The fork’s air spring is designed to ride without sag, so handling isn’t markedly different than the Topstone with a rigid carbon fork. For the sake of experimentation, I swapped the stock seatpost for a Thomson Elite aluminum one — known to be one of the stiffest available for a given size — and, as expected, the ride quality turned noticeably more firm. The steps between gears are often too large to keep a consistent tempo on long gravel rides. Clearance with 700c wheels shrinks slightly to 45mm-wide tires. It’s quite firm and there’s very little unwanted movement when grinding up climbs with the fork fully open. The geometry of the suspension-equipped Topstone is similar enough to the standard version that there are no big surprises. After testing the Cannondale Topstone AL 105 over varied surfaces and terrain, this is what we learned: The Oliver features an easy to reach lockout. This telescopes in by 50mm with the push of a remote thumb lever that’s mounted on the bar beneath the left-hand brake lever. With 650b wheels and the 30mm-travel Lefty Oliver fork, the Slate was hard to pin down for some riders at the time. There’s enough room for single- or double-chainring cranksets, and despite the stubby 415mm-long chainstays, Cannondale officially approves the Topstone Carbon for 700x40mm or 650x48mm tires — and that’s with a minimum of 6mm of room, so you can likely go bigger depending on your risk tolerance for rub. We’ve heard for years that Cannondale was playing catchup in the gravel bike scene, all the way to the release of the 2019 Cannondale Topstone. By submitting your comment you agree to our Privacy Policy. Experts bemoaned the Topstone’s less-than-stellar climbing abilities. But despite the addition of a suspension fork, this bike still leans toward the road end of the gravel bike spectrum. Cannondale is adding a full suspension model to its gravel bike arsenal. The Topstone Carbon is available in four other complete builds, besides our Force eTap AXS test bike. By submitting your comment you agree to our Privacy Policy. As with most current gravel bikes, there’s scope to customise your Topstone to suit your needs, whether that be full mudguards, multiple bottle cages, a rack or slimmer tyres. It’s quite firm and there’s very little unwanted movement when grinding up climbs with the fork fully open. Like the bottom bracket and seatpost, that issue can be fixed, but I shouldn’t be the one to have to do that, and neither should you. I spent most of my time riding with the fork open, but would toggle the lockout on for long stretches of pavement. This model gets SRAM’s Apex 1 drivetrain, with no substitutions, running a 40-tooth chain ring and 11-42 cassette, and hydraulic discs of course. Tricky climbs that I usually clean on other gravel bikes, I cleaned on the Topstone; and likewise, ones that frequently elude me eluded me just the same. Overall, I came away with a mixed impression of the Topstone Carbon Lefty. The bottom bracket is 83mm wide, and the adjoining tubes make use of every bit of that width. The Topstone Carbon Lefty uses the same carbon chassis as the current Topstone. And in a nod toward looking fast and going fast, the Topstone boasts an integrated SAVE stem and carbon SAVE handlebar with aero styling and an integrated computer mount. Pretty standard, but well-thought out and executed nonetheless. SRAM Force eTap AXS gives riders a great range of gears for most terrain. To the casual observer, you may not even notice there is any travel at all while out of the saddle. The WTB Riddler is one of my favorite gravel tires for the Front Range of Colorado, with a fast-rolling center tread and a squared-off shoulder that grabs well on loose-over-hardpack. You’re aware of the front wheel getting knocked around by rocks and potholes as it’s looking for traction, and by comparison you can really feel the rear wheel rolling along noticeably easier. The point of the Topstone is to be capable, comfortable, and fun both on and off-road, and for all the simplicity of its design, the Topstone is anything but boring. This can be attributed to very short rear end. From there, the rear brake hose and rear derailleur housing is zip-tied to the chainstays. The top-end Topstone Carbon Lefty 1 tested here features a SRAM 1x “mullet” drivetrain with Force AXS controls and crankset with and SRAM XO1 Eagle AXS rear derailleur and cassette. The Topstone Carbon fills that gap. The same quality tubing found on the CAADX. The magic is in what Cannondale … The Cannondale Topstone Carbon is a superb all-around carbon gravel bike, but it’s not without a few compromises. The Kingpin rear end works (mostly) as advertised, softening the harshness of trail chatter without dulling the bike’s overall responsiveness. The Topstone Carbon is a completely revamped version of the aluminum Topstone Apex1 that was introduced last summer—and this one has rear suspension. The Topstone is only their latest iteration of the gravel bike, and for many people, it might just be their best one yet. Guess that;s what happens when you try to build a motorcycle. Josh has been riding and racing mountain bikes since 1998, and has been writing about mountain biking and cyclocross since 2006. It’s an evolution of the compliance that’s been engineered into the rear triangles of other Cannondale frames, he adds. The ride quality is excellent and the Lefty Oliver works as advertised. At the time same, however, the steering is more responsive than what one would find on something like a Salsa Journeyman or Trek Checkpoint. I found my large-framed Topstone gave me a tall, relaxed position, largely due to the 25mm headset top cap raising the stem height. Steering precision is on point and it rations its 30mm of travel very well. The bike is agile and more willing to respond to small rider inputs than most gravel bikes. The front derailleur mount can be removed if you want to run a 1x setup. Venturing over sodden grassland and into rooty, slick mud woods, the bike found grip where it was limited and picked its way accurately through the mire — it didn’t collect much mud from its efforts either. Subscribe to our newsletter for exclusive content, deals & events. As a result, the rear tire was more apt to break loose. Sizes: XS–XLStyle: Gravel/all-roadMaterial: Carbon Travel: 30mm Drivetrain: SRAM Force eTap AXSChainrings: 46/33Cassette: 10-33Handlebar: SAVE Carbon bar with integrated computer mountStem: SAVE alloy Saddle: FabricWheels: Hollowgram HG22 carbon clincherTires: 37mm WTB RiddlerWheel Size: 700cTire clearance: 700cx40mm or 650bx48mm.

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