Cannondale reinvigorates their alloy roots for the all-new Topstone – a fast, fat tire adventure bike that won’t break the bank. Many new gravel bikes we see debut at premium pricepoints, but Cannondale sees gravel riding as the adventure just out your back door. So their new Topstone packs much of the latest tech into an aluminum framed bike that you can afford, and will be as much fun on gravel as it is on asphalt or hardpack…

2019 Cannondale Topstone affordable alloy gravel bike

This kind of bike is why drop bars are cool again. With geometry adapted from Cannondale’s fast Synapse endurance road bike, the new aluminum Topstone adds clearance for up to 42mm wide 700c tires, making for a bike that can eat up the miles on any surface from quiet back roads to full-on back country dirt trails. Designed as a gravel road bike (and named for a favorite dirt road section near Cannondale’s Connecticut HQ), this bike is all about affordable versatility.

Topstone Tech Details

2019 Cannondale Topstone alloy gravel road bike with endurance geometry and wide tire clearance

The Topstone is built to adapt from an all-around road & gravel bike, to a mixed-surface tourer, to a 4-season commuter bike. To make that happen the SmartForm C2 Alloy aluminum frame gets plenty of braze-ons to mount all sorts of accessories. The main triangle has three regular bottle braze-ons, plus a toptube bento box mounting point, and rear mounts for both a rack & full coverage fender.

Up front a full carbon, tapered steerer fork delivers precise handling, and thankfully includes a set of hidden mounts for a fender inside of the fork legs.

2019 Cannondale Topstone alloy gravel road bike with endurance geometry and wide tire clearance

Both frame and fork feature 12mm thru axles and flat mount disc brakes. Cable routing is a manageable mix – internal through the fork leg and in the main triangle, then external along the chainstays. Interestingly, the Topstone includes internal dropper post routing, with a 27.2mm dropper included on the top-spec Apex complete bike.

The Topstone can be built up with either a 1x gravel drivetrain or gravel sub-compact double. And possibly a more traditional road compact double.

Cannondale Topstone Geometry

2019 Cannondale Topstone alloy gravel road bike geometry chart

The Topstone’s geometry is a direct offshoot of the premium endurance road Synapse released last summer (yet comparing the top models of the two, this one costs 25% as much!) What that means is this new alloy gravel bike shares essentially the same stack and reach figures for the S-L sizes, with a slightly more relaxed OutFront Geo 71° head angle & 73.1° seat angle. The carbon Synapse actually has a few gravel oriented SE builds with 30mm tires, and they seem to have been a bit of inspiration for this bike.

2019 Cannondale Topstone alloy gravel road bike with endurance geometry and wide tire clearance

With five frame sizes available, in order to fit the larger 42mm tires on the same 700c wheels, the new Topstone does get 2cm longer chainstays (up to 430mm) and features more fork trail, up to 65mm for more off-road stability. But all-in-all this bike is likely to have a similarly quick ride to the Synapse. And sizing down to something like a 30mm slick tire would shorten that trail figure a bit, making the ride more lively. That means you could buy this as a gravel bike, but get a set of large volume road tires for more traditional road riding versatility as well.

While most large volume tire gravel bikes we see these days talk about 650B wheels and tires as well, Cannondale says they opted to stick with large volume 700c instead. Sure you could probably experiment with the smaller wheels (and 650B x 47mm is sure to squeeze in), but they would lower your bottom bracket by about 10mm and reduce that trail again vs. the stock tire setup.

Pricing, Complete Spec & Availability

2019 Cannondale Topstone alloy gravel road bike with endurance geometry and wide tire clearance
Topstone Disc SE Apex 1

The price point is where the Topstone really shines, with three different specs for the alloy frame gravel bike. The most expensive Topstone Disc SE Apex 1 will sell for just $2000 / 2200€ with a SRAM Apex 1×11 build with hydraulic disc brakes, tubeless ready WTB ST i23 Light wheels and 40mm Nano TCS tires. Rounding out the cockpit are alloy Cannondale components, a Fabric saddle, and a 50mm travel TranzX dropper post with a remote in the middle of the drops on the left side.

2019 Cannondale Topstone alloy gravel road bike with endurance geometry and wide tire clearance
Topstone Disc SE 105

At $1650 / 1800€ the Topstone Disc SE 105 gets a 7000 series Shimano 105 2×11 double with its hydro brakes, but with a FSA Omega alloy crankset & 46/30T chainrings. Again it gets tubeless-ready WTB ST i23 rims (not Light) and 40mm Nano TCS tires.

