Gravel Grinder News: Cannondale Debuts ’21 Topstone Carbon Lefty- Carbon Gravel E-Bike – by Guitar Ted
Just about a year ago, Cannondale upended the gravel bicycle market with one of the year’s more unique offerings in the Topstone Carbon. This bike debuted Cannondale’s ‘Kingpin’ rear suspension technology, but at the time, there was no corresponding front suspension component. Now Cannondale has addressed this and more with today’s announcement of the Topstone Carbon Lefty and the Topstone Neo Carbon Lefty models. “Neo” in Cannondale’s nomenclature denotes an electric assist bike. So, we have fully human powered and hybrid, human/electric motor powered, bicycles to talk about today.
What It Is: Last year, our contributor MG covered the Kingpin rear suspension well in this post. We won’t be talking about that much in this report. What is different in the Topstone beyond colors and spec is the newly designed Lefty Oliver fork with 30mm of travel. Of course, the entirely new Neo electric assist Topstone Carbon is also notable in today’s announcement, so that will get a closer look as well.
The Lefty Oliver may jog your memory as it was originally on the Cannondale Slate, a 650B only gravel bike. This new Lefty Oliver takes its design cues from Cannondale’s flagship suspension fork, the Lefty Ocho. The new Lefty Oliver features Cannondale’s new ‘Chamber’ damper which has been tuned to minimize rider induced bobbing. It also features a lockout which still allows the fork to absorb impacts due to the use of a blow-off circuit design.
The fork has been further refined to allow for a tool-less removal of the disc caliper, now flat mount spec, (natch), which Cannondale calls ‘StopLock’. The Lefty Oliver also borrows the same ‘Delta Cage’ needle bearing system that the Lefty Ocho uses for smoother travel with no binding. It is also worth noting that the Lefty Oliver is still only offered on 650B equipped models, although Cannondale marketing material says it can handle a 700c X 45mm tire maximum. Cannondale also plans on offering the Lefty Oliver as an aftermarket fork at a MSRP of $1500.00 for the fork alone. Keep in mind that you’ll need a Lefty hubbed front wheel with that as well.
The spec on the Topstone Carbon Lefty 1 is the SRAM AXS Force/Eagle 12 speed with a range topping price of $7500.00MSRP in the US. You get the SAVE cockpit components and WTB 650B X 47mm tires ready to go tubeless here. The model 3, available in ‘Mantis’ or ‘Slate Grey’, comes as a GRX 1X mechanical bike at $3750.00 MSRP US.
The Neo Carbon Lefty range will feature three models and one of those has a rigid fork instead of a Lefty. All will have Bosch drive units featuring Bosch Power Tube 500Wh batteries. The range consists of a Model 1, 2, and 3, with the Bosch 250W Performance Line Speed (28mph) drive units for the US. (Other countries will see the top two in the range getting 500W Bosch drive units)
There were a couple of discrepancies in the Press Kit, one having to do with tire size and the other was with a model ‘4’ Neo Topstone which didn’t show up on the US pricing, so check with your Cannondale dealers for details there. Near as we can tell, the Neo Topstones with the Lefty Oliver have 650B X 42WTB Resolutes, not the 650B X 47 Byway/Venture tire combination listed for the non-electric Topstone Carbon bikes. The rigid fork Neo Topstone Carbon 2 comes with 700c X 37mm WTB Riddlers.
Spec on the Topstone Neo Carbon Lefty 1 is SRAM Force/XO-1 Eagle and tops out the range at $9000.00 MSRP US. The Neo Carbon 2 with the rigid fork comes with a Shimano GRX 2X drive train at $$6500.00 MSRP US. The Topstone Neo Carbon Lefty 3 has a 1X drive train with a mix of FSA and GRX components at a price of $5800.00 MSRP US.
All Topstone Carbon and Neo carbon bikes have dropper post compatibility and come with a removable rear fender mount. Uni-sex Topstone models will come in XS, S, M, L, and XL. Topstone Neo bikes will be available in S, M, L, and XL.
For more information, please see your Cannondale dealer or go to www.cannondale.com
Note: Information and images in this report were provided by Cannondale.
2 thoughts on “Gravel Grinder News: Cannondale Debuts ’21 Topstone Carbon Lefty- Carbon Gravel E-Bike”
That makes sense, adding the front suspension to a bike that has it in the rear.
I do think that 30mm is so little. If I am going to have the cost, weight and maintenance of suspension, then I’d want a decent amount of it.
@Slim – I agree that 30mm is hard to set up to have it work in a way that makes sense most of the time. I tried one of the FOX adventure forks with 40mm travel. Max tire recommendation is 40mm, and setting it up so that the fork worked over the chatter made it so that bigger hits slammed the fork through its travel so hard it was jarring. Not to mention, alarming due to the loud clank every time it happened.
For the added weight, complexity in service and set up, and the odd-ball looks, I have decided the Fox AX is an over-engineered answer to the question of how to address vibrations reaching the rider. The Lauf fork, while still looking like an ugly duckling, makes more sense to my way of thinking. I suspect that I probably would find that the Lefty Oliver is a bit more like the Fox AX than the Lauf. But I don’t know for sure, obviously. That all said, the most elegant and effective suspension for the gravel rider, in my view, is the Redshift ShockStop Stem. If you need more suspension than that, you probably need a MTB, in my opinion.