Cyclocross

Cannondale’s New Topstone Carbon Gravel Bike with Kingpin Suspension – Cyclocross Magazine

With a carbon cyclocross bike in the SuperX that has proven capable of winning the Dirty Kanza 200 gravel race, Cannondale has been a bit slower in releasing a dedicated carbon gravel race bike than many other bike companies.

The alloy Slate with a Lefty front fork was the company’s first gravel foray, and last year it released the alloy Topstone, which hinted that a carbon gravel bike would one day be coming from the Connecticut company. On rides this spring, we’ve gotten word from Cannondale representatives of a carbon version down the (gravel) road.

Today, Cannondale officially released the Topstone Carbon, a carbon gravel race bike with a unique pivot system to provide gravel compliance felt at the saddle but without front suspension. We take a first look at the new gravel bike from Cannondale.

The Topstone Carbon SRAM Force eTap AXS is the flagship of the new carbon gravel bike line. Cannondale Topstone Carbon Gravel Bike Release. © Cannondale

Cannondale Topstone Crb Gravel Bike

Prior to the Dirty Kanza, many of us at cycling publications heard rumblings a new carbon Topstone was forthcoming from Cannondale and had our eyes out of the new bike under Cannondale-sponsored riders. However, Ted King, the EF Education First team and Aevolo Cycling showed the utility of the SuperX by choosing to ride the cyclocross bike for the 202-mile gravel race.

Next time we see those riders, many will likely be on the new Topstone Carbon. The most notable aspect of the new carbon bike is the Kingpin suspension system.

We have seen plenty of suspension on cyclocross and gravel bikes, including the Specialized’s FutureShock, Trek’s IsoSpeed decoupler, Lauf’s leaf-spring fork, Cannondale’s sister brand Schwinn’s elastomer-based suspension, Moots’ elastomer-and-steel spring rear suspension, Fox’s front suspension fork, Redshift’s ShockStop stem, Cirrus’ BodyFloat seat post, and well, the Niner Magic Carpet Ride. The Kingpin is a bit different than those systems.

The Kingpin system features a thru-axle pivot joining the seatstay and seat tube that provides up to 30mm of travel at the saddle. The pivot system is designed to work in concert with what Cannondale is calling “flex zones” in the chainstays, seat tube and top tube to provide compliance at the saddle and additional absorption at the rear axle.

Cannondale has plenty of experience building suspension bikes that rely on carbon’s flex instead of multiple pivots. The original Scalpel mountain bike did just that.

The Kingpin system is a thru-axle pivot that joins the seat tube and seatstays. Cannondale Topstone Carbon Gravel Bike Release. © Cannondale

The carbon frame is built with Cannondale’s BallisTec carbon using an approach it calls Proportional Progression that adjusts carbon thickness and layup based on the frame size. The bike is offered in 5 sizes—XS (52.5cm top tube), S (54.4cm), M (56.1cm), L (57.9cm) and XL (59.6cm).

The frame features tubes that are shaped based on their respective performance needs. The seat tube is flattened and widened near the bottom bracket, the down tube has a large, boxy shape, and the flattened top tube is wider near the head tube to provide more flex.

Carbon tubes are shaped based on their locations and functions. Cannondale Topstone Carbon Gravel Bike Release. © Cannondale

Similar to the alloy Topstone, the geometry on the Carbon model borrows from the Synapse endurance road bike in reach and stack measurements. The reach on a Medium (56cm) frame is 38.5cm and the stack is 57.9cm. For reference, a similar-sized SuperX has measurements of 38.5cm and 57.5cm, respectively.

The head tube itself is 16.5cm and its angle is 71.2 degrees. A trail of 5.5cm and short 41.5cm chainstays help contribute to a 103cm wheelbase on the Medium frame. The bottom bracket sits relatively high, with a BB drop of 6.1cm. That’s pretty high for a cyclocross bike nowadays, let alone a gravel bike, but the high bottom bracket will be offset with a bit of sag.

The fork on the Topstone Carbon is full carbon with Cannondale’s OutFront geometry. For the adventure-inclined, the frame features a port to internally route a cable for a 27.2mm dropper post.

Similar to the alloy Topstone, the Topstone Carbon has clearance for up to 700c x 40mm and 650b x 48mm tires. There are mounts for three water bottles, front rack, rear fenders and a top tube bag.

The frameset is fully modern with 12mm Speed Release thru-axles, flat mount disc calipers and internally routed cables.

The Topstone Carbon Builds

The Topstone Carbon will be initially offered in four Men’s and Women’s builds. Each build features a carbon frame and fork as described above.

The $6,500 top-of-the-line build features a SRAM Force eTap AXS gruppo, carbon rims and parts that are largely from Cannondale’s SAVE tech line. The entry-level $2,700 Shimano 105 bike still has a carbon frame but swaps in alloy rims and alloy parts.

While Cannondale’s cyclocross bike has proven to be a winning choice on gravel, might the Topstone Carbon make a great cyclocross bike on early season bumpy courses? It might. Stay tuned, as we hope to test a Topstone Carbon’s gravel and cyclocross worthiness.

Some of the highlights of the Topstone Carbon builds are below.

Topstone Carbon SRAM Force eTap AXS

The Topstone Carbon SRAM Force eTap AXS is the flagship of the new carbon gravel bike line. Cannondale Topstone Carbon Gravel Bike Release. © Cannondale

Price: $6,500 USD
Front Derailleur: SRAM Force eTap AXS
Chain Rings: 46/33t
Rear Derailleur: SRAM Force eTap AXS
Cassette: 10-33t
Wheels: Cannondale HollowGram 22 Carbon, 25mm internal
Tires: WTB Riddler TCS Light, 700c x 37mm
Brakes: SRAM Force eTap AXS hydraulic disc
Other: Cannondale SAVE stem, handlebar, seatpost; wheel sensor

Topstone Carbon Ultegra RX

The Ultegra RX model has an RX800 rear derailleur and carbon rims. Cannondale Topstone Carbon Gravel Bike Release. © Cannondale

Price: $4,000 USD
Front Derailleur: Shimano Ultegra R8000
Chain Rings: 46/30t
Rear Derailleur: Shimano Ultegra RX800
Cassette: 11-34t
Wheels: Cannondale HollowGram 22 Carbon, 25mm internal
Tires: WTB Riddler TCS Light, 700c x 37mm
Brakes: Shimano Ultegra hydraulic disc
Other: Cannondale SAVE handlebar, wheel sensor

Topstone Carbon Ultegra RX2 (Women, Men)

The RX 2 model has an RX800 rear derailleur and alloy rims. Cannondale Topstone Carbon Gravel Bike Release. © Cannondale

Price: $3,250 USD
Front Derailleur: Shimano Ultegra R8000
Chain Rings: 46/30t
Rear Derailleur: Shimano Ultegra RX800
Cassette: 11-34t
Wheels: WTB KOM Light i23, alloy
Tires: WTB Riddler TCS Light, 700c x 37mm
Brakes: Shimano Ultegra hydraulic disc
Other: Wheel sensor

Topstone Carbon 105

The Topstone Crb 105 is the entry bike in the line. Cannondale Topstone Carbon Gravel Bike Release. © Cannondale

Price: $2,700 USD
Front Derailleur: Shimano 105 R7000
Chain Rings: 46/30t
Rear Derailleur: Shimano 105 R7000
Cassette: 11-34t
Wheels: WTB KOM Light i23, alloy
Tires: WTB Riddler TCS Light, 700c x 37mm
Brakes: Shimano 105 hydraulic disc
Other: Wheel sensor