Slate Force CX1 - HERO

Representing a fresh take on the world of gravel, Cannondale’s Slate looks like an incredibly fun bike. Between the new Lefty Oliver suspension fork with 30 mm of travel, and the 650b wheels with 42mm tires, calling it a gravel bike might be a bit too restrictive. Built to go wherever the road, trail, or gravel takes you, the Slate seems like it will be up for the adventure.

We’ve covered the bike in detail, but at the time pricing and availability details were yet to be announced. Now Cannondale is shedding light on the three different models with pricing, spec, and availability details next…

Slate pricing

Offered in three different builds, pricing will range from just under $3000 for the 105 build, up to the $4,260 Slate Force CX1. All three bikes use the SmartFormed alloy frame and include the 30mm Lefty Oliver Carbon PBR fork. Obviously the Slate CX1 will include a wide range 1x drivetrain while the other two builds use a 2x setup. The inclusion of tubeless wheels on all models should be a welcomed feature. Available in October, the Slate will deliver just in time to be your next off-season training bike – or your year round adventure mobile. Your call.

Slate cx1

slate ultegra

slate 105

cannondale.com

71 COMMENTS

  1. put a deposit on the ultegra model. asked about the 650B wheels. interesting that a 650B wheel with a large carcass tire has basically the same outer diameter as a road/skinny wheel and tire.

    so you get same rolling diameter, but softer/grip-ier ride.

    already building a lefty hubbed set of road wheels for it.

  2. I think the bikes are cool except for the 650b wheels. I like the wheel size for my mountain bikes, but they don’t seem to a good choice for this application.

  3. “Why in the world did they use 650b wheels?”

    Yes. If you could design an entire road bike from scratch, why would you:

    1) Use 650B whose primary value is in preserving 700c diameters while using wider tires.

    2) Put a suspension fork on it, then limit that to a comical 30mm of travel.

    3) Choose a double crown fork that severely limits your head tube lengths.

    4) Design it for comfort then put short chain stays on it.

    (deleted) The idea is good, the execution is not.

  4. They are actually a good choice for this application. Roy has it down, as do so many of my friends that do randos in the PNW. Still tight enough chainstay to feel nimble like a road bike, but a bit more forgiving. And enough tires to choose from, with many more on the way.

  5. A Di2 option would be awesome. I used to use a CX bike with roadie set up, with Di2 Ultegra 53/39 and 25c tyres as a commuter it wasn’t the fastest but damn it was very comfy. The only reason I sold it was it didn’t have discs and cantilevers Were just bad

  6. 1. It’s so d*mn ugly.
    2. Oh, god, my eyes are burning!
    3. It is unbearably useless
    4. But it will be so amazing to drive and lots of fun.

    I want one!!

  7. 650B wheels are perfect for this application, but what I still object to is going to all that trouble to put a Lefty on there and only having 30mm of travel. It could easily handle 60mm of travel or more without negatively affecting geometry or handling.

  8. I’d want 750c wheels if anything, being 6’4″. 29 and 700c are already too small. I still think the range of wheel sizes available today needs to look at going larger. But if it suits the market for this weird bike then whatever.

  9. i was all hot and bothered to buy the cx1 until i found out that purple/black was only option.

    had to go with the ultegra for a color scheme that wasnt embarrassing.

    as for the 30mm of travel- its not meant to be rock crawler.

    put a zip tie around your fork. slide it all the way up against the slider. now, roll down a dirt road. i’ll guarantee you that fork doesnt travel any more than 30mm (unless, of course your spring rate/pressure is too low and you’re a lard-a$$)

  10. 700C has far more tires for this application than 650B does and its liabilities can be mitigated when you build a custom frame and fork for the job as Cannonale has. The only advantage left is for smaller riders.

    If 650B is perfect for this application then 700C is perfecter. I agree with Pillz, a bigger wheel would be even better. There isn’t anything magical about a 670mm wheel diameter despite what Jan Heine claims. 650B is for retrofits, not new bike designs.

  11. Just seems silly for the weight. But then again, if it had a carbon fork it would just be a weird 650b disc cross/gravel bike.

  12. “put a zip tie around your fork. slide it all the way up against the slider. now, roll down a dirt road. i’ll guarantee you that fork doesnt travel any more than 30mm (unless, of course your spring rate/pressure is too low and you’re a lard-a$$)”

    This is laughably untrue. My commuter has a suspension fork set to 60mm travel when on the road and it uses more than 30mm of travel routinely. Roy, you don’t know what you’re talking about.

