2015 Cannondale Trigger 27.5

Bike Magazine - 2015 Carbon Trigger Carbon 2 - Bible of Bike Tests


Cannondale augmented its carbon-fiber Trigger 29 with a smaller-wheeled sibling in order to cater to the 27.5-inch crowd. How- ever, great efforts were taken to ensure that the two different wheel sized bikes would retain key handling traits and in all other regards be identical.

So, they both get carbon fiber frames, Lefty forks, Fox Dyad adjustable-travel shocks, Shimano XT dual-ring drivetrains, Shimano XT Trail brakes, Mavic Crossroc wheels and tires and KS Lev dropper posts. However, the smaller wheels get more suspension travel (140 millimeters up front versus 130 millimeters for the 29er, and 85-140 adjustable rear versus 80-130), a slacker head angle (68 degrees versus 69 for the 29er) and a fork with more offset (60 millimeters versus 50 millimeters). Ultimately, this begs comparison not just with other brands, but also within the family.

Will riders prefer the big hoops or the small?

In the real world, as much as there are striking similarities between the two bikes, they are still very distinctly different from each other. More aggressive testers preferred the 27.5-inch wheels, stating they made for a more flickable, responsive ride. The old man of the group preferred the 29-inch version, claiming it felt calmer and more stable.

This aside, Cannondale did a remarkable job of creating a similar fit and feel in all other regards. The chassis is incredibly stiff; it’s free from any sort of wag or flex.

Regardless of wheel size, this bike handles well, climbs snappily in the ‘elevate’ short-travel mode, and descends with confidence in the ‘flow’ long-travel mode. It also means that both bikes share complex shock setup procedures, alongside proprietary forks that require bed-in time to achieve full travel and feel somewhat heavily damped. – Mike Ferrentino

Q & A with Bill Rudell, public relations manager – Cannondale

We had questions about the new bikes before we even got our test rigs, so we sent out a few queries—the kind of things we thought you might be asking yourself when you’re looking at this bike. Then we sent out another round of asks if any major questions or issues came up during testing. Here’s the feedback we received from Cannondale public relations manager, Bill Rudell.

Consider this a bonus feature—just a little something extra to chew on if you’re still hungry for information after you’ve watched our video reviews and flipped through the Bible of Bike Tests.
—Vernon Felton, Bible of Bike Tests Moderator

VERNON FELTON: Why produce both a Trigger 29er and a Trigger 27.5?

BILL RUDELL: The intent of the Trigger platform was to create the ultimate all-purpose (OverMountain) bike for the full throttle adventure rider – people who want to gas it on the climbs, then open it up and let it rip on the downhill, and who want the highest performance they can get across the widest spectrum of terrain. Some of these riders prefer the stability, momentum, grip and roll-over-anything-ability of the bigger 29er wheels, while others prefer a little more nimble, precise and quick accelerating bike. Since this is such a huge category, we wanted to create a bike for both rider types and heights. It’s no secret that some taller riders prefer 29-inch wheels and shorter riders like 27.5-inch wheels but we see lots of cross-over – smaller guys on 29 and taller on 27.5 – it’s all about what you like.

VF: What makes the bikes different (handling wise) from one another and who would be the ideal rider for each bike?

BR: Trigger 29 handling is designed to balance the inherent stability of the big wheels with a level of slow-speed nimbleness that generally isn’t found in longer travel 29ers. We gave the SuperMax 29 fork the biggest offset in the business (60 mm) which reduces the trail measurement. When paired with slacker head angles, this delivers both high-speed stability and low-speed agility, making it an all-around playful bike that can handle aggressive descents and technical climbs equally well. It makes a great Enduro machine on more pedally courses, and just eats up the miles on long adventure rides.

Trigger 27.5 loves to be ridden a bit more aggressively. It’s super flickable and the smaller wheels reward a riding style that is more quick and explosive. It uses a 50-millimeter offset SuperMax fork to keep ideal trail with the 27.5 wheels. Punchy climbs, technical descents or flowing singletrack, this bike is nimble and ready to shred.

