How to Make a Gravel Bike More Comfortable
Many companies are turning to suspension to improve the comfort of gravel bikes. However, Cannondale’s engineers and product managers have found that it’s not as simple as just adding a shock or spring to the frame. In their quest to create the most comfortable and capable gravel bike, Cannondale tested various types of suspension and ultimately found that a simple solution was the best. This led to the creation of the new Topstone Carbon gravel bike featuring their innovative Kingpin suspension.
Introducing Kingpin Suspension
The Kingpin suspension is the first full frame leaf spring system. It utilizes a single pivot to provide up to 30mm of travel at the seat. While most of the travel is only felt when seated, the system offers a true 10-12mm of travel at the rear axle. The frame incorporates engineered flex zones in the chainstays, seat tube, and top tube, along with a LockR pivot at the seat tube/seat stay junction. The pivot uses sealed bearings, which require minimal maintenance and can be serviced if needed. Cannondale chose bearings over bushings for their known performance and serviceability.
The Benefits of Kingpin Suspension
Cannondale’s extensive testing with modified full suspension road bikes led them to believe that full suspension wasn’t the ideal solution. Instead, they found that the Kingpin system offers simplicity, lightweight design, optimal performance while seated, and an efficient ride when out of the saddle. Without a suspension fork, the bike maintains handling similar to a road bike with a rigid fork.
The Topstone Carbon frames weigh around 1200g for a medium frame, with minimal added weight from the tube shapes and additional hardware. Each frame size features its own tube cross sections and laminate designs to adjust stiffness and ride quality for riders of different sizes.
Geometry and Fit
The Topstone Carbon uses Cannondale’s Dialed Endurance Fit, which features a taller frame with a shorter reach. This results in the same stack and reach as the Cannondale Synapse. The bike is available in sizes XS – XL, with a ‘women’s’ model that has the same geometry but features shorter stems, narrower bars, and shorter cranks.
HollowGram SAVE Bar and Stem
The highest-end model of the Topstone Carbon features a new semi-integrated HollowGram SAVE alloy stem and SAVE Carbon bar, which allow for some adjustments to the bar’s pitch. The rest of the line uses a standard stem and bar with flared drops. The SAVE bar/stem combo also allows for different stem lengths or bar widths, although the current options are limited to 80-130mm for the stem. The integrated computer mount is compatible with Garmin or Wahoo computers and can be rotated to accommodate different head units.
Tire Clearance and Fenders
The Topstone Carbon ships with 700c x 37mm WTB Riddler TCS tubeless tires on 25mm internal width rims. However, the frame and fork have clearance for up to 700c x 40mm or 650b x 48mm tires. The bike also has room for fenders, with a removable fender bridge at the back. There are three bottle mounts on each frame, along with an accessory mount on the top tube for bags. The Topstone Carbon is also compatible with a front rack, which is a first for Cannondale road bikes.
The Topstone Carbon uses DirectLine internal cable routing, which makes maintenance easier with internal tube guides throughout the frame. The seat post has a standard 27.2mm diameter and uses an integrated seat collar hidden under the top tube. It can also accommodate a 27.2mm dropper seat post with internal cabling. The bike runs on 12 x 100mm and 12 x 142mm axles, with custom bolt-on Speed Release axles that allow for quick wheel removal. The Topstone Carbon is compatible with both 1x and 2x drivetrains in mechanical or electronic, and it features Flat Mount disc brakes with 160mm rotors. The bike uses Cannondale’s proprietary BB30-83 AI bottom bracket design, which allows for short chainstays and ample tire clearance.
Connected Bikes and Augmented Reality
All Topstone Carbon models come with a wheel sensor developed with Garmin, which provides accurate measurements of speed, distance, and other metrics when paired with the Cannondale App. The app also features a Tech X-Ray with Augmented Reality, allowing users to visualize torque values and cable routing through the frame. This feature could be a game changer for bicycle service and maintenance.