Specialized Tricross Elite Disc Apex Compact
Specialized has termed their Tricross line as “Freeroad,” worthy of smooth pavement and gravel roads, light trails and that cheater line though the park. Wide range gearing, disc brakes and full rack and fender mounts make the bike a capable commuter while still sprightly enough for weekend road rides. For most city riders, such a bike is far more suited to everyday riding than more roadie inspired models, or even the racier cyclocross machines often used as serious commuters. At $1900 complete, the Specialized Tricross Elite is far from entry level, but for the committed rider is a reasonable choice for an almost do-it-all machine.
At the heart of the 22.7 lb Tricross Elite is the disc only aluminum frame with formed tubes, integrated headset and internal cable routing. The sloping toptube and tall headtube means comfortable positioning on- and offroad, the ample tire clearance allows large volume tires with fenders or tons of mud clearance if you’re looking to get deep into the muddy ‘cross circuit. The SRAM Apex drivetrain and Doubletap shifters paired with an FSA crankset, sporting a 50/34 set of front rings and an 11-32 tooth 10-speed cassette out back, provides a quick shifting, wide range of gears that should get you up most any hill with plenty of gear on the downhills and flats for anyone that’s not a full-on road racer. Avid BB5 disc brakes handle the stopping duties.
In the saddle and on the pedals the Tricross Elite does not disappoint. As expected, the aluminum frame has the classic feel of every bit of power getting to the wheel without discernable flex, and the aluminum fork tracked exactly as pointed through turns, even if by the end of the day I found it a bit harsh on the hands and arms as compared to a steel or carbon fork as on my personal ‘cross bike. I appreciated the tall headtube and ample headset spacers allowing me to keep the bars relatively high by road bike standards and the drops within reach. And I love the raw aluminum look of the clear anodization.
While I found the SRAM Apex drivetrain a fantastic performer, I do wish the bike was spec’d with Avid BB7 brakes rather than the less powerful BB5s. And given that SRAM makes both brakes and levers, I found the overall feel less than ideal even though the stopping power was ultimately there—spongy, with it easy to bottom out the brake levers on the bars. If I were king I would have spec’d lower profile rims for the weight savings, but everyday commuters may appreciate the added durability of v-section rims.
Racers may find themselves looking elsewhere, but for the rest of us the Specialized Tricross Elite is a capable road and light trail bike in one. For people willing to hit singletrack on skinny tires, it won’t be the bike holding you back.
Check out www.specialized.com