standing behind (Picture 2) 😉
    Thanks

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