Gravel is the latest discipline to take the cycling world by storm, so obviously I had to jump on the band wagon...and I have to say I am a total Gravel convert! I've had my Topstone for almost a year now, making her the elder sibling of my other much loved Cannondale, Suzy the Supersix. My Topstone and I have been on many adventures over this past year - from local blasts around Whitelee Windfarm to BikePacking extravaganzas in the Scottish Highlands. Stay tuned to find out what makes the Topstone so addictive.
I have always loved all types of cycling; road, track and mountain. So the thought that Gravel could be the best of all three totally captured my attention. With the speed of a road bike and the playful handling of a track bike, all topped off with the capability of a mountain bike - I just couldn't resist the temptation.
But why the Topstone in particular? Well first off, the colour...I'm not ashamed to admit that purple has my heart ;) Aside from the good looks, the Topstone carbon stood out for me as it satisfied my inner nerd. Ground breaking kingpin suspension design and ballis tec carbon frame were features I just had to have in my life. After all I did say I wanted the most versatile, yet fast, bike on the market. I know you might be thinking suspension = slow, however when riding off road grip = fast. Therefore when riding eyeballs out on loose descents, having the piece of mind that your rear wheel is going to track well no matter the terrain (due to the suspension smoothing out the bumps to maintain contact with the ground) you naturally go faster. Also I will mention that Kingpin is only 30mm of travel as opposed to a typical Mountain bike which would have a minimum of 100mm, so don't worry the Topstone is still a speed machine, not a bouncy slow poke.
I remember the moment my Topstone finally (damn COVID delays) arrived in the shop well. Sheer excitement! So much so that I threw her together and started planning the first ride for the very next day. I was so focused on getting out and riding that I neglected setting the bike up tubeless...we will come back to that later. Naturally I chose Aberfoyle for the maiden voyage of my new steed - as it's hyped up to be some of the best gravel riding in the country. It's safe to say I was not disappointed. I took inspiration from the Duke's Weekender and set off for a 30 mile Gravelfoyle adventure incorporating some fine viaducts in the process. It was a blissful day and of course it wasn't long before I got carried away...back to the lack of tubeless set up I mentioned earlier...I was pushing the boundaries of the Topstone's off-road capabilities on singletrack trails around Loch Ard when I struck a hidden tree route with some force...BANG rear flat. To my surprise the WTB wheels that come stock were unaffected by the impact but of course those pesky innertubes inevitably popped. So long story short if you're ever swithering to go tubeless, the answer is yes.
After this incident I set my bike up tubeless...and may have also bought some saucy new wheels as well. I know, a bit outrages to get an upgrade after one ride,but it's dangerous working in a toy shop...especially when you're a tech nerd like me. I topped off my Gravel beast with a set of DT Swiss CRC1400 carbon wheels and haven't had a problem since.
One of my favourite things about the Topstone is how easy it is to go for a ride, because you can literally ride it anywhere. I stay in East Kilbride so my local gravel escape is Whitelee Windfarm which is where I ride the Topstone most as I can simply ride from my front door and be done in a couple of hours while riding some premium gravel sectors (and sometimes MTB singletrack) in the process.
In more recent times I have taken my Topstone a bit further afield into the Scottish Highlands for a bit of BikePacking. Inspired by Lachlan Morton's GBDURO epic, I thought I'd try a BikePacking adventure of my own. However on a not quite so extreme level...I started my route at Kinloch Laggan and finished at Corrour Station House for some venison casserole and a pint before a WildCamp at Loch Ossian, then back to Kinloch Laggan the following day. Aside from making my position too aggressive to successfully fit a handlebar bag to an XS frame...I had a blast! and the Topstone was perfect, almost made me forget I was fully laden.
So long story short Gravel totally lives up to the hype and the Topstone is one of the best tools for it. In my opinion the Topstone Carbon really is the fastest and most versatile bike on the market. From local bimbles, weekend adventures and BikePacking extravaganzas the Topstone will leave you with a huge smile ear to ear, what more could you want from a bike.