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Cannondale Topstone Review

Cannondale Topstone Review

There are ten different models of Cannondale Topstone available in 2022. In this Cannondale Topstone Review I give you a breakdown of the key differences between all ten models. This review includes only those models released for 2022. For example, the Cannondale Topstone 1 was released in 2021, but that model is not available for the 2022 model year and is not included below.

Gravel biking is the fastest growing discipline in cycling, so it’s not surprising to see bike manufacturers increase the number of models available, and provide big re-designs when releasing new models. The Topstone is no different. Cannondale released major upgrades and design changes on both alloy and carbon fiber models.

Pay attention to tire width because it varies greatly from the alloy Topstone 4 to the Carbon 1 Lefty. Links to detailed reviews of each individual model can be found below.

Cannondale Topstone Alloy Review

When you think about the perfect gravel bike it probably goes without saying you want a good value. Cannondale definitely cares about making bikes that are a good value, and its the reason Topstone 1 hasn’t been released for 2022. The bike had a slight upgrade from Shimano GRX 400 to GRX 800 compared to the Topstone 2, but with a $400 price increase. Upgrading from a Topstone 2 Alloy to a Topstone Carbon 6 is only $700. In short, the Topstone 1 no longer provides value thanks to the release of new alloy and carbon models.

Alloy Topstone 2 Review ($1,900)

This bike is the best value in the Topstone Alloy lineup. The Topstone 2 is equipped with a full Shimano GRX 400 groupset. The drivetrain and hydraulic disc brakes are both reliable and precise. It’s exactly what you would expect from Shimano.

The 2022 Cannondale Topstone 2 Alloy comes with WTB wheels and tires. The 700 x 37c WTB Riddler tires are decent, but I recommend the Maxxis Rambler when it’s time to upgrade. (Check Current Price on Amazon).

Overall, if you have a budget under $2,000 and you want the best gravel bike you can get, the Alloy Topstone 2 is an excellent choice. The groupset is made specifically for gravel riding, and the carbon fiber front fork dampens vibrations from bumpy gravel trails.

For a more detailed review, read 2022 Cannondale Topstone 2 Alloy Review.

Alloy Topstone 3 Review ($1,500)

The 2022 Cannondale Topstone 3 Alloy comes with a 2×9 drivetrain and Shimano Sora drivetrain. There is plenty of range on both ends of the gears. All of the Shimano groupsets work incredibly well, which makes this bike a great value with a starting price of $1,500.

The alloy version of the Topstone 3 comes with mechanical disc brakes. Mechanical disc brakes use a cable inside of a housing to cause the brake pads to squeeze your disc brake rotor. The cost to upgrade to hydraulic disc brakes is minimal, and with hydraulic disc brakes you get more brake modulation. You also get better, faster, and more reliable stopping power.

For a detailed review on the current version of the alloy 3 read; 2022 Cannondale Topstone 3 Alloy Review.

Alloy Topstone 4 Review ($1,350)

The Alloy Topstone 4 comes with a 1×10 drivetrain from microSHIFT. This is an upgrade over the 2×9 drivetrain on Topstone 3 Alloy. While some might argue less gears is never good on a road or gravel bike, the reality is even a 2×9 drivetrain has duplicate gearing. You also still get cross chaining which causes damage to your components and makes a lot of noise while riding.

This bike weighs 23.9 lbs, but according to Cannondale the weight varies in final production. This is due to supply chain issues causing bikes to get spec’d with alternative parts. I trust the good folks at Cannondale to only use high quality alternative parts, and understand they may weigh a few grams more or less than what was intended.

Overall, Topstone 4 Alloy is an entry level gravel bike with great features. The microSHIFT drivetrain is capable and a great value according to the overwhelming number of reviews.

To read about the best entry-level gravel bike in the lineup read; 2022 Cannondale Topstone 4 Alloy Review.

Cannondale Topstone Carbon Review

The top end alloy version of the Topstone costs $1,900 while the entry level carbon frame Topstone is $2,600. That’s an extremely fair price increase considering how much more carbon frames typically cost. Not to mention their are a few other upgrades on the carbon models.

Carbon 1 Lefty Review ($7,800)

Hands down, the most comfortable gravel bike on the market for 2022 is the Cannondale Carbon 1 Lefty. This is a full suspension gravel bike with a weight right at 20 points, and a price tag under $8,000. Yes, it is an expensive bike, but for cyclists that can afford it you are getting a comfortable bike without sacrificing speed.

