Cannondale Topstone Ultegra RX Review

P1040787As a bike shop manager it would be sacrilegious if I didn’t adhere to the N+1 methodology of bike ownership. That’s why when I saw the release of the Topstone Carbon line up, I knew I had to get one.

My shop already had been selling the Topstone Alloy models like hotcakes, so it didn’t surprise me to see Cannondale’s take on an all carbon gravel/any road machine. When the bike first dropped it was hotly debated on a lot of the bike blogs and YouTube channels I follow. I wanted to give the bike a fair chance before writing any sort of review on it. Read on knowing I’ve hit the 500mile mark on the bike just a couple of days ago.

It’s easy to play keyboard warrior about a product without having actually spent real miles on the bike. Snap judgements on the suspension, geometry, tire size, and some of proprietary components seemed to get people all worked up. I’m not sure why, because all of those are fairly minimal issues. This is my first ever Cannondale I’ve owned and was excited to try something new!

Originally I was settled on the “women’s” (I put women’s in air quotes because Cannondale actually uses a unisex style of geometry between the men’s and women’s bikes with the women’s bikes starting at smaller sizes. They also have a wider saddle, shorter stems, and narrower handlebars.) Topstone RX 2 model, but our rep had told me how happy he was with the upgrades of the Ultegra RX model, so I took his advice. It doesn’t hurt that the colour scheme of the RX model also reminded me of the British Racing Green Jaguars I always loved.

The bike has a classic, clean line aesthetic with a modern twist. Adding the skin wall tires with some of my added accessories I think it looks rather smart as the Brits say.

Here are the specs from Cannondale’s website:

International Connectivity

  • Wheel Sensor

    Cannondale Wheel Sensor

Drivetrain

  • Bottom Bracket

    Cannondale Alloy BB30
  • Chain

    Shimano HG601 11-speed
  • Crank

    HollowGram, BB30a w/ OPI SpideRing, 46/30
  • Front Derailleur

    Shimano Ultegra, braze-on
  • Rear Cogs

    Shimano Ultegra, 11-34, 11-speed
  • Rear Derailleur

    Shimano Ultegra RX
  • Shifters

    Shimano Ultegra hydro disc, 2×11

Frameset

  • Fork

    All-New, BallisTec Carbon, 55mm OutFront offset, SAVE, 1-1/8″ to 1.5″ steerer, integrated crown race, Directline internal routing, 12x100mm Speed Release thru-axle, flat mount disc, gear/rack/fender mounts
  • Frame

    All-New, BallisTec Carbon, Kingpin suspension system, Proportional Response size-specific construction, Directline internal cable routing, BB30-83 Ai, 142×12 Speed Release thru-axle, flat-mount disc, removable fender bridge, multiple gear/bottle mounts, dropper post compatible

    • 142×12 thru-axle
    • Tapered headtube
    • Flat mount disc
    • StraightShot internal cable routing
    • Multiple gear/bottle mounts
  • Headset

    Integrated, 1.5″ lower to 1-1/8″ upper w/ reducer, 25mm Alloy top cap

Wheels

  • Front Hub

    HollowGram Sealed Bearing, straight pull, 12×100
  • Rear Hub

    HollowGram 142×12
  • Rims

    HollowGram 22, 22mm deep, 25mm ID, tubeless ready
  • Spokes

    Stainless steel, 14g
  • Tire Size

    37
  • Tires

    WTB Riddler TCS Light, 700 x 37c, tubeless ready

Wheel Size

700c

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Changes I’ve made:

Stem- swapped to a lighter and shorter Cannondale take off we had at the shop. I went from a 100 down to an 80 (I think, haven’t confirmed that- going off memory.)
PRO TIP! If you are looking at the women’s models, note they come with a shorter stem than the men’s/unisex models and Cannondale has not put what stem lengths they use on their spec sheet for some reason. (It could be buried somewhere and I just haven’t found it yet?)

