Specialized Tricross Sport Disc $1300

Multi-use Californian cruiser

BikeRadar score 3/5

The Tricross has been around in various incarnations for the better part of a decade. This year’s disc brake model looks expensive, with its stealthy matt-black alloy frame, highlighted with striking glossy red and black decals.

  • Highs: A quality frame with good provision for mudguards and a rack
  • Lows: Stodgy, lifeless tyres, and we expect a carbon fork at this price
  • Buy If: You want a comfortable, upright urban cruiser and you aren’t in a hurry

Despite having few racing pretensions, the top-tube is radically flattened, making this a shoulder-friendly bike; fully internal cabling also helps, with nothing to snag on the down-tube. The chunky, untapered fork is full alloy and has mudguard bosses high on its legs, well out of the way of the disc calliper, and there’s a full set of rear rack and mudguard eyelets too.

Internally routed cables won’t snag on your clothing

Setting the bike up, we became aware of a problem with the front Avid BB7 brake – the tab on the outboard pad was fouling on the calliper mount and unable to retract fully, so the brake could not be adjusted properly. The solution was to cut the tab off, which makes pad removal fiddly, but doesn’t affect braking. We drew Specialized’s attention to this and were told that the issue is being addressed, and that corrective shims are now being fitted as standard.

With the brake sorted, it was time to hit the road, where it became immediately apparent that the Tricross is not built for speed. A short reach plus a tall head tube and a 20mm conical headset spacer puts you somewhere between quite relaxed and bolt upright, and although the clever Elite-Set stem includes a reversible shim that offers two different angles (or four, if you count flipping the stem), even in its lowest configuration you’re still far from cheating the wind; add in the wooden-feeling 32mm Borough CX boots that weigh almost half a kilo each (we checked), and the Tricross doesn’t so much roll as trundle.

Though the Axis wheels are serviceable, the 32mm CX rubber doesn't make for lively experience

If you don’t mind the lack of urgency, this bike is an agreeable enough ride. The upright position affords a good view in traffic and the handling is entirely devoid of drama, good for pootling along cycle paths and waving at everyone you encounter. The all-metal fork isn’t nearly as jarring as you might imagine either, although here again, those rumbling Boroughs do little to enhance ride quality.

Stately, upright semi-urban cruising is the Tricross's natural habitat

The Tricross uses modest nine-speed Sora kit, with a compact 50/34 chainset. It’s cheaper looking than Tiagra, but the shifting action is similar. The 11-30 cassette will satisfy most needs, while the Axis wheels are basic and weighty but perfectly serviceable. Inline brake levers are standard, and while these offer respectable power, their long reach will be a challenge to those with small hands. They also tend to interfere with the gear cables, which rattle on rough ground.

The Specialized Tricross is a sober and effective commuter, but with a nine-speed groupset and a metal fork it feels underspecced for the money.

This article was originally published in Cycling Plus magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.

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