Cannondale's Topstone Lefty could be the most progressive gravel bike yet and is a segment-defining new product from the brand.
Front-suspension on Cannondale gravel frames aren’t new. The Slate brought Cannondale’s Lefty fork into a realm of gravel and tarmac riding a few years ago, but this Topstone is a more integrated design. The most significant advancement has been adding suspension to the bike's rear end.
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Oliver and Kingpin mute the trail buzz
The Topstone Lefty pairs an Oliver single-sided suspension fork with Cannondale's Kingpin rear suspension system to deliver 30mm of terrain absorption at both wheels. Engineers and designers on the Topstone project wished to build a gravel bike which could tour or comfortably travel between road and trail and with its flex stay design and seat tube pivot, Kingpin achieves much of this.
Compared to the Slate’s Lefty, a new damper has also added 60% more rebound range to the Oliver’s suspension action, which should equate to greater front-wheel control over high-frequency bumps at speed.
Loose gravel road descents or urban manhole covers have little influence on Topstone’s Oliver. It has a blowoff valve system that keeps the suspension active when required, even if the fork has been locked-out.
Cannondale’s Oliver fork also features a StopLock brake mount. This accommodates flat-mount calipers, which keeps weight at a minimum and greatly eases removing the front wheel when required.
Beyond the 30mm of active suspension, the Topstone also rolls substantial tyres, to further boost all-terrain traction and ride comfort. The Topstone Neo Carbon is available in two frame and bike configurations: a 700C-wheel version featuring a rigid carbon fork, and a 650bwheel version with the new Lefty Oliver.
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Built for any terrain
For all sizes but the XS Topstone, head angles measure 71.2-degrees, which should facilitate quick steering responses and a powerful climbing posture, over the frame’s front-centre. A 27.2mm seat tube specification allows for aftermarket dropper post fitment for any Topstone riders that are going to be rolling a lot of possible singletrack mileage in forested areas.
Another feature which shows that Cannondale’s product planners deem the Topstone to be a true all-terrain gravel bike is its minimalist chain guide. Its function is to prevent chain-drop if you are rolling over roots or rocky terrain at speed.
Cannondale’s Topstone 1 uses SRAM’s Eagle XO1 eTap AXS 12-speed drivetrain and matching disc brakes, clamping 160mm rotors. Rims are carbon-fibre and from Cannondale’s Hollowgram range, with a 23mm internal diameter. Pricing for this premium Topstone is £6,599.
A combination Shimano GRX 11-speed drivetrain and brakes shift and stop onboard the Topstone 3, which rolls aluminium rims, from WTB, instead of carbon. It retails for £3,399. Cannondale's Topstone Lefty is available in XS, S, M, L, and XL sizes.
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Lance Branquinho is a Namibian born media professional, with 15-years of experience in technology and engineering journalism covering anything with wheels. Being from Namibia, he knows a good gravel road when he sees one, and he has raced some of Africa’s best-known mountain bike stage races, such as Wines2Wales and Berg&Bush.
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