Last week, Cannondale quietly pushed out a video teasing an all-new, Lefty fork equipped gravel road bike. This week, they followed up with part two, in which many details are unveiled.

Called the Cannondale Slate, it’ll get a new Lefty Oliver with 30mm of travel and a lockout. The surprising part? 650B wheels in the form of Stan’s NoTubes Flow EX. While randonneuring bikes in the past have used the 650C wheel size, more and more gravel bikes are looking to the ‘b’ option due to the increased amount of rim and tire options. Official production spec remains to be seen, but the bikes should be available this fall.

Here’s four minutes of gravel grinding goodness with plenty of shots of the bike…the important of which we’ve captured below…

2016 Cannondale Slate gravel road bike with Lefty Oliver suspension fork and 650B wheels

Depending on the angle, the bike can look a little odd with the Lefty…

2016 Cannondale Slate gravel road bike with Lefty Oliver suspension fork and 650B wheels

But at others, it looks quite alright. The smaller 650B wheels seem to help the proportions without making the bikes look too small. More than anything, they just look fun!

2016 Cannondale Slate gravel road bike with Lefty Oliver suspension fork and 650B wheels

The Lefty Oliver looks to get 30mm of travel with their PBR (PB = Push Button / R = Rebound) lockout with an external rebound control knob on the top.

2016 Cannondale Slate gravel road bike with Lefty Oliver suspension fork and 650B wheels

2016 Cannondale Slate gravel road bike with Lefty Oliver suspension fork and 650B wheels

Here’s where the 65oB spec is confirmed, and tire clearance for at least a 42mm width, which they show as having the same roll out (read: circumference) as a 700×22 tire. That means more cush and traction without giving up the speed and roll-over of a standard road bike wheel and tire.

2016 Cannondale Slate gravel road bike with Lefty Oliver suspension fork and 650B wheels

The rear end appears to keep standard quick release axles. Considering the number of flats and sidewall tears we’ve seen on our gravel rides, quicker wheel changes and weight savings might have been a priority…a decision we think is backed up by the lack of rack and accessory mounts. Could be the Slate is initially aimed at the performance riding crowd more than touring.

2016 Cannondale Slate gravel road bike with Lefty Oliver suspension fork and 650B wheels

More as we get it!

Cannondale.com

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Mr. P
7 years ago

“650b + 42c = 700c + 22c … That means more cush and traction without giving up the speed and roll-over of a standard road bike wheel and tire.”

Haven’t 29ers taught us that bigger wheels have better speed and roll-over? So a 700c wheel + 42c tire should have better speed and rollover.

I’m not against the 650b, I’m just not biting on the claim. Sounds very opportunistic.

Initially I thought about how a suspension fork would be terrible and get junked up quickly on a gravel bike, but the lefty seals are away from the tire and inverted, so it might be the best fork for the job.

Interesting concept, seems like a niche of a niche.

P

Adrian
Adrian
7 years ago

@Mr. P

There’s a history of fat 650b tires that are suited for all-day rides.

They’re called touring tires.

Timquila
Timquila
7 years ago

My goodness, when will roadies invent something of their own instead of copying from the Mountain Bike arena… tubeless, disc, cushy frames and then tip-toeing on “gravel,” (don’t call ’em dirt, roads), not to mention suspension yearning. I would wager that next will be a dropper post with some kind or aero-brag of course.

That being said, this bike would make a fabulous addition to my Cannondale quiver, sign me up, it looks like great fun!

…actually a dropper on a road bike would be handy occasionally, especially at stop lights –drop down and avoid the “hope-my-shoe-don’t-slip-tippy-toe” stand.

hair
hair
7 years ago

Video screenshot info is wrong = 650B wheels – 571mm; should say – 584mm.

571mm = 650c.

Handsome Dick Manitoba
Handsome Dick Manitoba
7 years ago

@timquila, to be fair mountain bikes stole carbon frames and rims, index shifting, 650b (27.5″) rims/tires, multispeed drivetrains, clipless pedals and a whole lot more from road bikes.

jeff
jeff
7 years ago

While im a believer in 650b for mountain bikes, I cannot understand the reasoning for Cannondale to run 650b on this bike. Try finding tires that you would want to use on this bike, plenty of 2.25+, havent seen any smaller.

Mr. P
7 years ago

@Adrian
I see, they are comparing a 650B/42 against a 700/22(or 25 or 28). I misread.

