Cannondale’s Topstone Carbon Lefty Makes Gravel Much less of a Grind

Gravel bikes have been experiencing a renaissance over the previous a number of years.

It wasn’t that way back that the majority severe riders would scoff at throwing chunky tires on a gravel body to get extra versatility, as a superb hardtail mountain bike might possible do the identical factor, solely higher.

Naturally, a full-suspension gravel bike might appear to be a stretch for some. However as gravel using matures, so too have the rigs obtainable for the bizarre in-between areas.

The Cannondale Topstone Carbon 2 Lefty is a full-suspension gravel bike constructed for consolation and functionality throughout any terrain; (photograph/Mark Wilson)

Cannondale’s newest full-suspension Topstone Carbon Lefty gravel line marks a major step into that form of specialization, concurrently striving to be a motorbike that’s as environment friendly on the street as it’s compliant within the tough.

The Cannondale Topstone has been the model’s key gravel rig for years. However the newest model includes a sharp carbon body and trail-smoothing entrance and rear suspension, making the Topstone among the many most comfy gravel bikes.

Cannondale Topstone Carbon 2 Lefty next to a gravel trail near Aspen, Colorado.
The Cannondale Topstone Carbon 2 Lefty is correct at house in chunky gravel; (photograph/Mark Wilson)

After spending 2 days on the Topstone Carbon 2 Lefty within the Colorado mountains, I really feel like Cannondale has provide you with one thing that isn’t exaggerating when it says “nothing is impassable.”

Topstone Carbon 2 Lefty

Cannondale’s Topstone Carbon 2 Lefty isn’t the costliest possibility within the Topstone lineup, however it’s concerning the closest factor to a mountain bike as you’ll discover in a drop-bar gravel bike. Nonetheless, that is decidedly not a mountain bike or a street bike for that matter.

It’s a particular sort of platform that felt prefer it reached as much as fill gaps between street and filth, relatively than making compromises. It by no means actually strayed too far towards the texture of a street or mountain bike to make it something aside from a devoted gravel rig.

Two Cannondale Topstone Carbon 2 Lefty bicycles leaning against a truck on a gravel path.
Cannondale’s Topstone Carbon 2 Lefty is a quick, steady descender, and dependable climber; (photograph/Mark Wilson)

I spent 2 days placing greater than 70 miles on the Carbon 2 Lefty on a mixture of street, gravel, and singletrack in Aspen, Colorado. I made positive to punish my physique to the very best of my potential to see how the bike held up.

These 70 miles got here with almost 3,000 ft of elevation every day on different terrain. I received a superb really feel for the way the bike features in all kinds of situations. For a rider primarily based in Austin, Texas, that sort of elevation is one thing I at all times should journey for, and it’s at all times punishing on my physique.

The Topstone proved to be the companion I wanted to cut back a number of the fatigue that may normally minimize my time within the saddle brief at greater elevations.

Descending, the bike was quick, enjoyable, and snappy. Cannondale’s Kingpin rear suspension helped the bike hook as much as filth and rocks to forestall sliding out. Likewise, the Lefty Oliver Fork made huge impacts really feel much less extreme.

See also  Inaugural Loam and Gravel Society President Drops First Video: Get Stoked

The suspension setup created extra dealing with compliance whereas decreasing the fatigue many gravel riders really feel constructing of their arms, fingers, and backs throughout huge rides.

Cannondale Topstone Carbon 2 Lefty in front of a mountain range.
The Cannondale Topstone Carbon 2 Lefty permits riders to get extra compliance out of smaller tires as a consequence of suspension; (photograph/Mark Wilson)

I often discovered myself in search of out kickers to spring myself off of. I felt comfy within the information that my wrists wouldn’t buckle from a front-heavy touchdown because of the Lefty. The rear wheel felt glued to the bottom, so coming into corners scorching wasn’t as problematic as on inflexible bikes.

The rear suspension offers 30 mm of journey on the saddle. You get an extra 10 mm or so of rear axle journey as a consequence of rear triangle body flex.

The Lefty fork delivers 30 mm of journey. It isn’t a lot, but it surely created simply sufficient flex to really feel responsive and playful whereas retaining effectivity on climbs and sprints when situations known as for it.

The Carbon 2 Lefty additionally includes a dropper publish, which is a kind of options that appears to scream “off-road” on the prime of its lungs. It gave the bike an excellent better feeling of functionality, particularly whereas pointed downhill.

Cannondale Topstone Carbon 2 Lefty cable and wire ports.
The Cannondale Topstone Carbon 2 Lefty options inner cable and wire routing; (photograph/Mark Wilson)

The bike nonetheless felt like a cushty climber. It didn’t bob underneath drive, and the identical flex that helped it monitor effectively in livid descents saved me from getting bumped out of the saddle whereas creeping over roots and rocks on steep-graded singletrack.

