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Cannondale Topstone Neo Range Review

Cannondale have long held the position as one of the top brands when it comes to gravel bikes, but for a long time their electric gravel bike range consisted of just the incredibly high end Topstone Carbon Neo. Whilst the Topstone Carbon Neo, with its lefty fork, Bosch motor and carbon fibre frame is fantastic, you pay for the quality - and the prices of the Carbon Neo ranged from £4,000 to £8,000.

The new Topstone Neo SL Range has been designed to provide a more affordable electric gravel bike option, for riders looking for an entry into Cannondale's excellent gravel bike range. There are a few differences between the SL and the Carbon Neo flagship model, and instead gets a rear hub motor from Mahle, the Mahle Lightweight ebikemotion X35+ system. This is a proven system, having been used in Cannondale's electric road bike range, such as the Supersix EVO Neo. The alloy frame on the Neo SL range is Cannondale’s pioneering Smartform C2 alloy frame, mated to a carbon fibre fork.

The lightweight ebikemotion X35+ system is small, but certainly packs a punch, with the 250w rear motor being powered by a battery, cleverly concealed in the down tube of the bike. The system is easy to control and use, with one single button that is integrated into the top tube. The control system is named the iWOC and the single button turns the power on and off, whilst also allowing the rider to easily cycle through different power modes. The power modes are all easily colour coded, once the system is on - the LED is lit up white, press and hold and the light becomes green, representing low assistance, press and hold again for orange - medium assistance, and then press and hold again for maximum assistance. The single LED also shows battery life, with 75 to 100 % green, 75 to 50% orange, 25% and below red, and flashing red less than 10% battery life remaining. Those looking for more control and measurement can use Mahle’s app which tracks everything from battery level, to distance, speed, altitude, cadence and speed.

One of the most impressive and advanced features of the Neo SL and the Mahle app, is that you can set heart rate based pedal assistance - which will automatically alter the level of assistance from the motor, allowing you to keep within your specified heart training zones. There’s plenty of battery power to keep you on the move all day too, with the internal battery providing around 75km of use - and a range extending battery which is housed in a bottle cage, providing up to 450 w/h.

Geometry wise, the NEO SL follows the proven design of its carbon stablemate - it has a low rear stay - although there is no Kingpin suspension, instead there’s just a standard welded back end. The riding position is endurance focussed, providing a comfortable riding position as well as a riding position which can provide speed and maximum control. Frame and fork tyre clearance is good, with 47mm with 700cc wheels.

The mass capability of this bike is also illustrated in the design of the lighting system, which has internal lighting cables routed within the frame - allowing the rider to add esystem lights - this is Cannondale understanding that many of these bikes will end up on the daily commute.

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