VF: The marketing copy states “The new Trigger is a ground-up redesign based on the Trigger 29, but dialed in for 27.5-inch wheels.” What are some of the key differences between the two bikes? Obviously the geo is different (the 27.5 has a much slacker head angle, for instance), but does the 27.5 feature other less-obvious tweaks to the Trigger formula?

BR: Yes, the Trigger 27.5 is based on the 29’er design but, to get the most out of the smaller wheels, we had to completely redesign it. Every tube on it is different. We wanted to keep the ride and handling pretty similar between the two bikes, but play to the strengths of the different wheel sizes. One of the biggest advantages we have is that we make our own forks, so we can play around with offset (rake) to create the best handling for each wheel size. Increasing wheel size automatically increases trail, which can make for sluggish handling at slow speeds. Also, slack head angles –which improve handling at high speed – increase trail. By increasing the rake, we can compensate for both of these factors and bring best of both worlds handling to both wheel sizes.

The differences in the frames are:
- 27.5 has a slightly shorter top tube (1 centimeter in size large)
- 27.5 has a slightly slacker head angle (1.5 degree in size large)
- 27.5 has slightly shorter chain stays (1 centimeter in size large)

There is also a difference in suspension:
- Trigger 29 uses 80 millimeters in elevate mode & 130 millimeters in flow mode
- Trigger 27.5 uses 85 millimeters in elevate mode & 140 millimeters in flow mode
- Trigger 29 Lefty SuperMax has 60-millimeter offset
- Trigger 27.5 Lefty SuperMax has 50-millimeter offset (trail is both wheel sizes is the same)

What is the same:
- Both bikes use our new Trail-tuned damper with Wide Mouth piston to flow more oil and improve small-bump sensitivity
- Both bikes use our Zero Pivot seatstays, which save weight, increase lateral stiffness and help soften the blow if you bottom-out the rear suspension
- Both bike use our ECS-TC System (Enhanced Center Stiffness Torsion Control) which eliminates flex and play in the pivots and links for rock-solid stiffness and instant responsiveness
- Both bike use BallisTec Hi-Mod Carbon frame construction

VF: The less-expensive trigger models come equipped with “normal” Fox forks, while the higher-end bikes sport Lefty models. Right or wrong, some riders still balk at the Lefty. Thus, Cannondale could be seen as limiting the sale of the higher-end Triggers and, yet, you guys are sticking by your guns. You clearly believe in Lefty. Why? What makes it a better choice than, say, a Fox 34 or RockShox Pike?

BR: Yeah, it’s funny. Lefty’s been around for 15 years and still some people just don’t get it or think it’s a gimmick. Generally, they balk and are unsure right up until they ride one. The fact that Marco just won the Kamikaze on a SuperMax should reduce some of the balk, for sure. But absolutely, we love Lefty. We’re stubborn, but I can guarantee that we wouldn’t have championed it for a decade and a half if it didn’t offer serious benefits to the rider.

Lefty’s biggest advantages are in weight, stiffness and steering precision – it’s counter-intuitive but the single-legged Lefty is actually stiffer and stronger than traditional forks because of how it’s designed. The Lefty SuperMax delivers stiffness and strength that rivals dual crown DH forks, but is lighter than most regular trail forks. The other factor is that, rather than sliding on bushings, the leg rolls on strips of needle bearings, which means it stays completely smooth under all loads. Having that kind of stiffness and smoothness up front means you can brake later and harder into turns and pick more accurate lines through rock gardens, all while carrying way less weight. Once you get used to its capabilities, it can be hard to go back to “normal” forks. The only reason we don’t use them on every one of our bikes is just cost – all that technology is expensive so there is a threshold below which we simply can’t afford to spec them.

