How do you make a gravel bike more comfortable? It would seem that many companies are looking towards suspension to find the answer. But as Cannondale’s engineers and product managers will tell you, it isn’t as simple as just slapping a shock or spring to a frame and calling it a day. Starting this project with the aim of creating a bike that is “the most comfortable on road and the most capable off road,” Cannondale tested nearly ever type of suspension they could think of, but in the end, one of the simplest solutions also seemed like the clear winner. With that, Cannondale created the new Topstone Carbon gravel bike featuring their new Kingpin suspension.

Cannondale Topstone Carbon gravel bike rolls a new frame with Kingpin rear suspensionCannondale Topstone Carbon gravel bike rolls a new frame with Kingpin rear suspension

Kingpin suspension

Calling Kingpin the first full frame leaf spring system, Kingpin has just one pivot but manages to squeeze out up to 30mm of travel when measured at the seat. While most of the travel is only felt at the saddle when seated, the system does offer a true 10-12mm of travel measured at the rear axle.

Cannondale Topstone Carbon gravel bike rolls a new frame with Kingpin rear suspension Cannondale Topstone Carbon gravel bike rolls a new frame with Kingpin rear suspension Cannondale Topstone Carbon gravel bike rolls a new frame with Kingpin rear suspension

To get there, the frame uses engineered flex zones in the chainstays, seat tube, and top tube coupled with the LockR pivot at the seat tube/seat stay junction. While the pivot uses sealed bearings Cannondale says it shouldn’t need much in the way of maintenance – but it can be serviced. You’ll only see about six degrees of rotation around the bearings, but Cannondale felt that the known performance and serviceability that bearings offer made them preferable over bushings.

Cannondale Topstone Carbon gravel bike rolls a new frame with Kingpin rear suspension

After miles and miles with modified full suspension road bikes with actual shocks and forks, Cannondale’s testing led them to believe that full suspension wasn’t the way forward. Instead, the Kingpin system keeps it simple, remains super light, works best when you need it most (while seated), and still provides an efficient ride when you’re out of the saddle – though the suspension will still work when out of the saddle. Without a suspension fork up front, the bike also maintains handling more similar to a road bike with a rigid fork.

Cannondale Topstone Carbon gravel bike rolls a new frame with Kingpin rear suspension
Photo c. Meg McMahon/Cannondale

Cannondale Topstone Carbon gravel bike rolls a new frame with Kingpin rear suspension

With minimal added weight from the tube shapes and the only added hardware being two bearings, an axle, and a few bolts, the Topstone Carbon frames check in around 1200g for a medium frame. Built with Cannondale’s Proportional Response tubing design, each frame size features its own tube cross sections and laminate designs to adjust the stiffness and ride quality to riders of different size. This is especially important because in this case, the tubes are the springs for the suspension so Proportional Response will have even more of an impact on the final ride quality of the frame.

Cannondale Topstone Carbon gravel bike rolls a new frame with Kingpin rear suspension

Geometry

Running a Dialed Endurance Fit, the Topstone Carbon is taller with a shorter reach – and ends up with the same stack and reach as the Cannondale Synapse. Sizes will be offered in XS – XL which translate to 48, 51, 55, 58, and 61cm frames. There is a ‘women’s’ model in the mix as well, though the frame has the same geometry as the standard Topstone Carbon (but limited from XS-M). More importantly, it features stems that are 10mm shorter, and bars that are 20mm narrower along with 5mm shorter cranks.

Cannondale Topstone Carbon gravel bike rolls a new frame with Kingpin rear suspension

Cannondale Topstone Carbon gravel bike rolls a new frame with Kingpin rear suspension Cannondale Topstone Carbon gravel bike rolls a new frame with Kingpin rear suspension

New HollowGram SAVE bar and stem for top end

While the highest end model uses a new semi-integrated HollowGram SAVE alloy stem and SAVE Carbon bar that still allows for some adjustments to the pitch of the bar, the rest of the line uses a standard stem and bar with flared drops. The SAVE bar/stem combo also allows you to choose different stem lengths or bar widths, though the options are currently limited to 80-130mm for the stem.