I think is an interesting concept. I wonder if front suspension is very beneficial when the rider is seated so much.

@Timquila
Dropper posts are on Specialized Diverge. I would not mind a dropper even on my road bike. You just can’t beat the security of getting low on a fast corner (and on a gravel road x1000)

Dockboy
Dockboy
7 years ago

I think they chose 650b x 42 for the tighter chain stays and wheel swap convenience if you wanted a smooth road wheelset. I like this, and in Vermont there are plenty of roads that merit a bit of suspension, but mountain bikes are slow.

LOLWUT
LOLWUT
7 years ago

650bx42 means running a big tire but still being able to keep things like a short rear triangle and road chainline intact.

There is a reason bikes that run tires bigger than 700×33 have longer stays. A 700×42 would hit the seat tube on any bike with chainstays in the road to “endurance road” range.

Also fitting that wide a tire on a 700c rim also has potential problems with road gearing. It’s not a big deal if you are using the wider spaced mountain chainline standards but it takes some serious finagling to the chainstays to make room for a wide tire AND a 110 bcd road crankset.

The whole point of 650b for these kinds of applications is that it does not come with the inherent design problems associated with wider tires on a 700c rim.

Birdman
Birdman
7 years ago

Love it! All the pieces are finally in place for my next-next gravel hardtail! Front suspension, dropper post, hydraulic road brakes. The only thing missing for me is in-line hydraulic breaks, anyone working on that?

Birdman
Birdman
7 years ago

Other cool bikes with similar ideas

http://www.opencycle.com/blogs/article/introducing-up

The On-One Pickenflick is my next gravel hardtail, Jocki from this forum sold it well with the fat 26×2.25 tires

http://www.mtb-news.de/forum/t/damit-die-schoenheit-dieser-radgattung.37025/page-153#post-12198807

Volsung
Volsung
7 years ago

They might sell more aftermarket forks if they made it for adult sized wheels. 650b are for shorties and retro grouches who wouldn’t use a lefty anyway.

Rockshox makes a 50mm travel 700c fork that no one uses. That’s probably because it’s not necessary.

Chris L
Chris L
7 years ago

“While randonneuring bikes in the past have used the 650C wheel size”

Huh??? Rando bikes have used 650b for decades. OTOH I’ve yet to see a rando bike with 650c. That size has most commonly been associated with time trial and triathlon bikes in the past few decades.

Author’s ignorance aside, this looks like a fun bike. I’ve been riding 650bx42mm tires for a few years now and they’re great. You give up a little speed on smooth asphalt but make up a lot of that when roads turn crappy and on downhills.

Andy
Andy
7 years ago

Timquila, you realize that the first MTBs borrowed their entire drive trains from road bikes, not to mention 29ers use 700c “road” rims.

Though didn’t Specialized come out with a road dropper late last year.

mr_ocd
mr_ocd
7 years ago

Cool. Cannondale got their mojo back. We are fortunate to live in a time where bikes can be optimized for very specific riding styles and conditions. As a medium sized rider I will soon be able to build a low stack 650B without jacking the BB way up and have just enough suspension to take the edge off the comparatively benign trails here in Michigan.

Chris L
Chris L
7 years ago

@Timquila

I can only assume you haven’t been riding for very long! No other way to explain your astonishingly clueless statements. MTB has borrowed far more heavily from road than the other way around. Also riding “road” bikes on gravel is hardly new. Maybe you’ve heard of this little thing called the Tour de France? For decades much of it was run on dirt. Also just about every MTB pioneer – Ritchey, Fisher, Potts, Breeze, Chance, Bontrager, etc, etc, etc started on the road. Of course you’re such a newbie you probably have no clue who these people are! Seriously, try doing some reading next time so you don’t look like an idiot.

Heffe
Heffe
7 years ago

@Jeff sure there are great tires for 650b tons of touring tires, everything from Bruce Gordon’s “Rock n Road” tires, Pacenti/Panaracer, and all of these: http://www.rivbike.com/650B-Tires-s/111.htm

Matthew
Matthew
7 years ago

+1 randonneur who’s never seen a 650C randonneur frame. To the contrary, Jan Heine – who’s the most well-known proponent of 650/27.5 wheeled rando-frames – sells only 650B tires.

https://www.compasscycle.com/product-category/components/tires/650b/

Justin!
7 years ago

I think MTB was borrowing a little bit from moto In The Beginning: suspension, disc brakes, grips, levers, trails to ride… everything let’s say except wheels, frame, and drivetrain.

