Cannondale’s Slice 3 Ultegra triathlon bike tested, rated and reviewed
Cannondale Slice 3 Ultegra
Cannondale Slice 3 Ultegra – Frame and Fork
While the Slice RS is the current top of Cannondale’s range, the Slice 3 has had a career most flagship bikes would die for. Under riders such as Chrissie Wellington, Cannondale’s Slice smashed and re-smashed course records all around the globe on the way to becoming one of the most successful time trial bikes ever. OK, so the Slice here doesn’t get the lighter, stiffer Hi Mod carbon fibre of Chrissie’s bike, but the wind doesn’t know that.
The head-tube is as narrow as possible while still using a conventional 1.125in fork and the top-tube is positively tiny in cross section. The down-tube and wheel-hugging seat-tube are deep and as aero as you’d expect and the gear and brake cables slot inside the frame to reduce drag.
Curved seatstays flow smoothly out of the deepest part of the wheel-hugger fin, shrouding the conventionally mounted rear brake. The front brake sits out in the wind on top of the fork though and you only get bottle mounts in the seat-tube position rather than the down-tube spine too.
The aero seatpost can be set up for a run-friendly forward position or a conventional time-trial position though. At only 1,870g for frame and fork, it’s pretty light for an aero machine too.
Cannondale Slice 3 Ultegra – The Kit
The latest 6800 Ultegra is a big deal too, thanks to the 11-speed cassette and enhanced braking over the Ultegra 6700 versions from the 2011-2013 model years.
Unless you get the scales out or start getting really anal about materials and bearings, it’s also functionally indistinguishable from the flagship Dura Ace group, which you get the extension tip shifters from anyway. Shimano also provides the sturdy but smooth rolling and long-lived RS11 wheels, which are worth hanging onto for training purposes even if you upgrade to deeper section race wheels later.
The Cannondale base bar bounces if you’re stomping out of the saddle and the TriMax extensions are heavy and can only be length-adjusted with a hacksaw. The thick pads are comfy though and that softness helps create a smoother ride over long distances.
The Fizik Arione Tri 2 is one of our favourite saddles for Ironman work too. You could definitely add a lot of speed and increase ride quality very cost effectively by upgrading the Schwalbe Lugano tyres for Schwalbe Ultremo or One rubber so that’s worth a haggle in the shop.
As much as the flat fat-arm and deep-dish chainrings on the TriMax TT crank look the part, they’re a regular source of disappointment on our test bikes when it comes to delivering power.
Cannondale Slice 3 Ultegra – The Ride
That crank condemnation might sound a bit harsh without any specific torque transfer or comparative crank flex data to back it up. But we can categorically say that over the past few years we’ve ridden a lot of complete bikes with these cranks on and been singularly unimpressed with the power response. In some cases we’ve ridden the same frames with other cranks and the difference has been obvious in terms of pick up – particularly accelerating and climbing.
It’s the same story here too, with the addition of the wheel inertia from Shimano’s chunky hoops regularly leaving us frustrated as we tried to respond to attacks from swifter machines, only to hear the chainring scuff the front mech cage and see our heart rate rise without any increase in speed.
While this is galling in short-course situations or for anyone who whacks out serious wattage, power sprints and steep climbs are rarely part of the Ironman experience and it’s here where the Slice really shines.
While the fact our testing coincided with some of the first short-sleeve days of spring definitely helped, the long, lightly sprung cockpit always encouraged us to stretch out and relax like a fireside cat anyway.
The forward-set seat is perfectly placed for open-pelvis pedalling and the Fizik saddle lets you sit on its tip all ride without leaving you feeling numb or intimately impaled. The shock-damping effect deliberately woven into the ‘SAVE’ stays and fork, plus that skinny leaf-spring top-tube, all noticeably reduce any rough sections or potholes that you can’t dodge. Soft steering accuracy means you will hit a few more than the sharpest steering bikes out there.
Overall handling is helpfully stable though, with no snatch or spookiness in the Slice’s character even on blustery days with deeper section wheels. The comfortable tuck and proven aerodynamics give the Cannondale a really easy high-speed cruise too, with the extra couple of gears giving smaller jumps in cadence to increase pedalling efficiency.
+ Extremely comfortable and well proven lightweight aero frameset
+ Latest 11-speed, powerful-braking Ultegra at a reasonable price
– Vision chainset and soft frame undermine peak power delivery
– Tri-bars are heavy and awkward to adjust and it deserves better tyres
FRAME AND FORK
Size tested 56cm
Sizes available 51, 54, 56, 58, 60cm
Weight as tested 8.92kg
Frame Slice full carbon
Fork Slice full carbon
Chainset Vision TriMax Pro TT BB30 53/39T
Bottom bracket FSA BB30
Cassette Shimano Ultegra 6800 11-speed, 11-25T
Chain Shimano Ultegra 6800 11-speed
Derailleurs Shimano Ultegra 6800 11-speed
Shifters Shimano Dura Ace tip shift
Front Shimano RS11
Rear Shimano RS11
Tyres Schwalbe Lugano 700x23C
Wheel weight Front 1.27kg, Rear 1.78kg
Stem Cannondale C3
Bars Cannondale C3, with Trimax Team clip-ons
Headset FSA IS integrated
Saddle Fizik Arione Tri2
Seatpost Slice carbon aero
Brakes Shimano Ultegra 6700