Handlebar- Took off the flared 40 drops and put on a 40 Giant Contact SL road bar with a shorter reach and drop with no flare. Flared bars just aren’t my jam really. I like this particular bar as it came stock on my Liv Avail Advanced Pro 1 and I love the fit and feel of that bike. I’ve been happy with my decision thus far and would consider upgrading to carbon down the line just to dampen the front end of the bike a bit.

Bar tape- Stock bar tape is usually pretty crap, not always, but often times it’s cheapo and I end up swapping it with something more cushy as I’m not a fan of wearing gloves when I ride all that much. I went with the Brooks Cambium Rubber Bar Tape in the tan colour that matches the skin wall tires.

Saddle- I have to have a cutout in my saddles and I found a Specialized Ruby on eBay for a good price. That’s historically been my favorite road saddle although Ergon and the new 2021 Liv & Giant saddles are also pretty damn awesome. I’ll keep this on for now, but may experiment if I can get my hands on something else to try.

Pedals- I took the Crank Brothers Candy’s off my Krampus and swapped them on. They still remain my favorite walkable cleat/2 bolt style pedals. They are just easy to use and maintain. Shed mud like champs and look good as well.

Bottle Cages- Blackburn Chicane Stainless for the frame cages and a carbon side pull cage for the underside to fit a third bottle.

Bags- I transferred my Blackburn Outpost Elite seat pack to this bike and use the Topeak Fuel Tank Large on my top tube, although I am testing the Blackburn bolt on top tube bag, stay tuned for that review in my production bag review series!

Cycling computer- Giant Neostrack as a back up if/when Strava may fail. I haven’t paired the Cannondale made by Garmin sensor as of yet. TBH it’s not really a feature I care too much about. Maybe if I didn’t already have a bunch of sensors and computers and stuff, it could be a cool option. I just haven’t seen the need to use it.

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The changes I made to the bike helped me dial in the fit to just about perfect for me. I’ve used the bike for everything from commuting to work, riding easy single track, bike packing, gravel grinding, and medium distanced road rides (30-40 miles).

I’ll admit that the bike did take some getting used to. At first the addition of a rear suspension element with the Kingpin design felt odd. Now it almost feels strange to ride a bike without it as I’ve come accustom to it smoothing road noise and chatter out for me.

I can say with confidence that if you are looking for an absolutely stiff carbon racing machine, this isn’t that bike. That’s ok though. It’s still impressively responsive and I’ve hit multiple Strava PR’s on this bike. It climbs well, it has amazing traction on just about any surface you throw at it, especially going down hill on sketchy gravel, grass, or dirt trails.

That’s really what I feel the Kingpin excels at, keeping your rear wheel under control. You can’t really tell that you are getting activation of the Kinpin until you realize on other bikes that riding that same line would feel sketchy without it. It’s greatly confidence inspiring and I feel that if someone were looking for a bike that could pull double duty as a cyclocross race machine, this bike would be a great option.

For someone who is newer to off road or multi-surface riding this bike would be a great option as the components are so well spec’d on it that you wouldn’t feel the need to upgrade to something nicer/lighter down the road.

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Shimano’s new Ultegra GRX is stellar. The shifting is crisp, reliable, and responsive as always and the new clutch on the derailleur keeps the chain from popping off even on the roughest patches of gravel or dirt.I’ve really enjoyed the Hallowgram carbon wheels set up with the WTB Riddler tires tubeless. I’ve run a myriad of tire pressures and have yet to have any issues. I have been considering putting a 40c smooth tread tire on to replace the Riddlers, but they’ve been performing well and I loved the Riddler on my full suspension MTB, so it makes sense that I’d like the gravel version as well.Smooth enough to ride roads and just enough tread to rock some loose dirt and gravel. Cornering on pavement has felt great with them as well. I’ll likely continue to beat the heck out of them until they’ve given up the ghost and then likely swap to a smooth tread to gain a little more speed on pavement.50127491823_855766e46f_o
The Hallowgram crankset feels great as well. Shifting has been flawless and the gear ratio feels great. Obviously on flats or downhills I could stand to go a little bigger on the larger chain ring, but then I realize I’m able to climb more with the existing ratios and in the Driftless region of Wisconsin we all know how important climbing gears are to get up steep rollers.