Taken alone, the Kingpin, dropper, or Lefty Oliver fork would all be welcome additions to my inflexible gravel bike. Taken collectively, they’re extra of a revelation. Regardless of my lungs and legs burning, I used to be remarkably comfy over each kind of terrain.

Kingpin Suspension

The Topstone Carbon line is offered in inflexible and suspension fork choices, however all function Cannondale’s Kingpin suspension system.

Cannondale Topstone Carbon 2 Lefty Kingpin suspension pivot point.
The Cannondale Topstone Carbon 2 Lefty makes use of the model’s Kingpin suspension system, which permits the rear of the bike to flex round a pivot level on the seat tube; (photograph/Mark Wilson)

With the Kingpin setup, the again of the Topstone body flexes round a through-axle pivot positioned on the seat tube to create an built-in rear suspension that doesn’t require a shock. As a result of it features by way of flexing, it doesn’t have a real bottom-out mark and doesn’t require servicing like different suspension programs.

It’s a bit counterintuitive. Carbon normally is lauded for its stiffness, which provides riders extra effectivity by way of the switch of energy by way of the body. Cannondale has as a substitute used carbon as a pliable materials to extend consolation and compliance, not rigidity.

Whereas using behind a Topstone Carbon, I noticed the flex of the bike, but it surely’s not one thing I felt whereas using in the identical approach as a conventional air or coil shock. The flex was adequately subtle that I forgot about it till I spotted that the terrain ought to have felt more durable, or I took a sufficiently big hit to acknowledge it.

See also  How one can Break Into the Journey Racing World
Cannondale Topstone Carbon 2 Lefty downtime detail image.
Cannondale Topstone Carbon 2 Lefty has sufficient house to hold two water bottles and a tube or software within the downtube mount. It can also incorporate Cannondale’s SmartSense mild and radar system; (photograph/Mark Wilson)

Kingpin made a very spectacular distinction when descending in broadly various situations or whereas peddling over chunky gravel or single monitor. The motion of the body’s rear helped the bike’s tires monitor the bottom persistently. That feeling contributed to much less time spent chattering into corners or drifting.

The Carbon 2 Lefty’s dropper publish made the bike really feel like an ultra-stable platform whereas descending, even at speeds of 40 mph or extra. The low middle of gravity the bike afforded me was confidence-inspiring irrespective of the terrain.

Utilizing the dropper publish barely inhibited the bike’s quantity of journey, because the Kingpin is supposed to flex all the way in which as much as the rider by way of the seat publish. However the movement makes an enormous distinction with both setup.

A banana stuffed into the storage space of a Cannondale Topstone Carbon 2 Lefty.
Banana for scale; (photograph/Mark Wilson)

The bike has sufficient house for 700c x 45mm tires or 650b tires as much as 2.1 inches. However the further assist from the entrance and rear suspension provides comparable ranges of compliance with smaller, quicker, and lighter tires. Most inflexible bikes might solely discover that with greater choices.

Lefty Oliver

The Lefty Oliver gravel fork introduced 30 mm of journey to the entrance of the bike, turning mild gravel into butter. And it considerably smoothed out extra technical terrain, together with tough gravel roads and singletrack trails peppered with rocks and roots.

Lefty Oliver fork mounted to a Cannondale Topstone Carbon 2 Lefty.
Cannondale’s Lefty Oliver finds a pleasant stability between cushion and effectivity; (photograph/Mark Wilson)

Even massive potholes on the street that may ship riders over the bars in a heartbeat felt like small bumps. The Lefty Oliver’s progressive tuning solely kicked in when the bike took a sufficiently big hit to generate a response. Usually, particularly whereas climbing, I wasn’t conscious that the shock was doing something in any respect.

I didn’t really feel massive, springy actions or dramatic flexes that appeared like energy dumps until I put my physique’s full weight into the bars. For these instances after I absolutely loaded the entrance, the fork includes a full lockout possibility that stiffened issues up.

Cannondale Topstone Carbon 2 Lefty. Front View.
The Lefty Oliver provides the Cannondale Topstone Carbon 2 Lefty an unmistakable Cannondale profile; (photograph/Mark Wilson)

SmartSense Prepared

Whereas using the Topstone Carbon 2 Lefty, I used to be surrounded by others using the rigid-fork sibling, the Topstone Carbon 1 RLE. The numerous variations between these two bikes are the Carbon 1 RLE’s inflexible fork and its included SmartSense system.

Cannondale's SmartSense battery mounted to a Topstone Carbon bicycle.
All Topstone Carbon Fashions are appropriate with Cannondale’s SmartSense Know-how, however solely higher-end rigid-fork choices embody the function from the manufacturing unit.