Cannondale Topstone Carbon gravel bike rolls a new frame with Kingpin rear suspension Cannondale Topstone Carbon gravel bike rolls a new frame with Kingpin rear suspension Cannondale Topstone Carbon gravel bike rolls a new frame with Kingpin rear suspension

The integrated computer mount (AXS model only) is nice in that it can be used with Garmin or Wahoo computers simply by rotating the mount inset. However, there isn’t an index point when used with a Wahoo head unit so it’s just held in place with friction and can still rotate. When you’re not using the integrated computer mount, the hole is plugged with an Si logo.

Cannondale Topstone Carbon gravel bike rolls a new frame with Kingpin rear suspension

Cannondale Topstone Carbon gravel bike rolls a new frame with Kingpin rear suspension
Nothing proprietary when it comes to the seat post, and the integrated seatpost binder worked well with no slipping. .

Cannondale Topstone Carbon gravel bike rolls a new frame with Kingpin rear suspension

At the seat post, you’ll find a standard 27.2mm diameter post is used with an integrated seat collar hidden under the top tube. You’ll also find the ability to run a 27.2mm dropper seat post with internal cabling.

Cannondale Topstone Carbon gravel bike rolls a new frame with Kingpin rear suspension
DirectLine internal cable routing is said to be easy to use – especially when routing a SRAM eTap AXS group…

Cannondale Topstone Carbon gravel bike rolls a new frame with Kingpin rear suspension

DirectLine internal cable routing throughout the frame should take the hassle out of maintenance with internal tube guides all the way through the frame.

Cannondale Topstone Carbon gravel bike rolls a new frame with Kingpin rear suspension
Tire clearance at the chainstay is a little tight, but we’re told these 37mm tires measure 40mm on the 25mm internal Hollowgram 22 carbon wheelset.
Cannondale Topstone Carbon gravel bike rolls a new frame with Kingpin rear suspension
The new Cannondale HollowGram 22 wheelset is 22mm deep, and 25mm wide internally.

Cannondale Topstone Carbon gravel bike rolls a new frame with Kingpin rear suspension

Tire clearance and fenders (and racks)

When it comes to tires, the Topstone Carbon will ship with 700c x 37mm WTB Riddler TCS tubeless tires on 25mm internal width rims, but the frame and fork have clearance for up to 700c x 40mm or 650b x 48mm.

Cannondale Topstone Carbon gravel bike rolls a new frame with Kingpin rear suspension

There’s also room for fenders with a removable fender bridge out back. There’s even provisions up front to mount a front rack which Cannondale says is a first for one of their road bikes.

Cannondale Topstone Carbon gravel bike rolls a new frame with Kingpin rear suspension

Cannondale Topstone Carbon gravel bike rolls a new frame with Kingpin rear suspension
Photo c. Meg McMahon/Cannondale

To carry water and cargo, each frame has three bottle mounts that will fit a 24oz bottle and the top tubes feature an accessory mount for bags. The bottle mount on the inside of the downtube uses three bosses so you can position your bottle where it best fits. For the use of the Topstone Carbon, Cannondale didn’t see the need to add additional mounts to the fork legs.

Cannondale Topstone Carbon gravel bike rolls a new frame with Kingpin rear suspension Cannondale Topstone Carbon gravel bike rolls a new frame with Kingpin rear suspension

Running 12 x 100 and 12 x 142mm axles, the Topstones include custom bolt on Speed Release axles which allow the wheels to drop out of the frame and fork with just a few turns. They’re also compatible with QR Speed Release axles with a dual lead thread if you wanted a tool free tire change.

Cannondale Topstone Carbon gravel bike rolls a new frame with Kingpin rear suspension

Cannondale Topstone Carbon gravel bike rolls a new frame with Kingpin rear suspension
Larger frames have the rear brake positioned inside the rear triangle.

Compatible with 1x or 2x drivetrains in mechanical or electronic, the Topstone includes Flat Mount disc brakes with 160mm rotors front and rear.

