The Tricross has been around for a few years now and, as part of the Freeroad range, is Specialized’s take on the do-it-all cyclo-cross bike. We’re big fans of the natural versatility of ’crossers – their tough but light frames house big clearances for high-volume touring tyres, or road slicks with room for mudguards – and Specialized have taken that mongrel versatility one step further.
Frame & fork: Light yet forgiving frame that’s practical and stylish; only the chattery forks need tweaking (8/10)
Handling: Perfectly balanced for both laden and unladen riding, with real off-road potential too (9/10)
Equipment: Ideal for its price point; excellent attention to detail and gearing range for the price (9/10)
Wheels: Solid and sturdy, though invest in a second set of tyres for roadwork (8/10)
The Sport may not offer the fancy carbon rear end of the Tricross Comp, but it still boasts a very nicely ﬁnished, glossy brown A1 Premium Aluminium frame, weighing just 1,762g (3.9lb).
It’s really well thought out too, with a generous head tube for a comfortable all-day riding position, long wishbone stays for stability and three sets of water bottle bosses, including one under the down tube.
Not only this, but there are rack and mudguard mounts both front and rear – the carbon Fact fork has massive tyre clearances and is rated to carry up to 15kg, which is more than enough even for camping tours.
Cyclo-cross purists will no doubt scoff at all this superﬂuous detail, but in our minds it just adds to the bike’s inherent versatility. And if you do hanker after some ’cross action on your local circuit, the ﬂattened top tube for carrying shows Specialized haven’t neglected the Tricross’s roots.
What’s more, the bike is ﬁnished off with the usual Specialized attention to detail: a comfortable cutaway saddle, squishy Bar Phat handlebar tape and a carbon-wrapped seatpost to tame road buzz. We particularly liked the neat stem that offers four different angles, thanks to a rather nifty insert.
Elsewhere, the 32-spoke Alesa wheels coped well with the conditions we threw at them – local singletrack, city sprints and loaded touring – with a broad 11-32 rear cassette that will suit both novice riders or those with hilly inclinations. Teamed with a 50/39/30 FSA square taper triple chainset and reliable Tiagra kit, it’s just what you’re after for touring.
The Borough 700×32 tyres are a bit sluggish and deﬁnitely happier on paths rather than roads, so it’s well worth having a set of slicks to hand, or even investing in a second set of lighter wheels for road use.
Still, with the Tricross weighing in at 10.65kg (23.5lb), it certainly doesn’t feel unduly weighty, and while its thinly drawn, manipulated tubeset isn’t going to have the resilience of a burly steel touring frame, it’s a lot lighter.
Out on the road, handling is neutral. Not a dull, boring kind of neutral, more a predictable but engaging neutral, ideal for a bike that has both canal path and touring intentions. In short, a good balance. With a set of road slicks, it’s fun and fast enough to ride on a club ride. Load up everything you’d need for an End-to-End, and it won’t unleash any surprises either.
There’s the slightest hint of toe overlap with the tyres ﬁtted, but not enough to be an issue. Our only real complaint was the incredible amount of brake chatter we experienced from the fork; toeing-in the brakes helped considerably, though a different compound of pads or a set of mini V-brakes may be a better long-term solution.
Overall though, we have little but praise to lavish on the Tricross. It’s a consistent, well-rounded bike with great attention to detail with a spec that’s spot on for its £750 price and intended use – only the front brake could do with a rethink. In fact, if you only have the budget or room for one steed but want it all – long distance touring, fastish road riding and forays on forest tracks – you’d be hard pressed to beat it.
Specialized tricross sport: specialized tricross sport www.robertsmithphotography.co.uk