First Look: The 2018 Cannondale Trigger

by
April 5, 2017

It doesn’t seem like that long ago that Cannondale first introduced the Trigger. Brought to life back in 2014, the Trigger full suspension bike debuted alongside an all-new Jekyll as part of Cannondale’s ambitious ‘OverMountain’ category – a category that no one has yet been able to determine exactly what it means.

Both the Trigger and Jekyll models were built around a distinctive Fox DYAD pull-shock and remote-adjustable control of the suspension travel. The Trigger had 27.5in wheels (though later Cannondale added a 29in model too), and it featured 140mm of travel in the Flow mode, which shortened down to 85mm in the Elevate mode.

cannondale trigger
Cannondale is back again with the all-new Trigger.

If anything, the Trigger was a little too distinctive. Cannondale admitted that while it believed in the Trigger’s abilities, the complex pull shock and Lefty forks weren’t gelling with everyone out there. Perhaps things could be simplified? Perhaps even better performance could be achieved with less complexity? And so over the past couple of years, the company has been busy working away on Trigger V2.0. However, as you’ll see, this one has very little in common with its predecessor.

As of today, we can finally reveal the bike that we’ve been riding on our local trails lately. For all the trail notes of the 2018 Cannondale Trigger 2, check out Barney’s review. Otherwise, get your peepers on this dressing-down of the details that have gone in to Cannondale’s new long-travel trail bike.

cannondale trigger full suspension 27.5 mountain bike
This is the new 2018 Cannondale Trigger.

“Big ups & big downs. All mountain & all day. With a killer new dual-mode, dual-travel shock, and Aidriven, all-mountain attack geometry, the all-new Trigger lives for big days in the big mountains, where sustained efforts lead to sublime rewards. Built for those ready to go all-out & all-in.” – Cannondale.

cannondale trigger full suspension 27.5 mountain bike
Sitting between the Habit trail bike and the Jekyll enduro bike, the Trigger is a versatile long-travel all mountain bike.

2018 Cannondale Trigger Specifications

  • Cannondale’s new long-travel full suspension trail bike
  • 145mm rear travel
  • Two travel modes: Flow (145mm) & Hustle (115mm). Adjustable via remote handlebar lever
  • 150mm travel fork
  • 66° head angle
  • 27.5in wheels
  • Carbon rocker link with LOCKR pivot hardware
  • 420mm chainstay length
  • 148x12mm rear axle
  • 6mm Asymmetric Integration drivetrain offset
  • Carries a 600ml water bottle
  • Available sizes: Small, Medium, Large, X-Large
  • RRP: £3999 – £5999
cannondale trigger full suspension 27.5 mountain bike
27.5in wheels, 150mm travel up front, and the ability to flick between 115mm and 145mm of rear wheel travel.

Relative to the old Trigger, there really is little shared with the new Trigger. For the most part, it’s a ground-up redesign, with the frame built around a conventional push-shock instead of the old DYAD pull-shock. You also won’t find any Lefty forks on the new Trigger models. While Cannondale digs the Lefty, it seemed that potential customers were put off by the odd looks, and others questioned the ease of aftermarket service when their local shop would otherwise be happy servicing RockShox and Fox forks. Alongside the complex DYAD pull-shock, the old Trigger design may have just been a little too radical for some.

The overall goal for the new Trigger was to offer a bike that was on-point with current demands and market trends, while creating a simpler and more accessible package that would be more appealing to more of the market. As a result, Cannondale has moved away from the pull-shock and Lefty fork, while at the same time updating geometry and improving parts spec. However, the Trigger still has a few interesting tricks up its sleeve.

cannondale trigger full suspension 27.5 mountain bike
No more pull shock on the Trigger.

Out back, the maximum rear travel bumps up a fraction to 145mm. It’s a single pivot suspension design, with a big carbon fibre rocker link driving the rear shock from the chainstays. The front triangle is made from Cannondale’s BallisTec carbon fibre blend, and depending on the model, the rear end is either carbon fibre too (Trigger 1), or hydroformed alloy (Trigger 2 & 3).

cannondale trigger full suspension 27.5 mountain bike
The rear shock uses a conventional stroke and i2i length, but there’s some Cannondale magic going on.

Where the magic happens is with the Fox Float EVOL rear shock. In terms of eye-to-eye length and shock stroke, this is a conventional rear shock. No funny pull-shock design, no difficult-to-source hardware, and no weird frame integration that makes finding an emergency replacement shock a complete pain in the arse. To be specific, it uses a 210mm x 55mm Metric shock size.

cannondale trigger full suspension 27.5 mountain bike
The cable runs down to a small cam on the rear shock which offers two positions: Flow (145mm) and Hustle (115mm).

