This past summer, I biked from Seattle, WA to Eureka, CA, with total trip mileage coming it at just over 1100 miles. We towed a trailer holding 2 surfboards and took 6 weeks to enjoy this beautiful stretch of coastline, stopping all along the way to surf and hike. No support vehicles, hotels or anything fancy. Just simple, pedal-powered fun. With me for every pedal stroke was The Specialized Tricross Comp Bicycle.
Tricross Comp Bicycle Details
- A1 Aluminum frame
- Carbon Fork and Seatpost
- Internal cable routing- minimizing exposure to the elements
- Cantilever brakes
- Roval Pave Wheels with Specialized Borough Pro Tires
For full specifications and sizing details, scope the Specialized Website. They’ll give you more information than you ever thought you needed to know about bike features and geometry.
Tricross Comp Bicycle Review
Throughout the summer, I used the Tricross Comp as my touring bike for an 1100 mile bike ride from Seattle to Eureka, CA. I can’t offer a review of how the Tricross specifically performs in Cyclocross races, or for short day rides, but after 6 weeks, I have a good idea of how it performs across multiple situations. I rode the Tricross in Downtown Seattle traffic, out highway 112 in Washington, and then down Highway 101 from Washington to Eureka, CA. If you’ve ever driven that stretch of road before, you know the conditions vary from beautiful, freshly paved roads to eroded shoulders that have partially fallen off, leaving chunks behind to navigate around, while still avoiding the logging trucks driving 4 inches to your left. Inside of a 15 mile stretch you’ll find a beautiful section of slow, rolling hills, a steep grade, and a flat section. I had a lot of “terrain variety!”
Now, by no means am I a total “bike geek.” I have no vehemently strong feelings about specific componentry, nor do I wish to spend hours debating the pros and cons of specific types of spokes, or something else of that level of detail. What I know about bikes is that I want mine to work. And I want it to feel nice while riding it, be responsive to how I ride it, and I don’t want to battle with shifting. I can fix a flat, adjust a derailleur, recable and adjust my brakes, and lube a chain. This is about the extent of maintenance I want to do on a bike, so what I want is a bike that performs in all conditions, and doesn’t present problems beyond what I am capable of fixing.
Overall, I was very impressed with the bike. Having owned an old Specialized Dulce as my primary road bike for many years, the first thing I noticed was the difference in shifting. The Tricross Comp comes equipped with Shimano 105 STI shifters. The jump from the shifters on the Dulce (Shimano 2300s) to the 105s was phenomenal. Crisp, effortless shifting. The Tricross Comp comes with a 10-speed Shimano 105 Casette, which allows more gears than the Tricross and the Tricross Sport. More on gearing later…
The Tricross Comp comes equipped with 700cc Roval Pave wheels and Specialized Borough Pro tires. In 1100 miles of riding, I had ONE flat. Yes, that’s right. ONE. I wish I could say this was due to careful, well executed riding, or to clean, debris free roads, but, if you’ve ridden anywhere on Highway 101, you know that idea is laughable. These tires are burly! Glass, shell pieces, tail lights, animal carcasses and other unavoidable road debris were no match for the Bourough Pro tires. They offered great traction in the rain without being so knobby that the rolling resistance became a hassle.
The Tricross Comp frame is Specialized’s standard A1 aluminum frame with a few tweaks. The top tube is wider, to make carrying your bike (for hike/bike and cyclocross adventures) easier. With 40+ lbs of gear already on it, I wasn’t carrying my bike anywhere this trip. However, what I appreciated about the frame was the internal cable routing through the frame. Since it rained for a good portion of our trip, it was nice to know that my cables were safely living inside my frame, away from the mud, dirt, road grime and rain. For touring, usually a steel frame is an ideal choice as it absorbs bumps and carries weight better. However, with the exception of a few very rutted gravel roads, I felt the Tricross frame functioned fine for my tour.
Overall Mechanical Impression
Mechanically, over 1100 miles, I had next to no problems. Some initial cable stretch, which is to be expected of any bike, was about the only issue I ran into. The front derailleur was getting a little sassy about 300 miles in, but that was nothing that some minor adjustments couldn’t fix. I also had a small plastic ferrell near the micro adjust for the front derailleur bend (and subsequently break), but that was it! The snapped ferrell necessitated a re-cabling around Astoria, Oregon, but all in all, cost me less than $20 bucks for the ferrell, a new cable housing, and the labor for the bike shop to run it through for me. NO complaints here, as I was hammering this bike into the ground on a daily basis. You find me another piece of equipment that performs with so few problems when seeing hard use every day for 6 weeks.