  13. for those who are confused-

    650b on a road bike is not new. Lots of touring riders use 650b because it allows them to maintain a road geometry but run a big tire with fenders and racks. It is a common thing in European touring bikes. Look at the chain stays they are 405mm. There is no bike design out there that would allow you to run a tire bigger than 23mm with that length. So this has chain stays as short as a supersix or any other race bike but comes with a 42mm tire. instead of a tractor sized monster cross or gravel bike, this will fit like a synapse- awesome

    The lefty being 30mm is o.k.- it comes with a lockout but I had a cannondale guy tell me that with 30mm the front end doesn’t bob out of the saddle with the lockout off so everyone who rode the bike felt that the travel was enough but they never felt the need to lockout the fork.-awesome

    one huge problem though- velocity makes purple rims but there is not much else in purple that I can put on mine when it gets here- that sucks

  14. This is pretty much my perfect winter firetrail ripper except…….

    …I seriously want that CX1 crank/spider combo but purple cranks….. euuurgh ..

    …Tyres tyres tyres tyres where are we going to get 650b cross type winter tyres??

  15. @ Cashman +1 Keep up the spending. 🙂

    Otherwise, what’s up with the 30mm travel? 30mm is slightly more than an inch. WTF would I opt for a heavy fork to get 30mm, why didn’t they make it 90mm instead to get some real travel with a smart suspension setup that wouldn’t jump around unless really needed?
    Another question, why would this bike be more “fun” to ride than most other CX or hardtail mountain bikes. Seriously, putting the marketing and mass hypnosis and group-think to the side, just what makes this bike more “fun”? What’s the “more fun” part in it that I can’t get with my current CX bike?
    As for the anodized purple parts… let’s see if I can’t make a fortune now on eBay selling my old stuff from the 90’s. LOL. 🙂

  16. This looks like ludicrous fun. I’m imagining a right-side Lefty extension that is basically a prong that comes out perpendicular to the stanchions on the right side for pannier bags, which would turn this into a gravel touring bike with front suspension. Ah, one can dream.

  17. For those of you wondering about the usefulness of 30mm of travel, Miguel Martinez used to win World Cup mountain bike races on a Sunn equipped with an “Obsys” carbon suspension fork with about the same amount of travel. It’ll be quite useful, especially when your forearms are concerned. That said, I’d wait for the CAAD 12 disc, and build a 650B “rough stuff” wheelset. I’m sure Chris Kostman would approve…

  18. I don’t know, I get that this is a new concept and there’s a lot about it that’s pushing the envelope, but $3,000 for an aluminum bike with 105 seems…a bit dear.

  19. Put some flat bars on it and it would be an excellent XC race bike for mild terrain and small-medium sized riders. But only if it could run 2.2″ tires. Argh, so close… but I guess I still have to go to a custom frame for total niche nirvana. Thanks to Cannondale for the fork that will make that possible tho.

  20. @Matt,
    WTF are you talking about? This bike has 650b wheels n tires, NOT 650c. 650b, like randonneur bikes often have, not 650c like tiny road bikes and some old tri bikes. Nobody here is confused except you.
    Unless you were joking or trolling, in which case good job.

  21. @greg – He is correct that the image linked to has listed the incorrect wheel diameter. The bike is 650B (584mm), but the image says “650B WHEEL – 571MM ISO WHEEL DIAMETER”. So Cannondale doesn’t even know what they’re talking about.

    The correct wheel since is 650B/584MM.

  22. @greg – Someone at Cannondale confused 650b (584mm) with 650c (571mm), when making the particular piece of press which he linked to.

  23. To the why 650b crowd all I can say is do you not understand geometry? If you want fatter tires you have two choices:
    1) smaller rim diameter
    2) longer chainstays

    Going with a smaller rim and fatter tire allows more normal length chainstays. If you put on 700×42 tire you’d have to substantially stretch the stays.

    As for the Lefty fork, I personally think it’s overkill. Not only that but it makes it impossible to securely mount a full length front fender which is a really good thing to have if you’re riding on wet dirt roads and want your drivetrain to survive.

    @Crisco: why would a carbon frame be better? Just because something is carbon doesn’t always make it better. There is a reason Shimano stopped making carbon DuraAce cranks. The amount of weight you would save would be trivial and the cost would be considerable.

  24. What’s with the amputee look? Seriously, is this about saving weight? I can’t abide the aesthetics, and it just can’t be as safe and durable as a normal fork.

