Gravel Grinder News: Cannondale Goes Big With New Topstone Carbon

Gravel Grinder News: Cannondale Goes Big With New Topstone Carbon – by MG
Topstone Kingpin SRAM AXS E-tap
The Cannondale Topstone Carbon Force eTap AXS – the top of the line

Long known for innovative, out of the box thinking, Cannondale today announced its next evolution in all road bikes, the Topstone Carbon. Featuring an all-new ultralight Kingpin suspension system, the Topstone Carbon is designed to give riders more comfort, control and all-terrain versatility, without the added weight and complexity of a damper-based suspension system.

Cannondale says the result is a bike that delivers maximum fun in places beyond the abilities of most gravel bikes, with an unbelievably smooth, composed ride on any road.

Rollin’ with the Kingpin

The Kingpin suspension system utilizes dropped seat stays with a thru-axle pivot in the seat tube, at the top of the stays. The pivot works in concert with engineered flex zones in the rear stays, seat tube and rear portion of the top tube to provide up to 30mm of smooth, progressive compliance without the weight or complexity of a shock, linkages or multiple pivots.

Cannondale Kingpin suspension
Cannondale’s Kingpin suspension has just one pivot, at the top of the seatstays. This, combined with strategic flex zones in the seat and top tubes, as well as the stays, provides up to 30mm of suspension to smooth bumps and vibration.

The suspension and overall frame feel are custom-tuned by size using Cannondale’s Proportional Response construction methods. Proportional Response manipulates carbon layup and tube dimensions to deliver the right balance of suspension flex and stiffness for riders of any stature. The suspension requires no setup and virtually no maintenance, so riders can focus more on the ride instead of the bike.

Cannondale says Topstone Carbon models are capable of running up to 700x40c tires, or 650b tires up to 48mm wide. Stock builds are spec’ed with 700c wheels, so those looking to go the 650b route will either need to factor in the cost of a new set of wheels, or build a bike up from a frameset.

With a fit patterned after Cannondale’s successful Synapse endurance road bike, Topstone Carbon models position the rider in a balanced position that’s upright enough for long-haul comfort and rough terrain control, yet is still low and forward enough for speed and efficiency on smoother roads.

Topstone Carbon’s OutFront steering geometry keeps steering light and agile, while positioning the wheel further in front of the rider for increased stability and confidence in rough terrain. It also reduces the potential for toe overlap on smaller frame sizes.

Other Topstone Carbon features include:

  • Gear and bottle mounts – Multiple water and gear bosses, including a three-pack bottle or cargo mount on the down tube, bottle bosses on the seat tube and bottom of the down tube, top tube cargo bosses.
  • DirectLine internal cable routing – uses internal tubes to guide cables and hoses through the frame, from entry to exit, for easier, more hassle-free service.
  • Internal dropper post compatibility – Topstone Carbon models are compatible with 27.2mm internally-routed dropper seatposts, an increasingly popular option with gravel riders. 
  • Speed Release thru-axles – Provides the stiffness and security of a thru-axle, with the fast, easy wheel installation and removal similar to a quick release.
  • Commuter compatible – Topstone Carbon models are fully fender-ready, with a removable fender bridge on the seat stays, and fork-mounted rack and fender mounts.

Topstone Carbon models include Cannondale’s new connected technology, which seamlessly pairs an integrated wheel sensor (developed with Garmin) with the new Cannondale App to deliver highly accurate speed, route and distance information, along with curated information about the bike, service reminders and more, all through an iOS or Android smartphone.

