In May of 2008, I picked up a new bike. It wasn’t a mountain bike; I had one of those. It wasn’t a road bike, per se. I didn’t have one of those, but didn’t feel like I really wanted one either. I was a mountain biker! What does a dirt rider like me need with one of those pavement machines? But oh, a cyclocross bike. That was definitely what I needed. In the event I actually needed to ride the road, I had an appropriate tool. But now I had a bike that would let me ride in cyclocross races. The fact that I had never actually done a cyclocross race at that point was largely insignificant.
Now, to be honest, part of the reason that I got it was for a long-distance ride along US-41 with folks from my church and thought that the Tricross would be the best possible option.
So after three summers of riding this machine, why would I suddenly be inspired to wax poetic about it? It has a lot to do with that ride last weekend. 103 miles on gravel roads and was absolutely perfect. But two days before, it was my ride into work. The day after I got back, it was transformed into a cyclocross rig. Off came the bottle cages, on went the CX saddle and CX tires. Yesterday it got all muddy during our local Wednesday Worlds CX practice. Earlier this summer I had on 23c road tires and rode in a criterium with it. The next day was a 55-mile road race. Two days later it carried me to work again. I haven’t even mentioned the two long winters it has spent on the trainer in the basement.
That’s what’s so fantastic about this bike — it’s incredible versatility. It tames short road rides and long road rides and rides where there is no road. It’s been reliable like no other bike I’ve ever had. Even after all the CX races, I’ve never had to true a wheel. The Shimano 105/Ultegra drivetrain has been quietly reliable. The Avid canti brakes took a while to dial in, but all CX bikes have that problem and we tamed it. No fork chatter here. I did have to replace the freehub in the Roval rear wheel after just a few months, but the replacement has been solid for thousands of miles now. The frame looks as good as it did the day I bought it. I believe the Zertz inserts are completely doing their job. The ergo bars are perfect. The lines of the bike are elegant, but functional. If there is anything at all that I would complain about, it would be the paint job. The brown/black combo is a little underwhelming, but Specialized made some weird color choices on the Tricross over the years.
Sadly, Specialized has watered down the Tricross a bit and split off the ‘cross racing usage into the CruX. I think the new CruX Expert could make a good replacement for the Tricross (except for the rack mounts). So for now, I’ll hold on to the most versatile bike in the world (and take another “shortcut” through the Tech Trails on the way).