  25. To chris. Who are you kidding with your story? If we all ride 29 mountainbikes even downhillers these days, why would a gravel grinder be 650b? I agree 650b makes sence for small people but not for 6 footers (or beyond)

  26. My CX bike has 700 wheels with 42 tires, there’s no reason you couldn’t do it on this bike. I just wondered if cannonballs didn’t want to invest in a 700 lefty wheel when they already had a 650 developed? This is a mountain bike with a drop bar… hardly seems worth the price.

  27. Sorry it doesn’t accomadate tall people! Pretty much everything else in the industry does. being 5’5″ I can’t find A half decent bike in stock at a bike shop. Where I work we have all 54-60m road in stock and medium and up in Mtb. We don’t stock small in high end Mtb or 50-52cm road.

  28. @ heywood

    Tomac, Overend and the like used to win mountain bikes races on rigid bikes. I’m not saying that it wouldn’t help with fatigue etc. (hell, anything technically could help), I just don’t think it’s worth the weight penalty. The last post about this bike said the weight was about 22 lbs. I would guess with a good carbon fork you could drop 2 pounds off. Otherwise the bike is fine, i would have preferred 80mm travel for the weight. I just can’t see this selling that well except for people who think the lefty looks cool on a drop bar bike, which is fine.

  29. to niels. i think it has to do with the geometry. Putting in a 29 er wheel will change the stack of the bike a lot. This bike is to be used simular to a road bike. On the mtb you are sitting pretty upright, so its not a huge issue, but in a road bike where you want to sit reasonably aggressive, increasing the tire diameter that much might is an issue.

  30. here are some facts about this bike-

    the lefty oliver weighs some where in the vicinity of 1400g and cost around $1000 by itself- that is nothing for a suspension fork in terms of weight- yes its 30mm but this is a gravel bike, if you want more than you want a mountain bike not a gravel bike.

    @gary- are you serious? The lefty fork has been around for over 10 years. I have one with 160mm travel on a enduro bike-it is stiffer and better built than most suspension forks. It travels on roller bearings not bushings like most forks. Single sided forks exist in motorcycles and plenty of other applications. Technically your car runs on at least 2 single sided forks in suspension terms, especially if your car is macphearson strut

    it being aluminum- cannondale has to start somewhere. This is a new concept in the industry, this year aluminum next year we will see some carbon models. My gravel bike gets destroyed in rough stuff. I went ti for this year because I was sick of all the chips,nicks and scratches. Alloy is relatively cheap and simple.

    here is a geometry breakdown-A typical gravel bike like a salsa warbird has chain stays that are 430mm long and wheelbase of 1030mm. That is a tractor not a road bike. Short chain stays make the bike quick feeling, a short wheelbase makes it nimble. A large slate has 405mm stays and a 1018mm wheelbase- that is a big difference. A super six has the same stay length but a shorter front center making its wheelbase 990mm. This bike has a modern longer front center like mountain bikes are going to, but the wheelbase and stays of a premium racing road bike. It is a super six that begs to be taken off-road.

    in the grand scheme of things. If a road bike is a Porsche 911, and a mountain bike is a ford raptor, this is a group b rally car. If you don’t know what that means- you just don’t know.

  31. 650B ’cause:

    584mm rim diameter+80mm in tire height (40mmx2)=664mm total diameter

    622mm rim Dimeter +46mm in tire height (23mmx2)=668mm total diameter

    Similar roll out distance between the two options so you can run chunky tires or skinny w/o affecting gearing or handling. This is like buying a car that comes pre-equipped with steel rims and winter tires. You can always buy alloys with all-conditions at a later date.

  32. This is the same idea as 75.5+ on mountain bikes. Smaller wheels, but bigger tires = same as bigger wheels and smaller tires. interesting…

  33. Leftys solve so many inherent issues with dual leg suspension forks, issues that are difficult to overcome in bike applications where weight does matter. I don’t understand the hate.
    They are good forks, very good in applications like this.

  34. Just wait till you get to ride one!! I rode with Tim Johnson out in Utah, maintaining road bike speeds and then took it out on some single track. Really shows that tread on tires is not always so crucial during dry conditions. The bike was super comfy and fast at 50 psi and adept in just about all conditions. I do wish that they were stocking it with the 11-32 cassette as the 11-28 and a mid-compact may be limiting in some areas. Truly amazing bike and could fill many duties.

  35. I love this bike and can’t wait to see it in person at a bike shop when it comes out.

    …but, why won’t Cannondale tell me what the fork’s axle-to-crown length is?

