Cannondale Topstone Neo 5 Electric Bike Review

January 18, 2022

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Our Rating - 5/5
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Cannondale Topstone Neo 5 continues the original Topstone Neo’s legacy, providing exceptional durability and high performance on all terrains. It features a sleek, solid frame, made from lightweight material. Combined with a beefy motor, the Neo 5 certainly makes for a memorable experience.

Cannondale Topstone Neo 5 - In-Depth Review

Cannondale isn’t exactly a startup company; they’ve been around since 1983. Anyone even slightly familiar with the industry knows the name very well - and expects a certain level of quality.

The Topstone Neo 5 is packed with top-quality features. Cannondale’s SmartForm frame provides a sturdy base for Boch’s high torque motor and a Shimano drivetrain, with all the components working together wonderfully.

Let’s look at the bike’s specs first - and then we’ll dive into further details.

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Key Specs

Weight

40 pounds, 8 ounces (median size)

Frame 

SmartForm C1 Alloy

Tire Size

700 x 37 c

Motor

Bosch Performance Line Speed

Battery

500 Wh Bosch PowerTube / Lithium Ion

Range

70 miles / 113 kilometers

Max Speed

28 Mph

Brakes

Shimano GRX hydraulic disc, 180/160mm RT54 rotors

Frame

The bike features a SmartForm C1 alloy frame with a full carbon fork. It’s one of the main things I like about this bike. Since the Neo 5 is a gravel grinder, the frame genuinely gives it the much-desired durability.SmartForm construction always cuts the extra fat off the bike. The way it’s built minimizes the stress that the bike takes on during rides. That said, the transitions on the frame come with minimized changes in the material’s thickness.I also have to mention the overall sleek design: 

Cannondale has made a bike that’s both classy - with the uni-body finished structure - and aggressive, which I have to commend.

The battery pack is removable, and it sits nicely on the diagonal downtube, as expected based on the initial Neo model. 

The handlebars come with a beefy 3.5 mm Cannondale Bar Tape. Depending on your preferences, you might find this to be a bit too thick. But hey, it’s a gravel grinder; you want the extra stress absorption, don’t you? 

In line with Neo 5’s lightweight approach, the bike comes with a KMC X10EL, 10-speed chain. It adds to the sleek feel of the bike. The shifts are smooth - and you can tell this thing’s going to last.

Cannondale Topstone neo 5 brakes

Motor 

The Neo 5 comes equipped with a Bosch Performance Line Speed motor. 

Accompanied by a 500 Wh Power Tube battery, it provides pedal assist up to 28 mph for an impressive maximum range of 70 miles, or 113 kilometers.

At the highest speed, the motor provides you with 85 NM of torque. I was cruising effortlessly through most of the terrains I went through and was reaching max speeds of 28 mph with ease. 

I only noticed the motor straining on some extremely steep inclines - but that’s to be expected.

The Bosch Purion Display is located on the left-hand side of the handlebar. I think that’s a good choice for the Neo 5 because it just fits in with its overall simplicity.

Your remaining battery life is shown at the bottom, with the majority of the screen focusing on your current speed. Right below the speedometer, you’ll see the current mode you’re using. Switching between modes is simple, too; all it takes is going through them with the “+” and “-” keys on the left side of the controller.

You can check the current range by pressing and holding the “minus” button a few times once a mode is selected. It will calculate how much you have left based on your current setting so that you’re always up to date.

Overall, interacting with the hub is fast and easy; it doesn’t take away any time and attention during rides.

Cannondale TopStone neo 5 chain

Battery

So, the battery is where I’m slightly conflicted. 

The whole design of the Neo 5 is cashing in on that minimal and lightweight style, right?

While I can’t complain about Boch’s PowerTube 500, I feel like going with the PowerPack model instead would have made more sense. The PowerPack 500 weighs about 5.7 pounds, whereas the 500 Wh PowerTube comes in at 6.3 pounds.

I know, I know, it’s nitpicky. 

Moreover, the original Neo model also sports the PowerPack, not the PowerTube. It makes sense that the subsequent models would follow suit. 

But I have to find something to point out and critique since everything else about the Neo 5 is praiseworthy.

The battery can last you enough to get comfortable 60-70 miles out during a single charge - provided you ride on flat terrain and don’t use too much assist, that is. 

Turbo mode can - and will - drain the battery quickly. Use it sparingly if you don’t want to charge the Neo 5 all that often.

While I’m on the topic of charging, the battery usually takes 4 to 5 hours for a full charge and slightly over 2 hours for a half charge with a standard charger. A fast charger cuts this time almost in half, though.

I’d like to add that Bosch’s PowerTubes come with a secure lock and a safety catch to prevent the battery from falling out. Although integrated, you can remove the battery relatively quickly - if you want to bring it indoors during extreme temperatures, for example. 