2019 Cannondale Topstone alloy gravel road bike with endurance geometry and wide tire clearance
Topstone Disc SE Sor

For just $1000 / 1000€ the Topstone Disc SE Sora gets a Sora 2×9 with a 46/30 FSA Tempo crank and Promax mechanical disc brakes. At this entry level you don’t get tubeless-ready wheels or tires, instead getting the more MTB-looking black wall, wire bead 40mm WTB Nano tires.

2019 Cannondale Topstone alloy gravel road bike with endurance geometry and wide tire clearanceAll of the new Topstones are already available at you local Cannondale dealer. So hit one up and roll out on an adventure for the last few weekends of summer. Or head to this weekend’s Vermont Overland to test ride one on dirt & gravel.

Cannondale.com/TheTopstone

46 COMMENTS

  1. Anyone who rides “gravel” bikes care to explain dropper posts to me? Are they actually beneficial? I don’t even have one on any of my mountain bikes, so I’m not exactly steeped in understanding their benefits.

      • Okay, sure keyboard racer. I race XC and can get my ass behind a saddle as needed. I’m doing just fine, thanks. I’ll get a dropper when I start riding lifts with my boys, brah.

        • That is a crazy comment! If you were “riding lifts with my boys” you wouldn’t need a dropper, because your seat is going to be all the way down already because you are on a huck machine… anyone who thinks they can ride as fast with their XC bike seat all the up as someone with their seat all the way down is just plain wrong.

        • Lighten up, brah, it was a joke. You clearly don’t understand the benefits though, when you somehow equate droppers with lift-assisted riding. But you might understand the benefit of them if you rode the right trails for it.

          • You’re going to have to explain what you mean by “if you rode the right trails for it.” I still don’t know what you mean, but that’s kind of beside the point. My original question was FOR GRAVEL RIDING, what’s the benefit? And that’s not rhetorical question – I assume there’s some benefit, I just don’t know what it is. It’s why I asked in the first place.

            • @Mike, we’ve seen the benefit of a dropper when riding at the edge of (maybe beyond) a gravel bike’s sensible choice of trails. Especially where you have extended rides that are mostly not technical, a really good bike handler can benefit from the speed of the rigid, efficient gravel bike of asphalt, gravel & hardpack, then when you end up descending something killer steep with drops and rocks you can drop the post to get your weight farther back. This mix of trails happens more now that we use gravel bikes for exploring new places & adventure riding. I’ve seen it most useful on a bike with a rigid fork (the Slate, Lauf True Grit, or Bombtrack’s new ADV are more forgiving and don’t seem to need it as much.) Surely it is still not 100% necessary, but it’s been fun to have a gravel dropper on some occasions.
              Hope that answers or clarified what seems to be the general premise.

    • Droppers are the best invention in biking since… I dunno… gears?.. Droppers allow you to mountain bike sooo much faster than you can without one, having to stop and lower your seat for a big decent is enough of a pain when just out on a ride, but if you were racing it would cost you a podium… not to mention how much safer it is to bomb down a rocky, rooty trail without the fear of having your seat throw you over the handlebars. And the same goes for gravel bikes. The purpose of a gravel bike is to get out there, explore and have fun, which in my experience means riding some single track or steep loose gravel roads, where having your seat slammed is going to make it so much more comfortable, confidence inspiring, and safe… which matters if your way the hell out on some fire road in the middle of no where…. when in doubt, point it out!

      • I would put droppers just behind suspension and disc brakes in terms of capability-improving tech, and all of these gained widespread adoption well after gears.

        I think that the people who don’t think gravel or cross bikes need droppers don’t care to push their bikes outside the specc’ed use case. I use my mountain bike dropper a lot – basically if I’m doing something “fun” I drop it – so any little kickers or lips get my saddle down and out of the way. My next drop bar bike will absolutely have this same option.

    • The answer is seen more clearly over longer distances. Gravel grinders over 100 miles, 10 or more hours on the bike you need to squeeze out every possible advantage. Drop bars and overall geometry of a road bike will drag less. So, faster, and more efficient than an XC bike.