Going back to some things I mentioned at the top of this post in regards to the internet trolls bashing some of the design features of this bike, I really haven’t had any issues with the proprietary designs.

When building the bike I did have to pull the crank and re-assemble it (following the guidelines of washer patterns and such) and had to torque things down a little past recommended spec to get everything to tighten up with no play, but so far it’s not been an issue. Loctite is also your friend when it comes to pressfit bb’s, just saying.

I made sure to double check the torque spec on the Kingpin as it is a bearing system and it did need a little more oomph than how it came out of the factory. So far I have 500 miles on it with no noise.

The thing I think upset most people was the asymmetrical drop out design. The rear wheel is not hot swappable with other wheels because it is dished 6mm to allow the drive side to be pushed over. This means that technically you have a stronger wheel as each spoke is evenly tensioned in the center of the rim.

Heed the warnings and just make sure if you want to use a different wheel set or say a 650b wheel that you get it custom laced and built so it has that proper 6mm dish. Generally a factory built or pre-built wheel isn’t going to have enough threads on the spokes to just be able to simply take a pre-existing wheel and make it work. That’s not to say that it absolutely can’t be done, but it likely won’t work, so just work with your local bike shop or professional wheel builder to talk about your options.

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In relation to the wheel issue, many people complained that 700x40c wasn’t wide enough for a gravel bike. This bit kind of blew my mind because it wasn’t that long ago that everyone was riding 700x23c on their road bikes and 32c was considered a wide tire!Oh how things have changed. I suppose if you want to go monster cross/ultimate back road adventure machine, sure. A wider tire would be nice, but you can put 650b wheels on the Topstone Ultegra RX and run up to a 48c width, which is damn near close to what people are riding on the Great Divide Race these days.Personally I’m fine with 40c being the max width. If you really want that much clearance there are plenty of other bikes on the marketplace or just buy a 29er hard tail and call it a day.Much of what people have been complaining about or judging on this bike is just rubbish. Many people who probably have never even swung a leg over one and just want to complain because Cannondale uses a proprietary bb. So what, you can always order a spare as a back up if you are that worried about it.

Yes, it would be nice if all bikes came with threaded bottom brackets, but standards are ever changing and that’s because bike design is ever evolving and pushing the limits of geometry and fitting wide tires on without the bike riding like crap.

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I find myself grabbing my Topstone Carbon Ultegra RX the most often out of my fleet because it’s just so fun to ride. It’s the bike that if I’m not sure where I want to go, I take it because there’s a good chance I’ll end up on some gravel or crappy rural roads that need repaving. I know the bike will provide a smooth and comfortable ride no matter where I go with it.The fact that the bike has three bottle mounts, fork mounts, and plenty of room for gear storage is also wonderful. It makes setting up things for a bike overnight a breeze.

If you were to pick one bike to have in your garage, it should be this one or something damn near like it. With smooth treaded tires you can easily keep up with a road group ride, you can do a gravel or rail trail ride, you can do some singletrack or urban cross on it, you could race a ‘cross season on it, you can adventure with it, and be comfortable while doing all of that.

My one sort of note on single track is that it wouldn’t be a terrible idea to invest in a dropper post if you are planning on trying to do more of that style of riding on the bike. Rocks, roots, etc. as I found that I get caught on my saddle a lot on this bike on single track and generally have had to slam the seatpost down to make it easier to clear that sketchy stuff.

Obviously there’s a weight penalty with a dropper, but it would make this bike legendary. I am also excited to see about trying the 2021 model with the lefty front suspension. I’m sure it’s an absolute blast to ride.

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Personally I think the Cannondale Topstone Carbon line has been seriously underrated and I think it’s because people seem to hold a grudge against Cannondale for pushing the limits of bike design and technology. They aren’t doing what other big brands do where they are copying designs, they are focusing on doing what they do best in pushing the limits of what we expect a bike to be or what a bike should look like.

I fully acknowledge that Cannondale wasn’t the first nor will they be the last brand to adopt a rear suspension design on a bike, but I like their take on it more than say T*** as it’s not just an elastomer that ends up changing the actual reach on the bike.