  36. Interesting to read the variety of comments about the bike. I guess you really can’t please all of the people all of the time. The safety concern about the Lefty made me laugh though. Cannondale have been manufacturing the Lefty design for going on fifteen years now so I reckon it’s safe to say they know what they are doing.

    As someone who has actually ridden one, (see http://grit.cx/news/2015/08/exclusive-first-ride-on-cannondales-slate ) I too was a bit unsure about the use of the 650b wheel size. My own cross bike is used for all manner of adventure rides, big road rides and on mountain bike trails so I was intrigues to see how a short test ride on the Slate would compare. However, having ridden the darn thing over rough Tarmac at a fair old lick, the bike felt supremely comfortable. Open, the fork soaks up the bumps with ease while the shaped rear stays and narrow seat post did a good job of following through in the comfort stakes. Having owned a CAAD 3 cross bike which was somewhat unyielding, the Slate came as a bit of a revelation. To my mind, aluminium is back at the cutting edge. Locked out, the font fork feels almost like a rigid fork with any weight penalty not being noticeable when riding the bike. It’s easy to hypothesise how a bike may ride but unless you actually ride it, you’ll never know. As for the wheel choice, the 650b wheels have a noticeable zip to them compared to my normal 700c cross wheels. The wide tyres roll well on the Tarmac while giving a real sense of comfort and control.

    So would I buy one? Absolutely! It’s the bike I never knew I needed until I hopped on it. I’m itching to get hold of one for a proper long term test as mating it with Surly Knards in 650b 41c could make it a seriously fun off road machine for the kind of riding I enjoy.

    Hope this helps?

    CJ

  37. @Gary- Haven’t you heard of these forks before? Cannondale has been making one-legged forks since around 2000. They’re actually stiffer than ordinary suspension forks because the lower leg and the hub axle are one piece; the fork’s tubes are square instead of round, preventing twisting; the fork uses needle bearings instead of bushings, so the tubes roll instead of sliding; the upper, outer leg is around 50mm in diameter, which is a full 14mm bigger than the biggest Fox single crown forks. Yeah, you use one leg, and the fork brace, but all those other features more than make up the difference. One considerable minus: the hub flanges are not very widely spaced, which means the wheel is laterally flexier. But everyone who rides a Lefty says they are stiffer than conventional forks. No- I am not paid by Cannondale, and don’t think their products are across the board perfect. I wouldn’t buy one of their frames for example.

  38. @JBikes- I am not sure some of the hate in this thread is for the Lefty, or for having a suspension fork on the bike at all. I guess if a bike where low weight is important is going to have a suspension fork, the Lefty is one of the best choices. But some here have questioned the need for suspension at all.

  39. 1. its not a fork, its a strut
    2. way over priced
    3. S.A.V.E me the marketing story, the rear of that bike is going to be harsh
    4. not very consumer friendly, way to limiting

  40. Rocky – its a fork, because it performs the function of a bike “fork”.

    I’ll add another point on the Lefty. It eliminates the need to try an maintain two basically separate fork stanchions in unison. Every time the wheel is turned or hits a bump, it torques the hub. This is transmitted to the forks and causes binding. Large crown braces, big stanchions, and stout thru axle interfaces are needed to combat this and tie both fork legs together. On something like a motorcycle, its not a big deal to a 1,2, 5+ lbs of metal to reinforce. Not so on a bike. A lefty, being one tube, does not have to deal with this. It just has to deal with bend and twist forces in one leg (easily done via is very good bearing arrangement)

  41. Been riding the SLATE (demo) for about a week and refuse to give it back to my local bike shop. With that said it’s a medium Ultegra version and clearly one size too small for me. Even then, with this not-very-ideal setup. It’s a joy to road ride on as it’s comfortable yet snappy enough to accelerate and quick to steer. On the dirt you’ll be left with a big sh*t eating grin as you really get to attack on the singletrack and welcome the rough. I do not get this from my $5000+ carbon CX bike with 700x38c tires. My CX bike may maintain speed ever so slightly better on the road (with the right tires), but everywhere else it falls short for me. With that said, this bike isn’t for everyone. Specifically, I think it may not be for people that own MTBs and Road bikes at the same time. Or perhaps there are people who own both type of bikes and just want an unrestricted middle option?

