Editor’s Note: In recent times we have noticed that there are more and more folks looking for a gravel bike. They are seeking advice and looking for tips on how to go about this. In Part 1, Grannygear walks us through the process of how he and Mrs. Grannygear found a gravel bike that would work for Mrs. Grannygear’s needs. In this post we will get a look at what upgrades they made to tailor the bike for her.
The recent Roval Terra press camp wasn’t just a showcase of trick new wheels. Thanks to Mike Yakubowicz and his shop, Blacksmith Cycle, we were treated to a veritable smorgasbord of beautiful custom bikes from all over the world. Here’s a gallery of the bikes we rode during our time in Downieville.
Salsa Cycles announced this morning publicly that the Cutthroat model will be a ground-up redesign for the 2020 model year. The Cutthroat is Salsa Cycles carbon drop bar mountain bike which is aimed at bike-packing and long rides in remote territory, ala Tour Divide. It also is a fairly popular model amongst some gravel riders.
“One more bike, one less car. “I remember seeing this message emblazoned on a huge booth at the end of a trade show,” says Dennis. “And as I was reading it, a Bobcat came along and pushed the whole booth into a dumpster.”
The stock feel of the bike fit wise is very roadie. It feels long, low, and narrow with the 100mm stem and 42cm bar. With lighter wheels and a swap to faster tires it has a very nice road presence to it. Right now I am running some Hutchinson 38mm tires…zoom zoom…I disliked the WTB Nanos on the road. Actually I simply disliked the Nanos…period
So I will be living with a Johnny Cash black Cannondale Topstone for a few months. I will be using it to play with upgrades on a budget to see where we can improve performance, drop weight, and add comfort. But first, I want to begin with my thoughts on how the bike is spec’d and how it is to ride stock at the risk of duplicating some of MG’s findings
I applaud the coming of ‘adventure’ geared cranks and kudos to Shimano for finally jumping in. I think that the 46/30 is a nice thing to have for a large segment of the gravel population, bike packers, etc. Unfortunately, if it is not perfect for your needs, it’s not like you get a chance to choose a different crank set-up when you buy your bike, forcing you to make what could be a costly swap to get what you want.
But frankly neither one are what I want. What would I want? How about a 46/36 or 46/34 with an 11-40 rear cassette? Not with the components I have though, unless I could make it work with something like Wolftooth’s Road Link, but with 2x, I still have to deal with the capacity of the rear derailleur to handle chain slack.
Over the last two months (!!) that the final part of this review lasted, I have ridden the Noble GX5 as a “daily driver”, taken it out on some of the nastiest roads we’ve seen in years, and ridden it on “normal” Mid-West roads. Through it all, I have remained impressed with this carbon fiber bicycle with roots going back to another gravel bike I really like.
Long known for innovative, out of the box thinking, Cannondale today announced its next evolution in all road bikes, the Topstone Carbon. Featuring an all-new ultralight Kingpin suspension system, the Topstone Carbon is designed to give riders more comfort, control and all-terrain versatility, without the added weight and complexity of a damper-based suspension system.