Cannondale Topstone Carbon

The Cannondale Topstone, in its original aluminium-framed form, has quickly proven to be a popular choice for those looking to dip a toe in the world of gravel/adventure bikes, or as an addition to a larger stable of more road-focused bikes.

Now the Topstone range is expanding, with a carbon frameset featuring 30mm of rear suspension travel via a pivot at the rear.

Even Cannondale, the masters of aluminium, know that there are things that can be done more efficiently and effectively with a carbon frame, particularly when it comes to extreme tube shapes. By mixing and matching the carbon layup throughout the frame they can fine tune the ride and handling in a way that's particularly valuable on a "more than road" bike.

The newest Topstone reflects this, with a typically Cannondale-skinny 27.2mm seatpost mated to a noticeably scalloped seat tube, giving natural compliance, and a down tube that flares out at the bottom bracket for stiffness where it's needed.

Those aggressively dropped seat stays serve a dual purpose, keeping the rear triangle tight for maximum control and power delivery whilst also allowing the longer exposed section of seat tube a bit of extra flex for comfort on "buzzy" surfaces where the suspension is less relevant.

Naturally there's a full complement of mounting points, with bosses fitted to the top tube and under the down tube as well as multi-position bottle mounts. Like the alu model there is also a clever removeable mudguard bridge, keeping things clean and tidy when not required.

Cables are internally routed, and run in integrated channels which keeps buzz and slap to a minimum as well as making replacement a doddle. Dropper posts are really starting to make an impact on the drop-bar gravel/adventure scene now, and we're pleased to see that there's provision for an internally routed dropper too.

Interestingly all the models in the 2020 range come with 2x drivetrains, although there's nothing to stop you changing to 1x later should you prefer, and all come with hydraulic disc brakes as standard.

Cannondale have chosen 700c and 37mm wide tyres for their standard builds, but there's clearance for up to 40mm if you want some extra cushioning. The Topstone will also happily accept 650b wheels with up to 48mm wide tyres.

The geometry is intended to strike a balance between road performance and off-road handling, with a notably large fork offset giving a longer wheelbase for added stability and reducing the chances of toe overlap on smaller frame sizes (something that can sometimes be an issue on more cyclocross-derived bikes).

The only thing we're a little disappointed to see is that there's a PressFit 30 bottom bracket. The Alu model has a threaded BB, which is our preferred choice for longevity and ease of maintenance on a bike that'll be ridden in all conditions. But this is hardly a dealbreaker.

All the Topstone Carbon range share the same frame, forks and geometry - the differences are in the build specification.

Note that although Cannondale include a nominal "women's" model in the range, this only refers to the contact points and the fact that it's available in a limited range of smaller sizes. In actual fact this distinction is irrelevant when you buy from Bespoke. We swap contact points as required to ensure the perfect fit, so the entire range is available to both men and women equally.

Topstone Carbon 2020 models:

Force eTap AXS (Black/Acid Red) £4799.99

Ultegra RX (Midnight Blue) £3499.99

Women's Ultegra RX 2 (Black Pearl) £2699.99

Ultegra RX 2 (Agave) £2699.99

105 (Black Pearl or Quicksand) £2099.99

We're looking forward to getting one of these on test. The suspension system is a little different from the approach taken by the likes of Trek and Specialized, but the technology behind it has certainly been proven over the years in the MTB world.

This makes the Topstone look like a good bet for handling more extreme terrain than you might expect from an all-road bike. I'm already a fan of the aluminium version (and one of a number of Bespoke staff who have them in their stable) and the new model looks set to increase its capabilities still further.

The Topstone Carbon will be available soon. Meanwhile we already have the full geometry details in our system, so if you're interested get in touch and we can arrange a bike fit (or advise on sizing from your existing data if you've had a fit with us recently).