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Cannondale releases new Topstone Carbon with upgraded suspension and wider tyres

A yellow and orange gravel bike with front suspension stands in front of a yellow background
(Image credit: Cannondale)

Continuing the legacy of the now-dead Slate from way back in 2016, the new Cannondale Topstone Carbon updates the platform from the previous generation with tweaked geometry, upgraded Kingpin suspension, more tyre capacity, and more places to bolt things to your bike.

Whether or not you consider it a proper full suspension bike, Cannondale has stuck to its formula of a 30mm Lefty fork up front, combined with 30mm of rear flex from its Kingpin rear stays. Combined with a capacity for 2.1in tyres, this is clearly a bike aimed at the rougher end of the gravel spectrum. Builds without the Lefty fork are also available and in keeping with the previous model that made our list of the best gravel bikes.

What’s new? 

While the amount of travel front or rear hasn’t changed since the previous iteration, the geometry has been tweaked, lowering the standover and bottom bracket height to increase confidence, dropping the drive-side chainstay to account for wider tyre clearances. For those riders who insist on taking drop-bar bikes down MTB trails, they can opt to fit 650b x 2.1in tyres or up to 700c x 45mm. 

In a move that will likely please home mechanics, Cannondale has also opted to join the trend to return to the BSA threaded bottom bracket, ditching the BB30 press-fit system from the previous model. The brand has also swapped to a traditional wheel dish, making wheel swaps a slightly less complicated affair.  

Cannondale also says that its proprietary Kingpin suspension has also been upgraded. Kingpin is a system that relies on flattened tube profiles for the chainstays and seat tube, as well as a pivot on the seat tube to provide 30mm of vertical flex. The new version supposedly gets a weight saving of 100g while also being more durable than its predecessor. 

Up front, Lefty fork-specced models will now be specced with 700c wheels, rather than the 650b found on the predecessor. 

Two loaded gravel bikes stand in front of a wooden fence in the shade

The Topstone looks to bring drop-bar bikepacking rapidity to more rugged terrain. (Image credit: Cannondale)

Adopted tech 

For those who’ve been paying attention to other releases from Cannondale you’ll notice the Topstone, in some builds, features the same SmartSense lighting and Garmin Varia radar combo as seen on the new Synapse. Even those builds that don’t come with the system as standard can accept it as an aftermarket add-on. The frame is given a small cut-out on the down tube to accommodate the SmartSense battery pack. This mounting point can also be repurposed as a strap deck to secure a tube and tools onto. 

More interesting perhaps is the fact that 1x Shimano builds come equipped with a chain keeper, which is almost never seen in the gravel sector except on 1x retrofits with older clutchless derailleurs. Even with a clutch, 1x systems are not immune to chain drops, particularly over rougher ground, so this is yet another indication that Cannondale expects riders to deviate away from pristine fire roads in favour of more lumpen trails. What's more, the Topstone is ready to accept internally routed dropper posts.

Builds and pricing 

If you fancy getting your gravelly paws on one, you’ve got some decision making to do as there are nine build options to choose from, seven of which come in two or more colourways. Options are primarily based upon whether you want the Lefty fork or a rigid carbon option, then which tier of groupset you’d like to have, and whether you'd like 1x or 2x. 

To further complicate matters, none of the Lefty builds come with a SmartSense option, and neither of the 650b options is available with a Lefty fork, so if you want it all you will probably have to compromise somewhere.

Five sizes, from XS to XL, are available and builds range from £2,800/$3,200 to £8,000/$7,800.

Will Jones
Will Jones

Will joined the Cyclingnews team as a reviews writer in 2022, having previously written for Cyclist, BikeRadar and Advntr. There are very few types of cycling he's not dabbled in, and he has a particular affection for older bikes and long lasting components. Road riding was his first love, before graduating to racing CX in Yorkshire. He's been touring on a vintage tandem all the way through to fixed gear gravel riding and MTB too. When he's not out riding one of his many bikes he can usually be found in the garage making his own frames and components as a part time framebuilder, restoring old mountain bikes, or walking his collie in the Lake District.

Height: 182cm

Weight: 72Kg

Rides: Custom Zetland Audax, Bowman Palace:R, Peugeot Grand Tourisme Tandem, 1988 Specialized Rockhopper, Stooge Mk4, Falcon Explorer Tracklocross