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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.