Cannondale Topstone gravel bike goes ‘full suspension’ with Lefty fork

The brand is also debuting an electric version of the Topstone Lefty

As if the lines between gravel and mountain biking weren’t blurred enough, Cannondale has announced a new ‘full suspension’ Topstone Carbon Lefty and Topstone Carbon Neo Lefty e-bike.

Promising best of all worlds, the new bikes look to push gravel into murkier waters still. Buckle up for what could become a bumpy ride!

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Cannondale Topstone Carbon Lefty need to know:

  • Updated Topstone now with full suspension
  • Lefty Oliver fork comes to gravel
  • Kingpin Suspension
  • 650b wheels

We’ll start with the analog version which is the Cannondale Topstone Carbon Lefty. The original Topstone was launched featuring ‘KingPin suspension’. In essence it’s a thru-axle pivot that sits at the seat tube/seat stay junction that allows 30mm of flex through the frame. This is now partnered to a Lefty Oliver fork at the front end, allowing Cannondale to proudly term the bike a full suspension rig – albeit one with a lot less travel than the full sus bikes our mountain bike brethren ride.

Cannondale’s KingPin suspension provides 30mm of travel at the rear

Those with a knowledge of Cannondale’s mountain biking past will recognise the term Lefty. The brand has long specced single-sided forks on its XC bikes. Most recently this has been in the form of a Lefty Ocho (recently specced on its newly launched Scalpel models).

>>> Why are road cyclists riding gravel bikes when hardtails could be faster?

However, those who were into gravel before it was cool will recognise the Lefty Oliver as the fork that was originally specced on the Cannondale Slate back when it was simply called “new road”. Just like back then, the Oliver Fork delivers 30mm of suspension through a single-sided air spring, which is now tuneable using a volume spacer.

The Lefty Oliver fork

While its primary job is bump smoothing, clearly a gravel fork must also work to be as efficient as possible – after all road and climbing make up significant parts of many gravel rides. For this reason Cannondale has endowed the Oliver fork with a new All-Over damper to minimise bobbing or diving when working hard out of the saddle. Compared to the original Oliver, this new damper is able to provide 60% more rebound. For riding on the road it also features a lockout control as well as a handy blow off circuit should you forget to ‘unlock’ before diving into the rough stuff.

Cannondale Topstone lefty

All of this technical goodness lives inside a carbon chassis that Cannondale claims to weigh 1340g. It features a tapered steerer tube and can accommodate at its widest a 47mm tyre on a 650b rim or a 45mm tyres on a 700c wheel.

While the more bolshy Carbon Lefty models come with 650b wheels, there is a 700c equipped model that ships with a normal rigid fork. Either way, all the models use Cannondale’s Ballistec carbon fibre and each size has a specific layup depending on size, ensuring, Cannondale say, an equal feel across all bikes. Without this approach, size smalls or extra large bikes can be particularly harsh or suffer from increase flex.

Cannondale Topstone lefty

The bikes can accommodate a 27.2mm dropper post although it’s notably that the top end model doesn’t ship with one, unlike the S-Works Diverge model launched recently. Unlike the Diverge, the updated Carbon Topstone models don’t come with sweeping changes to the bike’s geometries. Comparing geometry sheets, the new Diverge and the Topstone sit in pretty much the same camp with only very minor differences here or there.

Cannondale Topstone Carbon Neo Lefty

Cannondale Topstone lefty

Topstone Neo Carbon 1 Lefty Spd

Cannondale has also released a electric version of the bike which uses a Bosch motor system to create what it calls “go anywhere, do anything bikes”. Much like the Specialized Turbo Creo Evo SL, the Cannondale uses a 250w motor, although its Bosch Performance CX drive system uses a 500Wh battery in comparison to Specialied’s 320Wh. Cannondale claim the bike will have a range of up to 127km.

>>> Best electric bikes

The Bosch Performance CX system is usually found on eMTBs (although it is also used on Trek’s Domane+ bike), and for 2020 has gone on a diet, now coming in 50 per cent smaller than the previous model. It’s also claiming to be smoother above the 25km/h limit as well as quieter, too. The battery is housed in the bike’s down tube

Cannondale Topstone lefty

The Bosch battery and motor sit in the bottom bracket and in the down tube

The bike will be available in two configurations – a 700c version that uses a rigid fork and a 650b wheel versions using the Lefty Oliver fork.

