I’ve owned the Cannondale Topstone gravel bike long enough to discover the need to add some gear. For example, running out of water in the wilderness 20 miles outside of town made me realize I needed a way to carry more water than my two bottle holders could manage.
Here are my Cannondale Topstone gear and upgrade experiments thusfar.
Gravel Bike Bags
Lugging a heavy hydration pack on a bike isn’t exactly pleasant for the back, but neither is eating snow for 20 miles when water bottles run dry.
After some research, I found an excellent top bag on REI.com which has 6L of storage space but still leaves room on the bike frame for two water bottles below.
I’m able to throw a 3-4L hydration bladder in this bike frame bag and still have room other items likes snacks, gloves, a battery charger, etc.
The bag unzips on both side, has a port for a hydration hose and is supposed to be waterproof. My legs only occasionally graze the Revelate frame bag while pedaling. The Large Revelate bag fits perfectly on my XL Topstone frame.
A bike handlebar bag is an excellent way to stow quick access items such as snacks, camera gear, and drinks! After reading the forums of bikepackers, I first investigated Apidura’s shop. Their gear looked like overkill for my needs and most of it was out of stock.
Eventually, I landed on ROCKBROS bike handlbar bag and have been pleasantly surprised thusfar. The rolltop operates like a dry bag and is easy to quickly open and close. I’ve had no issues snugging the bag up to the bike and am surprise by just how much the bag can carry.
In the winter, I may be able to jam a compressible jacket in, but will mostly rely on the handlebar bag for camera storage.
There is still room behind the bag to easily grab the central part of the handlebars while riding and the bag is supposed to be waterproof (it hasn’t rained on me yet).
Cannondale Topstone Seat Replacement
The stock Topstone seat is nice. However, it is unforgiving on long rides. A bikepacker on Reddit mentioned liking a generic seat from Amazon called “Wheel Up”. For $25, my prostate was willing to give this seat a try.
So fare, the seat is comfortable and is build in such a way that there’s less pressure in certain tender locales.
A Clever Bike Headlight Setup
Winter is coming, which means our neighborhood will be plunged into darkness around 4.15pm each day. I’m preparing for the dark with a bike headlight purchase and a creative way to hold the battery pack.
The headlight is the BrightEyes 1800 Lumen bicycle light set which is a positively reviewed biking headlight.
Another simple and affordable addition is a rear bike safety light from StupidBright.
Flat Tire Fix
When a co-rider inflated one of my bike tires in about half a second, I became a believe in CO2 bike inflators. An affordable option is from Pro Bike Tool. This inflator and some CO2 refill cartridges are a good alternative to finnicky hand pumps.
Gravel Bike Shoes
Knowing very little about clip-in shoes, I went with the bike store owner’s recommendation on this. He said, “you want me to tell you about different types of shoes, or just tell you which ones you need?” I chose the latter. He told me to grab a pair of Shimano SH-ME400 enduro biking shoes.
These shoes have clipped in nicely to the Topstone 105. I added some Crankbrothers Candy pedals and these cleats. They’ve worked well, but I’d recommend a clip in pedal with more of a platform in case you want to hop on the bike and take a cruise with regular shoes on. Crankbrothers do make a Mallet pedal which seems to do this nicely.
The lugged outsoles of the Shimano shoes are nice when hike-a-bike or a little cross country hiking is needed. However, these bicycle shoes definitely do not double as shoes.