Cannondale Topstone Carbon gravel bike rolls a new frame with Kingpin rear suspension Cannondale Topstone Carbon gravel bike rolls a new frame with Kingpin rear suspension

Proprietary Bottom Bracket

It also uses the Cannondale-specific BB30-83 AI which requires a specific crankset and a specific dish for the rear wheel (Cannondale offers three compatible cranksets, SRAM offers an option, and there are replacement spindle options as well). This bottom bracket design has been in use by Cannondale since 2014 and has been used on the Scalpel, F-Si, SuperX, and now the Topstone Carbon as it allows them to build a frame with super short chainstays while maintaining room for big tires and front derailleurs. Essentially, the bottom bracket uses a BB30 bottom bracket that is spaced at 83mm while the drivetrain gets moved out by 6mm. Thanks to the additional clearance provided, the Topstone actually has shorter chainstays than the SuperX by 4mm.

Cannondale Topstone Carbon gravel bike rolls a new frame with Kingpin rear suspension
The Cannondale wheel sensor will soon be available aftermarket and mounts to the spokes based on the wheel lacing pattern.

Cannondale Topstone Carbon gravel bike rolls a new frame with Kingpin rear suspension

Connected bikes and Augmented Reality?

After the recent Treadwell launch, Cannondale is pushing hard into the connected side of things by including the wheel sensor that was developed with Garmin on all of their models. When paired with the free Cannondale App, it allows you to have hyper accurate measurement of speed, distance, and other metrics with or without your phone, or you can pair it with your GPS.

 

Cannondale Topstone Carbon gravel bike rolls a new frame with Kingpin rear suspension

More impressive to me though was their Tech X-Ray feature with Augmented Reality that could be a game changer for bicycle service and maintenance. Need to know the torque values for the Kingpin pivot? Maybe you want to visualize how the cables route through the frame? If so, you can boot up the feature on the app and use AR to see the pertinent tech information as you move the phone or tablet over the bike. We’ll have more on this later, but it was super cool.

Cannondale Topstone Carbon gravel bike rolls a new frame with Kingpin rear suspension
Topstone Carbon – Force eTap
Cannondale Topstone Carbon gravel bike rolls a new frame with Kingpin rear suspension
Topstone Carbon – Ultegra RX
Cannondale Topstone Carbon gravel bike rolls a new frame with Kingpin rear suspension
Topstone Carbon – Women’s Ultegra RX
Cannondale Topstone Carbon gravel bike rolls a new frame with Kingpin rear suspension
Topstone Carbon – Ultegra RX
Cannondale Topstone Carbon gravel bike rolls a new frame with Kingpin rear suspension
Topstone Carbon – 105
Cannondale Topstone Carbon gravel bike rolls a new frame with Kingpin rear suspension
Topstone Carbon – 105

Models

In total, there will be five Topstone Carbons added to the line up with a Force eTAP AXS, Ultegra RX, Ultegra RX 2, and 105 version plus a Women’s Ultegra RX 2 model. Pricing starts out at $2,700 for the Topstone Carbon 105, and tops out at $6,500 for the Carbon Force eTap AXS version.

First ride impressions coming up next!

cannondale.com

51 COMMENTS

      • While the non-standard dish sounds like a bummer at first, it does address one of the bigger challenges in making a gravel bike with tire clearance and short chain stays – the front derailleur. In the standard location, most F/D’s other than the latest Shimano mechanical types will interfere with a tire much larger than 38c.

        With the crank and rear hub moved 6mm to the right, does that mean the pedaling Q-factor is off center, too?

        • I’d gladly pay the price of a $40 Shimano Ultegra FD-R8000 front derailleur to get rid of such ugly engineering.

        • “With the crank and rear hub moved 6mm to the right, does that mean the pedaling Q-factor is off center, too?”

          No it’s not. The q-factor is moved 6mm to the left to compensate.via the crank. The proprietary part is the crank and bb spindle. Easy if you opt for the SRAM.Shimano will be spaced back to the left and they will use the wider q factor cranks anyway.
          Those of us suing Ai bikes for the last years are familiar with the system

        • @Dinger:

          The “chain line for a wider tires” problem was solved by Shimano with their GRX crankset/front derailer. Cannondale had to know that was coming.

