Muddymoles mountain biking in the Surrey Hills and Mole Valley

New bike ordered – 2019 Cannondale Topstone 105 SE

Posted by Matt | January 15, 2019 | 11 comments so far

2019 Cannondale Topstone 105 SE
As I’ve hinted at recently, yesterday I triggered the purchase of a new bike. But what’s this… a gravel bike?

It sure is. I’ve ordered a 2019 Cannondale Topstone 105 SE on the Evans Cycles Ride-to-Work scheme and now have to wait until mid February for it to arrive.

The scheme has worked out as decent value for a bike model which thus far has barely arrived in the UK. The list price is £1,500 but if I trade in a bike I get 10% off that which brings the price down to £1,350 in addition to the tax savings from a £1,000 Ride-to-Work voucher. And my employer gives me an Evans code for another £100 too.

Incidentally the bike trade-in bit? Evans will accept any bike even if it’s just an old kids bike you got off eBay for £5 or less…

So, economically it makes sense but why gravel?

For me it’s not gravel, which is a term far more appropriate to the back roads of the American Mid-West and elsewhere in the world. In my case this bike is all about versatility.

Over the past few years I’ve been commuting quite regularly (about twice a week), a 30-35 mile round trip either on the road or off-road. Both options are sufficient of an effort to make riding more often just a bit too much for me.

If I’m off-road, the route is shorter but the effort is quite hard when you have a weighty laptop on your back and the trip is interupted by 8 eight hours of work in between.

If I’m on the road then I go further to enjoy quiet scenic roads rather than A-road traffic, but wherever I go the roads are increasingly scabby and pot-holed.

Throw in weather conditions which can leave roads slippery with ice and mud at various times of the year and it’s become clear to me for a while that a bike with a bit of versatility has a lot to recommend it.

Having a so-called gravel bike means bigger tyres (in this case 40c WTB Nanos, which are based on the old Nanoraptor MTB tread pattern) that I can run tubeless and at reasonably low pressures for grip and comfort – how low we will have to see.

In the case of the Canondale Topstone 105 SE it also means a full 2×11 Shimano 105 groupset with hydraulic disc brakes and bolt through hubs front and rear. It means ultimately that the bike is better able to deal with rough roads and a variety of conditions.

Added to all that, the Cannondale Topstone runs quite relaxed geometry with a 71° head angle and in the size large has a 1060mm wheelbase, so it should be inherrently more stable on the road.

I’m hoping that these elements will make my commute more relaxing straight off. But the real bonus is I can now mix ‘n’ match my route with bits of trail (or go off-road entirely).

It means that if the weather deteriorates during the day and the roads look icy, I can go off-road via Headley. Or I can cut across the golf course at Brockham to Pixham. Or cut through Norbury to the sawmill and on to Bookham. Or up and over past Denbies to Ranmore.

Not only will I now have a bit more variety in route choice, which breaks up the commuting routine, but maybe the energy saved will allow an extra day of cycle commuting. I might be being over-optimistic there!

But we shall see. My only complaint about this specific model at this stage is the colour which is rather dull. However I have plans to address that.

In a few weeks I’ll have the bike and will post the full component spec and my thoughts on how well it fits my expectations…

Filed under Mutterings in January 2019


About the author

Matt is one of the founding Molefathers of the Muddymoles, and is the designer and main administrator of the website.

Having ridden a 2007 Orange Five for many years then a 2016 YT Industries Jeffsy 29er, he now rocks a Bird Aether 9 and a Pace RC-627.

An early On-One Inbred still lurks in the back of the stable as a reminder of how things have moved on. You can even find him on road bikes - currently a 2019 Cannondale Topstone 105 SE, a much-used 2011 Specialized Secteur and very niche belt drive Trek District 1.

If you've ever wondered how we got into mountain biking and how the MuddyMoles started, well wonder no more.

There are 11 comments on ‘New bike ordered – 2019 Cannondale Topstone 105 SE’

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  1. Elliot says:

    You planning on getting thirsty this summer? 4 sets of bottle mounts!!!

  2. Gordo says:

    Oh, Oh, Oh! How exciting. It’s got those all important pannier rack braze-ons on the seat stays too. I know you will have hours of fun on this. I’d suggest trying the hurly burly of a noisy road then switching to bridlepaths for the 2nd half of the commute. The contrast to near silence is magical – it is as if you have gone through a portal just like Narnia!!

    Is it too early to ask if you’ll be appearing in a CX event this autumn? I fancy giving one a try, and am considering allowing it onto my list of 2019 objectives.

    • Matt says:

      I can tell you are excited Gordo!

      I do actually think this will be a great bike for me but have a bit of a side-eye at the gearing – 46/30 front rings and 11-34 at the rear is decidedly slanted toward off-road but since I rarely pull top gear on the road with a 50T anyway, I don’t suppose it will matter. I can always swap the rings if it does.

      CX? Not for me, a work colleague does it and enjoys it but he’s not an MTB’er. It does get you very fit but 45 mins of pain on a bike does not appeal!

  3. Chris says:

    I started riding one of these in December. So far so good. After 8 years on 3 different Crosschecks, I needed a change.

    Full mudguards and rack and away we go.

    I have a hilly commute and use every gear.

    Good luck – it’s a cool bike.

  4. Andrew AKAK says:

    I think it’s a bike that makes sense. I have the same group set on my road bike so I am curious if it drops the chain much off-road as the next group up has a clutch mech? Also whether the tyres offer enough comfort.

    • Matt says:

      I think first of all the bike will end up being on the road for 90% of its time so hopefully chain drop won’t be an issue Andrew. As its a double the front derailleur should help hold it on too.

      I’m aware of the Ultegra mech with the clutch and expect 105 to get that at some point too. The trails I have in mind are relatively groomed but with tubeless 40c tyres the comfort should be there. It’s never going to be a singletrack beast really!

  5. Related: All City Gorilla Monsoon | 2019, News | Muddymoles: Mountain biking (MTB) in the Surrey Hills and Mole Valley

  6. Johnny says:

    Have you picked up your Topstone yet by the way?

    Pushed back my order to April now…:/

    • Matt says:

      Hi Johnny, I’ve had the same email from Evans…

      I’m hoping it’s just because Cannondale are swamped by demand – other retailers are showing even longer delivery times.

      I’m getting quite fed up TBH and emailed Evans’ support people about some sort of gesture of goodwill from them, since the bike is bought and paid for.

      They said email again when I have the bike and can show how long I’ve waited and they’ll sort something out…

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