Thrashin’ and Crashin’ the Cannondale Slate Force CX1 All-Road Bike

Since relocating to Los Angeles, a land with endless dirt in both the fireroad and track variety, my preferences have shifted a lot in terms of what I want a bike to take on. Capabilities are often grown in the industry piecemeal, then once and a while, a bike comes along that asks a question: what if?

The Cannondale Slate is a what if bike. What if 650b or 27.5″ wheels with a 42mm tire makes more sense for “all-road” riding? What if a damn Lefty shock with just the right amount of travel can instill confidence in new riders while offering an added fun bonus to experienced athletes?

Last February, I got to take a prototype Slate out for a spin and recently, Cannondale sent me a production Slate Force CX1 build to try out. I’ve been spending the past week or so thrashin’ and crashin’ this machine. While many exceptional bikes pass through this website, both for review and for personal acquisition, I will say this is the most fun I’ve had on a bike review.

Thrashin' and Crashin' the Cannondale Slate Force CX1


Most fun? Really? Moreso than the Urban Racer? Well, in a lot of ways those two bikes have a similar idea. Smaller wheels, bigger tires on a platform established by a 700c wheel. The Slate began as a concept: take a 650b by 42mm tire and you’ve got a similar diameter as a 700c wheel. Then Cannondale took it one step further.

Thrashin' and Crashin' the Cannondale Slate Force CX1

What the Fork is That?

But Cannondale didn’t stop there. Their Oliver Lefty fork is a new platform for the company.

Completely redesigned by a more-than-capable team of engineers, the Oliver uses SAVE technology. Now, I have no idea what the hell a SAVE is, but I will say it locks out for “climbing” and then opens up a whopping 30mm of travel. Don’t get me wrong, that 30mm of travel gets used more than you’d think. Surprisingly so.

I rode a lot of dusty, rutted and steep singletrack in the Verdugo mountains on it, always finding that little bit of travel coming in handy. It’s also nice to pre-load hops and jumps on trails, while absorbing potholes and dips on the road. After a long day on and off-road, you really begin to appreciate that extra 30mm of cushion.

Thrashin' and Crashin' the Cannondale Slate Force CX1

The Oliver is definitely the reason why this bike received so much attention. Is that gimmicky? Hard to tell because it’s the reason the Slate is so much fun to ride on one hand. On the other, I didn’t really think there was a need for a suspension fork on a drop bar bike before.

Thrashin' and Crashin' the Cannondale Slate Force CX1

There are some other shortcomings. Personally, I’ve never been a fan of Lefty forks. They dive funny on turns, take a bit to get used to and are proprietary. While it’s nice to be able to fix a flat without removing the wheel, if you transport your bike in a car, it’s a pain to have to remove the disc caliper to do so. A pain, but I’m sure after extended usage, you get used to it.

Thrashin' and Crashin' the Cannondale Slate Force CX1

Setup was easy. There’s a weight chart and a valve on the bottom of the fork. A few pumps and you’re ready to roll. I don’t think I ever locked the fork out once in the 200 or so miles I put on it last week.

Still, without stating the obvious about the Slate, the Oliver is the main reason why this bike is so much fun.

Thrashin' and Crashin' the Cannondale Slate Force CX1

Fun + Fork = Slate

Take these two things: a frame designed for a 650b by 42mm tire, a 30mm travel fork and you’ve got the Slate in a nicely-equipped package. The Force CX1 build features Hollowgram cranks, a quad-burning 44t chainring, super supple Panaracer-made tires that set up tubeless easily right out of the box and some other Cannondale-branded goods.

Thrashin' and Crashin' the Cannondale Slate Force CX1

I never really say this, but if I paid $4,260 for this bike, complete, as-is, there’s nothing I’d add to it, save for some tubeless valves and a cup of Stans. Down to the saddle. Yep, the Fabric Scoop saddle is super comfy for my sit-bone width. Even in the super-dusty and silty trails we have in Southern California, the Panaracer tires were capable. Until you really needed some tread, then it was like riding on ice.

Thrashin' and Crashin' the Cannondale Slate Force CX1

Details… man

Holy shit this bike has some really special moments. The stays are shaped, the bi-oval top tube, internal routing and matte black just looks so slick. It screams speed demon with a bit of fashion-forward nodding to the classic anodizing aesthetic of mountain biking’s golden era.

Thrashin' and Crashin' the Cannondale Slate Force CX1

Panaracer, Panaracer, Panaracer!

These tires are so good. So, so, so good. They’re supple, light, and corner like a tire you’d expect from a made in Japan casing. They have just a little bit of directional tread to build confidence on dusty turns. With all the aforementioned qualities, they seem like they’d be prone to ripping. Even after my 200 or so miles on them, there are some questionable marks on the sidewalls.

The Slate’s clearances at the stays would make it tough to fit in a treaded tire. Maybe something like the Soma Cazadero would fit though.

Thrashin' and Crashin' the Cannondale Slate Force CX1

Rubber side up!

As with learning new equipment, you often test the limitations. For me, it was how much you could dive into singletrack turns on the bike. With the combined slick tires and getting used to the Oliver fork, I definitely crashed a bunch. Most times I could clip out and crab walk out of the spill, but I took one of the hardest diggers I’ve had on a drop-bar bike in some time on the first ride. Whoops!

Thrashin' and Crashin' the Cannondale Slate Force CX1

So… who would ride this thing?

The Slate is a perfect bike for someone who has ridden road bikes their whole life and want to get into some off-road riding, or someone that’s ridden mountain bikes their whole life and want to hop on a drop bar bike with some panache. Since I ride a lot of different bikes, on a lot of different terrain, I’m also interested in experiencing something entirely new and that’s what the Slate is. The Slate is a strange one. Part of me wants to see it spec’d with an internal dropper post for an extra FU point.