Now I’m going to sound like a hater, but I’ve not been impressed with how some of their gravel/any road type bikes have ridden. Granted I’ve only ridden the alloy versions, but it’s still a valid opinion.

That’s one thing I’ve always appreciated about a brand like Cannondale. They aren’t afraid to be a little different, but still hold mass appeal and well known lineage with their brand.

At $4200 retail the Cannondale Topstone Carbon Ultegra RX holds a wealth of value. Full carbon frame, carbon wheels, Hallogram crank, tons of mounting options, a carbon seat post, built in rear suspension, tubeless ready, dropper capable, and great aesthetics to top it off. The price point is a little higher than some of the other competitors in the market, but the ride quality and weight of the bike really sets it apart.

I fully think the purchase price is worth it when you look at comparable bikes on the marketplace. The level of technology and design that went into this bike is impressive and am happy to say as a first time Cannondale owner, I’m happy with my decision to buy.

As always I was not in any way, shape, or form asked to write a review about this bike from Cannondale or anyone else. I do not benefit from the writing reviews other than hopefully helping other folks make informed decisions.

I plan on doing a follow up review once I’ve had the bike for a full year and some additional mileage on it to update on any issues that may arise. Hopefully there won’t be any as so far, so good.

Feel free to follow @spokehaven on Instagram and subscribe to YouTube.com/spokehaven for some video content!

Bikepacking Blue Mound

There’s truly nothing I love more than strapping gear on a bike and going camping. It’s something I used to do a lot more when I wasn’t trying to balance a full time job, school, and a growing list of responsibilities.

That’s why I was thrilled to see that my friends at Bell Joy Ride Madison were putting together a women-trans-femme friendly bike overnight to the beloved Blue Mound State Park.

I set aside a weekend off (a nearly impossible feat during the shop’s busy season) and went riding.

The bike I chose to ride was my trusty Surly Krampus. I had invested in some new gear for it including the Blackburn Outpost Elite Universal Seat Pack & Dry Bag, Blackburn Outpost Cargo Cages, Topeak Fuel Tank, and the Giant Scout Handlebar Bag. Reviews to come on each of these in the future!

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                                  Swampy all packed and ready to ride!

My additional gear list is as follows:

SLEEP
Sleeping bag: Marmot Trestle 30 Degree (carried in handlebar harness)
Hammock: ENO Single Nest (carried in seat pack)
Hammock bug net: ENO Guardian SL (carried in seat pack)
Hammock tarp: ENO Profly Raintarp (carried in non-drive side cargo cage)
Hammock straps: ENO Helios Straps (carried in hammock bag)
MSR Mini Groundhog Stakes– 6

KITCHEN
Knife: SOG
Cook pot: Evernew Ti .9l
Stove: Esbit Folding w/cubes
Aluminum foil- for setting stove on
Snow Peak Ti Spork
Stanley Flask (for whiskey of course)
Camp cup for dangling
Handkerchief for clean up (cotton preferred)
Thermos double wall insulated water bottle (heavy AF, but keeps things hot or cold for a LONG time.)
Camelbak Insulated waterbottle (on bike)

FOOD
Chicken Ramen (dinner)
DIY quick oatmeal with nuts and dried fruit (breakfast)
RX Bars (a few in various flavors)
NUUN Hydration

DOPP KIT
Travel tooth brush
Travel tooth paste
Sunscreen (spf 50, always) Mineral based FTW
Picaridin bug spray/lotion
Tweezers (so many handy uses bike and first aid wise)
Face wipes or baby wipes
Schmidt’s Natural Deodorant (I love the paste, I also believe in trying to smell good when entering public establishments when on rides.)
Mini first aid kit with various bandages, travel sized Aquaphor (saddle sore preventative), Ibuprofen, DayQuil, Imodium, and my daily vitamins.