Tricross As a Touring Bicycle
For those of you looking for a touring bike, you know you’ve got a longer list of “things my bike MUST have” than your average consumer. Some opt to purchase a bike specifically for touring, in addition to the road bike they already own, plus their bike for cross competitions, and oh, yes, probably a mountain bike as well. Don’t have the cash to buy multiple bikes, but wanting some flexibility in what you can do with the one you do have? Look into the Tricross. The Tricross is a fantastic option if you’re looking to just own one bike, and wanting to have some versatility.
With minimal modifications, the Tricross Comp becomes a great touring bike. It’s equipped with braze-ons for mounting a rack on the back, and the 2012 model will have front fork braze-ons as well. If you’re looking into used models, be sure to investigate which year it is, as all years but the 2011 model have easy front rack capabilities. I rode the 2011 model, which does not have braze-ons on the front fork. Not the end of the world, but it took a lot of work to find a rack that was compatible with the bike, the carbon front fork, and zero front mounting points. In the end, a rack from Old Man Mountain that mounted through the skewer and to the cantilever brake bolts was the solution. The 2012 model will include braze ons on the front fork, eliminating this problem entirely.
The gearing of the Tricross Comp functioned fine for my long distance, fully loaded tour. There were some big hills when I would have given anything to swap bikes with my boyfriend, whose lowest gear was about 4 lower than mine, but for the most part, I had no complaints. I was also carrying much more gear than your average tourer, due to surfing equipment (you’d be amazed how much weight two wet wetsuits add…). With an average touring load, the gearing that the Tricross comp comes with will be fine. The Tricross and the Tricross Elite have a rear cassette with 8 and 9 gears, respectively. I’d recommend opting for the comp if you’ll be doing longer distance tours on your bike. That extra gear is nice to crank up big hills.
Since the Tricross is primarily a cross bike, features like internal cable routing and a wider frame to allow for easier carrying are already built into the bike. The A1 aluminum frame held weight well up to a certain point. If I had loaded my bike wrong, boy, I’d know it. The bike would go from handling an extra 40+ lbs gracefully to riding much like a plastic spoon. With careful loading, the bike carried the weight of me and my gear well, especially for not being a steel frame, as most touring bikes are. Though bumps weren’t absorbed as well as they would have been on a steel frame bike, the A1 aluminum frame allows for more versatility in other realms of cycling.
My only true complaint about the Tricross as a touring bike comes in when we talk about fenders. Don’t worry, yes, it is fender-compatible. All the mounts are there, so you can be sure to toss on a pair and keep you and your gear relatively dry even in the wettest of conditions. However, if you order the Specialized fenders, the Tricross comes equipped with metal fenders, as opposed to plastic ones. Originally, I was stoked- I figured they would be more durable than plastic ones. However, 2.5 miles into a gravel section of road we biked to get to some surfing, I thought otherwise. Metal fenders chatter. Incessantly. Adjustments don’t help, it’s just the metal moving as you go over rougher terrain. The noise was deafening at times, and my least favorite part of the Tricross setup that I road. That being said- get yourself some plastic fenders and the Tricross is still a great option to take on your tour.
Bottom Line: Specialized TriCross Comp Bike
- Your “quiver of one” bike. Take it on a tour. Take it to your local cross series. Toss some skinnier tires on it and use it as your road race bike. Use it as your daily commuter in all weather. For a very reasonable price, you’ve essentially got yourself 4 different bikes.
- A1 Aluminum frame absorbs the majority of bumps but keeps a fairly lightweight profile.
- At $2000 MSRP, a screamin’ deal for the frame, componentry and versatility that you get.
- No braze-ons on the front fork on the 2011 model- makes finding a front rack for touring difficult.
- 700cc wheels make the stand-over height taller, making the Tricross a bit harder to fit if you’ve a short person with short legs.
Want a bike that does it all? The Specialized Tricross Comp is a versatile bicycle that you can take on your morning ride, to the cyclocross competition in the afternoon or on your six week bike tour.