Cannondale Slice 105 £1899

Aero efficient time trial ride

BikeRadar score 4/5

We loved the top-dollar Slice Hi Mod frame when we tested it earlier this year and the basic Slice gets all the same wind cheating, road soothing shapes and features. A bit of extra frame weight from less exotic carbon fibre doesn’t dampen its standout smoothness and charisma either.

Ride & handling: Aero-efficient, light and climb-friendly with long-haul comfort

The first thing we noticed about the Cannondale is that it offers more than just a Slice of the performance of the Hi Mod versions. Squeeze the pedals round and despite the hefty wheels, you can feel the stiffness benefit of the big BB30 crank axle through your shoe cleats straight away. The big blade down tube means there’s no distracting twist between bars and back wheel when you’re using torque, not tempo, to build up speed too.

The powerline along the chainstays is equally direct to intensify drive delivery and flatter your fitness. Add relatively low weight and generous breathing space, and the Slice copes well when the contour lines start to get closer together. Even with the saddle in the steep position the balanced handling kept us at ease at all speeds, so trickling and twisting through traffic never felt like an ordeal.

The ease with which the Slice combines this easy riding with friendly and responsive speed is where it really shines though. In fact the way it manages to move quietly and efficiently from cruise to PB-carving charge is a real shock on the first few rides. With the stem slammed down and the saddle forward it gives a flat, drag fighting position that’s a match for anything else out there.

There’s no sense of struggling into position or rhythm though, just a gradual climb through the heart rate and KPH data on the GPS until you top out into whatever training zone that day brings. While it’s obviously gagging for some deep section wheels to really unleash it’s clock-stopping potential, even the standard trim gave a definite mismatch between higher velocity and lower vascular readings on our benchmark test loops.

A lot of the Slice advantage comes from its combination of rapidity and relaxation too. It might not be as millimetre accurate through the fork tips as the best of the competition and occasionally takes a lazy rather than laser accurate line through corners, but it never feels flustered. When traffic allowed we swung through roundabouts fully tucked and without a tickle of the brakes, and it never got nervous on our more treacherous test descents either.

Overall comfort is outstanding too, with no shoulder burn after extended tuck sessions, white finger vibration numbness or back ache on frost fractured back roads. Just a beguilingly smooth, cultured and relaxed ride that bears little resemblance to the extremely high ground speed that seems to be the default setting of the Slice.

The skinny top tube not only removes a lot of the chatter from the frame but it also seems to reduce the sail effect so we weren’t worried about side winds or gusting even on squally spring days. Having ridden the Hi Mod frames with full aero wheels we know the handling accepts deep section wheels without trouble when it comes to upgrading too.

Frame & equipment: Stiff, aerodynamic chassis but heavy wheels are gagging for upgrading

Frame weight is 200g heavier than the Hi Mod bike, and fork weight 30g more but there’s no external difference between the frames. That means the aerodynamics of the short head tube, deep blade down tube, internal cable routing and seat hugging seat tube with deep aero twin position seatpost are all retained. The skinny top tube reduces road shock and sidewind vulnerability too, although front end tracking tightness suffers slightly as a result.

Curved “tri axial hourglass” seatstays reduce road shock from the rear too, but there’s no loss of stiffness from the bulged BB30 bottom bracket and chunky chainstays. While they don’t allow the same micro alignment potential as horizontal dropouts, conventional vertical slots are a lot easier to get the wheel in and out of. Optional seatpost mounted bottle clips are included to augment the single frame mount too.

As you’d expect, the Slice 105 is mostly Shimano 105 with just the big axled FSA BB30 crank breaking rank. 105 brakes are boosted by broad-bladed aero levers too. The skunk striped Schwalbe tyres felt smooth and stayed confident even on wet roads. The Profile extension bars offer plenty of adjustment too and the short head tube means relatively high arm-pad height is less of an issue.

Colour matching also extends to the ‘far more comfortable than it looks’ Fizik Arione Tri saddle and the Fulcrum wheels. The wheels are heavy though, and definitely on the immediate upgrade list to get the most from the bike.

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