Gravel Grinder News: Cannondale Topstone Debuts- by Guitar Ted
Editor’s Note- This post was updated Friday, August 24th with information and images provided by Cannondale.
Cannondale is a well known brand in terms of performance bicycles going back to the 1990’s, most notably with mountain bikes. Recently they have made a splash in the Pro road scene. While gravel has been on Cannondale’s radar, the Slate model was not received well across the genre’ due to its quirky features. However; Cannondale introduces a new bike today, and that bike should be more mainstream when it comes to bikes for any road riding and gravel travel.
The Topstone will be an aluminum framed bike, all new from the ground up, with all models featuring a full carbon fiber, tapered steer tube fork. The Topstone also features through axles front and rear, a pretty healthy bottom bracket drop, ( 75mm), and a slack head angle of 71°. The fork has a 55mm offset to help quicken up the steering a bit. Cannondale calls it “Out Front Geometry”.
Three models will be offered with the top of the line having SRAM Apex 1X. This model features WTB tires and rims, ready to set up for tubeless applications, and a dropper post. There is no carbon frame offered in the Topstone line at this point. All three models will feature dropper post routing along with rack, fender, top tube bag mounts, and triple water bottle mounts. The other two models are Shimano 2X drive trains using the new 105 group and Sora respectively. The other colors are a glossy muted grey and a “forest green” like color.
Comments: Obviously Cannondale is not shooting for the upper echelon price points here, nor are they spec’ing this bike with the all-out feature set that others have been seen to be doing for 2019. This is a pretty straight forward offering that should hit more affordable price points. (The press release states $2000.00 for the Apex 1, $1650.00 for the 105 model and $1000.00 for the Sora- all prices US) The 105 and Sora bikes will have a rigid post, by the way, which keeps costs down. The Sora model doesn’t have tubeless ready tires as well. So, affordable is the key word here. It definitely is more in line with the mainstream bikes of this genre, which the Slate veers from with the Lefty Oliver fork and 650B only compatibility. By the way, the Topstone is said to handle up to a 42mm tire and can be set up as a 650B wheeled bike, but it won’t be offered with 650B out of the box. We’re also betting that 42mm limitation is pretty conservative, by the way.
Comments we’ve seen posted on our Facebook page about the Topstone were mixed with some enthusiastic folks and some saying Cannondale “missed the mark” here. We think this is a smart move on the brand’s part. While it isn’t the carbon fiber, braze -on festooned, “halo” bike some of the fans of gravel bikes thought they wanted to see from Cannondale, the bike should appeal to the more entry level cyclists and folks looking for a versatile bike for commuting, light touring, or for any road surface. Obviously it will be seen as a gravel bike, and we think it looks great for that purpose as well.
The Topstone is available now in limited quantities. See www.cannondale.com for more details.