Tech & New Products: Putting the Cannondale Slate to the Test in Malibu


Cannondale introduced the new Slate about 4 months ago, but has been working on it’s development for quite some time now. The Cannondale Slate is a bike that fills in the gap between a mountain bike and a road bike. Hence the name “Slate”, as this bike is in a whole new category of its own.

I think the Slate is an excellent choice for some who might be looking for a new angle to riding when it comes to finding a new path and mixing up your riding or maybe to do some gravel races. With our ever emerging development and growing traffic from cars that we have to share the roads with, the Slate offers a great alternative to escape both. The Slate is the bike that might just cut down the stress of always riding on the road with increasing traffic, as this bike will allow you to jump off road into the dirt and mix up your ride as it gives you a bigger map to ride to make your ride a little less stressful and fun.

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I had the opportunity to test ride the Slate last week with the Cannondale Crew and invited members of the media on a beautiful sunny California day. We rode along the Malibu coast and then headed for some long and undulating hills. We then put the Slate to the test on some rolling dirt single track with some long and steep twisty descents as we headed back to the Malibu coast to get a well deserved lunch at Neptune’s Net as reward for the days 45 mile epic ride (at least for me). A highlight of our lunch stop was meeting celebrity Barry Weiss from the popular television show Storage Wars, who stopped by Neptune’s Net while cruising the PCH on his classic Triumph motorcycle. Even Barry was intrigued by the Cannondale Slate!

My first impression of the Cannondale Slate with Ultegra that I rode for the day as we rode out of Malibu, was that the Slate felt great on the road. I felt like I was riding a road bike with super wide tires, but I could go much faster than I would normally would go on my mountain bike with treaded tires, due to the slick tread on the Slate. I didn’t have to do much set up for the Slate at all. It felt comfy right off the bat. It had a good road bike feel to it, but it felt more solid with the wider tires and super stable Lefty Oliver Fork. I kept pointing things out on the road, but thought “dang” I could just run over what ever I wanted and it wouldn’t even phase my ride.

A couple of things that had to be set up just before the ride that were specific for the Cannondale Slate was the tire pressure and fork pressure. The tires having the correct amount of pressure was key to going off road and not being to low for the paved roads either. The fork pressure was also important for when we hit the dirt, so we didn’t have much travel.

The on the fly lockout mechanism on the Lefty Oliver was refined to make it much smoother feeling than in years past.

As we headed off the PCH into the hills, I wanted to push myself on the climb a little bit just to see how the Slate would climb and it didn’t disappoint. The Slate felt great on the climbs for sure, especially in the saddle. Once we got some of the long climbs out of the way, we headed to the single track dirt sections and just as we climbed on the road, the Slate felt just as great on the dirt as it did on the road due to the short 405 mm chain stays. With the 42c tires and the right amount of tire pressure, the 42c tires just stayed glued to the ground and were super comfortable on the dirt, even when descending on the dirt. The bike felt nimble and responsive and with the fork travel set up just right it was just enough to handle most terrain. The Ultegra road disc brakes handled awesomely on the road and dirt. The 42c Panaracer tires with the 650b rims measured equal to a 700 x 23 tire diameter.

The new Cannondale Slate was a bike that I wanted more of and hope to get to test it further on down the road/dirt.

What is this bike made for? It is made FOR FUN, as it’s a go anywhere bike that can probably handle anything you can throw at it. The Cannondale Slate would make for the ultimate gravel bike if you wanted to race it.

Some Key Tech Features Include:

  • Lefty Oliver – 30mm of travel
  • Isolated Damper Technology
  • PBR – Push button lockout, Rebound
  • Slate Geometry built for 650b Platform
  • Save Plus Micro Suspension
  • 6069 SmartFormed alloy frame
  • Thru Axle on the rear wheel

Pricing

  • Slate Disc Force 1 $4,260.00
  • Slate Disc Ultegra $3,520.00
  • Slate Disc 105 $2980.00

For more Info on the Cannondale Slate, please visit Cannondale.com.

By Frank Sarate / SoCalCycling.com