Cannondale Slate: Test Ride Report
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  1. #1
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    Cannondale Slate: Test Ride Report

    I was able to track down a Slate (w/105) at REI, and I went in for test ride.
    I rode the size large, in a greenish color, 105 drivetrain.

    In my view, for my type of riding, and my experience...
    The positive:

    1. The Lefty suspension fork is excellent: no bobbing around, good energy absorbance. You don't realize its there until you hit some rubble, then you like it. It is rather light too.

    2. The whole bike is rather light considering its job description, I was surprised.

    3. The 650B wheels on through-axles really appeals to me.

    4. The aluminum tubes are very manipulated and shaped for optimized function. A lot of good engineering there.

    The less positive (for my needs):

    1. In spite of the obvious effort made to build-in the right type and amount of compliance, I still found the rear to be a harsh over rough surfaces. I am not sure why they tried so hard to keep the chainstays so short, it worked against the compliance, and it also worked against...

    2. Tire clearance is adequate for the stock baldy tires, but any similar tires with knobs, or wider tires, are likely to not fit in the space provided by the stays. Too tight. Don't get muddy either.

    3. I was hoping the front end was taller: less road race and more upright. I like the idea of being more neutral/less pitched forward on rough terrain. Maybe it is just my MTB experience, but that is how I think about off-road riding.

    4. Gearing is too high for many off-road situations I would find myself in.

    Overall:

    The one issue I could not get past is the low front end. A short angled stem would help but not enough for me. The size xl has a taller head tube, but also has additional reach that puts me in the same forward orientation.

    I am hopeful that Cannondale puts taller front ends, and more tire clearance on next years model. Then, I am in.

  2. #2
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    Thanks for the detailed review! I was eyeing this bike as well and it was minuses #3 and #4 that were the deal breaker for me. 4 is actually easier to correct than 3. My bike shop already said they could swap the 36/52 out for a 34/50.

    Getting up higher in the front could be a challenge given the oversized headset on the Lefty (an otherwise excellent shock). That means stems for this bike are proprietary and there aren't a whole lot of options regarding length and rise.
    "If someone needs 200 rolls of toilet paper for a 14-day quarantine, they probably should have made a doctor's appointment way before the COVID-19 outbreak." -- Unknown

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  3. #3
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    RE: the harsh rear end, what tires were you running, and at what pressure?

    It sounds like you want an adventure road bike that rides like a mountain bike. Why not just get a 27.5 hardtail?

    You might look over Salsa line-up of bikes. Their crossover designs sound like exactly what you are looking for.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Migen21 View Post
    RE: the harsh rear end, what tires were you running, and at what pressure?

    It sounds like you want an adventure road bike that rides like a mountain bike. Why not just get a 27.5 hardtail?

    You might look over Salsa line-up of bikes. Their crossover designs sound like exactly what you are looking for.
    A suspension seat post would solve the harsh in the tuchus problem.

    27.5 hardtail is a different type of bike. Probably not what the OP had in mind.

    Here's a good write-up on adventure bikes, though it looks like it was written before the Slate came out:

    Buyer’s guide to gravel and adventure bikes plus 16 of the best | road.cc
    "If someone needs 200 rolls of toilet paper for a 14-day quarantine, they probably should have made a doctor's appointment way before the COVID-19 outbreak." -- Unknown

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    bicycles in particular, you need to separate between what's merely true and what's important."
    -- DCGriz, RBR.




  5. #5
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    It was the stock tires, and the pressure was a bit high--like 50 psi. That is a low enough pressure to get a feel for the overall performance of the frame/tire combo, and it is Stiff. I would run a lower pressure off-road, and as someone commented, I would put a different seat post and saddle on, but it does not have steel hardtail compliance.

    A 27.5 hardtail does have some appeal, but I don't really want another MTB with all of the weight and clunkiness, I just want a bike that can overlap the road/country roads terrain really well. And the Slate has a lot of things about it that work well for that job description: it is a good road bike, the fork is great at speed on bad surfaces, the Slate is not heavy, 27.5 road-ish tires give reasonable weight, speed, and strength. The Slate moves very well on the road considering how good it might be on bad roads.


    Quote Originally Posted by Migen21 View Post
    RE: the harsh rear end, what tires were you running, and at what pressure?

    It sounds like you want an adventure road bike that rides like a mountain bike. Why not just get a 27.5 hardtail?

    You might look over Salsa line-up of bikes. Their crossover designs sound like exactly what you are looking for.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by elvisvelo View Post
    I was able to track down a Slate (w/105) at REI, and I went in for test ride.
    I rode the size large, in a greenish color, 105 drivetrain.

    In my view, for my type of riding, and my experience...
    The positive:

    1. The Lefty suspension fork is excellent: no bobbing around, good energy absorbance. You don't realize its there until you hit some rubble, then you like it. It is rather light too.

