Cannondale Slate 105

Cannondale Slate 105 Ride Review

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It’s not often a bike comes along that has you excited like a kid on Christmas day, and for me, that opportunity came along last weekend.

The guys over at Velo-Porte have just taken on board a few of the Cannondale Slate 105s, with plans to get some more in over the next week or so. When I saw the next bikes Keith & Alexis were planning to purchase for their bike hire business, I was on the phone to them faster than a dissapearing zepolle at a post ride coffee stop, asking whether I can give it a whirl. Thankfully they agreed.

And this is it!

Have you seen it yet?

Have a look at this.

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Doesn’t it just blow your mind?

There aren’t too many bikes out in the marketplace that promise so much just on looks alone.

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So, i took the bike for a bitumen/gravel ride on Sunday morning.

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A climb up to the Bollards to catch up with the ride group, then leaving hem for some solo riding around Mylor, Mount Bold and the back end of Clarendon Weir.

Not an extended amount of gravel out there, however there enough variation on both bitumen and gravel to light up my weekend.

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OK, the review – the quick details:

  • Frame – Aluminium Di2 resdy
  • Drivetrain – Shimano 105: Rear – 5800, 11-28, 11-speed: Front 52/36 FSA
  • Brakes – Shimano Hydraulic Disc – BR785/505
  • Saddle – Fabric Scoop Radius Sport
  • Fork: Cannondale Lefty Oliver Carbon w/ PBR, 30mm Travel, 45mm off-set
  • Rims – Slate Disc, 650b
  • Hubs – Lockout equipped Lefty 50 Road front, Formula 142x12mm thru rear, 28h
  • Cannondale Slate Folding TRS tubeless, 650x42c, by Panaracer

I’m sure you would agree, the Slate would have to be the most distinctive bikes on the roads in Adelaide, all down to the single sided (Lefty) front suspension wheel mount.

The concept of the Lefty didn’t concern me – I expected that a company with Cannondales reputation wouldn’t release anything that hadn’t been put through the wringer. I was just very curious how it would translate to road handling both on the black stuff and the lose stuff.

As their website says.

A full-tilt road bike with legitimate off-road chops, the Slate brings a whole new dimension of hard- cornering, curb-hopping, trail-shredding fun to the concept of “road-riding.

The initial “out the driveway” experience was a little strange – it took me a few minutes to get my head around Lefty. Also, not having ridden with 42 mm tyres previously, there was a small adjustment to make with the cornering. I found the front end, lets say, a little lazy on the corners when compared to my normal road bike, a Scott Solace. As the bike has been designed to do things that Scott wouldn’t dream of doing, its only natural that there will handle a little different. My feeling was that it didn’t want to lean as much into the corner as I am used to. Only fractionally, but enough for me to notice. A minor adjustment that’s all, and didn’t take long to forget all about it.

Whilst I know I shouldn’t have been, but I was. I was surprised with how stiff front end was and super impressed with its stability. I felt no pull or anything to suggest that it has a Lefty suspension system. Nothing untoward on the fast descent down Old Belair Road, no pull when both hands were off the handlebar (sorry Keith – ignore that). Apart from the slight lazy feel on the sharp corners, it all behaved as one would expect of a standard road bike, except that it was more fun because of its off-road capabilities.

With 650b wheels instead of 700c you see on road bikes, Cannondale have introduced a slightly smaller mountain bike wheel onto a road bike, but by shodding with 42mm tyres, they are effectively the same outer diameter as the 700c tyres.

The 42mm tyres provided were close to knobless, so having the extra width didn’t slow me too much on the road with only marginal impact on performance. However, I felt they were lacking on some of the more loose gravel roads I road when i got a bit of speed up. The wide tyres seemed at times to sit atop the gravel. I think with some tyres with a little more grip they should perform well.

The Slate’s Lefty allows for manual control of the amount of dampening and speed of fork recovery by the Push Button Rebound (PBR) located at the top of the Lefty. By depressing the PBR, you activate the suspension, and by rotating the dial, you can change the recoil speed. For my test ride, I left the suspension off, and not having ridden a mountain bike before, i can only guess at how well it works.  Given the opportunity , I’ll give the PBR a go on my next test ride(Keith?).

I loved it. Its got the feel of an endurance bike, fits nicely into the new ‘gravel bikes’ genre, but takes it even further by allowing the opportunity to ride it like you were a kid again.

So to sum up.

Its kinda looks like a road bike, but its not.

And its kinda handles like a road bike, but it doesn’t.

Its kinda fun.

It takes me back to my childhood.

Oh, and it looks like changing front flats has all of a sudden become a little easier. ……..

Think about it.

Thanks to Alexis and Keith at Velo-Porte for the loan of the Slate – its was much appreciated.

Give them a buzz on +61 (0)432 542 560 if you want to find out some more about these stunning bikes, or jump onto their website by clicking on their logo below.

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