Cannondale know a thing or two about aluminium bikes, and whilst the original Topstone may have been joined by a carbon-framed big brother it still represents a superb value way into gravel/adventure, as well as making an ideal winter training/commuter bike.
Their emphasis here is on ride quality and handling rather than super-light weight, and that's a sensible thing at this pricepoint (this 105-equipped model comes in at a quoted weight of just under 10kg complete). That's light enough that, combined with relatively relaxed geometry and some clever tube shaping, you have a bike that can handle rough surfaces comfortably and with plenty of fun factor.
The alloy frame is matched with a fully carbon fork to give stiffness where needed, but the skinny 27.2mm seatpost and slim rear tubes mean that there's no alloy harshness at the rear either. We're also glad to see a traditional threaded bottom bracket, low-maintenance and creak-free, and easy to upgrade to the likes of Chris King further down the line, if desired.
As you'd expect there's a full complement of mounting points for bottles, racks and mudguards (including a clever removeable top bridge for the rear mudguard, which keeps things clean and simple when not running guards - aiding mud clearance).
photos by Bence Bujaki