It's been a while since I last rode a bike but having bought a Cannondale Topstone Tiagra only a few days ago and finding the hidden streets and valleys of a town in which I've lived for many years I've reignited my passion.

Outside of riding my head has been frazzled by research into how to improve my bike and essentially gear up towards bikepacking with a journey from North to the South of England (Carlisle to Bristol 380 miles)

Certain articles recommend switching the Crankset of the Tiagra. I've read about the Selle Anatomica seatpost as a seat to save your perennial, Dropbars, Tape and everything in between.

Any recommendations? Musts, Must Nots and MustArd.

  • 1
    Do you mean change the gearing on the chainset (i.e. lower gears) or swap out the cranks for some other design/quality reason?
    – Swifty
    May 22, 2020 at 16:11
  • 3
    You MUST ride it for a few months and see what you'd like to change. May 22, 2020 at 16:19
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    I assume that "perennial" actually should have been something like perineum. More generally, Selle Anatomica makes leather saddles (NB: not seatposts, those are the things you mount the saddle to and whose height you can adjust), and many touring riders have said that leather is very comfortable on extremely long rides.
    – Weiwen Ng
    May 22, 2020 at 19:26
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    The only reason to change the crankset would be to have a more "road" gearing. But this gearing from FSA Omega is actually closer what they now put to gravel bikes (e.g. the GRX groupset) and is better suited for bikepacking in rough terrain and steeper climbs. I wound not change to a Tiagra or 105 crank at all. It would be counterproductive. May 22, 2020 at 20:55
  • 1
    Avoid mustard anywhere near your bike, it is acidic and will corrode things.
    – Criggie
    May 22, 2020 at 22:02

2 Answers 2


We can't tell you what upgrades you should make, because we are not you. We don't know what your preferences or priorities are, what kind of rider you are or what riding you want to do (apart from knowing you have a long distance goal in mind).

Go ride the bike. Make a training plan for your long distance ride. Go ride the bike more. Figure out what works and what does not. Decide where your money is best spent. Consider that money may probably better spent on gear and accessories (clothing, shoes, computer, tools etc) than on bike upgrades.

Addressing some things you mentioned:

Replacing the FSA crank with a Shimano one. Yes you could do this, but why? Is the FSA crank actually deficient? Crank sets are relatively expensive so see my point about where to spend money above.

If long distance riding is your goal then switching out the saddle is a definite possibility. Stick with the stock saddle and see if you have problems with it first though. Saddle choice is unfortunately down to experimentation with different brands and models. You also want to make sure you saddle is set up right for you, some people like a little more forward tilt than others.

If you are thinking about a suspension seat post, good saddle fit and adjustment is far more important for 'saving your perineum'.

  • +1. I agree with this answer. I want to add that the only reason to change a non defective crankset would be to change gearing ratios, but then it may be more effective to change the cassette (achieve the same goal with only one component swap).
    – Jahaziel
    May 22, 2020 at 16:38
  • I like it. More time in the saddle and less in the pocket which is always a bonus. My main instigation began when reading a review which said "I put a 105 crankset on it because the FSA one it comes with sucks, i put a Thomson stem and post on it because that’s what i do, and i put flared salsa bars on it because this bike is begging for flared drop bars. I finished it off with brooks tape and a Cambium saddle, though I am currently testing one of those brand new, stubby looking, Fizik Argo Tempo saddles on this bike" May 22, 2020 at 18:33
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    @itchy_phoot Some folks like to customize their bikes, and if they have the money and know what they want that's fine. For those starting out, gear and clothing improves the overall experience much more than bike upgrades. May 22, 2020 at 18:47

In addition to Argenti Apparatus’ excellent answer I’d like to focus on the traveling aspect.

The main difference to “normal“ long rides is that you’ll need some way to carry luggage. If you travel lightly (e.g. just some spare clothes and snacks) you might get away with a backpack, though the additional weight on your hands and butt can get uncomfortable.

If you plan on more luggage, since you have the aluminium version of the Cannondale Topstone, you can easily mount a rear rack (I’d go for a lightweight one like the Tubus Fly) for panniers. With full-size rear panniers like the Ortlieb Backroller you can easily carry a whole set of camping equipment including tent and cooking pot.

Two or even three bottle cages for 1l bottles (or even for 1.5l PET bottles) are also a good idea.

Of course all the weight of the luggage makes it harder to go uphill, so make sure you have enough easy gears.

  • 2
    For reasons I'm not quite sure about, bikepackers seem to default more to handlebar, saddle, and frame bags rather than the traditional racks and panniers used in road touring. It could be that racks might hit obstacles off road on trails, but that might depend on where you are going bikepacking. (NB: I don't bikepack!!) Whatever the case, I second the recommendation to focus on luggage equipment of some type given that the OP specifically indicated bikepacking.
    – Weiwen Ng
    May 22, 2020 at 19:24

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