Cannondale Slate – RADAVIST

This new bike from Cannonade is taking off where the Salsa Fargo and others like it failed to deliver. This more speed focussed but very nice (repeat after me I don’t need a 6th Bike) ….

What do you do when an accomplished athlete backs you on a gamble and encourages you to do something different. Something that might change the face of “all-road” cycling forever? Or at least for a little while anyway…

The story of the bike goes back to March in 2014, when Tim Johnson and his wife Lyne were riding in Louisville along the bourbon trail. David from Cannondale put one of these bikes under Tim and watched the atavism take over. Tim hit every curb cut in sight, skidded around corners and sprinted like he was riding his EVO… Tim’s a cross racer through and through, so dirt and speed are his top priorities. Oh and fun. Having fun too. Right Tim?
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Slate is the first for Cannondale in some time. It’s not a race bike, but rather an “all-road” bike, meant for long, multi-surface rides. That doesn’t mean it’ll ride like a turd though. The wheelbase and chain stay length maintain Cannondale’s regarded handling characteristics. Because Cannondale stepped down to the 650b / 27.5 platform, they could fit a 42mm tire in the frame, without removing a lively ride quality. With a 405mm stay and a 71.5º head tube angle, you come in with a 1015mm wheelbase. Trail is snappy, yet confidence-building with 66.3mm. Throw the Lefty Oliver road suspension fork in the mix with 30mm of travel and suddenly those numbers mean a lot more (more on that stuff to come.)

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How did I come upon this bike? There I am, at Cross Nats in Austin when Tim Johnson comes up and introduces me to David from Cannondale. He said something in passing along the lines of “David’s got something special for you to ride.” I’m thinking it’s either some mountain bike or a new cross bike.

We set a time to meet up, I brought my road bike because I was told it was a road ride, which surprised me coming from Tim. After I got to the coffee shop, this strange bike comes rolling in. It had a Lefty, 650b tires and drop bars. It looked like a blast. Or was it some kind of sick joke?

David introduced himself, the bike and we began swapping pedals over. I was going to get to ride the mule, later to be called Slate. The guys only had an hour to ride, so we took to one of my favorite loops, the only Cat 3 climb in the city of Austin. It’s a gut punch on the way up and a ripper on the way down.

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My initial thoughts were how zippy it felt. Granted, I usually ride a 58cm and this was a 56cm sample bike but it was easy to feel what Cannondale’s intent was. Sure, it looks wacky but isnt this what everyone’s trying to do, without actually doing it? You always see these little damping systems inserted into bikes to “soften” the ride. Even in the pro peloton. Races like the Roubaix have caused companies to experiment with suspension for decades. So why not introduce an actual fork to the consumer market using the Synapse’s tried and true geometry as a launching pad?

I’m totally aware that you’ve got questions. Truth is, I have a few answers, but I’m not willing to disclose them just yet. It’s easy to get stoked on something new, quirky and fun, but how would it handle for a long, multi-surface ride? Time will tell for me. All I know is the Lefty Oliver road suspension fork is something that I’ve never felt from a fork before. If I could compare its ride quality to anything, it’d be the RS-1. More on this bike to come…

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Slate is almost ready to be out there. Full models will be released June 20th to Cannondale dealers and Sales.

And a video I just Found

Got comments? What do you think of this 

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4 thoughts on “Cannondale Slate – RADAVIST”

  1. Not a fan of this concept- the lefty fork design does not inspire confidence- It looks silly and an offset system is the last think I could ever ask for If looking for split second control and decision making. 650b wheels? Why? And as for gravel road why do you need the 650? I wanna go fast on gravel not skid and do tricks. That said- never rode one so I could be totally off but if so they need to really tout the benefits of going this direction.

    1. people said the same about the first LEFTY forks when they came out on mtb. They have proved popular and seem to work well. I only tried it once when demo’ing a Scalpel MTB worked fine and torsionally rigid too.
      As for 650b think they realise the French in the 30’s may have had the best tourers for all conditions ….. the fastest Paris Brest Paris was on a 650b …..
      I don’t know and I haven’t tried but interesting. Sticking to my 700c and 29er (and my 16inch brompton)

  2. I will say don’t wanna be a hater and I would love to take one for a test ride though!!! I’m a bit old school but then again I embraced the Fattie culture so this might be the next logical step. Hey if it’s got tow wheels let’s ride it!

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