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2022 Cannondale Topstone 3 Alloy Review 

2022 Cannondale Topstone 3 Alloy Review

In this 2022 Cannondale Topstone 3 alloy review I’ll explain why you don’t need a carbon frame to be comfortable on gravel, but the carbon fork sure helps.

There are three color options for the Topstone 3 in 2022. The premium paint is Turquoise ($1,550) and will cost you an extra $50 over Black Cherry and Graphite ($1,500).

One feature of this bike that needs an upgrade before next year is the brakes. The bike comes with Promax mechanical disc brakes. They work, but there is less modulation in mechanical disc brakes than there is with hydraulic disc brakes. The upgrade costs are minimal, and its a noticeable change for riders of every skill level.

If you find the saddle to be uncomfortable, try a pair of Escape Quest cycling shorts from Pearl iZUMi. (Check Price on Amazon Here). I love them so much I wear them on my mountain bike too, but with a pair of gym shorts over them.

Aside from the mechanical disc brakes, not much else needs to change on the 2022 Cannondale Topstone 3. It’s ready to hit the trails straight off the showroom floor.

Is the Cannondale Topstone 3 Alloy Worth It?

With a price tag of $1,550 for an aluminum frame turquoise bike, many would-be gravel cyclists must stop and ask themselves if the Cannondale Topstone 3 is worth it? The short answer is, yes. The entry level price of a Topstone gravel bike with a carbon frame is $2,600. In addition to getting a carbon frame, your entire groupset is upgraded from Shimano Sora to Shimano GRX, but at a cost in excess of $1,000.

Shimano Sora is an entry level road group, but GRX 400 is also entry level for Shimano’s gravel specific groupset. The quality difference in terms of accuracy and reliability when shifting isn’t going to change a lot. The cheapest carbon Topstone is still a heavy bike, so there isn’t a big weight savings benefit either.

If you have the extra $1,000 to spend, and you want the most comfortable gravel bike your $2,600 can buy then the upgrade to carbon makes sense. For most cyclists, you won’t notice the $1,050 difference between the two bikes, making the Topstone 3 a much better value.

2022 Cannondale Topstone 3 Alloy Drivetrain

As I mentioned previously, the group on this bike is Shimano Sora. It’s durable and reliable, but can be a bit loud and clunky. The 2×9 drivetrain offers plenty of range with the 46/30 crank. (That’s 46 teeth on the large front cog and 30 teeth on the small front cog.). Meanwhile, the cassette is from Sunrace, and it is 11-34.

My biggest concern with the drivetrain is a lack of a clutch built in to the rear derailleur. Most gravel rides are bumpy and they can be unpredictable. Without a clutch it is possible to experience chain slippage. In other words, If the trail gets rough you may be walking your bike.

Cannondale Topstone 3 Alloy Overall Rating

The Topstone is my second favorite gravel bike in 2022, behind only Trek’s checkpoint, and slightly ahead of the Specialized Diverge. The carbon fork mixed with a lightweight aluminum frame almost makes the low-end carbon model seem obsolete. The only reason to upgrade beyond the Topstone 3 is to improve the groupseet.

Specifically, the Topstone 3 is still an entry level bike. It’s priced a little high considering you can get a Trek Domane AL 3 with a similar groupset and capable of holding 38c gravel tires for about $300 less. In that scenario you are getting a bike that is better equipped for handling paved portions of the trail too.

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1 thought on “2022 Cannondale Topstone 3 Alloy Review ”

  1. Thanks for the review. Felt better in going forward with my purchase of a Topstone 3…after having been out of any biking for more than a decade. Admittedly, I have some nostalgia for Cannondales. The first bike that I ever purchased as a young adult was a Cannondale M700 in 1993. Despite it basically being entry level mtb, I loved that bike! Felt bad ass to me.

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