CLOTHING
(worn on bike)
Liv Cycling Jersey
Shebeest Bibs (honestly some of my favorite bibs of all time!)
Running socks (Balega and Feetures are my favorite low cut socks. They are super cushioned and last a really long time. Great for multi-sport use!)
Giro Cylinder MTB Shoes (comfortable, definitely go a size up! Review to come!)
Liv Rev MIPS Helmet
Tifosi Davos Sunglasses
(camp clothes- packed into small dry bag in drive-side cargo cage)
Pearl Izumi Canyon Women’s Short (without the liner)
Surly Raglan Merino Wool Shirt (still one of my favorite pieces of gear- thanks again Surly for letting me product test this for you back in the day!)
Random T-shirt
DeFeet Woolie Boolie Socks
Lems Primal 2 Shoes (great for packing up small and traveling)
Buff (free from an REI women’s cycling event, who doesn’t love free swag?!)
(extras)
socks
Giro Chono Bibs (becoming one of my favorite bibs for the price, also wore on the bike on day 2. I always carry two pairs of shorts because chamois take so long to dry after being washed unless you are in an arid climate.)
Large pack towel (can be used to dry off tent in morning, can be used as sit pad, can be used post shower if you so choose. basically just a handy item to have around.)
Patagonia Swim Suit (never used, pool was closed at the campground due to bad weather)

TOOLS, ELECTRONICS & CAMERA
CAMELBAK LUXE Hydration Pack (sans bladder)
Panasonic G85 camera w/12-60mm lens
Rode Video Mic Go
Mini iPhone Tripod
Various SD Cards
Liv PDQ Tool Kit
Bottle of Stan’s Fluid
Chain Quick Link
Park Chain Tool
Spare tube
Crank Brothers Pump (discontinued model)
Outdoor Tech Buckshot Speaker
Giant NeosTrack GPS Cycling Computer (long-term review to come)
iPhone cable & micro USB cable
NiteRider Micro & Sabre bike light set

I ended up rolling out a little later in the day as there were two groups making their way to Blue Mound State Park. The route from the area of Madison I reside in is roughly 25 miles. The majority of the route is on the state-run Military Ridge State Trail. One of my favorite things about living in Wisconsin is the fact that we have trail systems that allow you to go almost all the way across the state from East to West without having to ride on roads. The Hank Aaron trail in Milwaukee meets up to Oak Leaf and the Glacial Drumlin Trail, which then gets you to Cottage Grove to where you have to ride a few short miles before you hop onto the Capital City Trail, which will then intersect with either the Southwest Commuter path (goes through downtown Madison), the Badger State Trail (runs south all the way into Illinois), or the Military Ridge Trail (runs all the way to Dodgeville, WI).

Scenic Military ridge via my iPhone. The quality kind of sucks because of the compression that happens upon upload on here.

One thing I forgot to mention is that the morning we rolled out was one of the hottest of the summer. It was 90 something degrees and humid as HELL. Three miles into the ride I had strongly considered turning around as I was riding at a snail’s pace, sweating the most I’ve ever sweat on a ride, and felt dehydrated.

I stopped in Verona, a suburb outside of Madison that has a nice rest area off the trail with restrooms and picnic tables under a shelter. I drank one bottle of water with a full Nuun electrolyte tablet. These things are probably one of my favorite bits of nutrition as they have saved my ass over and over again.

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100% Sweat on my face after just about 5 miles in!

Nasty? Yes, I know. After downing another full bottle of water after the Nuun bottle, I refilled and headed out. Once you get past Epic Systems, the behemoth medical software company, the trail is quite lovely. The sneaky thing is about going Westbound is that the trail has a 2% ish grade the entire way, so you tend to feel like you should be going much faster than you are. 

My second destination was Mount Horeb. Once you’ve reached Mount Horeb, you know you’re not only close to delicious food, but also the last stretch before you reach Blue Mound. There’s a nice little rest area just outside of Mount Horeb in a park and it’s right off the trail. There are restrooms, a covered area with picnic tables, and water fountains for refilling. It was a much needed respite from the day’s heat. I used the facilities and filled up once again before rolling into town.

