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Topstone Carbon 6 Gravel-Crunching Machine Is Proof That Carbon Tech Is Getting Cheaper
As time goes on, something magical happens: technology gets better and better, and as a result, it also gets cheaper. This seems to be the case with the new Topstone Carbon lineup from Cannondale. But how affordable can a carbon fiber bike be?

Topstone Carbon 6 Gravel-Crunching Machine Is Proof That Carbon Tech Is Getting Cheaper

Topstone Carbon 6Topstone Carbon 6Topstone Carbon 6 Shifters and HandlebarTopstone Carbon 6Topstone Carbon 6 DrivetrainTopstone Carbon 6 DrivetrainTopstone Carbon 6 Cockpit
To answer the question above, $2,600 (2,400 EUR at current exchange rates) is all the cash you'll need to get your hands on the cheapest carbon gravel bike that Cannondale has recently unveiled. However, once you really get to know the Carbon 6, you may ask yourself how this bicycle manufacturer manages to make any profit on the transaction. I say this because this puppy is jam-packed with R&D.

Before I go on, I do need to point out that anytime you consider purchasing a bicycle, you need to base your acquisition on the terrain you'll be riding on, and the sort of tasks, if any, are at hand. Because bikes are designed to be ridden in specific settings, and this is the reason why you shouldn't be hauling ass down mountains on your grandma's pink cruiser.

With that in mind, the Topstone lineup is explicitly created for gravel riding, where vibrations and speeds are high, and so comfort and stiffness are paramount. As mentioned, all the new bikes, including the 6, are completed using carbon fiber for the frame build. BallisTec carbon is the stuff, and it makes up the fork too.

Sure, carbon fiber is known for its ability to attenuate vibrations and remain stiff, but Cannondale decided to give you one heck of a plush ride by including their Kingpin suspension system to the rear. Have no idea what I'm talking about? Let's put ourselves in a cyclist's shoes and see what this feature is all about.

So you're riding along on a hardtail bike, as most gravel bicycles are designed. Now, the moment you turn off the tarmac and start hitting every little rock embedded in a dusty road, the rear of your bike will start bucking like an angry pony. When that happens, all that upward motion is transferred directly into the rider, leading to one very sore groin or shift in the riding position.

In order to counteract that motion, but without affecting too much of the bike's ability to transfer power into the ground, the Topstone 6's seat stay features a suspension system that offers up to 30 mm (1.2 in) of vibration dampening movement, again, while affecting power transfer as little as possible. Best of all, quite a number of manufacturers are exploring vibration reduction and suspension systems applied to hardtail bikes; expect to see more of this sort of tech.

To offer you an idea of how this machine may be sitting under you, let me point out that the medium-size bike features a head tube angle of 71.2 degrees while the seat tube sits at 73.1 degrees. A stand-over of 80.3 cm (31.6 in) and a reach of 38.5 cm (15.2 in) are also part of the geometry. The wheelbase is sitting at 103 cm (40.5 in), so everything should be nice and tight, with the front wheel helping direct your emotions more easily. Speaking of the front wheel, Cannondale created the bike to fit up to 40 mm cross-section tires.

By now, I'd normally be closing up an article, but the Carbon 6 just won't allow it; I have to point out a couple of more features. The drivetrain on this puppy is a Shimano GRX 400 setup set to 2x10 speeds, and secondary components like the cockpit and seat post are all in-house goods. Furthermore, the 6 is also dropper post-ready. This last feature shouldn't be underestimated, as it opens up rougher terrains for the rider and is spotted more and more often these days.

I said it at the beginning of this article, and I'll repeat it, as long as technology keeps moving forward, we're bound to see more and more affordable machines in the near future. Heck, 15 to 20 years ago, a $2,000 carbon fiber bike was just a dream.

Editor's note: This article was not sponsored or supported by a third-party.


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