I get a bit frustrated when working on many of the new triathlon and time trial “superbikes.” These bikes often use integrated brakes, hinge-style headtubes, and integrated handlebars/aerobars. Examples would be the Trek Speed Concept, Felt DA series, Giant Trinity SL, and Cannondale Slice RS.
Most of these bikes sacrifice steering, cable routing, weight, and braking power for the ultimate in aerodynamics. If you have one of these bikes, you may notice how difficult it is to adjust, inconsistent shifting, and troublesome brakes. These superbikes often need full length cable housings (housings running all the way from shifter to derailleur) that make noise, add weight, limit steering, and hurt shifting performance. Your brakes are probably proprietary, often covered up so they are difficult to adjust, and lack the power of a good Shimano or SRAM brake. Almost all of them have a proprietary handlebar and aerobar, so you’re limited to the offerings of your frame manufacturer.
Enter the Cannondale Slice RS. I received our first one about a week ago. While it requires careful and patient set-up, the bike’s cable-routing, brakes, and steering act like a normal road bike!
The cable routing looks impossible when you first view the bike. The cable housings run into the fork, and turn with the handlebars. This prevents the cables from kinking and dragging when you turn the bars. The cable housings can also be cut much shorter than other superbikes, improving aerodynamics! The cable set-up is time consuming, but the results are well worth the extra time it takes. Brake cables are virtually invisible, entering the brakes from the center of the fork and the bottom bracket area. When the shift cables enter the frame, they are routed through an ingenious little cable carrier, then through the frame, making only 2 turns (one at the head-tube, and one at the bottom bracket). When the cables do turn, Cannondale was careful to make a wide radius, so slow shifting and kinked cables is a thing of the past.
The brakes are integrated into the frame, but are simple mountain bike style V-brakes. Adjusting is as easy turning a small screw. They’re powerful too!
The handlebar/aerobar setup is a relief. While the stem is proprietary, the handlebars and aerobars are not. You can use virtually ANY bar and aerobar you want! This makes a good fit easy, as we are not limited to a small selection of proprietary parts. The stem is easy to setup, all lengths are included with the bike. That means you won’t be spending extra money when you need a different length than stock. Cannondale chose the fantastic Vision Vector bars on the Slice RS. They’re very adjustable, and also include all fitting components with the bike.
Another thing I am impressed by is the weight of the bike. Often these superbikes sacrifice weight for aerodynamics. Our Shimano Ultegra demo bike is a respectable 19 pounds with a moderately heavy RS80 aero wheelset. Achieving a 16 or 17 pound build on this frame would be pretty easy.
The Slice RS sets a new standard for mechanical performance. I hope triathletes, time trialists, and other bike manufacturers take note.