Finally. God do I mean that. Finally. I’ve been waiting an age (since January 14 in fact) but my new Cannondale Topstone didn’t arrive until April 12, which is incredibly frustrating given how eagerly I wanted this bike.
At least now I can proudly introduce the 2019 Cannondale Topstone 105 SE you see above. Actually, the photo is a bit of a misleading example, as it still had the reflectors and pie plate on when I took the outside-my-garage-shot.
I have plans to tweak a few bits but they are largely cosmetic. So far they amount to a tubeless conversion that includes purple(!) valves, with a purple seat clamp and headset spacers on the menu too. Then a very small amount of fluoro vinyl as a contrast – I just hate black bikes, although this one is more of a smoke grey metallic when the suns on it and looks rather nice with those tanwall tyres.
Talking of tyres – I really have not had any luck with the idea of a tubeless conversion that invloves WTB tyres and Muc Off sealant this year. So far, the same saga of the Bird’s WTB tyres was played out again with my tubeless conversion here. Those old-school re-purposed MTB treads with tanwalls are just too thin to seal up. It’s possible the Muc Off sealant is to blame but I haven’t tried anything else, so I can’t say.
After two weeks of fiddling, the tyres are finally just about holding air but I am paranoid about their longevity off-road due to their flexy sidewalls. To prove that third time would definitely not be a charm, I did a tubeless conversion on Marks WTB wheel and 37c Riddler combo and found the same issues, to the point of needing to deploy the Beto air can and extra pair of hands option. Eventually the tyres sealed, but again not without a great deal of effort.
We shall see how things go. I am fully expecting to need to switch tyres at some point… which is a shame because the WTB tyres roll and grip well.
How does the bike ride? Lovely! It’s not noticeably slow on the road but broken tarmac is an irrelevance (that’s a big novelty for me). It carves turns with notable confidence and grip is huge.
Off road, it’s best on smooth trails of course, but it will scamper along at a fine lick in those circumstances. Loose gravel like on Bookham Common is taken as well as you’d hope. Anything rough or wash-boardy… well what do you expect? Lower tyre pressures would help but I’m still finding the sweet spot after only 75 miles and the tubeless issues I mentioned. It’s been OK down to around 33psi though and I expect to settle around 38psi on the front and a few more on the rear.
So far the Topstone has been everything I was hoping for – more on that later…