With the Cannondale Topstone Neo Carbon Lefty LE, an E-gravel bike seems to have smuggled itself into the ranks of the test and approaches urban mobility from a more leisure-oriented perspective. Can this bike with its drop bars, high-tech components and concentrated Bosch E-power surprise us during the test?
Get an overview of the grouptest here: The best ebike of 2021 – The 19 most exciting concepts for everyday use
Has someone got lost in this group test? What is an E-gravel bike with a drop bar doing in a test of the best commuter bikes? There’s no doubt that the Cannondale Topstone Neo Carbon Lefty LE is a unique bike and stands out from the rest of the field immediately. That said, Cannondale have another high-tech bike in their portfolio, the Mavaro Neo, which would have seemed to suit this test better. Nonetheless, we were keen to see how an E-gravel bike would perform in the commuting everyday and whether it could be a serious alternative for anyone who sometimes likes to ride off-road during their commute. Who says that no one wants to cruise to work with motor support, only to let it rip on the way home across local forest paths and gravel motorways?
Cannondale Topstone Neo Carbon Lefty LE spec in detail
The biggest distinguishing factor of the Topstone in this group test is its drop bar, which can be both a curse and blessing. The bar provides more hand positions, increasing long-distance comfort. However, if you’re not used to road bars, using them will be about as intuitive as an iPhone 12 Pro is for a 93-year-old, requiring you to relearn things as simple as braking and shifting. Alongside the bars, the one-sided Lefty Oliver suspension fork and the KingPin suspension at the rear are also polarising. If you’re on the hunt for a packhorse, you’ll be disappointed with this E-gravel bike. Apart from two bottle cages, the frameset isn’t compatible with racks, bags or mudguards. Technologically, the Cannondale Topstone Neo Carbon is a step ahead of most of the other bikes in the test, leaving some of them in the stone age.
The Topstone Neo is THE bike for tech fans. Wireless shifting? Check. Integrated navigation with the Nyon display? Check. Warnings about impending service intervals? Check again!
Alongside the electronic, Bluetooth controlled SRAM AXS groupset, which can be tuned to suit your shifting preferences via an app, the Bosch Nyon display and Cannondale speed sensor constitute further high-tech parts for navigation, tracking, indication of service intervals and much more. Solely the spoke magnet feels a little dated amongst this backdrop. If you’re addicted to tech, you’ll love this bike and should snap it up quickly: the Topstone Neo Carbon Lefty LE we tested is number 22 of just 100 models, weighs 17.50 kg and can be yours for € 10,000!
Cannondale Topstone Neo Carbon Lefty LE
Motor Bosch Performance Line CX 85 Nm
Battery Bosch PowerTube 500 Wh
Display Bosch Nyon
Fork Lefty Oliver Carbon 30 mm
Seatpost Promax SP-9032E, Carbon 27.2 mm mm mm
Brakes SRAM Force AXS 160/160 mm
Drivetrain SRAM X01/GX 1x12
Stem Cannondale mm
Handlebar Cannondale 3 420 mm
Wheelset WTB ST i25 TCS / mm
Tires WTB Resolute 650 x 42B
Size S M L XL
Weight 17.5 kg
KingPin suspension system
Lefty Oliver fork
Bosch Nyon display
|Seat tube||410 mm||440 mm||500 mm||550 mm|
|Top tube||534 mm||552 mm||569 mm||586 mm|
|Head tube||127 mm||158 mm||195 mm||229 mm|
|Chainstays||420 mm||420 mm||420 mm||420 mm|
|BB Drop||64 mm||61 mm||61 mm||59 mm|
|Wheelbase||1,018 mm||1,038 mm||1,057 mm||1,076 mm|
|Reach||377 mm||387 mm||394 mm||402 mm|
|Stack||549 mm||575 mm||610 mm||640 mm|
The motor system of the Cannondale Topstone Neo Carbon Lefty LE: More isn’t possible
Cannondale furnish the Topstone Neo with the latest Bosch Performance CX motor which delivers 85 Nm torque, complementing it with the brilliant Nyon display. In comparison to the older Intuvia or Kiox display of many other Bosch bikes, only the Moustache Samedi 27 Xroad FS 7 and the Riese & Müller Homage GT Rohloff HS also come with Nyon displays. Alongside its navigation features, the Bosch Nyon clearly shows all riding data, is well-positioned on the bars, brilliantly integrated into the Bosch ecosystem as well as offering connectivity with third-party services like Komoot. Much more isn’t possible! Unfortunately, the motor’s dynamic eMTB mode isn’t installed as standard, though this can be done with an update at your Bosch dealer. The control for the display and motor isn’t particularly cleverly positioned, only accessible when you’re on the tops of the bars where you’re left with your hands off the brakes. There are better concepts out there in the E-road bike sector.
The 500 Wh battery of the Topstone can be charged either in the bike or externally, being removable from the top of the down tube. Accelerating, the Bosch Performance Line CX motor is extremely powerful and crowns the Cannondale Topstone Neo as the traffic light rocket of the test field. Any vehicle will look twice when they see the neat Supernova rear light of your E-gravel bike shooting off into the distance! However, you’ll be looking for a front light on the Cannondale Topstone Neo in vain. The bike delivers power consistently and quickly reaches 25 km/h. However, riding at the assistance limit, the transition to non-supported riding is noticeable, meaning that the Cannondale won’t be the first choice for those who tend to cruise between 23 and 27 km/h. On steep slopes, you can reach your destination without breaking a sweat, allowing the motor to shuttle you up. When the motor disengages, there’s no additional pedalling resistance.
