Cannondale Topstone Sora Review: specs, geometry, materials
A dreamy gravel bike for bikepackers and commuter alike
The Cannondale Topstone Sora is a highly versatile bicycle that sits firmly in the gravel category.
Its svelte lines make an impression of elegance seasoned with a pinch of adventure and are clearly meant to convey tremendously enjoyable riding in all kind of road and weather conditions.
Since it’s designed to be the ultimate combination of road racing and cyclocross bicycles, it can be considered a mixed-surface tourer as well as a 4 seasons commute bike.
Riding a Topstone Sora can make commuting to work more agile and minimize concerns about perfectly smooth pavement, so that cyclists will be more naturally inclined to look for interesting small roads, backstreets, cycle tracks, and even obstacles to ride over as they please.
Electing Sora as your bike of choice will turn the city into your playground, while at anytime, with only few adjustments, you can set up your rig for a camping bike trip, or join the group of your roadie friends.
Like all other Topstone alloy models, Sora supports every desirable upgrade you can possibly imagine fitting your cycling routine or need of adventure.
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How we write our reviews: most of our reviews are based on first-hand long-term use or short-term test by a member of our team. For some new models or build variations, we rely on our experience with similar models and our team's experience in understanding bike geometry and components.
The Frame Set
Among the TopStone aluminium frames family, the SmartForm C2 recaps the best state-of-the-art technology achieved during this often undervalued material’s long history.
The SmartFormtechnique delivers harmonious tube shapes and homogeneous wall thickness, reaching excellence in the very characteristics that are essential to guarantee the unique feeling of a solid bike.
During production process, the material is layered smoothly, maximizing stiffness and strength where it’s most needed, also to the benefit of general weight.
Once the frame is shaped, more material is added where the bike undergoes the greatest stress. Smooth tapered transitions are performed to avoid abrupt changes in material thickness which would generate structural weaknesses.
After the weld is applied to create extremely strong joints, the frames are hanged in a multi-cell aging oven to season. This post-weld long heat-treat process lends the frame its peculiar uni-body finished structure.
All TopStone aluminum models feature internal cable routing in the downtube, routing for a dropper seatpost, threaded bottom bracket shell, rear rack mounts, top tube bag mount, plus 3x bidon cage mounts and full mudguard capabilities.
Although the front fork does not support any eyelets for cages on either side, it is a beautiful piece of carbon fiber, with a longer-than-usual rake (55mm) for stability and hidden full-fender mounts. It is a light and performing fork, rare on a bike at this price range.
The extremely flexible configuration of the Topstone Sora frame is tailored to cyclists who love a reactive bike. It has a balanced riding position that gives the rider good off-road control. To further serve this purpose handlebar is flared and allows extra space for a front handlebar pack.
The combination of aluminum frame and carbon fork has the same high-end specs of Sora’s more expensive siblings. This choice reveals Cannondale marketing strategy to bet on a less priced option that can be fully customized whenever the components need an upgrade.
The overall geometry of the frame is designed with versatility in mind. With a chainstay of 430mm you could do the manual wheelie, snap the bike through tight corners or simply enjoy the stable and relaxing position in town.
The seat-stay tubes join the seat tube at the same height of the top tube line, creating with the chainstay tubes a good looking and extraordinarily classic rear triangle.
The gradual sloping of the top tube doesn’t spoil the perfect elegance of the traditional road bike style, but it’s meant to enhance wider off-road capabilities.
Talking of which, don’t even think about mounting 3 inches tires on this Cannondale TopStone, that is not supposed to be a 29 drop bar mountain bike, but by all means a gravel bike.
Even if there are plenty of gravel bicycles out there to compare with the Topstone Sora, no one is capable to offer the same kind of versatility and quality of building materials at this price range.
Drive Train and Standard Components
The Topstone Sora is assembled with the latest generation Shimano Sora group set. To the delight of climbers, it’s compatible directly with Shimano Acera MTB.
The frame can be assembled also with a 1x gravel drivetrain. Given the total price, standard components are decent and offer a good base to set up the bicycle of your dreams.
What Are The Best Riding Setups
Being one of the most versatile bike on the market, TopStone Sora can be adjusted to fit different riding styles and it wouldn’t be fair to advise on a single best configuration.
Starting with its original setup will allow you to appreciate the full bike potential and adapt all the components to your own flair.
It will surely please cyclists valuing reactivity above other aspects, and who can’t ever split concepts of comfort and responsiveness, as the bike is most comfortable when the total strength of the rider is well distributed and all muscles of the body are naturally involved into the pushing effort.
The biggest con of this bicycle is maybe the lack of eyelets in the front fork. For a ready suggestion on how to mount cages on carbon forks, check this out.
Cannondale Topstone Sora is an ideal all-around bike to enjoy while chasing new horizons or speeding up your daily commute. All considered, it’s an absolute best buy in its category, and it can be overall described as a fast and light dirt road touring bike.
The perfect combination of frame and fork has no compromises in terms of quality and versatility. The high flexibility on the choice of components offers the opportunity to customize the general cycling experience considerably.
It’s an innovative yet classically shaped bicycle that will never get outdated and will guarantee a lot of fun in a vast array of terrains and situations.
Components and specs of the Cannondale topstone Sora 2020
Fork: Full Carbon, 1-1/8″ to 1-1/4″ steerer, 55mm OutFront offset, flat mount disc, internal routing, 12×100 thru axle
Brakes and Drivetrain
Crankset: FSA Tempo Adventure, 46/30
Bottom bracket: FSA Cartridge
Front derailleur: Shimano Sora, 31.8 clamp
Rear derailleur: Shimano Sora
Chain: KMC Z9, 9-speed
Rim: (F) Formula RX-512 12×100 / (R) Formula RX-142 12×142
Shifters: Shimano Sora, 2×9
Brakes: Promax Decoder R cable actuated disc, 160/160mm rotors
Headset: Topstone Si, 25mm Alloy top cap
Stem: Cannondale 4, 6061 Alloy, 31.8, 6°
Handlebar: Cannondale 3, butted 6061 Alloy, 16 deg flare drop
Grips: Cannondale Grip Bar Tape w/Gel, 3.5mm
Seatpost: Cannondale Grip Bar Tape w/Gel, 3.5mm
Saddle: Cannondale Stage Ergo
Wheels: RD 2.0, 28h rims, Formula RX-512 12×100
Tires: WTB riddler comp, 700 x 37c
Accessories: Front & Rear Carrier, Front & Rear Fenders
Bike weight: 10.3 KG / 22.8 LBS
Tire clearance: 45mm/1.77″
Founded in 1971, Cannondale is one of the most well-established bicycle manufacturers. It has been building racing and touring frames since 1983, specializing in aluminum and carbon-fiber technology.
Recognized as a pioneering company of carbon bikes manufacturing, it invented some of the most innovative frames and the spectacular bicycle suspension known as Lefty.
The brand has always been endorsing the potential of aluminum frames, even during the years when this material seemed to be definitively replaced by carbon in the racing department and completely ignored by touring adventure riders.
It has been prominently active as major sponsor of great teams and athletes and it won big competitions on both road and mountain races.
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