It’s been teased with two different videos (here and here), which gave up plenty of details, but now we’ve got hands on the new Cannondale Slate gravel/adventure road bike bike with the new Lefty Oliver suspension fork.
The alloy frame is basically what we’ve expected from video, but there are a few surprises. First, the basics: It uses 650B wheels, which gives them plenty of hubs and wheels to choose from. It borrows plenty from the new SuperSix EVO and CAAD12 alloy road bikes, getting the asymmetric stays and wider BB, plus a worked over set of seat and chainstays to give it plenty of cush in the back to match the 30mm of Lefty suspension up front…
Starting with the back of the frame, the entire rear triangle is designed around maximizing compliance. That means even flatter alloy stays than what’s found on the new CAAD12, and a slight flattening of the seat tube as it meets the BB. It’s not as drastic as what’s on the CAAD12, though, allowing the Slate to fit a standard front derailleur clamp. Clearance for up to 42mm wide tires enhances ride feel even more.
The bike was shown to us without the luxury of a product manager or project engineer available, so we’re lacking a few key details like deflection measurements, production frame and fork weights, etc. So, more official specs will come in time, but we’ve got a good bit here to tide you over. It uses the wider 73mm BB30 with asymmetric stays like the others new bikes. We’re quite interested to see what actual build specs will be as this particular bike’s Ultegra and Si cranks with SpiderRing chainring combo seems fairly high end for a model that doesn’t even get Cannondale’s SAVE flex seatpost.
The slim dropouts give it the minimalist appearance of a quick release system, and based on the videos they’ve shared, that’s what we thought. Turns out it’s just a very streamlined thru axle system made all the sleeker looking by using Shimano’s new direct mount rear brake.
Moving forward, the head tube gets a sleek hourglass shape that does a good job hiding the fatter diameter of a Lefty’s steerer tube.
All shift cables and rear brake hose run internally through very sleek ports:
The frame gets some hydroforming and Cannondale’s trademark double pass smooth welds.
At the very front is perhaps the most interesting bit of spec – the new Lefty Oliver.
It’s limited to 30mm of travel, and inside the fork is a coil negative spring rather than the Solo Air system used on the mountain bike Lefty’s. With that is a reworked shim stack to create more of a platform rather than a full lockout.
So, when you push the PBR button to firm up the fork, it still budges under hard impacts or earnest push-down-in-a-parking-lot tests. That helps it keep traction even if you hit a rough patch while it’s locked out, and there’s a built in blowoff in case you hit something really big while locked out.
The outer red knob is your rebound damping. Compression damping is set at the factory, but you can always play with air volume in the positive chamber to tweak how it feels for you.
The front brake is a standard caliper (as in, not flat mount) to fit the Lefty’s brake mounts. The mounts allow the caliper to quickly slide back by simply loosening the bolts holding the adapter onto the fork. This lets the wheel slide off to the driveside since the caliper is no longer trapping the rotor, but you should only have to do that for major maintenance. Flats, tubes and tires can be changed without removing the wheel.
Complete bike weight without pedals is 9.92kg (21.87lb), likely with tubes in the tires.
UPDATE: Claimed frame weight is 1250g and Lefty Oliver weight is 1180g. The frame uses “Flow modeled tubes”, has 405mm chainstays, big air volume, “snappy racy handling” and atent-pending super light braze-on flat mount disc mounts.
Pricing and availability TBA.