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Bike at Bedtime: Cannondale Topstone Carbon Lefty 1

Check out this fast gravel bike that offers suspension at the front and rear, and comes with plenty of fun built-in

Cannondale's Topstone Carbon Lefty 1 is a full suspension gravel bike with a single-legged fork. It’s one of the more mountain bike-ish gravel bikes out there in that it provides a ton of off-road capability, and it’s a whole lot of fun to ride.

2021 Cannondale Topstone Lefty 1 - full bike 5

Cannondale offers a whole range of Topstone gravel bikes, starting with the £1,050 Topstone 4 which is built around an aluminium frame and a carbon fork. The £7,500 Topstone Carbon Lefty 1 sits right at the top of the range.

Read our Cannondale Topstone Carbon Lefty 1 review 

2021 Cannondale Topstone Lefty 1 - seatstay pivot.jpg

The rear suspension is achieved through flex in the stays and a LockR pivot at the point where the seatstays and the seat tube meet. Cannondale claims the system offers up to 30mm of rear-wheel travel with the carbon layup providing the damping. Cannondale says that it is tuned to the frame size so that different riders get similar behaviour.

This might not the most advanced suspension design in the world – you don’t get a rear shock – but it is a lightweight solution and it provides plenty of comfort.

2021 Cannondale Topstone Lefty 1 - fork.jpg

The Lefty Oliver fork is designed especially for gravel riding and it also offers 30mm of travel. This is an air-sprung design and you can tune both the spring pressure and the rebound damping to get a setup that feels right for you. You can also stiffen it up (although not lock it out fully) out on the road.

When he reviewed this bike for road.cc, Dave Atkinson said, “The upshot of all the tech Cannondale has crammed into the Topstone is that it's a great bike to pilot over less technical stuff, and it's not compromised on the road either. Even though the approaches to suspension at the front and the rear are very different, the bike feels well balanced.”

This is a clever design but above all, it is a lot of fun. Cannondale's Topstone Carbon Lefty 1 is light and fast – you can keep up on the road, and shoot off on the gravel. The suspension is a real benefit for riding on mixed surfaces at speed, and everything works brilliantly.

2021 Cannondale Topstone Lefty 1 - rear mech.jpg

This high-end build features a wireless SRAM groupset: a mix of 12-speed X01 Eagle eTap AXS mountain bike equipment and Force AXS road shifters, and a 40t 1x chainset. With a 10-52t cassette, this bike has a massive gear range although, granted, the gaps between ratios are large. That 40 x 52 bottom gear is tiny!

2021 Cannondale Topstone Lefty 1 - rear disc.jpg

Most of us can’t run to this kind of money, but the mechanically-geared Topstone Carbon Lefty 3 is priced at £4,000. We realise that’s not the sort of cash you’ll find down the back of the sofa but it uses the same frame and fork as the Topstone Carbon Lefty 1 so you get most of the tech at little more than half the cost.

www.cannondale.com

Mat has been in cycling media since 1996, on titles including BikeRadar, Total Bike, Total Mountain Bike, What Mountain Bike and Mountain Biking UK, and he has been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. Mat has been road.cc technical editor for over a decade, testing bikes, fettling the latest kit, and trying out the most up-to-the-minute clothing. We send him off around the world to get all the news from launches and shows too. He has won his category in Ironman UK 70.3 and finished on the podium in both marathons he has run. Mat is a Cambridge graduate who did a post-grad in magazine journalism, and he is a winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer. Now over 50, he's riding road and gravel bikes most days for fun and fitness rather than training for competitions.

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10 comments

Avatar
Dogless | 2 years ago
1 like

I've got the non lefty version of this and I barely ride it as I prefer my 'fast bike'. Every time I do ride it, however, I'm reminded that it's not actually much slower on the road, is unbelievably smooth
and handles like a road bike, and goes like the clappers off road. When I first saw it I thought it looked a mess but I've come to like it; possibly swayed by just how fun it is to ride on and off road.

Avatar
OnYerBike | 2 years ago
2 likes

Your [engineers] were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn't stop to think if they should...

Avatar
Fluffed | 2 years ago
0 likes

Cannondale lumped up to 500 quid on top of their prices a few of months ago, no reason other than the demand for bikes went up so they could get away with it. Absolute bar stewards.

Avatar
Jensen replied to Fluffed | 2 years ago
1 like

I am so agree with you, the bike companys are become very very greedy for absolut nothing reason other than demand as you said...last year i got di2 upgrade kit for around 900£ today it will set me back 1200£

Avatar
jasecd replied to Fluffed | 2 years ago
6 likes

Absolutely outrageous. An increase in demand causing an increase in price - it's almost like it's a fundamental law of economics...

Avatar
Captain Badger replied to jasecd | 2 years ago
1 like
jasecd wrote:

Absolutely outrageous. An increase in demand causing an increase in price - it's almost like it's a fundamental law of economics...

Fundamental laws are usually associated with science. Economics cannot claim that standing.

Avatar
jasecd replied to Lance ꜱtrongarm | 2 years ago
2 likes

It's fundamental not absolute, in that it explains the behaviour of the vast majority of goods without excluding the extreme examples of Giffen and Veblen goods, of which a bicycle is neither.

Avatar
jasecd replied to Captain Badger | 2 years ago
2 likes

Fundamental meaning 'of central importance' - not sure this excludes the dismal science of economics.

Avatar
Simon E replied to Fluffed | 2 years ago
1 like
Fluffed wrote:

Cannondale lumped up to 500 quid on top of their prices a few of months ago, no reason other than the demand for bikes went up so they could get away with it. Absolute bar stewards.

Many other brands added at least 10% during 2020. They're all at it. Thieving bar stewards, how dare they make a profit!

But it wasn't so much demand but costs of production and shipping. Some of the factors have been discussed several times on this website and others.

Avatar
Secret_squirrel | 2 years ago
3 likes

I do like a bit of 'dale lefty action.  Imagining chain ganging with it.  
one of my favourite pastimes pre lockdown was finding the most roadiest roadie in a Cannondale dealers and asking if they had a Topstone to show me.  The pained expressions were delightful.

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