After that, it’s mostly in parity where road mtb.

Ajax
Ajax
7 years ago

650b x 42mm tire for a gravel bike means you don’t have to use a tall cyclocross tire, and hence a cyclocross fork.

The real beauty of this bike is its use of a normal road-ish length axle-to-crown fork. And since the fork length is approximately the same as a road fork, this Canondale handles more like a road bike instead of a cyclocross bike.

AND if you want to put on a 700 x 23mm tire or a 700 x 28mm tire, all you have to do is change wheels! No fussing with changing to a different reach brake!

650b + disc brakes = AWESOME!!!!!!!!

Ryan
Ryan
7 years ago

Will you drive the crazy-looking car with 3 wheels because it’s lighter & fuel efficient or would you rather prefer to drive the sporty car with regular 4 wheels ?

Craig
Craig
7 years ago

Using 650b with up to 42mm tires is awesome! Great, Cannondale!

Also bring on long chainstays!

I have 470-480mm chainstays on my touring bike. Gear shifting is awesome, I can run big
tires and the long wheelbase makes the bike very stable.

I’m confused though as to why both the author and the screen shot (that presumably was supplied by Cannondale) have got mixed up with the use of 650c and the BSD’s. Ie, 571mm is 650c (tri and small road bikes), and 584mm is 650b (touring bikes and french porteur/randonneur for decades…).

muf
muf
7 years ago

i kinda like it.

– the lefty fork seems like a good fit (better than on their mtbs…). for i have ridden countless gravelish-slightly rocky terrains on a CX, a bit of dampening is simply required if you wanna survive more than an hour (even CX races arent rocky in fact). it kills the hands even on a perfect fit.
– the 650b wheel seem like a good trade off between weight stiffness and tire volume actually, regardless of the “700cc” marketing factor

Now i’d have liked thru axles. Not sure why BR says quick releases are faster. with tabs in particular i could never change a wheel faster on my CX (which has quick releases front and rear) than i can on my mtb (which has thru axles front and rear and bigger wheels).

takes me about 5s on the mtb and about 15 on the CX (per wheel). I just never understand that argument. It seems ridiculous. Have you never used a qr thru axle? Such a misconception.

Anyhow, looks like a very interesting bike IMO.

Larry
Larry
7 years ago

Yes. I will not buy it die to it being a 650b. If it was a 700c bike yes. I would buy it ao i can yake wheels off of my scalpel and swap around. But 650b is not helmping me there. Cannondale please make it 700c.
Thanks.
Larry
the happy canncannondale customer

Ajax
Ajax
7 years ago

Larr, the bike comes with 650b disc wheels, but it has disc brakes meaning it is compatible with 700c disc wheels.

Too bad it doesn’t have a rear thru-axle.

Eric Hansen
Eric Hansen
7 years ago

SOMEONE has to produce 100% crazy to move things forward. Cannondale is consistently that someone.

Cannondale has done pretty much exactly this before with their BadBoy range. In that case, they used the Caffeine 26″ MTB frame, stuck 28-622 tires in there, and slapped on a 50mm Lefty. No redesign required at all. You could swap on some 50-559 tires and go rock some mild singletrack. This is probably the same thing with whatever their ‘mountain hybrid’ frame.

Me personally i’ve got to say “nah”, but I don’t hate it.

Benedikt Skulason
7 years ago

Interesting…

Math
Math
7 years ago

Not hating on Cannondale but for the price of the Oliver Lefty alone there are lots of creative gravel options. 650bx42 works out approximately to 26×2.1″, for which a plethora of rim and tire choices (these days quite economically) are available. Figure out a favorite cockpit setup and old MTB frames are new again!

Tim
Tim
7 years ago

Its clear from the number of nay sayers that this category of bike is very misunderstood and no well known.
For those of us who were cycling before it became cool i.e. Pre L.A. this category of bike is what tourers and audax riders love. Good one Cannondale. I’m starting to beleive in the brand again

Nick Burns
Nick Burns
7 years ago

Can’t wait to see people shredding these on the local crushed limestone “gravel” trails. /s

Lemond Rider
Lemond Rider
7 years ago

Some day you will all “WAKE UP” and go back to 559’s.

