With gravel bikes becoming more and more popular as their innate versatility is well-enjoyed, the Cannondale Topstone rides are perfect for all-day adventures with their sturdy build and adaptable nature.
Modern design elements draw a professional and attractive picture which is sure to stand the test of time. Multiple mounting positions for water bottles and a top tube frame bag offers plenty of room for light cargo and the bike is ready to accept a dropper post and fenders.
There are two Topstone offerings, one which uses a set of Shimano Sora parts and the other with a nicer group of Shimano 105 pieces. Only the Topstone 105 has a model tailored specifically for women:
|Womens available?||Groupset||Frame material||Fork material||Brake type|
|Topstone Sora||No||Shimano Claris||Aluminum||Carbon||Mechanical Disc|
|Topstone 105||Yes||Shimano Sora||Aluminum||Carbon||Hydraulic Disc|
Built with the same SmartForm C2 aluminum alloy frame, the Topstone rides are expectedly light and durable. Able to handle most any abuse you can throw at them, they fulfill their role well as the building block for the entire bike.
|Topstone Sora||SmartForm C2 Alloy, 142×12 thru-axle, tapered headtube, flat mount disc, StraightShot internal cable routing, multiple gear/bottle mounts||Full Carbon, 1-1/8″ to 1-1/4″ steerer, 55mm OutFront offset, flat mount disc, internal routing, 12×100 thru axle|
|Topstone 105||SmartForm C2 Alloy, 142×12 thru-axle, tapered headtube, flat mount disc, StraightShot internal cable routing, multiple gear/bottle mounts||Full Carbon, 1-1/8″ to 1-1/4″ steerer, 55mm OutFront offset, flat mount disc, internal routing, 12×100 thru axle|
The front fork on both bikes are entirely made of carbon fiber, offering lighter steering and better vibration dampening than an aluminum equivalent. This difference is especially noticeable during long stretches on any surface which isn’t a smooth roadway.
There are no differences in terms of geometry or anything else frame related between the two models, and we can confidently say that Cannondale did a great job at creating a hardy and comfortable bike.
The distinguishing factor between the two, each of the bikes features a markedly different set of components.
The Topstone Sora uses a set of Shimano Sora pieces geared to 18 speeds which offers plenty of versatility. Mated with a set of mechanical disc brakes, the overall performance is certainly great, however not quite on the level as the other option.
The Topstone 105 outfitted with the Shimano 105 drivetrain is notably better in terms of power delivery, shifting, and offers 22 speeds to choose from. The 105 hydraulic disc brakes offer significantly improved stopping power and overall the performance between the two rides is quite noticeable.
|Topstone Sora||Topstone 105|
|Shifters||Shimano Sora, 2×9||Shimano 105 hydro disc, 2×11|
|Front Derailleur||Shimano Sora, 31.8 clamp||Shimano 105, 31.8 clamp|
|Rear Derailleur||Shimano Sora||Shimano 105 GS|
|Crankset||FSA Tempo Adventure, 46/30||FSA Omega ME alloy, 46/30|
|Brakes||Promax Decoder R cable actuated disc, 160/160mm||Shimano 105 hydro disc, 160/160mm RT56 rotors|
|Cassette||Sunrace, 11-34, 9-speed||Shimano 105, 11-34, 11-speed|
|Chain||KMC Z9, 9-speed||KMC X11, 11-speed|
While the Topstone Sora is certainly no slouch, the 105 is much better suited to performance-based activity and definitely the better pick if fond of pushing the pace harder than usual.
Built strong enough to resist damage from gravel-bike related riding, the 28-spoke rims found on both have great weight capacity and resilience against most abuses.
|Topstone Sora||RD 2.0, 28h||WTB Riddler Comp, 700 x 37c|
|Topstone 105||WTB ST i23 TCS, 28h, tubeless ready||WTB Riddler TCS Light, 700 x 37c, tubeless ready|
The Topstone Sora uses set standard tubed wheels/tires with WTB Riddler Comp as the rubber. A fine set of tires for both disciplines of riding, they roll quick and sport great traction for all-conditions riding.
Another area of improvement, the Topstone 105 opts for tubeless-ready WTB ST i23 wheels which improves reliability and reduces weight over tires with tubes. WTB Riddler TCS light tires with 37mm of width offer great grip on both pavement and dirt pathways while offering a low rolling resistance.
Overall, we much prefer tubeless tires for the reduced weight and improved reliability, however, they’re not an absolute necessity and traditional tubed tires are perfectly fine if performance isn’t at the forefront of your focus.
As gravel bikes should be, you’re put in a semi-aggressive riding posture which helps greatly with aerodynamics without being uncomfortable by any means. 16° flare on the drop handlebars helps with handling off-road and a generally great all-round choice.
The seats chosen are perfectly fine and it’s tough to recommend one over the other as everyone is different. We can’t see one needing to replace the saddle regardless and overall, the Topstone series are perfectly comfortable for a full day of rough riding.
|Topstone Sora||Cannondale Stage Ergo||Cannondale 3, butted 6061 Alloy, 16 deg flare drop||N/A|
|Topstone 105||Fabric Scoop Radius Sport, steel rails||Cannondale 3, butted 6061 alloy, 16 deg flare drop||N/A|
The versatility you can enjoy with the numerous mounting positions is really where ergonomics can improve as you’re able to toss on a bag, fenders, or frame mounts to help with carrying cargo.