Cannondale Six13 Slice Time Trial Bike
By Anthony D. Morrow
The hardest part about reviewing Cannondale's Six13 Slice Time Trial bike was living up to its svelte image and incredible performance on test rides.
The Six13 Slice exudes speed from its wing-shaped "Speed Shadow" seat tube, bladed down tube, and sturdy, curvesome, rear triangles. Like its namesake road version, the frame is a combination of carbon fiber top and down tubes and aluminum. Cutouts in the aluminum are certainly attractive, but their primary role is functional; to serve as strong bonding points for the carbon fiber when it is heated, expanded, and cured to the aluminum. All under a glossy clear coat, the natural finishes of the carbon fiber and aluminum shine through elegantly and confidently, like a beautiful movie star in a black dress and diamonds on awards night.
The visual impact isn't wasted on poor performance. Instead, the Six13 Slice resoundingly delivers a light and comfortable but responsive ride. I've put in thousands of racing and training miles on both full carbon fiber and full aluminum bikes so I know the pros and cons of each. The Six13 Slice is a fantastic balance of comfort (not just tolerability), especially for a TT bike, with positive road feel and feedback and a noticeable strength that eagerly converts leg power into forward speed. Those characteristics alone make the bike a great ride, but factoring in the way it "slices" through the air truly makes it a treat, or better yet, an effective time trial weapon.
I am only a grudging time-trialist, usually taking part in TTs as part of stage races, and often on a road bike modified only with a clip-on aero bar. I've never been 100% comfortable in a TT position but getting a good position on the Six13 Slice was my best experience, yet. The Profile Design T2+ Cobra aerobars and arm rests can be adjusted forward and back for length and position. The USE Sumo seat post gives a wide range of angle. I feared putting in long time in a TT position on a saddle I'd never used before, but was delighted by how comfortable the Arione Tri saddle proved to be. It was equally pleasant over long stretches in tuck, when I would move forward on it, and also while sitting up and back.
The rest of the components that make up the Six13 Slice are easy to overlook after being wowed by the frame, except Cannondale hasn't dropped the ball in completing an exceptional overall package. The fork is an all-carbon (dropouts, too) Slice Aero held by an integrated FSA headset. Part of the exceptional power transfer of the bike comes from the brawny carbon fiber Cannondale SI crank (manufactured by FSA). Bringing blazing speed to a stop is the duty of Cannondale's stealthy carbon fiber brake calipers. Finally, the wheels are Zipp 404s; deep section wheels with an aerodynamic dimpled pattern that make a gratifying "whoosh" sound at high speed.
It was a pleasure to test the Six13 Slice. I expected it to be good, knowing the Health Net Pro Cycling Team was already testing theirs out at the Allied Aerospace Wind Tunnel in San Diego. However, with the great power came great responsibility on the road, as I found myself constantly pushing harder and faster to live up to the bike. The Six13 Slice will enhance great riders and help to draw out more performance and lower times from the rest of us.