Singletracks' Long Term Review of the 2015 Cannondale Trigger Carbon 27.5

Posted on December 12, 2014 by Greg Heil

The 2015 Cannondale Trigger Carbon 2 27.5 is a part of Cannondale’s new Overmountain lineup. All of the Overmountain bikes were designed to provide a 2-in-1 ride quality, thanks to their unique suspension design. When I heard that the Trigger was on its way over, I decided that the Crested Butte Ultra Enduro would be the perfect testing grounds to pummel this new bike and unique concept… and to see if it could stand up to the challenge.

Note: the front tire pictured here is an after market WTB Breakout, while the rear is the stock Maxxis Crossroc.

Build Kit

Before we get to the core of the Trigger–the suspension–here’s what you need to know about the parts spec: the Trigger Carbon 2 features a full Shimano XT 2×10 drivetrain with Shadow Plus rear derailleur, as well as bombproof XT brakes. Simply put, these parts are tried and true, and over the course of my review they performed admirably, and I experienced no issues. A dependable KS Lev dropper post, WTB Silverado saddle, and Cannondale C1 carbon riser bar with Cannondale lock on grips round out the cockpit.

The wheel and tire combination were both Mavic Crossrocs, and to be honest I was extremely underwhelmed with the Crossroc tires. They were too narrow, didn’t have very good tread, and didn’t want to ride well on the rim when mounted tubeless. I even burped a tire on a rocky wall ride on my first shakedown, which might actually be the first time I’ve burped a tire–oh joy! In my opinion, the Crossmax tires would be a much better fit, and the Crossmax wheels wouldn’t go amiss, either. However, with a different pair of tires mounted up, the Crossroc wheels performed well, even if they felt a bit under-gunned. If you’re going to push the Trigger more toward the all-mountain end of the spectrum, a beefier pair of wheels wouldn’t be a bad choice. But if you’re comfortable with long pedally and climbs and not blasting off big drops on the descents, the Crossroc hoops will be more than adequate.

The Carbon 2 build kit I reviewed retails for $6,170, with two models priced above it and the top-tier Carbon Black model hitting the registers at $10,830. There are also two models priced below this one, with the most affordable Trigger 4 alloy model retailing for $3,140.

With its stock setup, my size-medium Trigger weighed in at a very respectable 27.8lbs without pedals.

Geometry and Frame

The Trigger features 140mm of suspension, placing it squarely in the “trail bike” category. Riding a 27.5 trail bike was a new experience for me, but the shorter amount of travel, lighter build, and slightly-steeper geometry make it much more pedal-friendly, which is one of the reasons why I chose to race it during the Crested Butte Ultra Enduro. The Trigger sports a headtube angle of 68 degrees, an effective seat tube angle of 73.5 degrees, an effective top tube length of 59.8cm, 43.8cm chain stays, and a wheelbase of 115.1cm. All of these stats combine to create a bike that’s a fast, capable climber, yet one that can descend at high speed.

The Trigger Carbon 2 is fully-carbon (no aluminum rear triangle or chainstays here), and utilizes Cannondale’s BallisTec Hi-MOD Carbon. The carbon is covered with a beautiful glossy red paint that shines brilliantly in the sun.

Suspension: SuperMax Lefty Strut

While the frame is beautiful, the parts are dependable, and the weight is light, what really sets the Trigger apart from other bikes is its unique suspension set-up. Most visibly, up front the Trigger is rocking the new SuperMax Lefty. In short, the new SuperMax is designed to be lighter, stiffer, and better than ever before. My test bike came equipped with the 140mm model, which features the same chassis as the 160mm, but is internally limited to just 140mm of travel. The massive tubing makes the SuperMax extremely stiff, with a 36mm lower tube and a huge 46mm upper tube. However, even with these large tubes and dual crown, the single strut keeps its total weight down to 1,850g.