    2. The whole bike is rather light considering its job description, I was surprised.

    3. The 650B wheels on through-axles really appeals to me.

    4. The aluminum tubes are very manipulated and shaped for optimized function. A lot of good engineering there.

    The less positive (for my needs):

    1. In spite of the obvious effort made to build-in the right type and amount of compliance, I still found the rear to be a harsh over rough surfaces. I am not sure why they tried so hard to keep the chainstays so short, it worked against the compliance, and it also worked against...

    2. Tire clearance is adequate for the stock baldy tires, but any similar tires with knobs, or wider tires, are likely to not fit in the space provided by the stays. Too tight. Don't get muddy either.

    3. I was hoping the front end was taller: less road race and more upright. I like the idea of being more neutral/less pitched forward on rough terrain. Maybe it is just my MTB experience, but that is how I think about off-road riding.

    4. Gearing is too high for many off-road situations I would find myself in.

    Overall:

    The one issue I could not get past is the low front end. A short angled stem would help but not enough for me. The size xl has a taller head tube, but also has additional reach that puts me in the same forward orientation.

    I am hopeful that Cannondale puts taller front ends, and more tire clearance on next years model. Then, I am in.
    I mostly agree with this review:
    1. I am happy with the head tube height...to each their own.
    2. Tail is very firm. I softened it with the Ergon seatpost.
    3. My shop changed my gearing to more adventure like at no cost.
    4. 5mm longer rear chainsaws would've been perfect for me.
    5. The super manipulated chainsaws present heel clearance issues.

    I still liked it enough to buy one and I haven't bought a bike for 10 years because I was too busy buying manufacturing machines.

  7. #7
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    Wait a minute, these come with chainsaws now?

    How-To-Start-a-Gas-Chainsaw.jpg

    I thought they only came with axes.

    14474528_702725896559750_7434458694248562688_n.jpg

    Talk about an adventure bike!

    DAN GEROUS

    : ROAD
    : CYCLOCROSS
    : MOUNTAIN BIKING

  8. #8
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    I've had my Slate Ultegra since last spring and I am absolutely in love with it! I have Mountain bikes and other Road bikes and in my opinion it's a road bike that can handle the rough stuff. I added a Cirrius Bodyfloat seat post to mine and I rarely have to get out of the seat for a bump or dealing with the crappy roads around here. For someone who fights with old shoulder and spine injuries like me, it's a great bike. I routinely bike around my in-laws in North Carolina and numerous times I've ended up on gravel roads on a bike not designed for them, looking forward to riding this bike around there....
    Last edited by NiteOwlNY; 01-10-2017 at 04:55 AM.

  9. #9
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    I'm pleased with mine too. It's so versatile! I've changed mine quite a bit:
    1. NOX/Project321/Sapim CX-Ray wheels - The rear hub driver is a new in house P321 design and it very nice! Hubs are Orange Anodized.
    1B. P321 supplied Orange anodized SiSl2 cranks. 100g lighter than SL cranks.
    2. Scwalbe G-One Allrounder 650bX40 with Orange Seal Endurance formula
    3. Ergon CF3 Seatpost - best $220 I ever spent. So cushy.
    3B. Selle Italia Novus saddle. I love them but to each their own.
    4. Old 10 spd XTR rear derailleur + Wolf Tooth Tanpan SH11. Yes it works & no chain slap.
    5. SRAM PG-1170 11-36 cassette
    6. Garmin Varia lights
    7. Topeak CagePack - Hold my Samsung S7, keys, ID, tube, patch kit, tire plug kit, Park multi-tool with room to spare
    8. King stainless cages and Soma clear water bottle.
    9. Old Topeak frame pump.
    10. Tiny rubber plug to cover the exposed dropper seatpost cable port
    20170129_160653.jpg

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by NiteOwlNY View Post
    I've had my Slate Ultegra since last spring and I am absolutely in love with it! I have Mountain bikes and other Road bikes and in my opinion it's a road bike that can handle the rough stuff. I added a Cirrius Bodyfloat seat post to mine and I rarely have to get out of the seat for a bump or dealing with the crappy roads around here. For someone who fights with old shoulder and spine injuries like me, it's a great bike. I routinely bike around my in-laws in North Carolina and numerous times I've ended up on gravel roads on a bike not designed for them, looking forward to riding this bike around there....
    I purchased a Slate in early December 2019 and I too love this bike! I knew the gearing was too extreme for any off-pavement riding, so I made my changes prior to riding it and sold the original parts on EBay.
    Swapped the stock chainrings to 46/34 and the cassette to an 11/32. This bike weighs in at 22.5 lbs and rides quite comfortably on dirt roads and fire trails. I use it as an everyday road bike and can keep up with most riders on it . I purchased mine from Mack’s in FL. and had it shipped to AZ. At $950 it’s proving to be a great deal and is a dual purpose bike for street and desert roads. I may look into a suspension seat post but other than that, I’m good to go!

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