That would help the battery last longer, by the way.

Topstone Neo 5 Pedals

Brake Type

The Neo 5 comes with Shimano GRX hydraulic disc brakes. I have to point out that I think this was a fantastic choice: 

Shimano’s GRX hydraulic brakes work surprisingly well with the KMC X10EL chain to deliver a smooth riding experience. 

Cannondale’s Topstone Neo 5 is equipped with the SM-RT54 brake rotors, measuring 160 mm to 180 mm in diameter. This model is about 10% lighter than the SM-RT53 model, and I appreciate the folks in Cannondale for going with it.

However, some still view these rotors as a bit too beefy. Nonetheless, it’s a fantastic choice for gravel bikes such as the Neo 5.

How do the discs work in harsh weather? 

Well, I’d say they fare very well. The GRX hydraulic disc brakes offer plenty of braking power in harsh, tricky conditions.

Rims

The bike features WTB ST TCS i23 28h rims with stainless steel spokes. The rims are tubeless ready, as expected, given the terrain the Neo 5 is meant to be ridden on as a go-anywhere, do-anything type of e-bike.

The rims work well with the WTB Exposure tires, and I found them handling rumbling tarmac very well. 

Today, going tubeless has become the norm for mountain biking. So, it makes perfect sense that Cannondale would go with them for rough-terrain models.

Tires

I’ve gotten some serious mileage with WTB’s Exposure tires. Their hatched outer edges come in particularly handy on rough corners. 

Although the bike comes with 700x37c tires, it does have quite a bit of clearance. I know people that went with beefier, 42-mm tires and up. The manufacturer recommended trying 48-mm tires on 650 wheels. That’s how confident they are in it.

Cannondale-Topstone-Neo-5-Electric-Bike

I haven’t tried it myself - but I can definitely say that it would still leave enough clearance, even if fat tires are more your thing.

Post Test Summary: Cannondale Topstone Neo 5 Pros And Cons

The review is overwhelmingly positive, at times a bit too positive. What’s the deal?

The main thing I have against the Topstone Neo 5 is the pricing. Obviously, you can’t expect all of the reliability and endurance that the Neo 5 packs at a cheap cost. But the $5,000 price tag will lead a lot of consumers to other, more affordable models.

That being said, we’re not talking about a commuter bike here. 

The components have to work - and work well together - for a long time. You’re getting a bike that’s going to let you charge at the gravel, trails, and paved roads without a second thought.

I haven’t just been taking it around town. The Topstone Neo 5 has survived relentless uphill trekking, cold weather, and some nasty terrain - even though it doesn't look or feel like it.


What I Like About the Topstone Neo 5

PROS

  • Durable
  • Sleek and minimal design
  • Powerful motor
  • Fantastic range

The main thing I have to commend the Topstone Neo 5 is its relentless durability. It’s just willing to take anything you want to throw at it - most of it with ease. And I think this is shown just by the look of the frame. 

It’s light, sleek, and reliable.

The motor packs a punch, too. Thanks to Bosch’s Performance Line Speed motor, you’ll have 85 N/M of torque at your disposal. And with the 500 Wh PowerTube, charging doesn’t have to take away much time at all.

What I Don’t Like About the Topstone Neo 5

Cons

  • A higher price tag
  • No lights included
  • Integrated battery “issue”

I’ve mentioned the pricing “issue.” While I understand the reasoning and the necessity behind it, perhaps some minor changes could have reduced it significantly.

That ties into my next point: 

Given the cost, I’m surprised that no lights are included with the Neo 5. Not everyone will be riding during the day; having some after-hours assistance would be very nice, especially given the power capacity.

My last point regards the not-so-clear battery specifications. It’s not 100% clear from the get-go that the Topstone Neo 5 comes with an integrated battery that you can easily remove. Instead, people assume - and rightly so - that the bike has a removable battery. 

That said, it’s not a big deal - and it doesn’t make a huge practical difference.


Conclusion

Cannondale simply does not disappoint. They had established themselves as one of the oldest and most well-known biking brands in the world a long time ago.

It’s not just about what components go into the Topstone Neo 5, but how well they work together. The bike is equipped with high-end gear - and this is pretty visible in its price and performance.

Needless to say, the Neo 5 wouldn’t be my first choice for a beginner. I would, however, wholeheartedly recommend it to any gravel bike enthusiast. It’s just a comfortable and fun experience all the way through.

About the author

Ruaan is an electrical engineer born in South Africa and currently working in Oslo, Norway. He loves tech and gadgets and owns an electric car (Tesla) as well a front-wheel-drive electric bike. He rides his bike all year, even through snow and ice covered roads in the cold winter.

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