Since the Supermax has the same chassis throughout, if at some point in the future you wanted to convert the 140mm to a full 160mm, it’s relatively easy to do. According to Cannondale, “you would have to purchase a new 160 damper cartridge which fits right into the upper leg. Then you remove the lower air assembly, remove a 20mm spacer that sits in the bottom of the leg, and you’re all set.” Pretty simple. If this was my personal bike, this is an upgrade I’d seriously consider. And even if you think 140mm will be plenty, it’s great to know that the option is there if you need it.

This was my first time riding a Lefty fork, and I was unbelieveably excited! Spending some serious time on a Lefty has been on my bucket list for years, and now I was finally able to give it a go. At first, my brain had a hard time getting over the fact that my fork wasn’t a fork, but was instead a strut. But when I pointed the bike down the trail and just focused on mountain biking, it became clear that the SuperMax isn’t here just to make a visual statement, but it has a real job to do–and it does it superbly well.

The SuperMax rides just like you’d expect any other suspension fork to ride. It’s plush, yet firm when it needs to be, soaking up trail chatter and big hits alike. The unique Poptop lockout system is extremely easy to use on the fly: just slap the big red thing to stiffen it up, and push the blue bit to open it back up. Interestingly, while the Poptop does make for a much stiffer ride and a really great climbing feel, it does feature a blow off valve in case you forget to open it back up when you descend. While not ideal, the blowoff can save your ass in a bad situation, and will keep you from destroying anything on the Lefty internally.

Suspension: DYAD Shock

While the Lefty is the most visually-interesting suspension component, the DYAD rear shock is arguably the most revolutionary technologically. For starters, the DYAD is an incredibly-rare pull shock. Yes, that’s right: instead of pushing into the shock, the suspension pulls it out. Don’t ask me exactly how it works–it just does.

While that might be the DYAD’s weirdest feature, it’s not the most outstanding. The DYAD isn’t just one shock: it’s essentially two shocks in one. While complex shocks like the Cane Creek Double Barrel have adjustable valving that allows you to switch between long travel and short travel mode, the DYAD has two separate sets of air chambers, for a total of four different air pressures to adjust and two different sets of rebound speed to adjust. If you think that sounds complicated, you’re be right–but thankfully Cannondale has provided a handy cheatsheet to give you starting pressures to use as your base values, which you can then tweak according to your individual riding style.

The Trigger ships with its own shock pump. At first I was like, “what do I need another shock pump for? I already have too many of these!” But when I looked at this table of pressures, I understood: most standard shock pumps can’t physically provide pressures this high! The supplied pump, on the other hand, is specially-designed to handle high air pressures of over 500psi.

The benefit of having two completely-separate sets of air chambers is that the rear shock can consequently provide two totally different amounts of rear suspension: 140mm and 85mm in the case of the Trigger. Now, unlike a FOX CTD shock, switching to the short-travel “Elevate” mode doesn’t stiffen or lockout the shock. Rather, the short-travel mode is a fully-active 85mm that is individually tuneable from the longer-travel 140mm option. Especially for real mountain biking on singletrack trails, you really should never completely lock out your suspension. An active suspension, but with shorter travel, functions to provide better traction in steep terrain and soaks up small trail chatter, while providing a firmer pedaling platform than a full-length shock.

I personally found the short-travel mode invaluable on long climbs. Also, I really appreciated the individual tuneability. I set up the short travel mode with a stiffer and slightly-faster rebound rate, while I aimed for as plush of a ride as possible with the long-travel mode. Thanks to a handlebar-mounted remote, I switched between the two settings often.

While I loved the DYAD in Elevate mode, in the full-travel “Flow” mode I found that it left some performance to be desired. When I was riding the bike within the limits of its capabilities, the shock performed admirably and the rear wheel tracked superbly. However, when I pushed the Trigger too far, it fought back. The DYAD bottoms out extremely harshly, with a clunk and a jolt that would whip me forward. Also, I found the rear end to clunk severely on square-edged hits, with the bike almost getting caught on square rocks and stopped in its tracks.

