Cannondale Topstone Carbon Lefty vs Niner MCR 9 RDO: Comparing the Wildest Gravel Bikes!

comparing niner mcr 9 rdo with cannondale topstone carbon lefty

The Wildest Bikes in Gravel – Full Suspension Gravel Bikes!

comparing niner mcr 9 rdo with cannondale topstone carbon lefty

The Niner MCR 9 RDO, the World’s first full-suspension gravel bike. “More comfort, more confidence, more control, and more fun and freedom.”

At the front end, there’s 40mm of active suspension, thanks to the FOX AX suspension fork, a relatively traditional looking fork. Moving to the rear, Niner’s CVA (Constant Varying Arc) suspension, tuned for gravel, provides 50mm of active cush but without pedal activated bobbing and so on. A complex series of linkages and bearings are at the heart of the system.

comparing niner mcr 9 rdo with cannondale topstone carbon lefty

The Cannondale Topstone Carbon Lefty, “An unprecedented gravel bike with real suspension. It’s the most off-road capable and on-road comfortable road bike ever made.”

At the front end, 30mm of active suspension, courtesy of the unique Cannondale Lefty fork. At the rear of the bike, up to 30mm of suspension at the rear (deflection at the seat and rear axle combined). No linkages or shocks, rather the entire rear half of the frame flexes akin to a series of connected leaf-springs, aka the Cannondale Kingpin system.

comparing niner mcr 9 rdo with cannondale topstone carbon lefty

How do the two bikes compare?

In this video, JOM of the Gravel Cyclist crew covers all of the features and differences of the two bikes. This isn’t a review, but will give you plenty of food for thought about these unique bikes.

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  1. Avatar Johann

    Does anyone know who the manufacturer of that top tube bag on the Cannondale is?

    • JOM JOM

      Certainly… Dark Speed Works, it is the 915D (direct-mount) model. Tell them I referred you 🙂

  2. Avatar bruce

    I notice the Topstone in the video has a Pro Stealth Offroad saddle. JOM, I know saddles are very subjective, and you have your own preference which you’ve swapped onto review bikes before, just wondered if you spent any time on the Stealth and formed any opinions?


    • JOM JOM

      Bruce, I have a review of the Pro Stealth Off-road, Ridefarr and Ergon Mens SR Pro coming soon… I do like the Pro Stealth Off-road a lot…

  3. Avatar Sam

    Hi Jom,
    I am a female between 5.5-5.6 ft. tall. I have narrowed my gravel bike purchase to these two bikes. I’m honestly hard pressed to pick one. If you could only have one which would it be and why?

    Thanks, Sam

    • JOM JOM

      Hello Sam, I generally don’t provide advice on choosing a bike. However, in this case, I will. I don’t know if you caught my review of the Topstone Lefty, there are pitfalls related to wheelsets, whereas the Niner can use pretty much any wheelset. That can be a deal killer for some and a reason to consider a more accepting bike, so to speak.

      I hope this helps!

  4. Avatar Sam

    Thanks Jom!
    It did! I also watched and listened to your review. Very informative and helpful. I did like the flexability to change the tire size with the Niner. I also appreciated your addressing the weight and dispersment of each ride. I’m just trying to justify the difference in price. I have champagne taste on sparkling sletzer budget! Lol

    • JOM JOM

      Remember, life is too short if you can swing the cash to improve the experience…

  5. Avatar Shane

    Just gone for a test ride on the MCR9 after viewing all of Jom’s and Clint Gibbs’s excellent videos. Was hugely impressed.

    Amazing traction on very steep and technical off-road climbs – like you just don’t get on rigid bikes. A blast on steep and fairly-technical singletrack (am convinced by the dropper post) and just laughed as i sailed straight over roots and rocks on bridleways, that would have bucked my venerable Croix de Fer and I into the air.

    I’ve been looking for a bike like this after getting 3 punctures on the flinty UK South Downs Way, and bailing as a result. This is a real advantage to suspension, you can go harder and faster over unpleasant ground and not be so picky about your line.

    I will test ride the Topstone also, but elastic frame suspension just cannot achieve what damped suspension can. Niner set a very, very high bar. Exciting!

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