Mount Horeb is one of my favorite small towns in SW Wisconsin. There’s a bunch of great, locally owned placed to eat and it’s all accessible right off of Military Ridge. The town has grown pretty significantly as the cost of living in Madison continues to increase and is the home base of the famous Duluth Trading Company. Their new corporate office building is literally next to the trail, along with a new cider brewery called Brix. They also have a bike shop called Trail This right off the path as well!

I always make it a point to stop at Sjölinds, the original Main Street location. They have amazing coffee and homemade quiche. Even if I go to another restaurant to eat on a ride, I almost always stop in after for a sweet treat! This trip was no exception. I grabbed two pieces of quiche and a sparkling juice for fueling up.

At one point I ran into the first group of ladies who were making their way to Blue Mound. I opted to stay and eat on my own in town while they rolled out to the campsite. On my way out of town is when things got interesting. The weather started to turn and there was a large storm on the radar. I had the option of sitting and seeing if I could wait it out in town or could forge ahead and deal with getting rained on.

Sorry for the F-bomb. This is what I ended up riding into outside of Mount Horeb and not quite to Cave of the Mounds. The sky opened up and I got completely soaked while riding. It was actually quite refreshing as it had been so ungodly hot out earlier in the day.

Luckily I made it to a tunnel just a mile or so outside of the turn off to get into Blue Mound State park. I hung out there for a good 15-20 minutes waiting for the storm to pass. The rain subsided and luckily the rest of my ride into the park was manageable.

Blue Mound has a couple of small covered shelters at the bike in portion of the park. This gave our group a nice home base to layout gear, lean our bike, and socialize while we waited for the sun’s return.

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Our home base for the evening.

Roughly 30min-an hour after my arrival to camp brought in the last group. Bell Joy Ride Madison’s fearless leader Meagan had rolled up in true camp mom fashion with her bike packed to the gills with everything from wine to an insulated french press for our breakfast coffee. Oh how forever grateful I will be for that french press as I left my Aeropress at home for this trip.

Others also brought their share of spiked seltzers, water jugs, portable lights, and other creature comforts that we all benefited from. I have to say, these folx knew how to camp!

At some point we decided to collectively ride down the hill just outside of the park to stop at Blue Mounds Citgo & Grocery. It’s a small store that has just about everything you could need for a night of camping. We loaded up on our snacks of choice, hangout on the porch for a bit while we ate, then rode back to the campsites to make dinner on our little camp stoves.

There’s nothing like hearing the gentle whirring of a circle of stoves boiling water for everyone’s meals. I unfolded my little Esbit stove and used about a cube and half boiling water for my ramen. Most others had some sort of camping specific meals in a bag. I was happy with my little pot of ramen as the sodium was a good replacement for all the sweating I had done on the ride in.

After dinner we sat around and socialized some more. Those of us who imbibe had a seltzer or two while I also passed around my whiskey flask to anyone who cared to take a pull.

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Meagan and the group chatting about Bell Joy Ride and all things cycling!



The sun was slowly setting upon us and fireflies starting dotting the surrounding meadows and woods. For those who brought camp lights, they hung them from the ceiling of the shelter as we continued to converse. We talked about what nomenclature we used for fireflies or lightening bugs.

We talked about bikes and other activities we do outside of cycling. Each of us knew a few others in the group, but we made friends with some new women we hadn’t previously had the joys of riding with.

After awhile we all started getting ready for bed. Putting on our extra layers, brushing our teeth and doing our night-time routines. We had all made it a point to make camp when we first arrived at the sites to ensure everyone had a good spot and to make sure no one was setting up in the dark.

I got a site to myself that was on a slight downhill. I found two nicely spaced trees and had set up my hammock between them. You can see the photo of my camp as the featured image. I also used my ridgeline to hang up my wet clothes to dry overnight. I was so happy to have an extra pair of socks and bibs for the following day. My jersey had dried, but based off of the experiences of a few of the other riders, their gear hadn’t completely dried. Had we decided to start a fire, they probably could have tried to dry their gear out more, but it seemed more of a hassle to start one than to not.

The next morning we all started moving fairly early. I ended up eating an RX bar and had some coffee that Meagan offered up as she had some extra. It was what I needed to get some energy to finish packing up and rolling out.

