This article is part of the Mtbr’s Enduro Compare-O. See all the stories in this special section here–http://reviews.mtbr.com/category/enduro-compare-o-2014
Give Cannondale credit. When it comes to bike design, the Connecticut-based company has never been afraid to stand out from the crowd. While the standard game plan for enduro bikes is currently trending toward 27.5-inch wheels, traditional forks, and basic three-position CTD shocks, Cannondale has taken a radically different approach with its 29er Trigger platform. But that’s nothing new for this company, which has consistently billed itself as being driven by engineering, not marketing. If there is a way to improve something, they’ll do it and figure out how to sell it later, is the party line.
That certainly looks to be the approach with our full-carbon 29er test bike that’s equipped with a unique pull shock that toggles between 130mm and 80mm of travel, a single-sided Lefty fork, and a host of buttons and levers that controls it all. At first blush, it can be a little overwhelming, technological overload if you will. But the real question isn’t figuring out how to use this non-traditional set-up, it’s whether it actually works or not.
“Imagine being able to pick any line, up or down, and charge it at full speed,” the Cannondale website boasts. Well, we can imagine, but can the Trigger 29 Carbon 2 actually deliver?
While at first glance the Lefty fork will draw your eye, the centerpiece of the Trigger’s dual-suspension system is the proprietary FOX DYAD RT2 pull shock, which for lack of a better word, simply looks complicated. In reality, though, it’s essentially two shocks stuffed into one somewhat oversized package. Flick the handlebar mounted lever one way, and it acts as a low air volume, short travel shock, in this case 80mm. Toggle the lever the other way, and you get 130mm of bump-eating goodness.
Separating things into two chambers allows for independent compression and rebound damping circuits, claims Cannondale, meaning they can tune each travel setting, and not have to simply compromise somewhere in the middle. These dual travel modes also alter the bike’s geometry. In the 130mm “FLOW” mode, ride height is lower and head angle slacker due to extra sag. Flip to 80mm “ELEVATE” and you get a steeper head angle, less sag, and a higher bottom bracket.
Not to be outdone by the shock is the single-sided Lefty SuperMax PBR, which claims to deliver 130mm of plush, bottomless travel, and allows you to change front tire punctures without the hassle of removing the wheel. There is also an easily accessible rebound adjustment/lock-out button built into the top of the fork leg. Clearly the lack of a right fork leg means a pleasing reduction in weight. The question, though, is it stiff enough to stand up to the rigors of hard riding?
Dropper posts are a virtual must on this new breed of bike. The Trigger 29 Carbon 2 is spec’d with a KS Lev Integra with internal routing. It’s a post we’ve used before, and been roundly impressed. The lever action is smooth, and the infinite position capability allows you to fine tune saddle height depending on the situation. The Trigger 29 Carbon 2 also gets high out-of-the-box marks for its brake choice, Shimano’s reliable XT Trail stoppers with 180mm rotors front and rear.
Wheels are always key to the performance of 29er trail bikes. Spec a noodly pair of hoops on a 2×4-stiff carbon frame and you still get a noodly ride. Our test rig is outfitted with Mavic’s Crossroc 29 WTS tubeless ready wheels mated to Mavic Crossroc WTS tires. Stiff enough? To be determined…
And then comes the all important weigh-in. Here the Trigger is middle-of-the-pack. We’ll see if the unique technology and ability to morph to more climbing oriented geometry is enough to outweigh (pun intended) those extra pounds.
2014 Cannondale Trigger 29 Carbon 2 Key Specs
- Weight: 28.74 pounds (size large)
- Wheel size: 29 inches
- Frame Material: Carbon
- Travel/Suspension: Rear, 130-80mm/Fox Dyad RT2 Dual Shock w/remote lever; Front 130mm/Lefty Supermax PBR 29
- Drivetrain: Shimano XT 2×10 w/36-22t chainring and 11-36 cassette
- Brakes: Shimano XT Trail, 180mm front, 180mm rear
- Seatpost: KS Lev Integra Dropper with internal routing
- Wheelset/Tires: Mavic Crossroc 29 WTS tubeless ready/Mavic Crossroc WTS
- Bars/Stem: Cannondale C1 Riser carbon/Cannondale C1 1.5”
- Bottom bracket type: Cannondale PressFit30, SRAM bearings
- Head tube angle: 69.5 degrees
- Seat tube angle: 68.5 degrees (actual); 73.5 degrees (effective)
- Chainstay length: 17.6 inches
- Bottom bracket height: 13.7 inches
- Bike MRSP: $6170
- Frame MSRP: n/a
For more information visit www.cannondale.com.
Read our Bottom Line Evaluation of the Cannondale Trigger 29 Carbon 2 here.
This story is part of Mtbr’s 2014 Enduro Compare-O. Check out our intro story here for all the ground rules and goings ons.