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Re: Follow-up questions on a specific bike purchase

I came here to ask about ARD bikes and found this question/answer:

It was helpful and I had follow-up question. i have a carbon road bike with 25mm tires (max) and am looking for something more comfortable - less stretched out and managing bumps to be easier on my back. Up to now have ridden pavement (Michigan, so can be bumpy) but thought gravel type bike could add versatility.  I will likely ride mostly pavement still though, so don't want to get something too non-road focused.

I wondered thoughts on ADV 2.2 versus Salsa Journeyman Apex and Cannondale Topstone AL (Sora or maybe 105). (I would love the Topstone Carbon suspension, but that's a lot more).   None of them call out special features for compliance, so do they mostly depend on the tires as bump absorption?  some more expensive options have frames or seatposts designed for some help, even when don't have features like headset shocks or isomers.

8 Replies

I have the Salsa Journeyman Flatbar and ride it half-n-half pavement and gravel. It's one of my favorite bikes. Very versatile, loaded with the potential for cargo, higher volume tires to absorb rough roads. I ride in the foothills east of the North Cascades, but it would make a good city commuter bike as well.

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Hi @MichiganPete !

Looks like you already stumbled on some great advice from @REI-BryanV ! I wanted to link you to another post where he references the Journeyman and provides some details that I think you might find helpful in the decision process. 

Hope this helps keep you moving in the right direction! I’ll also tag a few more bike fans that may want to weigh in! @REI-JimL @REI-JohnJ 

At REI, we believe time outside is fundamental to a life well lived.

Hello @MichiganPete thanks for the question! The journeyman is also on my short list for a new dedicated gravel bike to hit the trails out here in AZ.

I will say, I currently have a Cannondale Synapse SE and, considering you want to stay mostly on roads, this will be a fast, comfortable, and compliant bike! I'll link below, but here are some reasons you might consider it: 1. Great compliant frame that also has more upright "endurance" geometry 2. Potential to run up to 32mm tires (I currently run 30s and with the right pressure they provide a very comfortable ride, even on light gravel roads) and 3. Versatility: you can opt for a carbon frame or aluminum frame/carbon fork. You can also run fenders too. 

Synapse 105 

Synapse Carbon Ultegra 

Hope this helps!

Jim L. 

At REI, we believe time outside is fundamental to a life well lived.

@REI-JimL Thanks.  How would you compare the TopStone AL 105 with the Synapse?


@MichiganPete great question, they look similar and do share quite a bit of the same geometry, but here are some of the major differences between the Topstone AL 105 and the Synapse Disc 105: 

-topstone has an extra set of braze on mounts on the frame to add bikepacking mounts to haul gear. It also has the ability to mount a front rack. Basically more options to haul gear for its intended purpose. 

-topstone has the ability to fit 42mm wide tires (almost half an inch wider than what the synapse can use)

-gearing: topstone has a 46/30 double crankset, and the synapse runs a 50/34 compact crank. Bottom line- the topstone is going to have easier gears for climbing hills, but you'll "spin out" on flat roads if you're really trying to pedal quickly. This is definitely where you can ask yourself if you're doing a lot of short steep climbs and want easier gears from the topstone, or if you're hoping to ride at a fast pace or with a recreational cycling group where you might be at higher speeds and want the road gearing of the Synapse. 

Brakes: the topstone has a nice hydraulic brake system- you'll get better stopping power and modulation (the ability to control how hard you brake) compared to the mechanical disc brakes on the synapse. 

Geometry: almost identical. The big difference here is that the topstone has a more relaxed head tube angle, which means it will be more stable going downhill on rough roads. It will also have a wider wheelbase and turn a bit more sluggish compared to the synapse; Kinda like making a u-turn in a pickup truck vs a sports car. 

Overall they're both great bikes, it just depends on what you ultimately see yourself using the most for your intended adventures. Let us know if you have further questions. 


At REI, we believe time outside is fundamental to a life well lived.


Low gearing worried me about Journeyman 700 Apex. 1x with 40t chainring, pretty low max ratio for road riding.  Topstone's 30/46 2x11 seems to yield reasonable range. Top ratio puts you over 30 at 100 rpm so I think it's plenty. 

Topstone AL and ADV 2.2 have similar ratio range, which is why I asked about comparing (thoughts?).   ADV just 2x10 and GRX 400 is maybe Tiagra level rather than 105 I read. I thought the 37 mm or 40 mm tires of these two would be cushier for road bumps, but maybe will be too much more work on road compared to thinner on something like Synapse.  Little paralyzed with choice

Hi @MichiganPete I agree, so many great choices, and lots of overlap among road, gravel, endurance bikes. I agree to rule out the journeyman on account of low gearing, and also that it does not have thru axles. 

The ADV 2.2 is a great spec for the price point. Plus, you have both front and rear thru axles and a carbon fork. It does have mechanical disc brakes, so the Topstone will have better braking performance with it's hydraulic disc brakes. 

If you are really looking for maximum road efficiency, the Synapse would win, but honestly the tires can be changed on either the Topstone or ADV 2.2 for more road efficiency later down the line if desired. 

One last comment, and it's really getting into nuance, but the ADV has 19mm wide rims (WTB i19s) and the topstone has 23mm rims (WTB i23s). The bottom line is, even if you put a 40mm wide tire on both, the tire profile would be wider on the wider rim which makes the ride a bit more comfy (once you find your ideal tire pressure), but cuts down on road efficiency. 

I'd say the ADV 2.2 has the same versatility as the Topstone, and at an excellent pricepoint. That's coming from someone who owns both Cannondales and Co-Op bikes. 

Hope that helps! 



At REI, we believe time outside is fundamental to a life well lived.

@REI-JimL Thanks, great points.  I had forgotten about the ADV having mechanical brakes.  Interesting on the rim width.  I know my MTB has 21mm internal rims and those are considered narrow. Hadn't thought of it as much for road, but getting into the wider tires I see how it applies. 

Thanks for all the information