2020 Topstone Carbon Models

For 2020, Cannondale will offer four Topstone Carbon models, each sharing the same Kingpin suspension-equipped BallisTec Carbon frame and fork. Models include:

Topstone Carbon Force eTap AXS – $6,500 MSRP (US Model Seen Above)

  • Drivetrain: SRAM Force eTap AXS, 2×12-speed
  • Brakes: SRAM Force HRD disc, 160mm Centerlock rotors
  • Wheels: HollowGram 22 w/22mm deep, 25mm wide (internal) carbon rims, butted straight-pull spokes and a DT-Swiss driver-equipped rear hub
  • HollowGram SAVE carbon handlebar and alloy stem
  • SAVE carbon seatpost
  • Fabric Scoop Shallow Race saddle w/Ti rails
  • WTB Riddler 700x37c TCS Light tires, tubeless-ready
  • Color: Acid Red
Cannondale Topstone Carbon Ultegra RX 2
Cannondale Topstone Ultegra RX

Topstone Carbon Ultegra RX – $4,000 MSRP (US)

  • Drivetrain: Shimano Ultegra/Ultegra RX, 2×11-speed
  • Brakes: Shimano Ultegra hydro disc, 160mm RT70 rotors
  • Wheels: HollowGram 22 w/22mm deep, 25mm wide (internal) carbon rims, butted straight-pull spokes and a DT-Swiss driver-equipped rear hub
  • SAVE carbon seatpost
  • Fabric Scoop Shallow Race saddle w/Ti rails
  • WTB Riddler 700x37c TCS Light tires, tubeless-ready
  • Color: Midnight
Cannondale Ultegra RX 2
Cannondale Topstone Ultegra RX 2 women’s model.

Topstone Carbon Ultegra RX 2 – $3,250 MSRP (US)

  • Drivetrain: Shimano Ultegra/Ultegra RX, 2×11-speed
  • Brakes: Shimano Ultegra hydro disc, 160mm RT54 rotors
  • Wheels: WTB KOM Light i23 TCS rims; Formula sealed-bearing hubs; 14g spokes
  • Fabric Scoop Radius Elite saddle w/cro-mo rails
  • WTB Riddler 700x37c TCS Light tires, tubeless-ready
  • Women’s model available
  • Color: Agave (unisex); Black Pearl (women’s)
Cannondale Ultegra RX 2 in Agave
Topstone Carbon Ultegra RX 2 in Agave
Topstone Carbon 105
Cannondale Topstone 105

Topstone Carbon 105 – $2,700 MSRP (US)

  • Drivetrain: Shimano 105, 2×11-speed
  • Brakes: Shimano 105 hydro disc, 160mm RT30 rotors
  • Wheels: WTB ST i23 TCS rims; Formula sealed-bearing hubs; 14g spokes
  • Fabric Scoop Shallow Sport saddle w/steel rails
  • WTB Riddler 700x37c TCS Light tires, tubeless-ready
Our Take

With the introduction of the Topstone Carbon, Cannondale has boldly announced its intent to be a major player in the world of gravel road cycling.

I’ve been fortunate to have received one of the first Topstone Carbon Force eTap AXS bikes in the country for testing on Riding Gravel. Look for the introduction to that test to come very soon, but my initial rides on the bike have been very encouraging. In fact, out of the box, it’s one of the lightest, most responsive and smooth-riding bikes I’ve ridden.

Soon, I’ll post more details about my initial impressions of the incredible new 2020 Topstone Carbon. In the meantime, head over to the Cannondale website to learn more or find your local dealer.

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5 Responses to Gravel Grinder News: Cannondale Goes Big With New Topstone Carbon

  1. Clayton June 20, 2019 at 10:19 am #

    I’m not a huge proponent of suspension for gravel, but that’s a personal preference. I do find it interesting though that they implemented it in the rear only, where the only times I’ve ever really thought suspension would be nice was when it was bumpy in the front end. I’m usually out of the saddle when it’s excessively bumpy otherwise.

  2. Matt June 20, 2019 at 10:49 am #

    A ShockStop stem (love mine) added to this bike might make it the ideal buzz kill gravel bike.

  3. Chris June 20, 2019 at 4:54 pm #

    Had hoped for a new 29er Slate with a tuned lefty Ocho…
    Suspension in the front is needed much more than in the back…

  4. Christian Warren June 23, 2019 at 11:15 am #

    Did Cannondale use BB30 press fit? My knees provide all the creaking I want to hear on a long ride.

  5. MG June 24, 2019 at 12:53 pm #

    @Christian Warren: Yes, it’s a press fit BB30 BB. It’s been silent for me so far…

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by Riding Gravel 2014