Cannondale's Topstone Carbon is Rowdy Off-leash Fun
The Cannondale Topstone Carbon gravel bike delivers a lightweight performance platform with 30mm of active rear suspension. This novel design offers riders improved control, traction, and comfort without a weight penalty.
The original Topstone AL won the hearts of many with its stiff-yet-compliant alloy frame, big tire clearances, and fast and comfortable riding position based largely on Cannondale’s Synapse endurance road bike. Cannondale engineers recognized the opportunity to push the boundaries by adding an active rear suspension to their design when they rolled out the upgraded carbon fiber version of the proven platform.
What We Like:
- Active rear suspension
- Dual wheel size compatibility
- Highly versatile design lets you ride where you please
- Integrated wheel sensor for accurate ride metrics
Rear Suspension Gravel Bike
Who needs suspension in a bike that is primarily ridden on gravel roads? More riders than you think. Thanks to the increasing number of gravel-focused events like the Dirty Kanza, Land Run, Grinduro, and others, the desire to perform at one’s highest level no matter how broken the course surface might be is serious business; enough to put top riders on bikes like these in every event.
But this bike isn’t just for athletes. Gravel bikes offer the ultimate in versatility. They open up new route opportunities. With the Topstone Carbon a rider can start a ride on the road and use a stretch of singletrack to link up with a gravel climb. Sure you can do that on a standard gravel bike, but with rear suspension, you get more traction and control and have more fun.
Cannondale Topstone Carbon
Available at your local authorized Cannondale bicycle retailer. Check out the bike details, read reviews, and pick the size that's right for you. Click "Buy Local Now" to find the retailer near you with the bike in stock to test ride or available to order.
How the Topstone Carbon Works
Cannondale achieves 30mm of rear suspension without the weight and complexity of a shock or linkages. The company uses a special thru-axle pivot in the seat tube and engineered the frame to allow for specific flex zones in the rear triangle and top tube.
The Topstone Carbon delivers all the stiffness you desire while pedaling on pavement, with just enough flex in the rear end to take the edge off of washboard and pothole strewn dirt and gravel roads. Harshness contributes to fatigue, especially over long distances. Topstone Carbon smooths it all out, allowing you to explore forgotten country and fire roads until you run out of fuel, as well as hammer out fast-paced club rides on Saturday morning.
If you want to get even more aggressive there is internal dropper post routing so you can speed through technical terrain or down steep gravel descents.
If you want to use the Topstone Carbon for bikepacking there are extra mounts on the downtube and fork legs to carry more gear, you can dream up some pretty big adventures.
Wheel size options
This bike is designed to handle up to 700 x 40c or 650 x 48b tires. As a rider, you can choose one wheel size to suit your preferences, or, have two sets of wheels expand the bike’s capabilities.
We find that 700c is ideal for most of what you might consider traditional gravel riding and racing. But there are plenty of loops that include rougher jeep roads, fire roads, or singletrack that will test your handling capabilities. In these situations you might feel more confident and have fewer flat tires with 650 wheels.
Cannondale Topstone Carbon Builds
At the top you have SRAM’s Force ETAP AXS electronic group, followed by three Shimano Ultegra RX builds, and the dependable Shimano 105 at the entry level. Each group is spec'd with an adventure-ready 46/30 double up front paired to an 11-34t cassette for all-terrain capability.
Cannondale claims that each frame has been tuned specifically to provide the best ride possible across every size, which should accommodate all riders. Regardless of who’s riding, every build includes industry standards like flat mount hydraulic disc brakes, Cannondale’s Speed Release thru axles, internal guided cable routing, and a removable rear fender mount.
It’s important to note some brand specific specs if you are considering the Topstone Carbon. To gain beefy tire clearance and the use of a double crankset, Cannondale chose to use their proprietary Ai offset rear spacing. This means the frame requires a rear wheel that’s been dished 6mm outboard to keep the clearances it's designed for. If you’re the type of rider who tends to ride a bike as it comes from the manufacturer and couldn’t care less about swapping wheelsets in and out, kudos to you—this isn’t a problem at all. But for some, having a bike that uses Ai means they can’t change wheelsets between bikes using a different hub standard.
We Applaud The Innovative Thinking
All in all we are impressed by what Cannondale has done with the Topstone Carbon. The company has a long history of leading from the front and testing boundaries with their bikes. This rear suspension gravel bike is right in line with that tradition.
If you are an endurance athlete looking to stay fresh deep into a gravel race then it’s hard to beat the Topstone Carbon. Or if your preferred route takes you over some questionable terrain for the average drop bar bike then you could be an equally good fit for this bike.
For deeper insights into how the bike performs on your local gravel visit your authorized local Cannondale dealer to take a look. At a minimum, take the bike for a spin to see what you think of having active rear suspension on a lightweight gravel bike.