Before the car next to you even thinks about accelerating, you’ll already be out of sight. The acceleration of the Cannondale Topstone Neo is brutal!
Cannondale Topstone Neo Carbon Lefty LE on test
The Cannondale Topstone Neo Carbon Left LE convinces immediately with a comparatively high level of comfort. The Lefty Oliver suspension fork might be on the stiffer side but it takes the sting out of kerbs, potholes and other challenges to your wrists effectively. If you like to ride demanding loops and brave the occasional detour onto rougher terrain, you’ll benefit from the expanded range of applications over gravel, roots and bumps. However, in comparison to the Specialized Vado SL, which is equipped with the Future Shock system, it draws the short straw in the comfort battle up front. The riding position is decidedly sporty, so if you start commuting without any acclimatisation, you might not manage long distances to work immediately. Similarly, the drop bars require some assimilation to allow you to have proper fun aboard the Cannondale Topstone Neo. That leaves it designated as the least beginner-friendly bike in the test!
So who would seriously consider buying the Cannondale Topstone Neo as a commuter bike? As we thought at the beginning, the E-gravel bike represents a sensible alternative for anyone who doesn’t want to work hard in the morning but wants to fly through the forest with a grin on their face on the way home. Not just the exposed riding position but also the lack of mudguards means you’ll have to take a change of clothes. While you’ll be able to save yourself a shower thanks to the motor power, you should definitely have toothpaste ready to brush away the dirt that gets stuck in your teeth during your constant grin while riding over hill and dale ;). Gravel newbies who have got used to the cockpit ergonomics will be pleased by the stable handling and the ability to be able to ride away from boring asphalt pistes into new terrain – every day and on the weekend!
Tuning tips: front light for commuting | frame bag for a minimum of transportation options
Cannondale Topstone Neo Carbon Lefty LE conclusion
The Cannondale Topstone Neo Lefty LE isn’t an everyday ebike for Jane Bloggs or John Doe. That’s quickly clear due to the drop bar, lack of mudguards, front light or sensible luggage option. However, if you enjoy high-tech and want to discover new paths on your daily route to work, you’re in exactly the right place with this E-gravel bike and will be pleased by a high level of comfort, various connectivity features and a powerful motor.
- innovative in its segment and beyond
- high-tech and high-spec
- off-road capabilities
- lots of fun for tech-fans with riding experience
- comparatively high level of comfort
- connectivity of drivetrain, sensor and Nyon display
- very limited luggage carrying options
- not intuitive due to road bars
- narrow range of applications
- limited everyday practicality without mudguards, stand or front light
You can find out more about at cannondale.com
Get an overview of the grouptest here: The best ebike of 2021 – The 19 most exciting concepts for everyday use
All Bikes in this group test: Ampler Stout (Click for review) | Brompton M6L Cloud Blue (Click for review) | Cannondale Topstone Neo Carbon Lefty LE | Canyon Commuter:ON 7 (Click for review) | Diamant Juna Deluxe+ (Click for review) | FEDDZ E-Moped (Click for review) | FLYER Upstreet6 7.10 HS (Click for review) | Haibike Trekking 9 (Click for review) | Kalkhoff Endeavour 5.B Excite+ (Click for review) | MERIDA eBIG.TOUR 700 EQ (Click for review) | MERIDA eONE SIXTY 10K (Click for review) | Moustache Samedi 27 Xroad FS 7 (Click for review) | Movea Modo 20” (Click for review) | Riese & Müller Homage GT Rohloff HS mit DualBattery (Click for review) | Riese & Müller Packster 70 Vario (Click for review) | Riese & Müller Roadster Touring (Click for review) | Schindelhauer Arthur VI/IX (Click for review) | Specialized Turbo Vado SL 5.0 EQ (Click for review) | VanMoof X3 (Click for review)
… or the regular long-distance commuters. Your usual commuting distance is more than 15 km each way and you use your bike every day. Your ebike is used as a means of transport and is a real alternative to a second car or public transport. Practicality, reliability and utility win out over the ultimate bling factor because it’s primarily a functional machine↩
This type of ebike unites experts and early adopters from both the fashion and tech scenes. As hip trendsetters, they know exactly how to ride with style. Sci-fi, hi-fi, Wi-Fi – they know exactly what they’re talking about and can easily play the keyboard while half asleep. With a tendency to live out their passions eccentrically, emotional decisions come before rational ones.↩
Take the kids to kindergarten, head to the weekly market and later get a crate of beer – no problem for this type of ebike, even without a car. These riders love to combine things: rational and emotional motives go hand in hand because investments are made on the basis of knowing what they want and getting a suitable vehicle that suits their vision and mission.↩
You live in a 15-minute city like Paris. This means that all your daily needs are within a 15-minute radius by foot or ebike. For short distances of less than 2 km, you aren’t afraid to simply walk. For medium distances of up to 10 km, you get on your bike. Longer distances are easily covered with a mix of public transport and your bike. Short-distance bikers are active/sporty people who never want to commit to one thing, maintain a flexible lifestyle and like to be inspired by impulses. Due to limited space in the city, they often don’t have a car and if they do, it is mainly used for pleasure.↩
You have significant biking experience and enjoy riding sportily. This group encompasses mountain bikers and trail shredders, road bike fans and Strava heroes, as well as touring fans who enjoy (rural) excursions into the countryside outside the city. You change into sports gear for your daily commute before showering when you get there because you enjoy working on your fitness. Your bike is used for commuting during the week as well as for tours at the weekend and is a means of transport and sports equipment all in one.↩
Words: Photos: Benjamin Topf