Review: Cannondale Slate « RAY COX CYCLING WEBPAGE

Review: Cannondale Slate

Cannondale Slate, Omnico

I can’t ride there…
Isn’t it a gravel road?
Sorry, I can only pack one bike…

Cannondale slate, review

Skinny tires have their limitations.  There’s always that one road you’ll love to conquer or hill you want to climb, but you are left dreaming about the view at the top because your road bike isn’t designed for dirt roads or loose gravel.  Well, thanks to the new Cannondale Slate, this problem is now a thing of the past.

Stellenbosch, cannonate, slate

I lived with the Slate for just over a week to see what the hype was about.  Firstly, the overall look of the bike.

Yes it’s a road bike with suspension (and a damn good one at that!) The suspension (Lefty Oliver) has a lock out button in the top of the fork cylinder… an on/off dial with a rebound setting, which makes it easy to use and to navigate the bike even when banging it down a trail.


Secondly, the frame.  Okay, so Cannondale have been in the ALU game forever, with their first CAAD frames changing the bicycle world.  On the Slate, the tubing is some of the best engineering I’ve seen.  The forms and shapes are just beautiful (just look at those smoothed out lugs and the backstay shapes!).  It’s those small details that make the ride comfortable and responsive at the same time.

Slate, cannonade, single track

On the new Slate, the Grouppo provides the rider with a unique and smooth ride.  The gear shifts are effortless and the disk brakes have a really smooth, linear squeeze.


So, on my first ride, I headed off to Stellenbosch to meet up with the gents from team VYE Peugeot Stellenbosch  ,all rocking their Cannondale EVO’s.  After a quick coffee, we headed to Franschhoek.  During the ride, I kept up with the guys on their standard road machines.  I have to admit, the ride is a little harder than a standard road bike, but the difference is nothing substantial.  During the ride, it felt like I had 28mm tires on a normal road bike, but with some added resistance at high speed.  It is, however, important to remember that the Slate has a “Low Range 4×4 option” too, specifically for the days you prefer to go trail hunting.

Hazz coffee, stellenbosch

The wind into Franschhoek was intense so we crawled towards the town.  On the way back (with the wind behind us) the 650B wheels were smooth and worked like a dream.  Remember, the tires on the slate inflates to a 29”er circumference, but with added comfort.


Gravel time!!  Before heading back home over Hellshoogte pass, I thought it’ll be a good idea to head onto some private trails.  Luckily I had Mark Nel (from Camberley Wine Farm ) with his Cannondale Flash to guide me.  Remember, the Slate is not a pure single track bike.  This fact, together with my less than reputable MTB skills (rather spending most of my days in the saddle on the road), I manged to ride, skip and work my way down the trails.  The ride wasn’t as quick as it would have been on a hard tail, but I managed to conquer a full single track (minus drop offs and rock gardens) with flying colours.  I would recommend changing the tyres to a more aggressive tread for the riders who prefer to use dirt roads more often.


The new Cannondale Slate is not meant to ride fast.  It’s an adventure bike that you take out to explore new service roads and/or gravel paths.  It’s the kind of bike you take along on your December holiday, without leaving you with the unnecessary hassle of packing two bikes.  All in all, the Slate can be described as the “Swiss Army knife” of the bicycling world…a new revelation in the cycling industry.  Well done Cannondale, I enjoyed this one!

If you’re on the market for a new adventure bike please contact Chris Jnr at Chris Willemse Cycles for more information.


Chris Willemse Cycles
Skratch Labs
Cannondale SA
Stages Powermeters
Cuore Kit