Cannondale 2013: Riding the new Trigger

Cannondale’s ‘Over-Mountain’ family of 26in bikes has previously consisted of the 150mm Jekyll and the 180mm Claymore. Cannondale felt that there was a gap at the shorter travel end of that spectrum. More trail bike than the Scalpel and a bike that could be built either light and fast, or slightly more butch and still fast. It’s a bike for the ‘cross mountain’ rider if you will…

With great ceremony, Cannondale showed us their new bike… The Trigger.

Pocket Rocket, Jerome Clementz was on hand to talk about the bike, which he's been testing extensively.

The whole Over-Mountain family shares some similar design ideas. They all have twin-travel suspension, courtesy of a Fox DYAD shock. This also gives the bikes two different geometries for climbing and for descending. In the case of the Trigger, the bike features 120mm of travel at the rear, with a 130mm new Lefty fork at the front. The rear travel can be shortened into ‘Elevate’ mode to give 70mm of rear travel for climbing.

 

Cannondale's Trigger 1 bike, with carbon frame.

The Trigger 1 features the 130 Lefty carbon with hydraulic remote. SRAM 38/24 gearing, Reynolds carbon wheels, XT shifters and XTR mech, XTR Trail brakes. Weight is 24lbs 10.8kg

 

The Trigger features a 69° head angle for nimble trail handling and Cannondale reckons that it should appeal to the kind of rider who’d take on the Trans-Provence, or TransAlp kind of adventure. Cannondale says that it’s “Ideal for fast trail riders who love to climb and are looking for a punchy great handling, quick accelerating bike” to which it’s rider Jerome Clementz says it lets you “Save energy and enjoy more the downhill”.

 

The Trigger 2

Trigger 2 features the Lefty PBR (Push Button Remote) fork. Mavic Crosstrail wheels, Magura MT2 custom brake and the DYAD RT2. Perhaps surprisingly it weighs just less than the Trigger 1 at 23.8lbs 10.8kg. This is because it doesn’t have the slightly burlier components, like the XTR Trail brakes.

Handily, Cannondale had a large amount of Triggers ready for us to ride. And with the prospect of dry trails, we were happy to get out and give it a good going over. With a long route selected that avoided the tempting chairlifts of Utah’s Deer Valley resort, there was nothing to do but get climbing (and descending).

Nope, this bit of the job didn't suck one bit

 

 

So, here are Chipps’ first impressions of the bike:

First off, it’s a lovely looking machine. The frame tubes are truly huge, yet a heft on the bike reveals a true ‘ride all day’ weight. But would that mean it was a bit wibbly on the downs?

Setting off on the first big climb of the day, I noticed two things right away. Firstly it accelerates really quickly, helped no doubt by the carbon Reynolds wheels. Secondly, it’s really quiet to ride. There’s no clattering and clanking. The Trigger just shuts up and lets you do the work.

The new Lefty fork. And yes, it's a great carpet isn't it?

Pushing the rear shock lever brings the bike into ‘Elevate’ mode, with its 70mm of travel. In this position, the shock uses a completely different damping circuit, so it’s not just a stopped-down trail shock, it’s a proper XC shock. The similarity with the feel of Cannondale’s Scalpel was quite surprising. The bike feels (and is) steeper and more nimble in the switchbacks and out the saddle efforts are well rewarded. The feel is like that of a stiff race shock, with a steep spring curve that refuses to bottom out. Release the lever and the bike instantly sags down, with a lower BB, slacker head angle, 120mm of travel to use and becomes fun and playful again. The fork lockout on the Trigger 1 uses the Rockshox hydraulic lever and it’s simple to press on or release. One benefit of the new Lefty fork is that you can see how much travel you’ve been getting by looking at the lower O-ring.

The DYAD's two-position lever. Just push forward to engage Elevate mode.

...and press the silver button at the end of the lever to unleash Descend mode.

I mostly kept the fork unlocked, but used the shock switch a lot; engaging it for out of the saddle efforts and fast, flatter singletrack and climbing, then releasing it for anything rocky or downhill.

Talking of the downhill, this is a great bike to throw down a mountain. The suppleness of the Lefty, even under hard braking or ill-advised mid-corner braking is very reassuring. The suspension has a bottomless feel to it but isn’t so squishy as to make thrutchy moves too wallow to work. On downhill switchbacks, the bike can be muscled around with as much confidence as you can muster. Pedal seated over bumpy trails and the bike still grips tenaciously. With the pull-shock, it’s hard to tell how much travel you’re using, but it felt like I got most of it, without ever running out. Slip it back into Elevate mode and the change is gradual – like a werewolf changing back to human, it takes a while for the shock’s check-valve to pull the oil back into the right chamber, whereas switching to Flow mode is as instant as looking round at a furry face with yellow eyes in the rear view mirror. You can feel the bike sag and get all silly-feeling.

Did I like it? Given that I only had one (long) day on it, my initial reaction is ‘Hell yeah!’. It’s a bike that I’d happily have as my sole trail riding bike, with dips into racing and good old getting lost in the hills. We’ll be very interested in getting one in for a long term test to see how the bike and the new Lefty fork fare, but the start is very promising.

Oh, and in case you’re wondering why the Trigger is a 26in model, rather than being a 29er, or even a 650B, it seems that the bike was slated to come out a couple of years ago, but a few production and suspension hiccups kept it shelved for a bit. The new 26in Trigger is due out in October, but hot on its heels will be a 29er Trigger (that we’ve seen, but can’t show you) which will be launched at Eurobike in September, with production likely to arrive in the New Year. In the meantime, we’ll be quite happy on the 26in version…

 

The Trigger's super-wide linkages are to give the bike the most rigid feeling frame as possible.

 

 

 

The Trigger1. Now imagine a pimpier one...

 

 

So, that’s the Trigger… Although we must mention that there’ll be a Europe-only version called the Trigger Ultimate, which is going to be the no-expense-spared model. It’ll have the carbon frame, the 130mm travel Lefty with XLR remote, a Cannondale Hollowgram crankset – 38/24, ENVE wheels, XX components and XO brakes…

We’re still waiting on the UK retail prices. They inevitably won’t be cheap, but they will be worth the wait…

In the meantime, here’s a little look at the rest of the Over Mountain range.

With the new Trigger taking up the fast up/fast down end of the range, there’s room to make the Jekyll and the Claymore a little more gravity-focussed. To wit, the new 150mm/90mm Jekyll 1 gains a longer fork, a chain device and shorter stem with wide bars. It also gains a Fox 34 fork, which really seems to make a noticeable difference on the trail.

 

 

The Jekyll 1. There are carbon and aluminium Jekylls available.

 

There’s also one model that’s built to be more burly; the Jekyll MX, which has Fox 36 forks and even more chunky stuff.

 

 

 

The Jekyll MX, for when you need more chunk

 

If the Jekyll MX still looks too XC for you, then there’s the ‘Be your own chairlift’ Claymore with its 180/110mm suspension and ‘go just about anywhere’ spec.

 

 

 

The Cannondale Claymore. This is the bike that Aaron Chase happily flips, whips and hand-plants on...

 

 

 

 

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