For some time, I’ve been wanting a good all around commuter / cyclocross / road / light offroad / touring bike to get around town on when running errands, “commute” to swim practice, or anywhere else reasonable. My desires were the ability to ride at a decent pace, have the flexibility to put on some racks and panniers and head out for a day or two, race some cyclocross, maybe do some light off roading. And for some reason I wanted disc brakes too.
I started looking at various bikes that might fit the category and it seemed like cyclocross bikes could handle all that I needed. They supported wider tires, they were built tough, had eyelets for racks/fenders. I looked at a bunch of bikes (from Kona, Trek, a couple others) but kept returning the the Specialized Tricross line, specifically the Elite Disc Apex Compact model. As is usually the case with anything, the model you want, is always one or two notches above what you set your budget at. That’s when you start justifying how you can save X amount of dollars by biking instead of driving… etc. (I expect to replace about 20-25 miles of driving per week, which would save me about $200-$250/yr in gasoline…)
While shopping around, I stopped by The Path Bike Shop to see what they had going on over Father’s Day weekend. Turns out, for whatever reasons, they are no longer going to be carrying Specialized bikes. So with that discount, plus an across the board 15% Fathers Day sale, I was able to get the bike I wanted about 25% cheaper. Score. They only had a size 56. My road bike is a 58 (which I’ve always felt was a tad big), and my TT bike is a 56 which fits great. This bike is slightly smaller feeling than my road bike, but not overly so. with a 120mm stem, I was able to set it up nice and comfortable. I’m 6′ 1.5″, 32.5″ inseam.
First impressions – it’s slower than my road bike. Understandably so. The brakes have awesome stopping power, but they squeal like a pig in a slaughterhouse.
I love the secondary brake levers, it allows for staying up on the bars and being able to brake without moving my hands. Great for casual riding, or descending down some single track. Stock set up comes with 700×32 tires, which are nice. I will likely replace them with more slick tires for on road riding, these have some tread. I did race it in an pretty rough, but fast MTB race last week for which I put on 29×1.8 S-Works tires. While the wide tires perform well, and there is ample clearance in the forks, the rear is pretty snug. The left frame stay clears the wheel by millimeters, while the chain stay has a little more clearance. Wheel alignment has to be perfect to avoiding rubbing.
I’ve been playing with the adjustment of the brakes, and as they break in, I’ve pretty much eliminated all the noise they make. I do find that I have to tighten the skewers very tight. Much more so than my road or TT bike, otherwise the wheels fall out of line and brakes rub (and the wheels are crooked!). But knowing that, I do tighten them up and all is good.
So far, I’m loving it. It’s great to hop on and ride to the store, or commute to swim practice (I do need to get a rack for bikes equipped with disc brakes as my existing one won’t fit). It’s got plenty of gears for road riding and the SRAM Apex shifts smoothly and cleanly. I’ve tried it with the stock flat pedals (great flexibility for hop and go riding), I’ve used my road (Keo) pedals/shoes and I’ve since bought some SPD M540 pedals and MTB shoes which will work best for casual and off road riding. All in all, that part is great and no complaints.
Road riding is very good. I have yet to take it out fast – I may try to take it with my bike group to see how it keeps up. Off road it performs well too. Light off road, fire roads work great. It climbs nice (with the added traction of the replacement tires). With no suspension it doesn’t soak up any bumps. The aluminum frame is stiff and passes every pebble into your wrists, but that is to be expected. On the flat terrain (whether level, up or downhill), I can easily outpace the mountain bikes. On the technical and bumpy stuff I have to be very cautious to pick the least jarring line. All in all it can hold it’s own over moderate terrain. It’s light enough to bunny hop and wheelie as needed.
I will post a review in a few months once I have more miles on it, but so far so good!