Thrashin' and Crashin' the Cannondale Slate Force CX1

Should you buy one?

Look, $4,260 is a lot of coin. You could buy an entry level road bike and an entry level cross bike for that much. You could buy an entry level cross bike and some really nice wheels but that’s the point. The Slate is two bikes in one. It’s part road and part cross, with a little bit of mountain genes mixed in, down to the 10-42t cluster cassette on the rear! That with a fully capable group, some bomb ass wheels, super soft tires and a frame with so many curves and shapes it should come with a 18+ Explicit content sticker.

I’ve ridden my road loops in the mountains, my dirt loops in the hills and my party loops in the neighborhood and have had a legitimate blast on it.

The Slate is available in size Small through X-Large and comes in Shimano 105 build kit for $2,980, an Ultegra kit for $3,520 or as pictured with CX1 for $4,260. Head to Cannondale and your local dealer for more information.

If you’re interested in trying one out, head to your local Cannondale dealer and give it a spin.

  • DopePedaler

    Fabric (formerly Charge) Scoop saddles are my absolute fav.

    • not formerly Charge, a completely different company / approach – same owners though.

      • DopePedaler


        • pedroTFP

          Great article John! I ordered my Ultegra few days ago, delivery expected jan25th. Do you think upgrading to CX is worth the extra money? Here in Italy is +600€…

          • The CX1 is specifically addressing the needs of very bumpy rides. So whether it is a major benefit to you depends entirely on whether you expect to ride much in situations where the ultegra is at risk of dropping a chain. Seriously, that is 100% the reason to consider the upgrade. Your downsides are 1) cost and 2) bigger ratio jumps (but no loss of range, in fact, a slight gain.)

          • pedroTFP

            Thanks! Due to the fact that where I live there are some gravel roads but they’re not so bumpy, I’ll stick to Ultegra for the time being; I’ll sell Ultegra groupset and swap to the next CX1 version if on field experience demands it.

      • DopePedaler

        oh, cuz, there’s still a Charge. DUH!

      • Kat Daley

        technically, he’s right. It used to be Charge saddles (Charge Spoon was one of them) and bikes before they split the saddles off into Fabric.

        • Nick from Charge told me they started from scratch with Fabric…

      • Any idea when these saddles will make it state-side?

    • Scott Atkins

      They sell them at

  • Could it fit knobbies?

    • Not realllllly on the back. Maybe a file tread or something less aggressive.

      • Bradley Tompkins

        No knobbies is a deal-breaker. If you could put knobbies I would be all in.

        • Cannondale is working on a treaded tire for the Slate.

          • Eli

            Thanks for all the tire info! Very helpful in deciding about this bike. Any idea on timeline for their treaded tire, and if you think the Soma Cazadero behaves similarly to the Rock-n-Road?

        • Massimiliano Marco Accaputo

          Surly Knard, 41mm

        • AOhammer

          What about the Bruce Gordon Rock n Road, any experience for tubeless setup, wear, traction, etc?

      • Nic Mattock

        Yay or nay on a 650bx43 Rock n Road you think?

        • Too much side-tread. The Soma Cazadero would work though.

          • Massimiliano Marco Accaputo

            Guys, the 41mm Surly Knards work great on this bike, I’ve taken the Slate out on everything from raod, gravel, all out single track and the Knards are awesome.

          • Good to know!

      • TheBear

        Maybe we’ll see a Challenge Gravel Grinder in 650b x 38mm

  • One of the times I miss working at a Cannondale shop – would love to mess about on one of these for a bit.

  • tylernol

    it looks like it would be happier with knobbies.

  • Domen Ožbot

    How tall are you? Was the XL size big enough?

    • 6’2″ with a 36″ inseam. Yep. Felt great.

      • Ace Metric Cycles

        all legs!

  • barry mcwilliams

    Aesthetics are all personal, but to my eyes, that thing looks fun to ride. Maybe it’s the goofy fork, maybe it’s the purple, maybe it’s just nontraditional enough…I dunno. I just think it looks like a blast.

    • Kieran Degan

      I agree. Pretty hefty price tag for ‘fun’ though.

      • TheBear

        What? Surely ‘fun’ is the thing worth spending the most money on, no?

    • Daniel Lemke

      Yep I agree. Its a weird looking bike, but its a really cool looking bike.

  • Jon B.

    You think it can tour?

    • With bikepacking bags, yes! It’d be fun.

      • Conor Lewis

        Yo John! Think I could ride this across the country?

        • You can ride any bike across the country!

          • Conor Lewis

            Ha true! I’m 6’5.5 36in inseam – I saw that our legs may be the same length. Think I would fit on it? Thanks dude, you rock!

  • fizzle

    its not a dirt bike if it has slicks. this is a bike that has been compromised to hell by the big C

    • I don’t agree about the slicks. With the right PSI, these tires are great off-road. Not every tire needs tread for dirt riding.

      • fizzle

        lol, talking about your nasty digger, and this line: “Until you really needed some tread, then it was like riding on ice.” well, it makes me think that maybe you are wrong. tread is there for the times that you need it, so that you have it, and you avoid the diggers and the ice riding.

        • mrbiggs

          If I was riding in pretty much a straight line on pretty much dry dirt roads, I feel that slicks would be just great. But when I’m looking at “all-road” or “off-road” knobbies, I need something that will cover conditions I’m not necessarily expecting. I just don’t get the point of off-road slicks when there are so many good tires with treads (MSO, Knard, Gravel Grinder, those new Schwalbe G-One things).
          At the same time, tires are pretty much the easiest thing to change out. If that’s the thing that’s compromising this funny-looking bike, it’s not really compromised. (I totally agree with John on the racks. I like a rack on my Surly, but this bike ain’t a Surly.)

