It was just a few days ago that American pro triathlete Jordan Rapp announced his sponsorship change, from Specialized to Dimond. On his blog, he spoke about finding a bike that may well be suited to his needs. He didn't need the internal frame bladder or a few other features that may well be well suited to many age groupers, but he didn't find a need for.
What does that have to do with the launch of the new Cannondale Slice? Heck, just a few days ago, the company announced its biggest undertaking in titling the Cannondale-Garmin Cycling Team, trusting in Tom Danielson and Co. in earning the brand some ProTour accolade. Well, Rapp's pretty cerebral, and his announcement has everything to do with just what a tri bike is—and isn't.
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And that is: no bike can be everything to everyone. It can't be fastest and climb like a Billy goat and steer with X-Acto precision. And store two saddlebags full of race fuel. And... and... you get the picture. Imagine a claim from Lamborghini that the new Murcialago not only goes 0 to 60 in a nanosecond, but it also cruises over rutted roads with aplomb and has a massive payload and tow capacity.
That in mind, it's clear to see Cannondale took this tack when re-designing the new 2015 Slice; why try to be one of the many brands chasing the claim of being fastest bike, where there are so many other variables that have as much weight in ride performance and experience? Don't chase one feature at the detriment of five others.
One look, and you can see it's different. It's the anti-Shiv; lean in tubeset depth, with wispy stays that look like those found on Cervelo's R5... the company's road bike. It looks almost frail.
While it was somewhat accidentally debuted at Eurobike last fall, the Hawaii Ironman in October marked the official debut of the completely redesigned Cannondale Slice. And in a market chasing the almighty drag coefficient, Cannondale steps back and looks at the bike beyond just aero. And actually made aero secondary. Or even tertiary.
"We'll go ahead and say it; we're not the most aerodynamic bike. We are very aerodynamic, close to what the rest of the companies are doing, but its not all this bike is supposed to be," said Cannondale marketing director Murray Washburn. "The industry looks hard at aerodynamics, but we wanted to look at weight, stiffness comfort and handling. Aerodynamics are an important part—but not the only part."
As Washburn notes, it's a total departure from the aero-at-all-costs bent the industry has been focused on. But if we start seeing wins based on a bike that has greater focus on elements beyond aerodynamics, we may have an industry rethinking it's focus.
"How much is sacrificed to make those games to say 'hey, we're the best in the tunnel?'" Washburn says. "In the real world, you have hills, corners, crosswinds, chip pavement. And you also have to run."
In name, the Slice has a long history, with four Hawaii Ironman world titles under Chrissie Wellington. But this revamped version saw its true pro debut at 70.3 Lanzarote under Spanish star Victor del Corral last fall, in its brilliant green prototype livery.
Washburn used a spider chart to illustrate the gains other brands had against the Slice aerodynamically. It accounted for anywhere from a half a percent to two percent of deficit. But across the rest of the spider chart were other categories: weight. Stiffness. Comfort. And in each of those, Cannondale said it was best, but a landslide.