In total there will be four models, two with a Lefty fork and two with a rigid one. Prices start at £3999 for a Topstone Neo Carbon 4 equipped with a Shimano GRX equipped bike and top out at £7999 for a Topstone Neo Carbon 1 Lefty which comes with a SRAM Eagle eTap AXS bits. In the middle sit a GRX 800 equipped bike at £5499 and a GRX 600 equipped bike with a Lefty fork for £4999.


Cannondale Topstone Carbon: Our view

It’s clear that what people are doing on gravel bikes is changing. The new Topstone Carbon Lefty takes the genre a long way from pootling along bridleways or the sides of canals, or from the days when a gravel bike was a cross bike but with a more relaxed geometry. Its clear that this is a bike designed to tackle challenging trails.

We said at the launch of Specialized Creo Evo SL that electric bikes were going to change gravel by making technical climbs fun and opening up the possibility of massive all day adventures – and it looks like Cannondale has thought the same.

Only a couple of these bikes have made it to the UK so far, and Cycling Weekly has one of them – so we’ll be bringing you our first ride impressions soon.


Models and prices

Cannondale Topstone Carbon Lefty 1 £6599

Cannondale Topstone lefty

  • BallisTec Carbon Frame, Kingpin suspension system frame, 12×142 Speed Release thru-axle, dropper post compatible, direct line cable routing
  • Lefty Oliver Carbon, 30mm travel fork
  • Cannondale Hollowgram 23 superlight hi-impact carbon tubeless wheels
  • WTB Venture TCs Light 650 x 47c front, WTB Byway TCS Light 650 x 47c rear tyres
  • SRAM Force AXS shifters, 40t chainring, Eagle X01 rear mech and 10-50 cassette, Shimano GRX400 brakes

Cannondale Topstone Carbon Lefty 3 £3399

Cannondale Topstone lefty

  • Ballistec carbon with Kingpin suspension frame
  • Lefty Oliver 30mm travel fork
  • WTB ST i23 TCS on Lefty 50 hub front and Formula DHT-142 rear wheels
  • WTB Venture TCs Light 650 x 47c front, WTB Byway TCS Light 650 x 47c rear tyres
  • Shimano GRX812/GRX600, 40t chainring, 11-42 cassette, Shimano GRX400 brakes
  • Also available in blue with narrow handlebars and women’s saddle

Cannondale Topstone Neo Carbon 1 Lefty £7999

Cannondale Topstone lefty

  • Ballistec carbon with Kingpin suspension frame, 12 x 148 thru-axle, removable down tube battery
  • Lefty Oliver carbon 30mm travel fork
  • Bosch Performance Line CX 250w with Bosch Powertube 500x battery and Bosch Kiox display
  • WTB ST i25 TCS wheels, Formula hubs
  • WTB Resolute 650b x 42c tyres
  • SRAM Force AXS shifters with SRAM Eagle XO mech, 44t chainring, 10-50 cassettee, SRAM Force brakes

Cannondale Neo Carbon 2 £5499

Cannondale Topstone lefty

  • Ballistec carbon frame with Kingpin suspension, 12 x 148 thru-axle, removable down tube battery
  • Ballistec carbon fork, 12 x 110mm
  • Bosch Performance Line CX 250w with Bosch Powertube 500x battery and Bosch Kiox display
  • WTB KOM Light i23 TCS wheels on Formula hubs
  • WTB Riddler TCS Light 700 x 37c tyes
  • Shimano GRX 800, 48/32 chainrings, 11-34 cassette with Shimano GRX brakes

Cannondale Topstone Neo Carbon 3 Lefty £4999

Cannondale Topstone lefty

  • Frame: Ballistec carbon with Kingpin suspension, 12 x 148 thru-axle, removable down tube battery
  • Fork: Lefty Oliver 30mm travel
  • Bosch Performance Line CX 250w with Bosch Powertube 500x battery and Bosch Purion display
  • WTB ST TCS i23 650b rims on Formula hubs
  • WTB Resolute 650b x 42c tubeless-ready tyres
  • Shimano GRX600/812, 42t chainring, 11-42 cassette, Shimano GRX brakes

Cannondale Topstone Neo Carbon 4 £3999

  • Ballistec carbon frame with Kingpin suspension, 12 x 148 thru-axle, removable down tube battery
  • Ballistec carbon, 12 x 110mm fork
  • Bosch Performance Line CX 250w with Bosch Powertube 500x and Bosch Purion display
  • WTB ST TCS i23 on Formula front and Shimano rear hubs
  • WTB Riddler Comp 700 x 37c tyres
  • Shimano GRX 400, 48/32 chainrings, 11-34 cassette and Shimano GRX brakes