          • fizzle


          • mrbiggs

            Now you’re just not making any sense.

          • Patrick Murphy

            Ugh, thank you for coming to the conclusion that you shouldn’t visit the site anymore. It’s clearly the only thing you’ve said that everyone else is in agreement with.

          • fizzle

            SO bummed the cool kids are kicking me off of the island.

          • Man, you party. Let’s hang out.

          • kermitonwheels

            Pretty sure you left all by yourself.

          • why are you shouting?

        • I was riding technical singletrack on a “road” bike.

    • SeaSpider

      Really? Guys rode the Oregon Outback on slicks and did quite well. I ride slicks all the time on dirt roads. Yeah, you can’t take corners as aggressively but the other 95% of the time they’re faster than knobbies.

      • fizzle

        i am not saying that slicks will slide out from under you the second you touch dirt. Please, look at my post: its a compromised bike.

        The all-road category is a joke that the big companies dont get. Everyone is trying to figure out how to make an all-road bike that will do well in shops without educating current customers and riders, but the resulting bikes are these weird not-quite-there average messes. openbike is the closest to nailing it, but even they have forgotten about racks.

        • What’s a rack? Why would I want a rack when a series of bike packing bags will strap to my bike without issue, regardless of mounting alignment and they won’t rattle loose or break?

          • kermitonwheels

            There’s always a racks and eyelets critique of every non-race bike…as if every bike has to be a capable tourer to be useful, or good or fun. Some people don’t tour.

          • fizzle

            commute? bike pack?

          • Ray Penrod

            Most commuters I see with panniers have them mounted on the rear, which this bike accomodates.

          • kermitonwheels

            I do both and happy without eyelets in both cases. Not every bike is for everyone. This bike isn’t for me either but it sure looks like fun. “The big C” has positioned this as a fun machine from the start. If that’s not your cup of tea then that’s cool.

          • gari

            Thought you had gone?

          • Don’t forget the third bottle cage critique!

          • fizzle

            u lost a reader. ur n+1 mindset is what holds cycling culture in the niche. schlepping mediocre bikes for big brands might pay your silverlake rent, but its not cool. l8r.

          • trololo

            well that escalated quickly.

          • Noel Smith

            Dont hate the playa niqqa, hate the game..

          • I don’t live in Silverlake and my rent in LA is cheaper than it was in Austin, which is partially why I moved and in case you’re unaware, I don’t get money for anything but the ads and the ads do not inform the content.

          • Rider_X

            While I find this bike packing movement interesting, I have yet to see a way to safely secure a laptop within a frame bag. Until that happens I will still be looking for eyelets and a proper set of panniers. Erik seems to get that and I am unclear why this is not an issue for anyone else. For me, I want to be able to use my bikes for transportation and for fun!

            (And yes I have off-road toured with an evil rack and panniers, but I do see the advantage of frame bags for fast and light approach).

          • fizzle

            its not an issue because people listen to whoever has the loudest microphone. prolly sold his soul to the big bike people and now he has to preach whatever gospel the PR boys and girls hand him. in turn, we have all listened.

          • Rider_X

            This whole dialog is getting ridiculous reminds me of a Tool Song (Hooker with a Penis). Cause I am OGT…

          • What about all the small frame builders? They pay me more than the big bad companies. Seriously, I’m typing this from my private jet with a Lefty fork and slick tires.

          • charlesojones

            Well you seem to be the one with the loudest microphone in this thread. I’d have to agree with you from the standpoint that this particular bike isn’t for me either. But I’m amused how something as simple as a bicycle can prompt you to barf up so much venom.

            If you’re so down on this site then why do you even bother clicking on it? There are a bazillion bikes websites out there. Or better yet start your own website, or your own bike company. Then you can have some arrogant know-it-all tell you how fucked up you are.

          • Justin Dodd

            This is a great point and the main reason I’d want rack mounts, especially on these “adventure road bikes” that have the potential to be so versatile. I understand that frame bags are better suited for bike packing, but pretty much every bike I’ve owned gets put into the commuter rotation at some point and a light rack and laptop pannier beats a messenger bag every time, especially in hot summer months.

          • Rider_X

            I find it funny that the only big brand that seems to be doing this on there “adventure” bikes is the big brand most bike geeks like to malign.

          • fizzle

            u ride with racks? or u have? or r u over racks?

          • on the road, yes, off-road, no.

        • Andy Moore

          If you haven’t ridden it, I think you are assuming a lot. Isn’t the nature of “all-road” compromise? Last (and not least) it seems really absurd to expect perfection in this first production iteration.

          Personally, I’m stoked that the big companies are making an effort to cater to people who want to ride road bikes and get rad while doing it!

          • fizzle

            1. the bike is literally retarded. not going to ride it.
            2. watching the big idiot dinosaurs trying to understand the way people ride bikes (and want to ride bikes) is hilarious but also sad. we are all so conditioned to accept whatever retardation they shove at us, and assume that the next bike we buy will make up for the things we are missing out on.

          • Fraser

            Using the R word is hurtful and offensive.

          • fizzle

            when i said literally i meant literally

          • I don’t buy that at all. Way to back-pedal.

          • If you wish to be taken seriously, stop using that word. You can’t force “literal” context when more recent historical context has so much baggage attached.

          • Andy Moore

            I buy one bike every decade (if I’m lucky) or two, on average. I sure as hell ride quite a few things and take a lot of notes before buying, and if I’m not happy with the ride, the bike doesn’t make my list of finalists. Nobody is making anybody accept anything “shoved at them”, and I seriously doubt this will be the new normal for the 2016 market.

            I just don’t understand why you have so much bile to spew for something that is decidedly unique, and so obviously *not for you*.