    • @Mike to echo what other’s have said, and perhaps offer some insight… droppers are a fantastic invention and are slowly making their way into the “curly bar” set. I used to race XC without one and after using one, I was amazed at how big a difference it made in being able to descend at speed, especially on a technical course or when pushing the limits of cornering on fast and loose corners. I had always thought “oh I can get low” and would really drop my body over the top tube and do all the cornering tricks “look far, lean, touch your knee to your elbow” et cetera. I won’t argue the merits of a dropper on MTB, other than to say… “try one.”

      • Sorry, got cut off trying to finish this… I recently built a “more rowdy” gravel bike that would be capable of hitting more techy singletrack with aplomb. I can think of three benefits I have discovered using a dropper on a gravel bike this year (I did the left shifter hack with a Sram Force Hydro brifter). The first is that I often do races that throw in some tech singletrack (because the organizers are wonderfully creative). As I have gotten used to it, I find myself dropping folks who don’t have a dropper when the going gets rough. Those races are a mix of asphalt, gravel, and singletrack. At Grinduro last year, nearly everyone on curly bar bikes was stopping to manually lower their saddle on the final descent (which was singletrack), save some pros who are just badass to begin with. The second is over a long day, like DK, getting every advantage you can is a big plus. There are enough blind, rough, culvert descents where I watched folks eat shit when they didn’t see what was “just over the lip” while I could easily bunnyhop or reposition faster because I had a dropper. The third advantage is position in general. On those big days, it can be nice to just lower the saddle a little and give your lower back a break when you’re sitting on a bike for 12 hours or so AND even on the road, you can get lower and really rip descents with more control. It’s completely anecdotal, but at some of those events, it’s not unusual to drop guys on light XC race whips on the long climbs solely because the bike is lighter and has faster rolling tires. There is definitely a line where I debate “should I just ride an XC bike?” but with a dropper and the mix of road and tech, I think I still lean towards “curly bars”. Fun fact, three guys at Leadville did pretty well on curly bar bikes with droppers this year (Rodeo Labs).

    • > The fact that 2×9 Sora even exists

      Do you have any real complaints about 2 x 9 Sora, or are you just spouting nonsense?

      These bikes will typically be discounted quite a bit at your local bike shop.

      I think they deserve to be good sellers. They look like great bikes for people new to cycling who want a road bike. All 3 trim levels have full carbon forks. I don’t see anything to complain about… which is rare for me.

    • I bet you’d be very surprised to find that there’s almost nothing you can accomplish on an Ultegra or Dura Ace bike that can’t be done on a bike with Sora 2×9.

    • I ended up ordering a 105 spec Topstone after test riding the Sora level build. The early “105” builds are coming with Ultegra shifters and brake calipers. Including mine. I’m very happy with the bike so far!

  2. These look like nice bikes. Bikes that can just be bikes.

    Thumbs up for Cannondale spec’ing them with a standard BSA threaded BB.

  3. The stack and reach are similar to the Synapse, but the rest is totally different. I’m surprised that that claim was made.

  4. I seriously salute these guys for choosing not just any other Shimano groupset (like other brands do) but specifically smaller cranksets that really consider the real gravel/adventure end user. These are the kind of groupsets that we “normal people” need. Cycling industry should take notes here. Congrats Canondale.

    • Seriously, the sub-compact group has been spec’d on bikes for years — Specialized introduced it a couple years ago on their bikes. So, congrats Cannondale for catching up. Good job.

    • @JB, it is round (see the 105/Sora front derailleurs), and they do get alloy posts. I would personally guess that it could work with a child’s seat, not sure what Cannondale would say? I would only do it myself if I was 100% sure that I had full seatpost insertion into the seattube beyond wherever the Ridealong would clamp out of caution. The Sora bike does get a 400mm seatpost (longer than the 350mm on the 105) which could be enough to help.

  5. Cool looking bikes, unusually affordable spec for Cannondale, and kudos for ditching press fit bottom brackets. Now if only external routing would make a comeback!
    The cheapest model has a pretty sharp bend in the housing for the front mechanical brake. The front brake is going to feel friction-y, and people will complain that it’s because it’s a mechanical brake, and that will be partly true.

  6. props to cannondale… these bikes look rad. anyone know frame+fork weights? it would be interesting for someone (like me) who is thinking about buying the low-end option, ditching all the parts, and building up something Di2. Plus, that green color is a keeper.

  7. The choice of sub-compact cranksets is great, too bad it’s FSA but since Shimano somehow won’t make one choices are limited.

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