    The type of rider I am: I’m a one-bike-do-all type of cyclist. Used to have multiple MTBs at one time and at least 1 road bike. Life has changed and I want one bike. I’m also bored of being restricted and having a set plan. I like to get on my bike and hit the road from my house and cut through the wilderness or trail systems whenever possible. Occasionally I’ll go on the mountain bike epic ride, scheduled road group ride, or sometimes long 100+ point A-to-B road bike rides. My past 3 bikes have all been CX allowing me to do this. However, all of them have left me leaving the dirt thinking ‘I’m glad that’s over’…I wish I could just splurge on a nice XC MTB so I could just shred the singletrack rather than searching for the smoothest line and begging for smooth. With all this said I feel the Slate was made for me (and other people who have the same needs and must have one bike).

    30mm of travel not enough? Lefty Oliver feels PERFECT for this application. Just enough for me to seriously attack singletrack and yet not too much where I feel dead in the water when I’m pedaling out of the saddle or sprinting on the roads. If you’re thinking about 30mm of travel from the MTB perspective it seems like nothing, but if you’re the type of rider who has been trying to make a rigid commuter or cross bike work off-road for years, 30mm (plus 650b with 42c tires) = bring it on! It’s also enjoyable to have the Lefty (and 42c tires) equipped to remind the deep dish carbon rim yielding roadies that you pass that they should be pedaling (or trying) harder 😉

    So why not a 29er MTB hardtail? Sure, but it’ll leave you wanting on the road… The Slate covers both ends.

    650b? Thank you Cannondale. Loving the air volume and shorter spokes 🙂

    The past week I keep telling people that it’s been ages since I’ve had so much fun on a bike. I want to say maybe way back when I first discovered mountain biking. It’s doing what I’ve been trying to accomplish with the last 3 bikes.

    My main gripe thus far is crank arm length. The medium I’m riding came with 175mm cranks. I understand why, but I think for some people they may want shorter cranks to help out with the road aspect. The large I’ll be ordering will for sure come with 175s and I will need 172.5mm. I know it’s minimal difference, but it’s enough to hinder me (and my knees). My other complaint is how they production versions have gone to a more sloping top tube. I liked the prototypes with the horizontal TT. While I need a Large I can deal with the TT of the medium. However not possible with the sloping TT.

    Regarding price – Looking at the $3,500 Ultegra version. The Lefty Oliver retails for $1000+ and the Cannondale SiSL2 crankset with BB must surely be ~$1000 too. So for that remaining $1500 you’re getting a frameset, completele Ultegra hydraulic disc groupset and tubeless compatible wheels. I think it’s priced fairly.

    Lukee, thank you for the brilliant analogy above (Road bike = Porsche 911, MTB = Ford Raptor Truck, and Slate = Gruppe B rally car). I think it explains this bike very well.

    Two Thumbs up (and then some) from a guy that wants to ride everywhere quickly (and for a long time) with one bike.

    -T

  42. I dig everything besides the price for even a 105 equipe bike. Have a rigid lefty for the thrifty folks and it’s a done deal.

  43. Does anyone know the service interval of the Oliver? My LBS C’dale dealer does not as of yet, but as a road-ish bike that sees some level of offroad travel, it’s reasonable to expect the hours to pile up. I’m not very familiar with Lefty service and am curious. Second, I’ve not seen the bike in person yet but it seems like the clearance from the rear wheel to the seattube is very minimal (it has 405 chainstays). I wonder if you’d be able to get some Surly Knards in there for true dirt days or even a 700C by 30 slick tire for exclusive road days.

  44. I’ve had mine on order since the day it was released – with delivery planned for the October, and then delayed to early November. I just got word that US/Canada bikes are delayed again, this time due to a Lefty parts supply issue. Currently the target date for delivery is January 31, 2016.

  45. Thanks Chris, I knew we would see delays! Now I’m just hoping to have it in time for the LR100. I wanted it for RAT 2015. Hoping good things come to those that wait. Time to start shopping for a scaple I guess!

  46. CX1 shipping 12\17\2015 105’s ship 01\29\2016. Latest and greatest I could dig up. All upgrades in a box collecting dust. At least my shop has a CX1 in my size coming so I can order the frame bag from Apidura.

  47. A friend and I both ordered the CX1 a Large and Medium. Just got news from dealer that Large CX1 shipped out on 12/15/ and will arrive before Christmas! Medium are set to ship out 12/23. Merry Christmas!

  48. Ultegra on order, can’t wait! This bike will suit me perfectly for my local training loops, for upcoming MTB XC season 🙂 ETA 1-2 weeks, need it soon!!

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