          • fizzle

            the bile is from the fact that the bike industry is continually off-step with the rest of the world, and what the majority of people would actually want to ride. There aren’t many places on the internet that are trying to be something more than another cycling echo chamber, and while this website/this dude used to be someone I respected its become Shill Factory 2.0 and I am done with the whole mess.

          • I’m sorry to have offended you with all the free content and photos of rides, people and things they make. Pretty sure that’s how it’s always been here on the site. If you ever see me in real life since you live here now, make sure you say hey and we can talk about this in person, rather than filling the world with banter like this.

          • Gerard Vroomen


          • gari

            Clearly your not done with the whole mess, otherwise you wouldn’t be here now would you?

          • You are not the majority. You are just a single lone voice bellowing into the void.

          • fizzle

            ur butt is a void.

          • One of the least interesting things one can do is tell people about music/art that you do not like or moan about products that are not aimed at you.

          • fizzle

            what gives you the impression this bike is not aimed at me? i ride road bikes off-road and cannondale gave this bike to john to put on his site so that people like me would see it.

          • The fact that you tiresomely like to tell others it’s completely rubbish because of XY + Z. Yet somehow it still appeals to many others, despite all the things you claim are wrong with it or possibly because of those things.
            Maybe Cannondale need to ask you what to build before they make another off road bike. Or maybe you should go out and design the perfect bike seeing as you are such an expert. However as you don’t seem to realise that your opinions are not accurately representative of anyone, bar yourself it may not sell that well.

        • Gerard Vroomen

          We haven’t forgotten about racks at OPEN, we just don’t like them so we thought about them and decided not to accommodate them. They allow you to take too much stuff with you for the kind of riding we like to do (rackless packs work great for that) and for the type of riding we don’t do ourselves, we don’t make bikes.

          That’s the whole point of OPEN, we design the bikes for the way we want to ride, and then see if anybody else feels the same way. Not because we want to exclude anybody or anythingm but because as you call it, we don’t want to make bikes that are “compromised”. It’s 100% dedicated to our way of riding.

          • fizzle

            how hard is it to make a fork with the proper mounts? really?

          • Gerard Vroomen

            I understand you’d like rack mounts and there are people offering that, so they accommodate your needs. The needs of us and our customers are a bit different, and those are the ones we accommodate. I am not sure why that upsets you.

            You think it’s not that hard to make a fork with proper mounts, while also accommodating the needs of those who don’t want racks such as the rack mounts should be invisible and add no weight (because for most of OUR customers (not ALL customers), that’s the request)? I actually spent quite a bit of time already on such a design, but haven’t cracked it yet. If you think you have, then please let me know and in all seriousness, I’ll gladly license and make it. Or if you so choose, build it yourself and enter the bike industry.

          • fizzle

            thats like a car company saying “we thought about letting people put a rack on our car, but we just dont like em, so we decided not to accomodate them. they allow you to carry too much stuff on your car, and its like ‘hello, we put a truck on the car for a reason!'”

          • That’s a poor analogy; not all cars can or should sport a roof rack.

            They’re designing a bike to fit a specific role they have in mind and that does not align with what you want. Both of these things are 100% fine. No need to attack them for it, just leave at “this bike doesn’t work as an all-road for me because of XYZ”. Folks reading will get an idea of possible shortcomings while deciding what they want in a bike but not be hit with a wall of assholish instance that a bike conform to your ideals.

          • Andy Moore

            Besides, if you want racks so bad, it is not like you can’t find a custom frame builder to accomodate your wishes regarding mounts, clearances, etc. – and/or have an OPEN frame/fork customized.

          • fizzle

            folks reading this will buy whatever they are told to buy, or worse whatever the big companies decide to make.

          • No one is telling anyone to buy this bike and people are smarter than that. Have more faith in humanity and the readers of this site.

        • Mike

          Don’t have a cow man

      • Agreed

    • Doug M.

      to quote the his Holiness Grant Peterson, “Just Ride”. so sayeth Grant, so it be done.

  • Carl

    It’s like a blast from the past! Maybe we’ll see the return of the Rockshox ruby fork too ;)

    • or the Headshock!

      • Joseph Dowski

        Agreed, would prefer to have some fork options beyond just the Oliver… Headshok or carbon rigid…. I know the Lefty is sort of a Cannondale “thing” but I think they’d sell more Slates if they gave buyers options. :)

  • Kieran Degan

    Socks matching the bike. Nice. What size is the cassette on the back?

    • 10-42

      • Kieran Degan

        Cheers. Any issues with internal cables rattling on rough roads? And, is it UCI compliant for CX racing?

        • Nope.

        • Bryce Knudson

          I’m currently experiencing a bit of rattling. Going to take it in to the shop to see what they say. At first I was fine with it, but it’s starting to drive me mad.

    • geoff.tewierik

      “down to the 10-42t cluster cassette on the rear”

      • Kieran Degan

        Cheers. Damn skim-reading.

  • I’d love to hit the skatepark / pump track with this thing!!!

  • Rich G.

    Unless I blazed through this too fast, any mention on the wheels? Also that $3500 Ultegra price point is choice imo.

    • Parra

      Would suit a 700×28 wheels for road?

  • Brad Hodges

    What are the hidden allen bolts under the seat stays for , removable canti bosses ? Loving the profile of the top tube on this bike !!

    • Ray Penrod

      I’m guessing “hidden” rack mounts.

    • Peter Bradley

      Maybe for fenders

  • caliente

    those chainstays are crazy looking! look super thin from the side-profile view.

  • STW

    So was it more fun than the urban racer? Careful! Sacha might be listening…

  • Peter Bradley

    Hmmm, interesting, quirky. Should I part with my Diverge for this???

