They say Cannondale is back, more relevant in the mountain bike game than in the recent past. What makes them say this? Them being people in the industry, retailers and others who closely follow and believe in the brand. Well, one reason is the new Trigger series of all mountain bikes. Cannondale engineered these rides with an upleveled set of components, improved and variable geometry, and features — like internally routed cables — that we all expect from top-end steeds. The company builds three variants, all using essentially the same frame, with various bits swapped out as you progress from the top-end Trigger 1 to the entry-level Trigger 3. We chose the middle of the pack Trigger 2 for our test. And here’s what we learned.
At roughly $6000 MSRP, the Trigger 2 comes in a couple of subdued colors, stealth gray and black pearl. Unlike its big brother, it swaps the carbon swingarm for aluminum to shave a few bucks. But Cannondale keeps the variable Gemini suspension system intact and available via a remote cockpit switch.
The Cannondale Trigger 2 can definitely turn heads. The Fox Float shock stands out amidship. The Cannondale C1 handlebar anchors a reasonably uncomplicated rider UI thanks also to the Triggers cable management. All in all, a very nicely done package o’ mountain bike goodness.
The Trigger 2 employs a BallisTec Carbon front triangle and a SmartForm C1 Alloy swingarm. Head tube angle for those that track that kind of thing sits at 66 degrees. Cannondale spec’d Fox Float Performance Elites at both the front and back ends of the bike. Upfront, it’s the Elite 34 front fork with 150mm of travel. At the rear, it’s the Elite DPX2 EVOL with the Gemini dual mode system. That system allows the rider to adjust the travel from 145mm for descents (known as flow mode) to 115mm when climbing (aka hustle mode).
Frame: Carbon fiber and aluminum
Rear Shock: Fox Float Performance Elite DPX2 EVOL
Fork: Fox Float Performance Elite 34
Drivetrain: SRAM X01 Eagle (1×12)
Brakes: SRAM Guide RS
Wheels: 27.5 Stan’s NoTubes Flow MK3 rims, Formula 15×110 front, SRAM 900 12×148 hubs
Weight: ~30 lb
Keeping with the carbon theme, the drivetrain starts with a Truvativ Descendant Carbon 30-tooth crank and ends with the SRAM X01 Eagle derailleur. The rear cog is a 10-50 tooth 12 speed SRAM XC-1295.
The Trigger 2 delivers stopping power via SRAM Guide RS hydro disc brakes controlled by SRAM Guide RS hydro disc brake levers. There’s also a Cannondale DownLow Dropper Post with 150mm travel on the medium.
So how’d it feel to ride, you ask? Pretty darn good, I’d say. In hustle mode, the Trigger 2 climbed well. Some say around here — the East Bay hills about 45 minutes outside of San Francisco — that a 1x transmission just isn’t enough, that a 2x approach is what’s needed to challenge the steeps. The Trigger 2 proved that prevailing wisdom was wrong. I was able to push the Eagle X01 to the top of my favorite hill without a problem and with enough bottom end torque.
Coming down in flow mode, was still a pretty jarring experience however. These East Bay trails are rutted and rippled with wide, dry cracks. The 145mm of travel helps, as does the dropper. But bring that dropper back up and you’re banging your way down the hill. Nothing you can do about that.
BTW, the medium fit me just fine at roughly 5’10”.
The Cannondale Trigger 2 definitely impresses. It climbs well with the Eagle drivetrain. The variable Gemini suspension helps handle the steep dusty trails in my home loop. The carbon/aluminum frame is sturdy and keeps it all together. Give one a try at your local bike shop or retailers like REI.