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
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
All 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.