Timquila
Timquila
7 years ago

Sorry to get you all rialed up. Perhaps I should have prefaced my rant with ” seems like recently” and responders, most of which are respectful, maybe start with”historically…” But Chris L, relax already, as a matter of fact, I’ve been riding aggressively for 40 years or so and I currently have over twenty modern Cannondales in my “A” fleet, road, mountain, hybrid, road tandems, mountain tandem, literally at least one for every venue that I may chose. All are very clean and at the ready. Some I purchased complete and some I built frame up, some geared, some single… some of everything. And yes I am quite familiar with cycling history and yes again; I’ve lived a lot if it. Some of you haters really crack me up.

Bruce McDove
Bruce McDove
7 years ago

I think it’s odd no one mentioned this ridiculous film shows them doing no riding a regular road bike couldn’t handle.

OFfCourse
OFfCourse
7 years ago

This just in!!! Companies are researching a long lost 26″ wheel size for benefits compared to 650B and 29ers. Finding lighter rotational weight and greater lateral rigidity over both alternate wheels. Some engineers have just uncovered century, err decade old tire molds to kick this new phenomenal discovery into full gear. Prepare for some new designs exploiting this new, soon to be standard size covering a wide range of offerings. Integrated lever operated not-so thru axles will be in production soon to satisfy the eminent onslaught of early adapters. Oh what a time we live in.

overgearedss
overgearedss
7 years ago

Why the Stan’s Flow rims? Why aren’t they using something lighter like the Crest or Arch that would suit a bike like this just as well? DH rims for a glorified road bike?

Durianrider
Durianrider
7 years ago

I look forward to taking one out for a ride. Test ride then decide.

Right now I wouldnt be interested but a test ride on my local loops would shape my opinion better.

Frippolini
Frippolini
7 years ago

Seriously, what difference does it make?!
You could ride those sections using your current mtb / road / cx / touring / tandem / whatever and have an equal amount of fun; just go out and ride and don’t get stuck on some name or tech spec. Just ride, pedal on, and put your mind on having fun instead.
As for the parallel discussion on road vs mtb technology stealing… what difference does it make? Sure there’s a inspiration of technology solutions, but that’s good. It means all cyclists, irrelevant of category, get to enjoy the advances in technology and innovation irrelevant where they show up, agree?
@ Timquila: why don’t you take a photo of your impressive Cannondale stable and show here at BikeRumor, would be nice to see.
@ Lemond Rider: LOL +1

Todd
Todd
7 years ago

Way to put my secret fishing spot on bikerumor C’dale!

Aaron
Aaron
7 years ago

I love the idea, it’s a concept that hasn’t been really done yet.

But the look is awful. I don’t care how well they perform. Lefties have, and always will look awful. It’s like making a really souped-up mini cooper for racing, that’s on par with high end sports cars, but in the end it’s still a mini cooper. It just would look… weird.

At the end of the day it is a cool idea, but if I’m hitting something rough enough to warrant suspension, put me on a hardtail or something.

Fred
Fred
7 years ago

Did anyone else notice that in the side by side capture of the two bikes, each has the fork crowns oriented differently? Wonder what’s up here or if it was just them testing out various heights.

Erik
Erik
7 years ago

Bring back Silk Road!!

Magnetic Wheel Co.
7 years ago

I’m sure it works ok, but Lefty’s are just…. missing something.

hair
hair
7 years ago

@Fred- hmm, good catch. One has a fork cover and the graphics on the are different, too. Different forks or just different graphics?

Colorblind
Colorblind
7 years ago

It’s not a fork

internet stoke
internet stoke
7 years ago

QR fail.

I’ll stick to my CX bike.

Mindless
Mindless
7 years ago

Why are you stuck to your CX bike? Stains on your saddle?

Flyonthewall
Flyonthewall
7 years ago

So Mr. Stoke, does that mean that you’ll be buying one when you discover that the frame is thru axle?

RYAN
RYAN
7 years ago

Cannondale should have gone full proprietary on this. Can we develop a new wheel tire system that doesn’t use an old wheel size? How about we shrink the bead seat diameter of a 700c so fatter tires fit in almost every road frame with extended reach calipers?

27″ road bikes will fit cross tires without issue if you change the brakes. You could turn a $400 craigslist road bike into a Salsa Warbird with a new set of wheels, tires, and brakes.

Vignesh
Vignesh
6 years ago

The riding position is a bit ridiculous for this type of bike. Something a bit more upright would’ve been more sensible. Specialized needs to make a Diverge with a low-travel suspension, it’s a spectacular bike. This just seems like committee created product that can’t make up it’s mind about what it’s going for.