Cannondale have announced their new Slice tri bike, which they hope will ‘change the paradigm’ for tri bike design.
The core concept behind the bike is ‘go faster, stay fresher, ride easier’, but the emphasis of the presentation they gave was that this is a bike focused on comfort and rideability, not purely on aerodynamics.
In fact, they freely admit that their bike isn’t the fastest in the wind tunnel, but counter that by saying that nobody actually races in a tunnel, and many other factors have to be taken into account.
Having said that, according to the numbers, the new Slice is more aerodynamic than the previous incarnation that carried Chrissie Wellington to her fourth Kona win in 2011.
This was, according to Cannondale’s engineers, one of the biggest challenges in designing the Slice. They had to figure out how to provide comfort in different ways to a road bike, and one of the things they came up with is the so-called Aero Save Micro Suspension in the seatstays and the ‘aeroplane’ chainstays. Both of these allow for more deflection (and therefore comfort) than the general competition in the tri bike market and makes the bike good at soaking up the road.
They did a similar thing with the fork, giving it offset dropouts which allow for more deflection when you hit bumps. Another little touch to aid comfort is that every Slice model comes with 25mm tyres as standard, and will fit up to 28mm. With recent research suggesting that 25mm tyres are just as aerodynamic as 23mm, they saw no point in speccing all the bikes with the less comfortable tyres.
All this should theoretically combine to give the bike a very smooth ride, helping the rider to stay in the aero position for longer and leading to larger gains over the 180km of an Ironman.
Another important aspect to the Slice is fit – and this is where the news gets even better for the age-group riders. Cannondale teamed up with the Guru fit system to access the fit data for thousands of triathletes while they were designing the bike, and used that data to determine what geometry to use.
The result was a 79° seat angle, the steepest standard angle on the market, with an effective range of 77-81°. Their research showed that the 79° angle allowed most riders the best blend of hip angle, aero position and weight distribution to make the ride as fast as possible.
They’ve also lowered the bottom bracket, and will supply all Slices with shorter cranks as a result, to lower the centre of gravity of the bike and therefore improve handling. They also reckon that the lower BB allows for lower overall stack height, so the rider is lower and more aerodynamic without having to change anything – it’s effectively just moving the ride position down a few centimetres in its entirety.
The final factor about the new Slice is another very interesting one: Cannondale have aimed to make a bike that easy to use. Now that might not sound too innovative, but think about the last time you messed around with integrated brakes, or tried to remove a rear exit rear wheel – it’s really not that easy.
So this bike has a standard 1 1/8” steerer tube – making it compatible with almost any aerobar you want to use; full internally housed cable routing, meaning you can replace the cable without having to remove any housing; direct mount brakes, because when Cannondale looked at the meagre savings integrated brakes gave, they decided it was too much hassle, and vertical dropouts, making for quick and easy wheel changes.
The tag line is ‘real advantages for the real triathlete’ and we have to say that on first glance, this is one of the most age-grouper friendly tri bikes we’ve seen.
There will be five models and three women’s specific models available for the Slice. The Black Inc. version that comes all-singing, all-dancing with Dura-Ace Di2, Vision Metron 81 wheels and the 1020g hi-mod frame; a high-mod Dura Ace-Di2 version that’s slightly cheaper, and the lowest price point for the hi-mod frame; an Ultegra Di2, Ultegra mechanical and finally, a 105-equipped model.
UK pricing is still to be confirmed, but don’t expect the Black Inc. version to be cheap!