          That said this is far from the first time Cannondale has foisted their BS proprietary solutions on an unsuspecting public. I guess people will have to learn the hard way.

          (c.f. Specialized SCS wheels.)

    • There’s nothing mysterious or proprietary about the Topstones Ai PF30-83. A BB386 for 30mm cranks is the same thing and there are plenty of thread together bb options out there. do some research before hitting the keyboard.

    • I love how everyone forgot that softtails exist and that cannondale doesn’t throw a bunch of proprietary crap at you all the time.

      It’s all history repeating itself. #crackenfail #90sshit

  1. TL:DR cannondale releases an all road bike that’s not as good on rough stuff as the slate or smooth stuff as the synapse has weird proprietary and probably creaky bb and you need to dish all your wheels for it more laterally stuff and vertically compliant.

  2. I was so excited about this until I saw that they still require that stupid custom rear wheel dish. “Oh you really quickly need to snag an otherwise compatible rear wheel from another bike in your garage or a friend to swap out use for a day or a weekend? JK don’t forget to re-dish it first.”

  3. The Ai wheel dish is easily done on most wheels you curently have. Just loosen the drive side spokes and tighten the non-drive side to remove the dish. Most wheels you own already have enough spoke depth in the nipples to accomplish this in a ten minute re-true. The wheel is then totally symetric and will actually be more durable, as it is no longer dished. Plus, you have shorter stays for a better climbing bike, It works really well. Basically the same as boost on most mountain bikes,.

    • The rack mounts are only on the fork for a mid-blade rack. For the fenders, the fenders mount to the seatstay and can move with the rear triangle.

  4. > It also uses the Cannondale-specific BB30-83 AI which requires a specific
    > crankset and a specific dish for the rear wheel

    I thought Cannondale had finally seen the light and realized that no one wants proprietary bottom brackets when they went with the BSA bottom bracket on the aluminum Topstone. And now they do this.

    • Can’t achieve big tire clearance and short chainstays with a 68mm BB shell. The alloy version’s chain stay is 1.5 cm longer.

        • Can it really, though?
          What is the chain stay length?
          How much clearance does the claimed tire size have? (enough to pass CPSC and ISO?)
          Is it as light and stiff as a carbon frame with a wide BB? (This last one was rhetorical..).

  5. It’s pretty cool. The proprietary stuff is a deal breaker though, and it isn’t that light after all for a carbon bike.

  6. One more boss on each side of the fork would have let you mount water bottles or Salsa anything cages. I wonder why most companies don’t get that.

  7. Wahh wahhh wahhh, how many times have any of you ran over to your neighbors house to borrow a wheel moments before a ride? Ever? Didn’t think so. And this is not the first to use proprietary rear hub or dishing or both. Cannondale has done this for years, and it make a LOT of sense. But it did not start here, nooo, Both Bradbury (of Manitou fame) and Cunningham ( co founder of WTB) were doing this on garage built bikes decades ago. No dish is better, less dish is a little better, a lot of dish is stupid. All this cogs need to go somewhere and that makes for a lot of rear wheel dish.

    Wahh wahhh wahhh proprietary BB. Guess what, Cannondale Trek Specialized and countless others have had some shorta weird BB / crank for a very long time. One could blame this trend on Alex Pong and Cannondale 25 years ago, or in the way way back machine, the original Schwinn company and their myriad of proprietary dimensions. Even with attempts by others in the bicycle industry to ‘standardize’ BB shells, crank spindles, wheel axles, headset oMGheadsets!, it ain’t happened, and it will continue to diversify. Get over it. You do not love the looks of the new Nissan but decide to build it with a Honda drive train. If this bike is what you should have in your next bike, buy it and when it needs parts buy them from Cannondale. It’s not like their aren’t available in every freaking mid size town on this continent.

    • When Cannondale back in the day had proprietary 1.5 road stems before anyone else, they didn’t stock sizes and could not get the proper length when I needed it… I was stuck. When you have one source instead of many to get repair/replace parts, then by default you have limited options. No thanks on the limited inventories and options. There are plenty of racers who win w out Cannondale so the performance gain isn’t substantial enough to warrant limited options. Been burned before, not again… also Cannondale customer service is not the best in my experience but that was a while ago so maybe it’s improved.

