Review – Cannondale Trigger 2

Built for big ups and big downs

The Trigger was introduced nearly five years ago as one of Cannondale’s OverMountain-series bikes. It was built around the idea that you could have two bikes in one and switch between the two with the flip of a switch. That original bike used a pull-style shock and had the ability to dramatically change geometry—from XC to enduro modes—with a bar-mounted remote. The new Trigger 2 follows in the footsteps of the original Trigger as a bike that’s designed to handle it all. Oh, and it still has that “magic lever” to quickly change its personality.

WHO IS IT MADE FOR?

The Trigger is built to handle big rides on trails that have big climbs and deliver big rewards on the descents. This is a bike that’s built to “earn its turns” with a steep seat angle to make climbing easier. It combines that with a slack head angle that can handle the gnarly stuff on the backside. It has two different modes dubbed “Hustle” and “Flow.” In Hustle mode, the bike has a cross-country feel that climbs better. In Flow mode, the angles are slacker and the bike has more suspension
travel to work with. It might not actually be two bikes in one, but it’s as close as you’ll find to actually having that.

WHAT IS IT MADE FROM?

Cannondale builds the Trigger front triangle from their proprietary Ballistic carbon top to bottom, with aluminum chain- and seatstays and a full-carbon link. It comes with a special shock called the Gemini, which was co-developed with Fox to deliver the two ride modes. The frame also sports internal routing for either standard cables and housing or Shimano’s Di2 system. The frame’s unique-looking linkage even has space for a 24-ounce water bottle, which seems to be the choice for many all-mountain riders instead of using a pack. Whether you like the aesthetics or not, the option to run a full bottle is there.

The Trigger also sports all the modern trailbike amenities, including a 148-millimeter Boost rear axle, ISCG05 mounts with a PF30 bottom bracket and a tapered internal head tube.

WHICH COMPONENTS STAND OUT?

The custom-tuned Fox suspension worked flawlessly during our test, as did the SRAM Eagle drivetrain and wide WTB wheels matched with Maxxis Minion tires. There’s not much here to poke a hole in, as all the components are what we’d call “industry standard,” where each and every part is reliable and delivers performance.

Smooth and clean: The internal routing keeps the Trigger frame looking clean, and quiet on the rough stuff.

HOW DOES IT PERFORM?

Setup: Setting up the Trigger is slightly more complex than other bikes, only because of the extra remote and multiple modes. The bike should be set up with a fairly standard amount of sag in the Flow mode. For us, this was about 30 percent. Once there, we set the fork to roughly 20-percent sag, set the adjustments to the middle of their range and hit the trails.

Moving out: The extra clearance designed for the bottle cage certainly works and allowed us to run a full-size water bottle without issue. The top tube is certainly not the most low-slung we’ve seen, but standover was not an issue for any of our test riders.

Pedaling: The Trigger’s Hustle mode turns this bike into an impressive pedaling machine by slightly reducing the travel and making the spring rate slightly more progressive. This helps keep the rider in a more aggressive position over the pedals and keeps the bike feeling efficient.

Climbing: The ascents aboard the Trigger can be handled in two very different ways. The Hustle mode allows the rider to take advantage of the bike’s light weight and sit back and enjoy the efficient pedaling position afforded by the steep seat angle. Surprisingly, though, we found the Flow mode isn’t only for descending. It can be used to charge up steep and punchy ascents and allows the suspension to keep traction as you claw your way up.

Plenty of room: Cannondale designed the new linkage with space to fit a full-size water bottle under the rocker.

Cornering: In Hustle mode, the Cannondale handles much like an XC bike, with the rider position slightly forward and over the bars. This position provides plenty of front-wheel traction and keeps the front end planted on tight turns. In Flow mode, the bike offers more high-speed stability and confidence on technical turns. The impressively short chainstays in either case make the Trigger feel nimble in any turn.

Descending: There’s no need to use the Hustle mode when the trail points down, because better descending is only a flip of a switch away. The Trigger handles descents reasonably well in the Flow mode, although we’d be hard-pressed to say it’s a phenomenal descender. On rough descents, the travel seems to firm up slightly and limits the small-bump sensitivity. For bigger hits and drops, the Trigger handles the terrain well and has a lively feel that loves to be flicked off obstacles along the way.

TRICKS, UPGRADES OR TIPS?

The only components we swapped for some of our testing were the handlebar and grips. While they were certainly up to the task, we preferred the rise and sweep of a Truvativ Descendant bar and Renthal grips. The other notable change from last year’s Trigger is the absence of the custom Cannondale travel-adjust remote lever. It’s been replaced with a Fox remote, which works well, but is more bulky and less ergonomic than the old one.

Like a river: The “Flow” mode allows the Trigger to flow down the trail with ease.

BUYING ADVICE

Cannondale bills the Trigger as two bikes in one with the help of their custom two-position shock. While we’d agree it delivers on the promise of two very different feels, this is a trailbike through and through. It’s not an XC bike, nor is it an enduro racer, although it could be pushed into either of those duties for all but the most serious racers.

The frame is stiff and light, and the components are reliable and spot-on. Some may not like the complexity of the added remote or may not like the aesthetics Cannondale had to design around to fit the water bottle in; however, the new version of the Trigger proves this bike is ready and willing to hit nearly any trail with confidence.

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