Cannondale Slate: The ultimate N+1 bike?…

Without deviation from the norm, progress can’t be made’  Frank Zappa said that.

Sometimes, the box needs to be stepped out of……

Cannondale have long created bikes that push the boundaries of conformity, what’s sensible and sometimes what’s commercially viable. Bikes like the Raven, Ultracross and Super V fulcrum all made people scratch their heads. The lefty suspension fork divides opinion to the this day and all fall neatly into the marmite club of love or hate.

Innovation and daring to be different are what set Cannondale apart and for that, I will always be a fan. So when the Slate bike came along last year I was interested in its concept  of ‘ does a bit of everything’.

This week I got the chance to throw my leg over a Slate and tried to think of where to take it to give it a fair go. I ended up riding from home and around my local MTB trails, CX track, country parks and back lanes.

First impressions were mixed, a little bit slow on the road but responsive, stable and really comfortable, with the 30mm Lefty Oliver taking rough road hits away and the 42mm tyres dampening any road chatter.

Having ridden 6/7 miles it was time to ride off road. On local country park trails and broken roads the slate was really good fun. The Shimano hydraulic disc brakes were predictable and confidence inspiring. The lefty came into its own, although it was set up a little hard. Some of my local mellow MTB trails were refreshed riding with a different perspective.

I can’t put my finger on why I enjoyed riding the Slate. Its not a road bike, its not a mountain bike, it’s not a CX bike. Once I’d stopped wanting it to be any of the above it made more sense to me.

I’ve ridden all types of bikes and enjoyed all genres. The Slate takes the best part of all of them and puts them all in the mix. You won’t sit on the front of the local chaingang, you won’t win a round of the club winter CX race, you won’t flow down the local rough, rooty and rocky MTB trails. You will go out and enjoy riding a bike that gives you the same buzz those other genres give you, all rolled into one.

Once in a while a product comes along that divides opinion. A product that blurs the lines of genres and defines its own. Maybe in 20 years time we’ll be going on ‘slate’ rides as well as the types we already enjoy…


Alf Jones logo in white 65 years of cycling