    • Justin Dodd

      I had the same thought. In retrospect this is what I wanted my Diverge to be…a bit more geared towards off-road environments.

      • The Diverge just looks like a road bike to me.

        • Justin Dodd

          Yes, I’ve basically come to this same conclusion the hard way. It’s a nice bike and the larger tire volume (relative to most road bikes) is appreciated, but it’s not great once you move off the pavement.

          • Peter Bradley

            I’ve taken the Diverge over some seriously harsh terrain and had no problems on the same trails as mates on CX bikes. I can’t complain about it at all but this Slate is growing on me

          • Thomas Wilson

            I was able to fit Specialized Trigger 33’s on my customers bike and they seem to be super comfy, but still the bike isnt really a “trail” bike.

        • Thomas Wilson

          I just had a customer come in asking if we could put some kind of front suspension on his diverge after doing a century with his buddy who road a slate. Great Review.

          • I just bought the Diverge X1 this year and have maybe 500 miles on it with a 50:50 split on- and off-road. It would be “absolutely perfect with a suspension fork and 30mm of travel” is what I catch myself thinking every time I ride it. Thomas, were you guys able to provide a solution?

          • Thomas Wilson

            The only thing available would be a Lauf trail racer at 60mm of travel and would make the head tube a lot more slack.
            As soon as the lefty oliver becomes available for after market purchase we will probably just put one on his diverge. Or just mod an older PBR/XLR down to 30mm of travel and use the “lefty for all” steerer tube adapter.

          • gari

            Doesn’t the Diverge have a propriety head tube/crown race arrangement? I tried to swap forks on my old Tricross and nothing would fit as the crown race was about 10-12mm deep, meaning the steerer tube would not reach the bottom cartridge with a normal c
            rown race fitted.

          • Thomas Wilson

            For your old tricross specialized used to make a headtube adapter, and ive been using 10mm fork crown risers on a few Niner hardtails. ill have to do some digging but looking in the specialized data base i cant find 1.25″ head tube adapter like the 1.125 and 1.5″ they used to make. If i come across anything ill be sure to post it here as my customer would also love his bike more with a little suspension. I was able to “hack” the SCS garbage and put his ENVE all mountain to DT180’s on so ill keep trying to figure this out.

          • gari

            Thanks for the reply, what is the adaptor you are using please? I am in the UK but am happy to get one posted out here as I assume it will fit in a small jiffy bag.
            The steerer was cut really short on the forks( pretty standard by Spec and others apparently) and it’s just that little too low for an old man like me. I have a nice set of Kenesis carbon CX forks but they just won’t fit! This adaptor may be just the ticket:-) Thanks again Thomas.

        • sgtrobo

          The Diverge is a Roubaix with wide tires

  • Tony

    Your pictures and reviews are usually top notch, but this one was particularly good. One question: what’s an “FU point”?

    • My point was, this bike is a big “fuck you” to the purists. A dropper would add to that!

      • Tony

        Well considering I had to look up dropper, I thought maybe an FU point was some other technical/mech term I didn’t know.

        • Haha all good! ;-)

          • Sean Co

            Someone modified their SRAM left shifter to operate a dropper post. I might have to do that when I get mine in January!

          • Ray Penrod

            Sounds like a perfect mod for this (and bikes like this).

      • Patrick Murphy

        I thought it was a nice double play on words between “Fuck You” and “Future Upgrade”

  • Justin Dodd

    I really hope they make this bike in more sizes in the coming years; I’m right in between sizes and the jumps are pretty large. I’m sure I could make it work, but for this kinda coin I’d want it to fit perfectly.

    • *custom*

      • Tim Guarente

        Custom, sure, but can you get the Lefty Oliver, or something comparable? That’s what really puts this bike ahead of anything custom.

        • Talabardio

          You could build something up with the Lauf fork, maybe even the 650b version for a bike with 700c cross tires/wheels, to keep the A2C down.

  • DaymanDaryl

    Love the bike. Hate this typo on Cannondale’s site: “Cannondale Slate Folding TRS tubeless, 650x42c, by Panaracer” I wonder if these tires will be available a la carte.

    • Bryce Knudson
      • DaymanDaryl

        The Gravel King’s a different tire…the first difference is the OEM Cannondale is designed to be tubeless. Since the Cannondale tire doesn’t seem to be sold without the bike attached to it, I don’t know other specs. I don’t know of an tubeless 650B road tires other than the Compass Switchback Hill or WTB Horizon.
        And Cannondale, if you’re listening, it’s NOT 650x42c. It’s 650B. “c” is not a unit of measure for tire width!!!

        • Bryce Knudson

          My bad, yes, they’re not tubeless. Interesting, I just looked again today, but there is another tire called Panaracer Pari-Moto Gravel. Doesn’t say tubeless either. Saw a slash from a sharp rock in my OEM tires already.

        • Bryce Knudson

          Don’t know if this has been brought up somewhere before . . . but just bought and had installed tubeless on my Slate the panaracer pacenti pari-moto tires (27.5×1.75). In every detail they look to be the same stock tire. The shop said it took a little to set them up, but I’d read that on reviews of the tire. Yeehaw!

  • MattD

    Love the review – tyres look like Panaracer are producing their own version of a tyre they make for Compass based on Jan Heine design . I ride the Barlow pass lightweight – expensive but the best upgrade I’ve ever made to a bike !

  • Nic


  • Thomas Ettema I have some very similar thoughts on this bike, too bad I did not had the time for some proper pictures…

  • It looks like a prop from “Batman: The Gravel Knight.” Of course, that’s a good thing. Interesting approach to a wide-application bike.

  • Brecon Thomas Welton

    As much as I want to dislike this vine, the flat black, lettering, and grinduro-esque annodized purp are on point. Plus the dream team water bottle!