Where it gets clever is the Gemini technology. This is a technology that Cannondale partnered with Fox Racing Shox to develop, with Fox taking care of the engineering and manufacturing side of things.

Essentially what Gemini is is a cable-activated piston. This piston has two modes: Flow, and Hustle. Flow provides you with 140mm of rear suspension travel, and Hustle drops you back to 115mm. How Gemini switches between those two modes is quite clever.

cannondale trigger full suspension 27.5 mountain bike
A standard Fox remote allows you to cycle between both modes.

In the Flow mode, the positive air chamber inside the Fox Float shock is exactly the same as an off-the-shelf Fox Float shock. When you flick the 2-position handlebar lever to activate Hustle mode, the piston moves, and closes off part of the positive air chamber, dramatically reducing the volume of the positive air spring. The result is a huge increase in progression in the shock stroke, which physically limits the travel to 115mm and helps to stiffen up the shock while also keeping it riding higher in its stroke. The result is improved pedaling efficiency along with more ground clearance for the pedals.

cannondale trigger full suspension 27.5 mountain bike
In the Flow mode, the Float X rear shock behaves exactly like a conventional Float X shock.

Otherwise the Float X shock on the Trigger 2 you see here is the same as a regular Float X shock. There’s adjustable rebound and compression damping, and the EVOL air canister that provides a smoother feel thanks to an enlarged negative air spring.

The only clue to the clever Gemini technology is a slightly larger diameter around the top of the air can, and the cable-entry point on the driveside of the shock body.

fox cannondale shock
Tuning of air volume can still be achieved with spacers, but they’re a Cannondale specific ‘Ramp Ring’, and the process will need to be carried out by Mojo.

On the note of air volume, the Gemini-equipped Fox Float shocks can still be adjusted with volume spacers. However, these volume spacers are specific to the Gemini air chamber, which Cannondale call ‘Ramp Rings’. Ramp Rings can be removed and installed to fine-tune the overall spring curve of the Trigger (and Jekyll), however, Cannondale doesn’t expect many users to do this themselves, as a special tool is required to remove the Gemini air can to do so. In the UK, Fox distributor and service centre Mojo Suspension will be able to handle such aftermarket tuning.

cannondale trigger full suspension 27.5 mountain bike
Key numbers.

Aside from redesigning the rear suspension, Cannondale was also keen to rework the Trigger’s geometry, with inspiration being drawn from the UK trail riding scene. The result is a very tight 420mm chainstay length, and a long front centre that’s bolstered by a 66° head angle.

cannondale trigger full suspension 27.5 mountain bike
Lovely carbon Descendent cranks with BB30 axle.

Elsewhere on the Trigger 2 frame, there’s loads of details lurking beneath the battleship-grey paint job. As the purveyor of the 30mm bottom bracket spindle standard, the Trigger of course features a PF30 bottom bracket shell.

cannondale trigger full suspension 27.5 mountain bike
Alloy back end on the Trigger 2 & 3 models.

For the main pivot, there’s sealed cartridge bearings that are held together via the LOCKR pivot system. This system employs an expanding collet that locks into the frame as it tightens up, reducing the chance of play in the future as surfaces wear and bed-in.

cannondale trigger full suspension 27.5 mountain bike
Tidy Maxle thru-axle and Flat Mount disc brake mounting.

While the top Trigger 1 gets a full carbon frame, the Trigger 2 and Trigger 3 models receive a more cost-effective alloy subframe. Cabling runs externally on the chainstay for both the rear brake and the rear derailleur, while the rear brake calliper bolts down onto a Flat Mount via an alloy adapter.

cannondale trigger full suspension 27.5 mountain bike
Replaceable derailleur hanger.

The rear hub is a 148x12mm unit, with a threaded Maxle locking it down onto the beefy alloy dropouts. Where things get interesting though is Cannondale’s A.I (Asymmetric Integration) offset…

cannondale trigger full suspension 27.5 mountain bike
The Trigger drivetrain is offset 6mm away from the frame, allowing for tighter chainstays and more tyre clearance.

Rather than a conventional Boost drivetrain offset, Cannondale goes one step further by offsetting the drivetrain away from the frame by a full 6mm. By pushing the cassette and cranks outboard by 6mm (instead of 3mm like a Boost drivetrain and rear hub), Cannondale is able to deliver much shorter chainstays along with greater tyre clearance too. We should point out that A.I isn’t new – it’s already featured on the Habit, Scalpel and FSi models.

cannondale trigger full suspension 27.5 mountain bike
Plenty of mud clearance from the bridgeless seatstays.