A few riders decided to ride straight on through to Madison. Myself, Melissa (a good riding friend of mine), Patty (a riding/crossfitter friend of mine), and Brittany (a friend I met via Bell Joy Ride who later joined my cycling club) also decided to grab food at Schubert’s Restaurant, a true greasy spoon that I grew up going to. I have some relatives who live in Mount Horeb and I have always had fond memories of Schubert’s and am glad to see it still thriving.

We rolled into Mount Horeb and it was PACKED. They had their annual art fair going on and we sure got some funny looks rolling into town with fully loaded bikes and our lycra on, but we didn’t care. We sat down at the Schubert’s counter and ordered up. I made sure to get a chocolate eclair because when you ride bikes, calories don’t count *wink wink* thankfully Patty was willing to take some of that eclair off my hands so I didn’t eat the whole thing. They are huge and amazingly delicious.

After getting sufficiently stuffed, we rolled out and made our way back to Verona. We were cranking pretty hard on the way in because the 2% grade was now downhill. Eventually we parted ways as the group I was with had left from the Verona Park & Ride and I was riding back into Madison to my house.

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Melissa, Patty, Brittany, and Myself getting ready to part ways.


Overall it was a great trip, rainstorm and all. It made me miss the times that I could just decided to pack up my bike and go camping on a whim. These days it’s a little more challenging with co-managing a bike shop, having a dog, and having a partner who has a somewhat higher ranking position at the University.

It did remind me though to make more of an effort to spend time doing things outside and things I enjoy. It’s also a great way to build community and meet so many awesome people who are in the cycling community here, who I don’t normally get to interact with.

My goal for 2020 is to do a trip to Devil’s Lake either solo or with a group. It’s fairly easy to get there by bike and is much easier to get a site to camp if you bike in as State Parks don’t have any real restrictions on hike in or bike in sites as they do the other camp grounds.

If you’d like to see a video summary of this trip, I’m currently finishing editing one up and will be posting it to my YouTube channel which can be found at YouTube.com/spokehaven.

Product Preview: Raleight RX 1.0 Women’s Specific

New bike day is always the best day of the year or lifetime or month or however often people purchase new bikes!

I was super excited when my hot new Raleigh RX 1.0 showed up in our bike parking area at work. I was able to order direct from Raleigh as they are a distributor of our products, but you should be able to find this bike at any Raleigh dealer.

When searching for a new bike I knew I wanted something light and fast. I have a history of riding steel steeds, which are great and super durable, but I had the need for speed. During my search I had considered some various road bike options from Trek, Felt, Giant, Kona (who no longer offers a women’s road bike *frown*), and Foundry bikes.

I had ordered a bike last year from Trek, so I didn’t really want to go that route. The Lexa SLX is a bike that gets a lot of use in my house. I’ve been using it to train indoors this winter and Keri used it last year for the ACT Ride. It’s an awesome bike, but it was lacking on some of the features I’ve come to love. One of those is being able to mount wide tires. I absolutely LOVE the feel of a fatty, slick, folding tire in the summer. On Wisconsin roads, it gives so much great cushion.

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The 2012 Lexa SLX

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Foundry Auger- Canti Edition

Foundry didn’t end up making the cut as I wasn’t quite ready to rock a full carbon bike. I don’t know if it’s because I read too many retro grouch blogs, but I just wasn’t ready to take the leap into that world. I really dig the look of the bikes. Very little flash, all black, and lots of sex appeal. The price was also a bit out of my comfort zone. I’d still love to test ride one of their bikes. If anyone out there is reading this and has the hook up, let me know!

Eventually I decided an aluminum cross bike with a carbon fork would probably be the best fit for me. Felt usually has some sexy ‘cross options, but I didn’t see anything in the current line up that made me drool. The color schemes were kind of blah and I just wasn’t really sold on their setups.

The one bike that I had really hoped to buy was the Salsa Chili Con Crosso, but they discontinued it only to end up coming out with the Warbird. It’s their new gravel, disc brake bike. The Con Crosso was a staple at every cross race I’d ever been to. Hopefully they’ll bring it back someday, once people realize disc brakes aren’t all they are cracked up to be for ‘cross racing.