    • Alex Pong was Magic Motorcycle (then Coda) if I am not mistaken….yes?

      Said it in another thread….but, this bike does nothing that Softride had not done (with out anything nuttier than a beam)….but, done years ago.

    • All of my road & gravel wheels have the same axle and rotor sizes, my mountain bikes are different but also shared. If the ability to swap out a flat tire that makes the difference between riding and not (and for those of us with families and jobs it can) it’s a reasonable expectation.

      Heck, I’ve even my carbon cranks’ pedal inserts (any guesses?) loose the day before a week-long road trip. being able to swap a 30mm crankset from another bike without running all over town meant that I could leave before traffic rather than waiting for the LBS to open.

      Few of the less-common standards are bad on paper. And yes, some offer improvement in stiffness, geometry, cost, or… whatever. But for a lot of us missing even one ride outweighs the benefits of a 3% lateral stiffness increase of 5mm chainstay length reduction.

    • > Wahh wahhh wahhh proprietary BB. Guess what, Cannondale
      > Trek Specialized and countless others have had some shorta
      > weird BB / crank for a very long time.

      And they suck just as much. Who does all the proprietary stuff help? The bottom line, not the consumer.

    • In all fairness, at least the Trek BB doesn’t require a proprietary crank. The bearings aren’t really anything unusual either.

  8. Everything was going well until the BB, crankset, wheel dish. Over it, sorry Cannondale… the philosophy of “don’t play well with others,” is hurting your sales dept and bottom line. Cool engineering at the cost of exclusivity and non-compatibility. Engineers trump sales and marketing at Cannondale.

  9. „TL:DR cannondale releases an all road bike that’s not as good on rough stuff as the slate or smooth stuff as the synapse has weird proprietary and probably creaky bb and you need to dish all your wheels for it more laterally stuff and vertically compliant.“

    Second that…
    Bring on the 29er Aero Slate with a Lefty Ocho.
    Otherwise I hope Specialized releases an updated Diverge based on the new Roubaix.

  10. Then use BB386EVO then, which is open and the best pressfit standard out there. And why are they pushing the short chainstays anyway? In a blind test, you’d be lucky if a rider could feel a wheelbase difference of 5% – 10%, let alone a measly 2%!

  11. What about that bottom bracket drop? Only 61mm, I know some of it will be offset by the rear triangle sag, but hey, it is a small drop/big height even for today’s CX bike standards

  12. They didn’t get the nickname Cracknfail for nothing, they love to experiment on the public, and have made some truly awful shit over the years. This bike looks pretty cool, but it will probably be absolutely terrible to work on in 10 years when you need a pivot bolt or the mental defective 2nd owner has fixed a crack with super glue. Steel gravel bikes rule.

  13. I’m not too worried about some of the proprietary stuff used on this bike. If you look at a lot of brands, they use proprietary stuff also. Ive had a least one Cannondale from the time they developed BB30 and they have always worked fine with no problems, My current Turner RFX also has a PF30 BB and works flawlessly.
    I’m real excited about this bike as I do a lot of gravel and mixed surface, actually, hardly any gravel by definition, mostly hardpack with embedded rocks, washboard, decomposed granite and ruts, which would be perfect for this bike. A lightened and reduced travel Ocho fork would also be a welcomed option.

  14. So my question is Im wondering if I can put either my oliver or a lauf on this bike? The bb is a non issue as I already have a hollowgram sisl crank and can redish my wheels.

    • Isospd works only when seated almost exclusively and only the seatube/mast flexes more than usual.
      Kingpin the whole rear triangle flexes up n down along with the seat tube as well. And it works while youre seated and unseated.
      Excellent idea.
      Cannondales best design ever.

  15. Tech Xray feature: IF that is a true x-ray…woah, THAT is a breakthrough. To know where the internal cables are by using your ph for free??
    And if there are any frame cracks??
    THAT IS SINGLE BEST THING on this bike and for the service industry. !

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