With the rear hub offset so heavily to the driveside, the rim is then dished back towards the disc side to compensate and keep everything lining up straight. Aside from the tyre clearance benefits, A.I also achieves a better dished rear wheel with more even spoke tensions, which in theory should deliver a stronger rear wheel. Win-win all round!

cannondale trigger full suspension 27.5 mountain bike
Curvy seat tube.

Even the main pivot is offset, with the curvy seat tube taking a curvy trip on its way down to the PF30 bottom bracket shell. It might look pretty normal at first glance, but there’s been some impressive calculator-punching behind all those offset tubes.

cannondale trigger full suspension 27.5 mountain bike
Stealth dropper post routing through the downtube.

The Trigger runs internal cable routing through the front triangle, with the gear, brake and dropper post lines channelled through the huge downtube. Also of note in the above shot are the two threaded bores on the chainstay around the main pivot. Those two holes will allow an S3 mount to fit a front derailleur. Though we’re not entirely sure why one would wish to carry around such a device?

cannondale trigger full suspension 27.5 mountain bike
You can fit a water bottle inside the main triangle on the Trigger.

A seemingly simple but highly important design feature that Cannondale wanted to achieve with the new Trigger was the ability to fit a water bottle inside the main triangle. With modern suspension designs, that goal is becoming harder to achieve for many brands, and a lot just don’t bother at all. However, not everyone wants to ride with a hydration pack all the time. Those riders may rejoice, because the Trigger will fit a 600ml water bottle vertically along the seat tube just above the bottom bracket shell.

cannondale trigger full suspension 27.5 mountain bike
Internal cable routing ports on the Trigger’s carbon head tube.
 cannondale trigger full suspension 27.5 mountain bike
SRAM Guide brakes, 11-speed shifter, and Cannondale’s own lock-on grips on the Trigger 2.
cannondale trigger full suspension 27.5 mountain bike
And a closer look at the Fox 2-position remote for the Gemini travel-adjust system.
cannondale trigger full suspension 27.5 mountain bike
Boost hub spacing front and rear.
cannondale trigger full suspension 27.5 mountain bike
A reliable 150mm travel Fox Float 34 fork delivers the goods up front.

Up front, Cannondale is spec’ing a 150mm travel Fox 34 fork across all three Trigger models. For the mid-spec Trigger 2, there’s a 34 Performance Elite fork complete with a stealthy all-black finish and matching graphics for the frame.

cannondale trigger full suspension 27.5 mountain bike
FIT 4 damper inside the Fox 34 Performance Elite fork.
cannondale trigger full suspension 27.5 mountain bike
Plenty of mud and tyre clearance inside the Boost’d Fox 34 fork.
cannondale trigger full suspension 27.5 mountain bike
The excellent Maxxis Minion DHF tyre up front…

More spec influence from Cannondale’s UK team is evident in the wheel and tyre choice on the Trigger series. Proper tubeless rubber abound, with a 2.3in wide Maxxis Minion DHF up front…

cannondale trigger full suspension 27.5 mountain bike
…and the crazy grippy Minion DHR II tyre out back.

…and a Minion DHR II out back. Both tyres are tubeless ready and use EXO reinforced sidewalls as well as the 3C MaxxTerra rubber compound. The tyres are wrapped around WTB Frequency i29 Team alloy rims with a 29mm internal width.

cannondale trigger full suspension 27.5 mountain bike
Tidy and underrated SRAM 900 hubs on the Cannondale Trigger 2.
cannondale trigger full suspension 27.5 mountain bike
Subtle, but high performance SRAM 900 hubs on the Trigger 2.

A 4-pawl freehub mechanism delivers 52 engagement points inside the SRAM 900 rear hub. Both front and rear hubs feature sealed cartridge bearings, swappable end caps and alloy axles.

cannondale trigger full suspension 27.5 mountain bike
British approved Fabric Scoop saddle.

Fabric comes under the CSG umbrella (just like GT and Charge), so it’s no surprise to see a Scoop saddle aboard the new Trigger.

cannondale trigger full suspension 27.5 mountain bike
150mm of sliding from Race Face in the form of the Turbine dropper post.

Cannondale is rocking internally-routed dropper posts on all three Trigger models, with a Race Face Turbine dropper sitting inside the carbon seat tube on the Trigger 2. Small frames will come with a 125mm dropper, while Medium, Large and X-Large sizes will get a 150mm banger.

cannondale trigger full suspension 27.5 mountain bike
The 2018 Cannondale Trigger 2.

If you’d like to read Barney’s full test of this grey beauty, then check out the first UK exclusive ride review of the 2018 Cannondale Trigger. For more information on the Trigger range and the new Jekyll too, head to the Cannondale website for all there is to know.

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First Look