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.
Named after a favorite gravel route near Cannondale’s headquarters, the Topstone is the company’s second gravel model. Unlike its stablemate, it cuts a more traditional ‘gravel bike’ profile, rolling on 700c wheels, with stated clearance for up to 42c tires.
If you can get by the limitations of the Warhawk- dedicated single speed, limited tire clearances, and limited versatility- then you will be rewarded with one of the better handling, better riding gravel/all road/commuter rigs you can find. For the dollar amount that State Bicycle Co. asks for this bike, I cannot find anything in my experience that compares to how nice it handles and how fun it is to ride.
The GX5 is pretty smooth, but the fork isn’t quite up to steel fork feel. That said, it handles in a stable, but not sluggish manner, over choppy roads and deep gravel. The light weight is very nice and the total package is fun to ride on. The wheel and tire limitations are somewhat of a bummer, as is the slightly too stiff fork, but this bike is very impressive so far.