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Cannondale's Neo Carbon Lefty 3 Gravel E-Bike Is a Bit "Different"

One of the fastest-growing branches of cycling in recent years has been gravel riding, and with the introduction of electric drivetrains, things have started taking on an entirely different light.
Topstone Neo Carbon Lefty 3 7 photos
Photo: Cannondale
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Folks, one of the crews at the front of the cycling pack is none other than Cannondale. Heck, ever since 1971, this team has been focusing all its attention on bicycles, and these days, the name Cannondale can be seen straddled by some of the world's top athletes. Oh, and they're clearly keeping up with cycling trends, even responsible for some of them.

For example, the new Topstone Neo Carbon Lefty 3 is basically the modern culmination of all that I mentioned above. How? Well, what we're looking at is an all-road gravel e-bike with a full suspension frame, all the while offering peak power output and an experience that's sure to have you wondering whether or not this really is a gravel monster or the hardtail MTB you always wanted; I personally love what Cannondale has achieved here and let's see why.

For starters, the luscious shapes and sensuous curves we see are brought to life with the use of this manufacturer's proprietary BallisTec carbon fiber and layup techniques. Sure, this baby may be a bit burlier than your average gravel cycle, but that's because of a massive battery pack and motor.

Topstone Neo Carbon Lefty 3
Photo: Cannondale
But, the real attraction here is Cannondale's Kingpin suspension system. If you keep up with autoevolution, you may know what I'm talking about. If you don't, Kingpin is all about finding a way to add some squish to an otherwise hardtail bicycle. In all, 30 mm (1.2 in) of travel absorbs rocks, roots, and light drops and does so without any linkage to weigh the whole thing down.

While some bounce reduces the amount of energy you can transfer to the back wheel, this setup is designed to reduce that number to a minimum. Even then, this is an e-bike, and what's lost is simply covered by the motor and then some.

But first, another component we need to shed light on is the Lefty 3's suspension fork and the reason for this bike's name. At the front of this hunk of carbon fiber, Cannondale throws on their proprietary Oliver 3 fork with 30 mm of inverted travel, all on a single stanchion. Whoo!

What does this mean for riders like you and me? It means one hell of a smooth ride on what would otherwise lead to some serious tooth-chatter. Wait, there's a name for this in the industry; road chatter and 30 mm may not seem like much, but you'll just have to take a test ride to find out just what it means.

Topstone Neo Carbon Lefty 3
Photo: Cannondale
Furthermore, tire size is an important factor in gravel riding, and as standard, each Lefty 3 is rocking 650b x 42c tires for added softness for whenever the tarmac turns to gravel, a singletrack, or just flat out grasslands; carve your own path.

Now, this is an e-bike, and once again, as with most top-tier bicycle manufacturers, Bosch is the crew behind the power and range of the Lefty 3. As standard, Cannondale has chosen a 250 W Performance Line CX to be the extra kick behind your experience, and integrated into the down tube and removable a 500 Wh PowerTube. Grab two and double your range.

It also seems like Shimano is the crew called upon to furnish the rest of the drivetrain, bringing a GRX setup tuned to 1x11 speeds with an 11-42T range. Sure, the low end of gear ratios aren't there for climbing mountains, but there's electric power to help you with the difference on arduous climbs. This should also allow you to actually feel the burn, so it's a win-win. GRX brakes are also part of the package.

Topstone Neo Carbon Lefty 3
Photo: Cannondale
So, how much is all of this going to cost us? Well, it depends on where you happen to grab your bike from. At this time, Cannondale only sells this puppy through authorized dealerships, so we're at the mercy of the middleman. Based on previous models, this puppy is priced around the $6,500 (€6,000 at current exchange rates) range. Quite a bit, I know, but that's a whole lot of bike.

Heck, we also need to consider that the frame is tattered in cargo mounts, meaning that this beauty can also be equipped with countless water bottles for long rides, but, above all, cargo bags, transforming the Lefty 3 into a bike-packing and overnighter machine.

Now, before I go, I want to share something with you that I discovered while exploring this bike. I found one, now sure what model year, but sporting very similar gear, selling brand-spanking-new, for a tad under $3,200 (€2,900). Want it? Well, you can get your hands on it, but to do that, you'll have to embark on a very quick and easy proverbial egg hunt.

I'll even give you a hint on where to start and where to go from there. You have to start on Cannondale's website and search for a particular dealership in Arizona. It's probably first come, first served, so better get moving if it's not sold already.
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About the author: Cristian Curmei
Cristian Curmei profile photo

A bit of a nomad at heart (being born in Europe and raised in several places in the USA), Cristian is enamored with travel trailers, campers and bikes. He also tests and writes about urban means of transportation like scooters, mopeds and e-bikes (when he's not busy hosting our video stories and guides).
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