While cyclo-cross bikes have been used as utility road bikes for years, it’s the marketing might of Specialized and their Tricross family that can be credited for the current ‘crossover bike’ boom, and the Tricross Sport is a smooth, enjoyable and versatile all-rounder.
The Tricross's relatively short and upright position is immediately welcoming. It’s equally helpful when you’re scanning rush hour traffic, riding roughshod cyclepaths all day or doing something you shouldn’t on steep, woodsy singletrack.
While the rubber shock-absorbing Zertz inserts in the fork, frame and seatpost are gone, the extensively worked tubeset, tapered fork, longer than average chainstays and skinny carbon-wrapped seatpost still suck a lot of sting out of rougher surfaces. The cunning eccentric washer stem clamp design means highly accurate cockpit positioning, and the Specialized gel-padded bar tape and saddle add comfort where it counts too.
While the hefty weight, short position and slightly soft feel won’t please racers, Specialized now has a dedicated ’cross bike race range to cater for competitors. Don’t go thinking the Tricross is a dull experience when the pace picks up though. The big-siped-tread road tyres roll really well for sustained speed and are fat enough to smooth out old railway trails or rutted bridleways.
They handle rocks and drops surprisingly well if you fancy a bit of ‘mountain bike lite’ action, and while they slide a lot, it’s a predictable movement that doesn’t necessarily mean you end up on the floor. A triple chainset is a real godsend, whether it comes to getting up steep off-road stuff without putting your kneecaps in danger or dragging loaded panniers uphill day after day.
The narrow cantilever rear brake is distinctly soft, but happily, the wide canti front offers more leverage and can stand the bike on its nose at will, and by using a fork crown arm for the cable terminal rather than a headset collar mount as on previous designs, there’s no brake judder due to fork flex. Cross top levers are included in the price. The Mavic rims are well proven and internal cable routing and full mudguard and rack mounts suit the bike’s anytime, anywhere character.
This article was originally published in Cycling Plus magazine.