Cannondale Topstone Lefty 3 overview
- Fork is great
- Balanced and responsive dealing with
- Lefty hub limits wheel selection
- Would really like extra clearance
Worth as reviewed:
Gravel bikes are a rising class. The primary era, led by the Salsa Warbird and the Open Up had been centered on vast tyres and—in the case of the Open, glorious carbon layup—to soak up vibration. As soon as these bikes received within the palms of hundreds of riders, a few of them discovered themselves tempted to push the bounds of what was enjoyable, or snug, on inflexible bikes. Different individuals felt it essential to take those self same bikes and conduct what amounted to actually lengthy street races on much less beneficial surfaces. A motorcycle which is enjoyable for the latter will probably be petrifying for the previous, and a motorcycle designed to trip drops and rock gardens isn’t going to win gravel races like The Rift, which traverses the lava fields in Iceland.
Cannondale, seeing the extent of variation within the gravel market, has diversified its gravel line to supply one thing for everybody.
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The Cannondale Topstone Carbon Lefty 3 leans way more in the direction of the “enjoyable” finish of the gravel spectrum than the “quick” finish. In the event you’re a rider more likely to try the type of ‘gravel’ that borders into mountain biking territory, it might be your good friend.
With 650b wheels, 47mm tyres, and the very distinctive Lefty Oliver fork, this bike wouldn’t look misplaced on a cross nation path had been it not for the drop bars. In truth, even with the “street” bars I used to be in a position to sort out some fairly technical stuff on the Topstone with out the worry of doing untold orthodontic harm that comes with driving technical trails on some gravel bikes.
The plain innovation right here is the fork. Sure, it solely has one blade, or maybe it must be “tine”? You’ll have loads of time to ponder nomenclature on lengthy rides on the Topstone, however you’ll in all probability quickly overlook in regards to the fork. It doesn’t wallow or weave or weigh a ridiculous quantity like another gravel suspension designs. It’s supple and responsive and actually does make driving trails extra enjoyable.
The now twin method is a winner with me. The earlier inflexible fronted Topstone fashions had felt a bit disjointed to me, the compliant “kingpin” within the rear – which additionally provides 30mm of suspension with out including the heft of a shock – took the thrill out of trails however the inflexible fork didn’t. This distinction was so pronounced that I requested Cannondale if I may match a lefty fork to the Topstone in an effort to race Leadville Path 100 (a comparatively non-technical mountain bike race). After all, I used to be advised to attend. The Lefty fork that’s now specced as normal provides 30mm of journey, a bit lower than I might need for Leadville, however sufficient to make path driving extra enjoyable with out sacrificing a lot in the way in which of on-road effectivity.
In its new full-suspension guise, the entrance of the Cannondale Topstone Lefty felt grippy and planted in corners.
Wanting on the again finish, the brief chainstays (415mm chainstays on the Topstone are 15-20mm shorter than most competing gravel bikes) give the Topstone very responsive dealing with. It’s price nothing that the kingpin rear finish does scale back seat put up adjustability, so if you happen to are inclined to have a low saddle peak to your body dimension you’ll want to verify you may get your seatpost in far sufficient and that the Kingpin pivot doesn’t cease it from dropping to your required peak. On my check bike I used a hacksaw to chop down the equipped put up a little bit.
The WTB Enterprise/Byway 47mm tyre combo is a superb selection for this bike, they give the impression of being nice and hook up properly in most off-road circumstances. Nevertheless, I’d wish to see the Topstone leaving area for extra rubber. A 700×40 rear wheel/tyre that I attempted left little or no room for mud clearance and would in all probability have run into points on a muddy day. I’d counsel sticking with 650s for something over 37mm.
While the specced tyres suited most of my rides, if you’re investing in a twin suspension gravel bike and planning to hit some rocky trails, 700×45 or 650×47 may not be sufficient. I’d wish to see Cannondale make this much more “social gathering trip” succesful and let it run a few of WTB’s glorious 50mm tyres.
The WTB ST i23 TCS rims with System rear hub and Cannondale’s personal Lefty entrance hub carried out properly sufficient. Nevertheless, if you happen to’re in search of efficiency, I’d in all probability improve the wheels. Given the Lefty hub this might be fairly a mission, limiting you to Cannondale’s (very succesful) in home choices or a customized construct.
With that stated, this bike is a whole lot of enjoyable. I’ve been driving it off, into, and over issues this summer time and it by no means fails to place a smile on my face. There are many braze ons for mudguards and storage. The bike is dropper put up prepared and comes with a 1x GRX groupset that would simply be switched for a PRO dropper with left lever actuation. As quickly as pandemic inventory permits, I will probably be becoming one.
The GRX shifting and braking are impeccable as all the time. Mixed with a comfortable Cloth saddle the general spec of this bike is rather well thought out by somebody who clearly likes to trip and never simply have a look at a spreadsheet all day. The velocity launch rear axle makes taking the rear wheel off simple and the instrument free entrance wheel launch can be intuitive and easy, though you possibly can change a tube on the Lefty with the wheel on which is a novel expertise and makes your first trailside restore a bit much less garbage.
if you happen to’re trying to get a motorcycle which is able to open up new trails to you, the Topstone Lefty is it. There’s a good vary of fashions and specs out there and as all the time Cannondale ship nice worth for cash. The bike is properly thought out and nothing on it screams of nook reducing to satisfy a funds. The fork would possibly appear to be an enormous subject but it surely’ll simply make nearly each trip extra enjoyable. You would possibly attain down a few times a trip to lock it out for lengthy street sections, however if you wish to trip predominantly lengthy street part’s you’d be higher served by Cannondales glorious Tremendous X. Total, I believe it is a bike that would get mountain bikers to look once more at gravel bikes and roadies to do not forget that bikes are at first for having enjoyable.
Body: BallisTec Carbon Body, Kingpin suspension system, 12×142 Pace Launch Through-axle, dropper put up suitable, direct line cable routing
Fork: Lefty Oliver, 30mm journey, Chamber Damper w/ All-Over tune, ISO Excessive-Trip air spring, tapered steerer, 650b, 55mm offset
Groupset: Shimano GRX 800/600 Broad, 40T, 11-42
Seatpost: Cannondale 2, UD Carbon, 27.2 x 350mm
Wheels: System rear hub , Lefty particular entrance hub, WTB i23 tubeless prepared rims
Tyres: WTB Enterprise TCS Gentle, 650 x 47c, tubeless prepared / WTB Byway TCS Gentle, 650 x 47c, tubeless prepared
Handlebar: Cannondale 3, butted 6061 alloy, 16 deg flare drop
Weight: 10.6 kg (Dimension XL)