Monday, June 11, 2012

Knifing the Slice!

I had always planned to put my Cannondale Slice under the knife, that is upgrade it. It’s a solid frame (even though it’s been retired now), not as good as Chrissie’s Hi-Mod version which is just better Carbon Fiber but with the same design. The components are pretty basic but hey that’s what you get for less than $2200…and quite a lot less given it was an ex-demo bike. imageIf you look it up online it’s spec'd as Shimano 105 which is their entry level grouppo but the reality is far from that, there is in fact very little 105; fr/rear derailleurs, cassette are basically all you get. the shifters and Chinese no name, the brake levers have a name…but nobody’s heard of it! The brakes are entry level Tekto and the crankset is a FSA compact on Cannondale’s BB30 bottom bracket standard. The base bars are Profile Design and mounted on a Cannodale branded stem with Profile Design T2 clip on aero bars. It also comes with the god-awful Fizik Arione saddle which was 86d at the start of the year for an ISM Adamo Breakaway. The wheels are Shimano 501, work horses they are but they are not light at nearly 2000gms.

If you look online there various versions of this with slightly different components but this is what I got when I got mine. Out the door $1500 and 25lbs of bike.

It’s took me a little time to collect the various parts that I wanted, a new grouppo can easily set you back $1000 but if you buy it piecemeal you can actually save a lot.

So my goal was to replace the entire set with Shimano Ultegra; this is their next set up from the 105 but it’s leap years ahead and enjoys a lot of trickle down technology from their top of the line Dura Ace.

Added to which two things were in my favor; the introduction of Shimano’s Di2 electronic shifting and the rumor mill of the Shimano 11 speed cassette, these two things meant that there was a lot of price pressure on retailers trying to empty their shelves…lucky me!image

It probably took 2-3 months to finally collect all the pieces I needed in the dark gray color, obviously not the shifters in the picture, this list is as follows:

  • Ultegra crankset 53/39 this is a standard not a compact
  • Ultegra brakes
  • Ultegra bottom bracket; I had to have an adapter fitted to convert the BB30 to standard
  • Ultegra derailleurs front and rear
  • Dura Ace shifters; these were a total steal off of Amazon for $50!
  • Dura Ace carbon brake levers; total luxury but Shimano do not make a Ultegra version

The next thing was the aero bars, I wanted a one-piece, that is not one with clip-ons and it took some time to do the research, by the time I had made a decision; 3Ts Mistral, based on several conversation with a friend MUN in the UK, trying to find a set in the US was like finding Rocking Horse poop…it doesn’t exist! To the rescue came MUN who secured me a set in the UK and with PayPaling they were on their way to me arriving in under a week!

So off to my LBS I went to have everything fitted and to be refitted to the bike. I was anxious to try out the new setup and I headed out to ride a local ride just over 21 miles which I had baselined using my Cervelo, which IMHO is a quick bike, well I think the number speak for themselves…but wait there’s more!

The next thing on my list was the wheels and to be honest the plan was to get them a bit further down the road as I actually want to get a pair of deep dish wheels and while I can’t justify a pair of Zipps, not that I really need any real justification. I am very tempted to get a pair of Flos which come in at a fraction of the cost and while being a smidge heavier possess a lot of the aero dynamics of their higher priced brethren, the problem is is that they are a start up and there are out of stock, new wheels are expected sometime in June or July and really wanted a better pair for Vineman, see a couple of posts ago for some predictions.

Now while surfing I came across an ad for a set of Fulcrum Racing 5s, these are “semi serious” wheels; by that I mean they are above entry level but are some ways below serious racing wheels,s kind of like good training wheels. They weighed in a good 200grams less than the 501s and best of all were on sale, 50% off! Sold I quick drive across LA and a super fgriendly bike store owner who stayed late for me and they were in my hands! Two inner tubes later and with a snap the Conti Triathlon tires, from Chainlove (formerly Bonktown) and I was set.

I know it’s not polite to talk money but the object of this exercise was to do it all as cheap as possible, so here’s the breakdown:

  • Shimano pieces $690
  • 3T Bars and Stem (new stem to match, cos’ I am Mr Matchy) $330
  • LBS fitting of new parts and refitting of me $300
  • Fulcrum Racing 5s $250
  • Conti Triathlon Tires $50

All in $1600…so the question is, is this now a $3100 bike? Here are some other options:

The list goes on but I think that it certainly holds it’s own against the shortlist that I looked at. The real test is in the riding though, but first I should add that the above has shaved off around 3.5lbs so I am much closer to that 20lb mark which is not superlight but for a 58cm bike is pretty respectable!

So onto the eating of the the pudding (or pie for my preference) as that’s’ where the proof lives! So here’s a big slice…


So as you can see the new Slice is 5:30 (five and half) minutes faster than my Cervelo over the same route, ridden at a similar effort level, even with the old wheels it was over 4 minutes faster. Now while the shifting is cleaner and crisper, the brakes stop me like I have thrown a ‘chute out the back and the bars have me lower and tighter, in my opinion it’s the wheels that bring it together. On both the Cervelo and 501s the max speed I was reaching was 35mph, with the Fulcrums I had to sit up and air brake as I hit 39mph…on a bike, for me, at least for now, that’s fast enough!

So that’s that really, a few minor tweaks and maybe or maybe not a set of Flo wheels and my bike is race ready! Here are some photos!


  1. That was. Just. So well broken down.

  2. Fun project and the bike looks GREAT! How's your body doing this week?


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