Cannondale is the sort of team that doesn’t really need an intro. Heck, they’ve been a recognized name since before I was born. In 1971, when the company first saw its start, the main goal was to break away from the unconventional norms and cut a new path in bicycle design. About 50 years later, this team is on the same mission, and the Topstone series showcases these beliefs.
The idea of putting a suspension on a gravel bike is not a new one, but it can be tricky; don’t worry, I’ll address that issue shortly. The first thing you can look at is the frame. Why? Well, it’s the base for everything else. In the case of the e-bike, that frame must receive even greater attention due to added component weight and design.
For the Carbon Lefty 1, the infamous crew chose to sculpt their idea using BallisTec carbon fiber, Cannondale’s most innovative and strongest carbon. As they name would imply, we’re talking ballistic grade goods that has been designed using the “most” advanced engineering around. At least that’s how this team considers it. Personally, I don’t doubt it; just look at what they can do.
Now, gravel bikes are exposed to terrain rougher than city streets, but people equipped road and gravel bikes similarly until a few years ago. Nowadays, a suspension is in order, usually on the front fork. Here, you’ll find an oddball that seems to be more and more popular, a lefty fork. This one is a Lefty Oliver Carbon with 30 mm (1.18 in) of travel, Chamber Damper with All-Over tune, and ISO High-Ride air spring. You can do what you want with it.
Besides the tires, another suspension system has been added, as the rear of the Lefty 1 includes a Kingpin suspension. To get a clear picture of what Kingpin is, imagine a rear suspension based on linkage but without said linkage or shock. Here too, you’re looking at 30 mm (1.18 in) of travel. It may not sound like much, but on gravel, it’ll do just fine. If you want more travel than this, maybe you’re in the wrong game and should check out any of the e-MTBs on our site. The trick is not losing traction and energy due to this attenuation of shocks and vibrations.
Finally, we get to the electronic drive unit, an increasingly popular component nowadays. A Bosch Performance Line Speed runs under 250 watts and has enough power to assist you all the way up to 28 mph (45 kph). That will work for you on nearly anything except a downhill cruise. The juice will be coming out of a 500-watt-hour Bosch PowerTube hidden beautifully in the down tube. How far you’ll be able to ride with this setup is hard to say and depends on the sort of terrain you decide to tackle today. However, the manufacturer’s website shows a limit up to 78 miles (125 kilometers).
When it comes to the drivetrain, Cannondale chose to go for an SRAM 12-speed setup. It includes an X01 Eagle chain, XG-1275 GX Eagle cogs, X01 Eagle eTap AXS rear derailleur, and of course, Force eTap AXS HRD shifters to send a wireless signal to that derailleur. What else would you like?
Other components include a Cannondale3 butted alloy handlebar, Promax carbon seat post, and alloy stem, all adding just a bit of weight to an already lightweight build. Oh, and there’s a fender bridge available as well, in case you need it.
Personally, I can’t wait to get some cash to go pick one of these puppies up. How much money I’ll need is hard to say as I’ll have to use a middleman (dealership), and that always means a little extra. Depending on which Topstone you grab from the new lineup, prepare to pay as much as $10,000 or more. I guess I’ll only test ride this one.