  • Not many options for a tire with tread yet, but Schwalbe is going to make their new G-One gravel tire in 650b, at 38mm looks to be a great option when you want something with some tread… should be available soon:;product=143229 And of course for the road, Compass makes a great selection of super-fast and light 650b rubber:

    • I believe Panaracer manufacturers the Compass tires, too. I was thinking about that when I read the review, especially the photo with the closeup of the tread, as the Compass tires have that same chevron pattern (and are, hyperbole aside, the most supple tires I’ve ever ridden).

      • Yes, apparently Panaracer does indeed make the tires for Compass, as well as the Bruce Gordon Rock’N’Road and so many other of these similar specialty and very supple tires. I already have a set of Compass 38mm Extra-Light tires sitting here waiting… should make for speedy and smooth rough-road riding (we have terrible, terrible roads here in Quebec). Can’t wait to try them all out on my Slate when it finally arrives! (due in December now apparently).

        • Nice! Yeah, I put a set of the 38mm ones on my AWOL early this year and it totally transformed it. Amazing for both the also terrible roads here in Seattle, as well as for gravel and such. They rode so well I almost immediately bought a set of the 32mm tires to put on my road bike.

          (ps. also Canadian! :P)

  • Richard Evans

    What was the saddle like? I have been thinking of trying the new Fabric Line out.

    • I like it. A little bit of padding and a bit wider than a Arione.

      • good to know, because every time i ride my arione, my butt talks about packing up it’s respective orifice and leaving. hoping the C13 is easier on the hide.

    • Benjamin Johnson

      I’ve ridden the scoop for a full season now. It’s a really comfortable saddle (at least for me.) So much so that most of the time I don’t even think about it. That’s the marker of a quality saddle, right? I will say that it has gotten a little creaky after a battery of cx remounts. But overall I’m super pleased with it.

  • Barrett Hoover

    It’s amazing how much one truly honest review can make people (myself included) rethink a bike that everyone really seems to want to hate. Thanks for what you do John.

  • a shame cannondale doesn’t sell framesets.. would love a hydro ultegra di2 build with a single ring on this

  • Nicholas

    Flat mount rear and post front?

    • Tim Guarente

      No, flat mount rear and IS front. Lefty’s integrated axle benefits from the lateral predictability of the old-school fitment for wheel removal.

  • gvnstewart

    There have been so many previous feature bikes that I was initially expecting to be touring/allroad 650b bikes. Really curious to see where that tire size goes. Thanks for the review John.

  • Pete H

    Does this really hold up as master of all trades, quick on the road and fun off it? This roadie is seriously intrigued.

    • Massimiliano Marco Accaputo
      • paul barton

        Nice – love that green one!

        • Massimiliano Marco Accaputo

          Love the green as well but cannot wait for my CX 1 to come in. This bike is one of, if not THE most fun bikes I’ve ridden in 40 years… and yes, I’m going back to my 5th year on this earth on that statement because I remember one of my very first bicycles! :o)

          • Eli

            Is it possible to get the green colored frame with the CX-1 build kit as show in your photo? Thanks for posting the pic.

          • Massimiliano Marco Accaputo

            No, the CX-1 will be just like the one John has reviewed here, in black.

          • Nic Mattock

            Dude… I just pulled the trigger on a green one because of this photo. Bravo! Knard’s look great on it.

          • Massimiliano Marco Accaputo

   Nice man! You’re going to love this bike, it’s seriously so much fun. Enjoy!!

          • Justin Dodd

            How did you manage to get a green one with SRAM 1X? Did you build it custom?

          • Massimiliano Marco Accaputo

            This bike is built custom, yes.

          • Bryce Knudson

            Where you riding man, looks really nice.

      • Danilo Marinaccio

        what’s the width of the drop bar? 440mm or 420mm?

      • benb

        which tyres do you have ? ty

        • Massimiliano Marco Accaputo

          The tires on this bike are the Surly Knards.

        • Massimiliano Marco Accaputo

          Tires on this bike are Surly Knards.

    • T Best

      Pete, I second Massimiliano’s response to your inquiry. Since demoing I have been EAGERLY awaiting arrival of my CX1 Slate. See my thread above if you want to read my ramblings about this bike.

  • Carlos Guerra

    For me it looks just like a really expensive toy. As you said, you could buy two bikes with that money, but again, if it is on the market is because somebody will buy it (I wont). I wouldnt mind to get the crankset though.

  • Doug M.

    dear c-dale, plz make those tubeless bead babyshoe passes available separately, thx.

    • james berry

      Go to Compass Bikes to find the Babyshoe Pass tire

    • AdamBike99

      Why not just get ’em from the source?
      Choose the Extralight option and the black sidewall.

      • Doug M.

        ‘cuz extra peace of mind with a real tubeless bead.

        • Ray Penrod

          In the comments, Jan says the Babyshoe Pass tires are “tubeless ready.”

          • Doug M.

            i don’t think he does, not directly; i imagine he can’t for liability issues. my own babbyshoes are setup sans tubes & i’m okay with it (most non-TL panaracers do ok), but i imagine there are many more freds not going tubeless & waiting for the next batch to get a standards-conforming (e.g. UST) tubeless bead. still, more likely that a slate owner slashes a c-dale tire before that happens; they’ll need something.

          • Ray Penrod

            You’re right. I missed it before, but he’s referring to “tubeless ready” rims, not the tires. My bad.

  • mr. apodaca APODACA

    My two cents.. this bike is bad ass, Cannondale’s been breaking down walls from day one. I just picked up a 2007 Cannondale XR7 NOS team frame, disk tabs in 2007!! just got my Ritchey CX carbon fork and this build is on!!

    Now what saddle? John would you wait for the C13 or is that Scoop that good?