In addition to the Kingpin rear suspension and 30mm travel Left fork, you get the latest technology with a SRAM Force eTap AXS groupset. Wireless electronic shifting is the future of cycling. Its faster, more reliable, more accurate and it is low maintenance. Charge your battery every few hundred miles and you’re good to go.

For a detailed review on this bike read, 2022 Cannondale Topstone Carbon 1 Lefty Review.

Carbon 1 RLE Review ($7,800)

The 2022 Topstone Carbon 1 RLE is the same bike as the Lefty, but it ditches the quirky suspension fork for a rigid carbon fork and a radar light system. This bike is equipped with Cannondale’s SmartSense, which got a bad wrap when it was initially released.

SmartSense is similar to a Garmin Varia radar tail light. The radar sends a message to your phone or cycling computer indicating where traffic is approaching from the rear. It’s a complete game changer in terms of rider safety. The system is lightweight and integrated. It’s an awesome feature for anyone that uses their bike to commute, too.

Learn more about the RLE in this 2022 Cannondale Topstone Carbon 1 RLE Review.

Carbon 2 L Review ($4,200)

A small step down from the Topstone 1 RLE, the 2 L comes with a GRX 800 groupset. The drivetrain is 2×11 offering tons of range to find the perfect cadence. You also get the 800 series hydraulic disc brakes. They offer loads of brake modulation, and have incredibly stopping power.

The Carbon 2 L is equipped with SmartSense integrated computer system. Don’t let the spec’s on this system fool you. The headlight is listed at 350 lumens, but it does an excellent job to brighten the trail. The battery lasts a long time. Depending on how and when you ride cyclists should only need to charge the system once every couple weeks for a daily rider.

To learn more about this bike and SmartSense, read 2022 Cannondale Topstone Carbon 2 L Review.

Carbon 2 Lefty Review ($4,200)

The Lefty Topstone models do not come with the integrated light and radar system, SmartSense. Instead, they get an upgrade to make this bike trail capable. The Lefty Oliver fork gives you 30mm of travel and doesn’t hurt you with a big weight penalty thanks to the quirky design.

Between the Lefty Oliver fork and Kingpin suspension you have a full suspension gravel bike. The left models are XC singletrack capable bikes. If that’s your primary source of trail I’d recommend getting an XC mountain bike, but for the occasional singletrack rider it’s nice to know one bike can do it all.

Read more about Kingpin and Lefty Oliver forks in my 2022 Cannondale Topstone Carbon 2 Lefty Review.

Carbon 3 Review ($3,000)

There is no doubt about it, the best value in mid-range gravel bikes amongst the Topstone lineup is the Carbon 3. This bike comes with a 2×11 Shimano GRX 800 drivetrain. They hydraulic disc brakes are GRX 600 series and provide more brake modulation than the competition.

The bike weighs in at 23.3 lbs. It is heavy for a bike in this price range, but what you sacrifice in weight you gain in comfort. The weight won’t be noticeable on the flats, but if you do a lot of climbing this will not be the bike for you.

For an in-depth review of the Carbon 3 read: 2022 Cannondale Topstone Carbon 3 Review.

Carbon 4 Review ($2,800)

There is no correlation between the model number of Cannondale’s Topstone when comparing the Alloy and Carbon models. For example, the Carbon 4 is not the same bike as the Alloy 4 sans the different frame material. In fact, the Carbon 4 has many more upgrades than just frame material.

With the Cannondale Topstone Carbon 4 you get a GRX 400 groupset, and Kingpin rear suspension. This is the best value carbon gravel bike priced under $3,000. The Kingpin suspension provides 30mm of rear travel on bumpy trails, but stays stiff and efficient on the smooth stuff.

For a detailed review on this bike, read 2022 Cannondale Topstone Carbon 4 Review.

Carbon 6 Review ($2,600)

This bike has a low price barrier for any cyclist looking for a carbon frame gravel bike. It’s rare to find a quality bike with a carbon frame below $3,000, and Cannondale has TWO of them!

The drivetrain on the 2022 Cannondale Topstone 6 Carbon is a 2×10 by Shimano GRX 400. The GRX lineup is Shimano’s gravel specific groupset. The spec’s are very comparable to Shimano’s 105 road group. It’s smooth and reliable shifting, plus you get a clutch to keep the chain tight on the bumpy stuff.

Overall, the carbon 6 is the best value Topstone in the lineup. For a detailed review of this bike, read 2022 Cannondale Topstone Carbon 6 Review.

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