I had a hard time determining the cause of this harsh bottom out. I tried tweaking air pressures and rebound/compression rates, and I wasn’t able to eliminate it. That said, during the course of my test I did ride this bike far beyond the intended application of a 140mm trail bike (keep reading for my general ride impressions), but I’ve done this with trail bikes before that just kept on plugging away, even when abused.

General Ride Impressions

I chose the Cannondale Trigger Carbon 2 27.5 as my race bike for the Crested Butte Ultra Enduro because of its unique combination of characteristics. With long miles and many thousands of feet of climbing, I wanted a bike that wouldn’t burden me unduly on the climbs, and yet would be able to descend the singletrack mountain passes at race pace.


Thanks to the light weight, superb adjustability afforded by the DYAD, and the excellent geometry, the Trigger climbed like a champ! I tackled miles and miles of climbing aboard this beast, and I loved it as much as one can enjoy pedaling a bike up a hill.

Rolling Trail

In my opinion, rolling trail is where the Trigger truly excels. 140mm of travel is a good bit but it’s not a ton in the grand scheme of things. However, 140mm is perfect for maching along rolling, rocky trails, with pedally sections, descents, and a general good mix of everything. Hence the “trail” categorization: it’s for riding average trails.


I did indeed race the Trigger through 10 stages of the Crested Butte Ultra Enduro, and I posted some good times along the way! Thanks to an incredibly solid frame, bomber parts spec, and astoundingly stiff and responsive suspension strut (aka the Lefty Supermax), I was able to rip down the mountainsides through ridiculously technical, steep, washed-out trails, at what most people would consider unwise speeds. And the capability of the Trigger is confirmed when I say that this bike doesn’t really do well in this application.

“Wait, doesn’t do well at this? What do you mean?”

When ridden within its boundaries, the Trigger is a stupendous mountain bike. These boundaries can stretch a really long way, and include stupid-fast descents, drops, endless rock gardens, jumps–you name it. But when you push past the boundaries, you’ll know it. The rear shock will bottom out and squwak like there’s no tomorrow. The wheels will start pinging and groaning at you. And while the SuperMax won’t bottom out harshly, you’ll keep reaching for more travel up front and wishing you had it. I quickly pushed this bike past its boundaries while shredding double black diamonds in the Evolution Bike Park.

But let’s be honest here: this bike just isn’t meant to be ridden like that. While some other bikes will acquiesce to the rider’s demands when pushed past their intended use, the Trigger, on the other hand, will protest, complain, and refuse to go further.

But the Trigger is more than capable of tackling chunk like this, at high speeds, all day long. Photo: Nick Ontiveros / Big Mountain Enduro

Bottom Line

For standard trail riding with big climbs, long rolling sections of trail, and moderately-technical descents, the Trigger is a beaut’ of a bike! The outside-the-box suspension components set this bike apart both visually and tactilely. However, if you really want to push the envelope on stupid-gnarly terrain, I’d really recommend stepping up to the Trigger’s bigger brother, the Jekyll. But if you avoid trails that might force your spouse to collect on your life insurance policy or you live in an area where the descents aren’t measured in miles, the Trigger could be the perfect bike for you.

MSRP: $6,170

Enduro MTB Mag's First Ride...

Review of the Complete Cannondale Overmountain Line

The trigger 29 has been available in aluminum and carbon fiber for some time now, and to complete the lineup, Cannondale has recently introduced the trigger 27.5 “and the new Jekyll 27.5″, offering a choice to those want to try the 27.5″. We had the chance to compare all three models now directly against each other and figure out which bike is best suited to which rider.

Cannondale now has something for every biker in their program, with a bike suiting every personal preference and individual riding style.

Read the full story here: http://enduro-mtb.com/en/first-ride-review-of-the-complete-cannondale-overmountain-line/