Gravel electric bikes have gained a lot of popularity in recent years, and it’s easy to see why - they offer an abundance of versatility.
Gravel e-bikes have a lot to offer to the everyday riders looking to mix things up by getting an e-bike capable of handling rougher terrain without limiting itself on the tarmac.
But as you may already know, that kind of performance comes at a certain price.
So, I wanted to see how the Cannondale Topstone Neo SL 2 compares to other pricier gravel electric bikes.
The first thing I’d like to mention is the frame of the Cannondale Topstone Neo SL 2. This gravel electric bike’s frame is constructed out of SmartForm C2 Aluminium - a high-quality material for the frame, might I add.
What’s more interesting is that it features a full carbon fork. You might wonder why this might be a good thing. Well, the reason behind this is that it weighs less, and you’re probably familiar with the fact that weight can quickly add up on electric bikes.
That said, since Cannondale Topstone Neo SL 2 is a gravel e-bike and not a mountain electric bike, it doesn’t have full suspension. That’s perfectly fine, though.
It’s not meant to be ridden on the extreme terrains, but instead on asphalt and, well, gravel - if you want to take it off the road a bit and have some fun.
The frame of the Cannondale Topstone Neo SL 2 is still designed to cushion the ride. The rear triangle has curved and flattened sections in the seat stays and chainstays to assist and ensure in-saddle comfort.
Read next: Cannondale Adventure Neo All Road review
Also, the seat post is designed for additional absorption of vibrations.
The battery’s integrated into the frame, which means you can’t take it out and put in a new one without getting technical or turning to a professional for help, so that’s a downside to this design.
On the other hand, it looks sleek and generally doesn’t strike as an electric bike at first glance. That’s a good thing; you won’t have to worry that much about it being stolen. You see, electric bikes naturally come at higher prices - hence the higher risk of theft.
The Cannondale Topstone Neo SL 2 features Shimano HG500 rear cogs and a Shimano Deore chain. These aren’t of the best quality, and they should be replaced once in a season, especially if you ride your bike more off-road - but they’re more than decent.
Cannondale Topstone Neo SL 2 features a Mahle ebikemotion X35+ system based around the tiny 250W rear hub motor powered by a 250 Wh battery hidden within the downtube.
Due to the smaller size of its motor, Cannondale Topstone Neo SL 2 is inherently less powerful than other electric bikes that feature motors with two to three times the wattage.
That said, the idea behind the Cannondale Topstone Neo SL 2 is to add a bit of electric support to your commute or workout - and it does precisely that.
Cannondale Topstone Neo SL 2 is a Class 1 electric bike. That means it doesn’t have a throttle - this electric bike only gives support through its three pedal assist modes.
Don’t get me wrong; the three pedal assist modes provide a decent range of support, from light to nearly 100% in the highest setting.
The power comes on steadily after a crank’s half rotation and ramps up. It doesn’t feel jumpy or quick to accelerate - but it’s a pretty smooth and consistent delivery.
Once up to speed, the motor of the Cannondale Topstone Neo SL 2 seems to deliver the same amount of power - of course, as long as the cranks keep turning.
It can quickly get to its top speed of 20 miles per hour, but its acceleration is entirely based on you, the rider, and how hard you pedal.
The power delivery stops at the 20-miles-per-hour mark. However, getting this e-bike above that mark manually isn’t that difficult due to the extremely lightweight and fast-rolling wheels and stiff frame.
Cannondale claims that the internal Mahle ebikemotion X35 250Wh battery on the Cannondale Topstone Neo SL 2 is suitable for roughly 47 miles or 75 kilometers - depending on the rider’s weight, power assist level, and conditions.
However, the more realistic range would be approximately 30 miles on average.
Interestingly enough, the Cannondale Topstone Neo SL 2 has a feature where you can add in the range-extending battery to bring the capacity to 450Wh, extending the range to the claimed numbers.
Nevertheless, the small additional battery fits right in the Cannondale Topstone Neo SL 2 - and doesn’t add much weight.
The Cannondale Topstone Neo SL 2 comes fitted with Shimano GRX hydraulic disc brakes with 160-millimeter RT56 rotors. These brakes are outstanding quality; there’s not much else to say about them.
This e-bike features Cannondale Disc double wall 27.5-inch rims. That’s a standard size for the gravel electric bikes and, all in all, good quality rims.
What’s interesting is the actual tire clearance - which brings me to my next point.
The Cannondale Topstone Neo SL 2 has WTB Resolute Comp, 700 x 42c tubeless-ready tires. That’s yet another standard for gravel bikes - and allows you to keep tire pressure down without the risk of pinch flats.
While the size doesn’t sound like a lot, it’s more than enough for most gravel roads. That said, don't expect to ride this e-bike on extremely rough terrain.
Post Test Summary: Cannondale Topstone Neo SL 2 Pros And Cons
While some of its parts meet the standard of the gravel bikes, some aren’t as good. For $3300, this is a more-than-decent electric bike that's made to be ridden on asphalt for daily commuting and off-road rides, mainly gravel roads.
What I Like About The Cannondale Topstone Neo SL 2
The first thing I love about the Cannondale Topstone Neo SL 2 is the weight. This electric bike weighs 32.4 pounds - that’s exceptionally light for an electric bike! Speaking of the lightweight design, remember that the fork is carbon-made.
In addition, the SmartForm C2 Aluminium is a high-quality material choice for the bike frame.
Carrying an electric bike has never felt more manageable!
Another thing I like about this e-bike is that it features tubeless-ready tires - without them, you would risk pinch flats by riding on a gravel road.
Shimano GRX hydraulic disc brakes featured on the Neo SL 2 are top-notch quality, too; smooth and safe braking is guaranteed, even in less-than-stellar conditions.
What I Don’t Like About Cannondale Topstone Neo SL 2
The Topstone Neo SL 2 is made so that you can’t remove its battery.
So, if you wanted to change the battery, you would either have to possess the knowledge to disassemble the bike and take it out - or take it to a professional. And that’s not ideal.
While we’re on the topic of batteries, 250Wh on this bike seems like more than enough. Still, the range you can get from it - around 30 or so miles - is less than what most competitors have to offer.
The chain and cogs on the Cannondale Topstone Neo SL 2 aren’t of the best quality, and if you want to ride this electric bike off-road, you’d have to replace cogs and the chain every season - and that’s a lot.
Granted, you can replace them with higher-quality ones - but that adds extra expenses.
Advice To Buyers
The Cannondale Topstone Neo SL 2 is a lightweight electric bike, perfect for the daily commute and recreational rides on the gravel roads.
The Cannondale Topstone Neo SL 2 is a quality Class 1 gravel electric bike that stands from the rest of the bunch with its incredibly lightweight design.
This sleek city-style electric bike provides three smooth levels of pedal assistance that could get you up to 20 miles per hour.
While it doesn’t match the top-end gravel electric bikes, the Cannondale Topstone Neo SL 2 is a fantastic option for anyone looking to add some fun to their commute or recreational rides.