Introducing the Cannondale Topstone Carbon Gravel Bike


We first rode the Cannondale Topstone last August and reveled in how well-designed the Topstone was. It rode well, performed admirably over all kinds of surfaces, and offered excellent value for the money. Despite Cannondale’s history of making quality aluminum bikes, we knew that Cannondale was chomping at the bit to release a carbon Topstone. An all-new Cannondale Topstone Carbon gravel bike, we figured, could be the ideal combination of gravel bike practicality and typical Cannondale design. Our first ride on the Topstone Carbon, with its unique KingPin suspension system, tells us plenty about what the new Topstone Carbon is all about.

2020 Cannondale Topstone Carbon Ultegra - Contender Bicycles

The name of the game with the new Topstone Carbon is the Kingpin suspension system. In essence, the Kingpin suspension system is different than that of what was found on cars a century ago, but a simple thru-axle pivot that locks the left and right seatstays together. This pivot floats between two bumpers in the seattube that allow for a total 30 mm travel, with 75% off that happening around the saddle, and the rest at the rear axle. Cannondale claims this is the same as increasing tire width by 9 mm.

2020 Cannondale Topstone Carbon Kingpin Suspension - Contender Bicycles

Reach and stack numbers are similar to that of bikes like the OPEN U.P., where an XS Topstone Carbon is akin to that of a size small U.P. Translation? The bike fits not unlike A major difference is the front-center length, which could be where the bike’s OutFront Geometry ideology comes into play. With their OutFront Geometry, Cannondale aims to place less rider weight on the front wheel by pushing it further forward. The brand claims that this, paired to the 55 mm-offset fork increases rider stability over rough terrain, but it also keeps the steering light at speed too.

Out back, you’ll find impressively tight 415 mm chainstays which use the AI-offset to keep the rear end tight while managing some tire clearance. A tight chainstay length like this makes the bike more nimble than it’s front center length indicates. Bringing the rear wheel tighter places more rider weight over it, increasing grip on really loose and rocky terrain.

2020 Cannondale Topstone Carbon AI Offset Chainstays - Contender Bicycles

For the most part, the Topstone Carbon hits on basically every gravel bike prerequisite. It fits a 700 x 40c tire or a 650 x 47b tire, both with room to spare. You’ll find multi-position bottle cage mount on the downtube, as well as bottle mounts on the seat tube and downtube by the bottom bracket. There are also find fender mounts, mid-fork mounts, a top tube bag mount, and internal routing for a 27.2 mm dropper post. A size medium frame weighs in at 1300 grams, with the fork weighing another 480 grams, the price you pay for a floating seatstay.

2020 Cannondale Topstone Carbon Bottle Cage & Fender Mounts - Contender Bicycles

We were fortunate enough to get on the Topstone Carbon before its release and spend some time on the bike. If there’s anything we could glean from our first ride, it’s that the new Topstone Carbon is firmly on the road bike end of gravel bikes. Reach and stack numbers are much closer to that of an endurance road bike, but the KingPin suspension and OutFront geometry add some compliance and control over rough terrain.

2020 Cannondale Topstone Carbon Riding - Contender Bicycles

The bike’s overall handling doesn’t feel too different than the SuperX; it tracks through terrain easily, but the effects of the KingPin suspension aren’t as readily obvious as something like a Lauf fork, which seems much more active and open to flex when messing with it in a parking lot. That said, the fundamentals behind KingPin, namely allowing the seattube and seatpost to flex as it naturally wants to, is sound. We’ll have to have a bit more time on the Topstone, but our early returns on the Topstone Carbon are positive.

If there’s anything we can glean from this bike, its that the new Cannondale Topstone Carbon is firmly on the road bike end of gravel bikes. It’s reach and stack numbers are more akin to an endurance road bike than some of the XC hardtails-turned-gravel-grinders out there, but Cannondale’s new Kingpin suspension system should add some compliance and control over rough terrain. The bike is also 2x only, a bit of a twist from the growing gaggle of 1x gravel bikes on the market today.

2020 Cannondale Topstone Carbon Kingpin Pivot - Contender Bicycles

The Cannondale Topstone Carbon gravel bike is available in five sizes, in four parts specs. They range from the entry-level Topstone Carbon 105 at $2700 and go all the way to the Topstone Carbon Force eTap AXS bike at $6500, which features SRAM Force eTap AXS, Hollowgram carbon wheels with DT Swiss internals, and Cannondale’s Hollowgram carbon handlebar and stem combo. Cannondale also offers a women’s specific Topstone Carbon Women’s Ultegra RX 2, with a women’s specific saddle and handlebars.

2020 Cannondale Topstone Carbon - Contender Bicycles

Have any questions about the new Cannondale Topstone Carbon? Drop us a line, either by phone during business hours, or any time via email to info@contenderbicycles.com.

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