    • C13 is carbon and the scoop is not. I just got my C13 in the mail and would say it’s a completely different saddle, in a much different pricepoint.

      • sgerhard

        Hi John – thanks for this great review. Just ordered my slate. Would you tell me what pedals you where using?

  • Last few days ago new McLaren F1 subsequent after earning 18,512$,,,this was my previous month’s paycheck ,and-a little over, $17k Last month ..3-5 h/r of work a day ..with extra open doors & weekly paychecks.. it’s realy the easiest work I have ever Do.. I Joined This 7 months ago and now making over $87, p/h.

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  • sgtrobo

    Why 650b instead of 700c?

    • 650b and a 40mm tire is about the same size as a 700c x 28mm

      • sgtrobo

        sure, but 700×28 is substantially smaller than, say, 700x40mm, which is an even better choice for heavier gravel. Not a criticism, just wondering is all. Looks like a potential blast. Thoughts on taking this on a non-UCI CX race?

  • Jay Elling

    +$4000 for an aluminum bike?

    • With CX1 and a carbon, suspension fork.

    • paul barton

      Certainly seems a lot at first, but a carbon Lefty is what, about $1400? – I certainly wish it were a bit cheaper!

  • Keon Mansoor

    If you ignore the price tag, this thing could be the perfect courier workhorse, depending on your city.

  • paul barton

    I don’t think the reviewer has ridden a lefty since 2012; they certainly don’t dive too much on braking or “dive funny on turns”. If anything they stay high in their travel.

    • Uh, this reviewer has ridden a Lefty a lot and this Lefty dives on turns. Have you ridden a Slate yet?

      • paul barton

        He doesn’t even say this Lefty dives on turns! He’s talking about unspecified previous Leftys.

        • You do know that John Watson is the reviewer you’re talking about. . .

          • paul barton

            All I’m saying is that claiming recent Leftys “dive funny on turns” doesn’t make sense. But might describe older Leftys. Not being controversial. And not trying to sound fanboyish – a comment like ‘not very adjustable rebound damping’ would ring true with any Lefty!

          • For sure, you don’t come across badly or fanboyish at all. I wanted to point out that John was the rider/reviewer for this and was definitely talking about his experience with the Slate/Oliver combo. I’ve also heard good things about the post-2012 Leftys and was kinda surprised to hear that this one had these issues.

          • I had the bike at Golden Saddle and everyone that rode it said the same thing, right off the bat.

          • paul barton

            Maybe I’m mistaken, but what I read was – ‘I don’t like Leftys because they dive funny but I really like this one, make the bike fun etc’

          • paul barton

            “Personally, I’ve never been a fan of Lefty forks. They dive funny on turns” – made me think you were referring to ‘other’ leftys.

          • Well, I don’t know what to say. I’ve ridden a modern Lefty on a Jekyll and it felt good, but this fork tracks and dives when you make a turn. I’m not the only way to say that. Everyone that hopped on the bike immediately said the same thing. For what it’s worth, the sensation subsided after I rode it for a bit more, but the initial shock is more apparent than it was with the Jekyll that I rode last year.

          • paul barton

            I guess I’m getting confused. I wonder if the sensation is your brain expecting a road-bike, then ANY dive would maybe feel weird. ??
            Any front suspension on a road bike is probably new for most people, I certainly haven’t had that experience.

      • paul barton

        If you read the article, he actually likes this one!

      • paul barton

        And regarding my 2012 comment; while older Leftys were criticised for diving too much, the recent ones (with the exposed lower stantion) are not. People seem to say the opposite ‘stays high’. And no, I have two recent bikes with Leftys but have not ridden the Slate yet.

  • Tamara S

    SAVE= Synapse Active Vibration Elimination (Originally from their endurance-based frame’s flexing chain/seat stays, I presume it will now be the already trademarked description for anything that makes things comfier.) Specifically, the MY16 Leftys are coming stiffer through their upper 1/3 amt of travel, though not sure if that is the case for the Oliver. Also, not advertised by Cannondale, is that a small aftermarket part (Cannondale # KH076/) can reduce the volume of the air chamber (or in the case of this 115# rider, increase the volume) to address some of those corner-diving compression issues. Back in June, I got to check out the Slate in the hills above Ogden, UT. I found it completely capable for the super loose dust mixed with baby heads, climbing and descending stairs, bushwacking, and shooting around a town with a bit of construction. I agree that all it needs is a dropper post. Nice socks, @johnprolly:disqus!

    • Last few days ago new McLaren F1 subsequent after earning 18,512$,,,this was my previous month’s paycheck ,and-a little over, $17k Last month ..3-5 h/r of work a day ..with extra open doors & weekly paychecks.. it’s realy the easiest work I have ever Do.. I Joined This 7 months ago and now making over $87, p/h.

      .Learn `More right Here….


  • John Arthur

    Hey @johnprolly:disqus ! Tried to find a way to do this via DM, but couldn’t, so am prepared for grammar nazi backlash. Just thought I’d point out that in the “So who would ride this thing” section, you refer to the “lives” of “someone”. Just some simple subject/pronoun disagreement – “someone” only has one “life”. Multiple “someones” have “lives”.

    Super awesome write up. Congrats on the move and the abundance of dirt/gravel. This bike looks like a lot of fun and something that everyone would enjoy learning to ride with lots of 650b rubber side up. Cheers.

  • Wristtime

    I have last year’s Supersix Evo 105 and it’s the greatest bike I’ve ever ridden. I’ve taken it on gravel, dirt, shitty roads, and commuted with it in all weather, and it’s taught me so much about riding and what a modern carbon road bike is actually capable of. I love that bike like I would a person.