Cannondale says it doesn’t embody SmartSense within the Topstone Carbon Lefty fashions to maintain the worth down, which is comprehensible. It’s already giving riders a full-suspension, carbon gravel bike with a fork that prices greater than an MSRP of $1,500. Throwing SmartSense on might worth out a big contingent of consumers.

Nonetheless, the Carbon 2 Lefty is constructed to simply accept the system, ought to riders choose to spring for the extra money, as are all Topstone Carbon fashions.

Cannondale's SmartSense rear radar light detail image.
Cannondale’s SmartSense know-how features a Garmin radar and Lezyne mild combo that warns riders and drivers of one another on the street; (photograph/Mark Wilson)

SmartSense is a totally built-in radar and lightweight system that features the Garmin Varia Radar, Lezyne entrance and back lights, and a Cannondale wheel sensor. A single battery that mounts to the body powers the entire system. It begins mechanically when the bike strikes and makes use of mild and sound alerts to make sure that riders are conscious of approaching visitors and vice versa.

See also  Stiff, Quick, Aero: Pinarello Grevil F Is a Pure Gravel Racing Steed

Riders can customise and management the system by way of Cannondale’s app. Solely the higher-end fashions of the rigid-fork Topstone Carbon come outfitted with SmartSense. With out the system put in, the battery mount within the body features as a spare tube or software storage space.

Mounted for tools or SmartSense batter on a Cannondale Topstone Carbon 2 Lefty.
The Topstone Carbon 2 Lefty doesn’t embody SmartSense. It could actually settle for the system if riders wish to buy it individually; (photograph/Mark Wilson)

Who Is the Cannondale Carbon 2 Lefty For?

The Topstone Carbon Lefty is a motorbike that begged for chunky, aggressive gravel using. The Lefty Oliver offered consolation to the arms and higher physique, considerably decreasing fatigue after hours of rattling over difficult terrain.

Alex Howes sitting on top of a Cannondale Topstone Carbon 2 Lefty.
Alex Howes attending to know his Cannondale Topstone Carbon 2 Lefty; (photograph/Mark Wilson)

The inflexible fork Topstone Carbon lineup is extra environment friendly and contains SmartSense know-how to make time on the street safer. It additionally has extra mount factors for gear for bikepackers and those that must haul extra gear.

Each are cozy and succesful bikes that make gravel using extra enjoyable and accessible.

Cannondale Topstone Builds and Pricing

In a phrase, Cannondale’s Topstone Carbon lineup is all about versatility, each in options and worth factors.

The Topstone Carbon Lefty fashions are available 4 varieties. The Topstone Carbon Lefty 1 and Carbon 1 Lefty, go for MSRP of $8,500 and $7,850, respectively. The Carbon Lefty 1 is pricier and options the SRAM Drive X01 Eagle eTap AXS mountain bike groupset. The Carbon 1 Lefty trades that out for the SRAM Drive eTap digital 12-speed street groupset.

Cannondale Topstone Carbon 2 Lefty. Front profile.
The Cannondale Topstone Carbon 2 Lefty is as comfy as it’s succesful; (photograph/Mark Wilson)

The Topstone Carbon 2 Lefty and Carbon 3 Lefty price an MSRP of $4,250. The Carbon 2 Lefty comes with a Shimano GRX800 11-speed groupset. The Carbon 3 Lefty options the Shimano GRX 11-speed groupset.

The one bike within the bunch that comes with a dropper publish is the Carbon 2 Lefty.

Topstone Carbon Fashions with out the Lefty fork vary from an MSRP of $7,850 for the Topstone Carbon 1 RLE to $2,625 for the Carbon 6.

Cannondale Topstone Carbon 2 Lefty cockpit view.
Whether or not on chunky gravel, easy pavement, or something in between, the Cannondale Topstone Carbon Lefty provides riders a easy, steady, and dependable platform to discover; (photograph/Mark Wilson)

The Carbon 1 RLE options the entire bells and whistles of the platform. It contains the built-in SmartSense system and the SRAM Drive eTap digital 12-speed groupset. The Carbon 6 drops SmartSense and contains the Shimano GRX 400 10-speed groupset. A number of builds exist for riders to search out the perfect setup to satisfy their efficiency and worth level.

Both approach, the Cannondale Topstone Carbon lineup will make your gravel grinds a lot much less of a grind.

2022 cannondale topstone carbon
Cannondale Topstone Carbon Gravel Bike Goes Larger, Provides Security Options
Cannondale updates the Topstone Carbon gravel bike for long-haul journey with suspension and clearance updates to easy out the experience. Learn extra…