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On a recent 100km ride that was mainly gravel - rail trail, bike path and back roads - the Slate had me grinning like a schoolgirl with a new Snap filter. I absolutely loved every minute on this bike. The Slate is very comfortable - not just the suspended front end but the rear end was smooth as well. The wide tires at lower air pressure helped, too. I could point this bike down any hill - paved or rough - and it literally took off! Doing 60kph down a concession road or 70+ down a paved hill, the Slate always felt stable. I could bomb through loose sand and gravel without a deflection. Acceleration was snappy - just ask the Mercedes SUV driver I passed on the gravel road :-) The Ultegra shifters are peerless - solid and accurate - well worth the upgrade over 105. Thankfully, the disc brakes worked very well, too. My only sore point was the saddle, it's not designed for rides this long.