The lack of options out there eventually led me to Raleigh. Some of their pro level bikes were featured at Cross Nationals in Verona and they looked pretty sweet. After some research I saw they were one of very few companies that offers a women’s specific cyclocross bike. They actually make two levels of the ‘cross bike, the basic RX and the RX 1.0. Once I pretty much settled on the bike, I started doing some online sleuthing. I found out that Bike Shop Girl aka Arleigh Jenkins had done a pretty good overview of the previous year’s model. It all seemed legit to me and the men’s versions got pretty good feedback from various ‘cross blogs and industry sites.

I sent off an e-mail to one of the Raleigh reps and the bike was ordered. My cross-check is a 50cm and based on the geometry I decided a size 52 in the RX 1.0 would probably fit best.

Only about a week or so after the initial inquiry, the bike arrived. YAY! You’ll see in the photos below how much detail Raleigh put into the bike. The aesthetics are very pleasing…girly, but not so girly that I would be embarrassed to show up to a group ride with it. The frame color is a little more purple than I expected, but still very nice. The photos online show it as a grey/black color. There’s only one small detail on the bike that is cheesy, but I didn’t even bother to take an initial photo of it. I will probably find a little decal or something to cover it up. It’s on the down tube and will probably go unnoticed by anyone not paying attention.

The drive train is Sram Apex with an FSA crank and Rival rear derailleur.This is my first Sram laden bike, which is pretty exciting.  Don’t get me wrong, I love my trusty Shimano, but Sram has some hot stuff going on. The doubletap is actually pretty sweet.

The handlebars, stem, and seat post are Raleigh house brand, Avenir. Not too shabby, but I ended up putting a slightly taller Thompson stem on the bike and will be replacing the handlebars with Salsa’s Road 2 bars in size small, 40cm width. The bars that come with the bike are 38’s, which are kind of on the small side for a 52cm bike.

The only pedals included with the bike were some cheap plastic test ride pedals. I recycled those and bought some Crank Brothers Egg Beaters. I’m used to using the Candy pedals, but I wanted to give the Egg Beaters a try. Crank Brothers has always been my favorite pedal system, so I’m sure they’ll work out just fine.

The brakes are Tektro c720’s (?) and come with cheater levers. I’ll probably end up getting rid of the levers once I swap the handlebar out. I don’t really like them as they take up too much space and add unnecessary weight. (This is my “fast” bike after all!) The wheels are ridiculous (wait until I post the real follow up photos, you’ll see)  Weinmann DP18’s with standard 32 spokes and pink nipples. Good for training I suppose, but I will definitely buy a new wheel set in the spring. I could probably drop a whole pound or more just by swapping wheel sets.

The tires are some pretty awesome Vittoria ‘cross tires. I’ll keep those around for rail trail riding or for if I ever decide to woman up and do some racing. I’ll swap those out for a fattier slick tire for road riding in the mean time.

I’m keeping the stock seat post. It’s not too heavy and does the job. The saddle I wasn’t a fan of. It had way too much pink on it and was a Velo branded uncomfortable thing. I went with Bike Shop Girl’s (Arleigh’s) recommendation of the Fizik Vitesse. I actually could only find the Tri model, so I went with that and it seems pretty good. I’m usually a Brook’s, so it will take some time getting used to a regular saddle. I really like how long the saddle is. Plenty of length for if you shift your weight.

Overall I’m super excited to ride the bike. The snow is keeping me stuck on a trainer, but at the first sign of spring, I’ll be sure to take her out for a nice long adventure. For the price, I think the bike is a great value. Yeah, there are a few things that could be better, but there’s rarely a mass produced bike that doesn’t have something less than perfect about it.

I guess I’ve maybe become spoiled with nice bike parts, but I could make due with the stock parts if needed. The bike fits nicely and is quite the head turner. Big props to whoever designed the RX line over at Raleigh! Keep up the great work 🙂

-Cassandra