    But this Slate, man. I HAVE to have this Slate. There’s something so romantic about a bike whose sole purpose is to be fun to ride. It kind of makes all the marginal gains-y tech acronyms (however amazing they are) on the Evo seem rather, well, silly.

  • Mike

    Goodness I think I need to take this bike for a ride! @johnprolly:disqus can you send this my way when your done? A serious question though, could you put 700x28mm on to change things up? And when you say it could be hard to fit knobbies on the 650, you mean around the seat stays and tube right?

  • sturtlovinggood

    What shorts are those?

  • Nash

    Can you turn off the shock? Cause I can, and I just bought a bad boy and modded it for wayyy less that 2980$. Perfect city bike for unexpected potholes jumping out at you from underneath taxis, plus a forward leaning geometry for hill climbing and speed… until they lower the price on this guy, it won’t take even though its an idea long past due…

    • Diranne Lee-Renwick

      Reminds me of my Bad Boy…

      • Dwight

        Yes, I just purchased the Force CX1

  • Nash

    here she is



    • You Totally get it, old “slates” for the win!!!! the cx1 is pretty cool too…

    • Dave Kim

      what kind of tires are you running?

    • Colin Gavignet

      Hi, what kind of rack did you fit on it?

  • tenfourty

    Hey John, great article. Do you think the CX1 is worth going for over the Ultegra? Does it have enough range (top especially) compared to the Ultegra?

    • I think it is. It’s got as much range as you’re willing to wiggle on with the chain ring.

      • tenfourty

        Thanks for the advice John, just got my Slate Force CX1 and loving everything about it!
        Only problem, flat tyre on my first outing! I’d assumed they’d fit it tubeless from the get go but will now convert it to tubeless asap.

  • T Best

    I’ve been a burned-out cyclist since ~2010 when I hung up XC MTBs, racing, road bikes for training, enduro MTB, etc and just wanted to only own one bike that I could ride everywhere. Since then I’ve owned a bunch of CX bikes and have had a blast…Love to throw my leg over the bike without a plan and not knowing whether I was going to go ride on the dirt, ride a century on the road, etc. Although I’ve always been held back a bit on the dirt due to tire fragility, blurred vision (from rigid riding with little tire volume). I rode a demo Slate Ultegra a couple of months back for a couple of weeks and WAS SOOOO HAPPY. I got to attack the dirt…sometimes aiming for obstacles and launching over them. On the contrary I would be threading the needle on my CX bikes…always wanting the terrain to smoothen out to accommodate my weak a** :) Slate left me wanting more action, I just loved it.

    Your ‘quick on the road’ comment is right on in my opinion. It never disappointed me, even when mixing it up with roadies. There is more tire volume which people can easily would argue would slow you down over time compared to 700x25c, etc. But the shorter spokes are most certainly welcome when you’re in an all-out-sprint trying to keep road snoots behind :)

    I too have a CX1 on order and am awaiting.

    • Jimmy Vo

      I just received mine and trust me you won’t regret it. Just try not to crash like me on the 1st ride.


    That some sweet bar tape work there!

  • Andrew Hibbitt

    Which saddle bag is that?

  • Veggieman

    I will look to test ride the 105 version as I am currently looking at the Strasbourg71 from Eddy Merckx. Great review, thanx.

  • Nikolay Staykov

    Do you think the specialized suspension in the seatpost will work on slate force?

  • kamechas

    Go home, Cannondale, you’re drunk…

  • I finally got to test one this weekend and yup it’s a whole lot of fun to ride. Which seemed to be what most folk said about the bike.
    If I didn’t already have a cross bike that I already ride seriously rough offroad with [even with my 28mm road tyres], I would be getting one of these. Current tyres are Hutchinson Sector 28s run tubeless – awesome on and off road and on Pacenti Sl25 rims 40/45psi is all you need for speed and comfort on either for 75kg. I’ll swap wheels with my CX tyres on, once it get wet and gloopy on trails, but otherwise….
    The Slate is certainly better on the really rough stuff than my bike it is, but if I was going to splurge on a light bike for better off road riding, I’d go for the Cannondale Scalpel SI or other brand equivalent of a light FS MTB. Or if I was seriously going down the N+1 route with a bike for every occasion [I wish] I’d definitely get one of these.
    I found zero issue with the fork’s slightly different behaviour as mentioned in this and other articles despite throwing bike around some very twisty and dusty singletrack some with lots of braking bumps and tree roots at odd angles and really pushing it and getting good strava times too.

  • tenfourty

    I’ve now been riding a Slate Force CX1 for a year and I’ve done over 2000 km on it – I wrote a wee blog post about it for those that are interested here
    The short version is that this is an awesome go-anywhere-do-anything bike that is pure FUN! Stop thinking about it and get it!

    • Jon B.

      nice write-up.

      • tenfourty

        Thanks Jon!

  • rickyk76

    Being a Slate owner, I read a lot of reviews of the bike and this is by far my favorite. As much for the ridiculous comments as for the great review and commentary that pretty much nails this bike. The biggest point I’d like to make about this bike is that it’s FUN! The fact that it still, a few years later, doesn’t really fit into a category makes it a stand-out bike IMO. It’s light, comfortable, fast, rugged, and capable. The saddle and the slicks are the only thing that came on this bike that aren’t for me. Saddle just because they’re super personal depending on your sit bones and stature, and the slicks just can’t handle any kind of wetness or mud, which makes sense, right? Trust me, I spent a little too much time trying to spin out of some muddy roads and trails. And, for those complaining about the price point, just buy last year’s model at a deep discount. This bike has chops as proven by it being ridden to the DK200 podium. It may not be for everyone, but it’s definitely for me. And the other Slate owners I’ve talked to have the same opinion: this is one fun bike!

    • Nice! My photos got lost from the review when our server deleted our bucket. Apologies for the lack of visual references.