Review: Specialized Crosstrail Sport Disc

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The Crosstrail formula is simple: aluminum frame with generous tire clearance plus rack and fender mounts, 60mm-travel SR Suntour NEXi suspension fork, a 3×9 drivetrain, Tektro Draco hydraulic disc brakes, and wheels and tires on the heavy-duty end of the road spectrum. This package delivers a highly versatile bike that can be used for commuting, light touring, road rides, urban and rural exploration, and even some light-duty trail riding.

I greatly appreciate the Crosstrail’s ability to cruise back and forth to work on pavement while also tackling dirt trails, even singletrack, without breaking a sweat. The Suntour fork takes the edge off of curb-hopping and the Specialized Trigger 38mm tires provide surprising grip off-road, even in snow, while rolling with respectable speed on the road.

With geometry that’s on par with many 29-inch-wheeled mountain bikes, the Crosstrail’s off-pavement prowess is no surprise. That said, folks looking for a true mountain bike would be better off with Specialized’s Rockhopper 29. On the other end of the spectrum, the Sirrus and Vita models would better serve those looking for a lighter pavement-pounder. What the Crosstrail lacks in ruggedness or outright speed and efficiency, it more than makes up for in terms of versatility with fender mounts and a rear rack.

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Overall, the parts spec on this Sport Disc model is quite good considering the price tag, with nice touches like a quality, house-brand two-bolt seatpost that makes saddle adjustments a breeze, as well as Body Geometry XCT grips and a Targa Sport saddle that kept my hands and bum happy. The front and rear hydraulic disc brakes performed flawlessly despite temperatures dipping into the middle-teens during the test period, and are a welcome addition in sloppy winter weather. The lack of necessary brake maintenance, and lack of worn parts (pads and rims specifically), will certainly keep riders happy.

The Crosstrail has proven itself a fun and reliable partner over the last two months by delivering an oversized helping of practicality. Sure, I was skeptical of the fork at first, but found its performance to be far better than expected. It took the edge off rough sections of trail and handled larger hits without ever bottoming harshly. Even though the fork has a lockout, I never felt the need to turn it on, even to stand and hammer uphill.

Specialized markets the Crosstrail series as “fitness adventure” bicycles, intended for the recreational or utility cyclist looking to throw some off-pavement adventure into the mix. For the ladies in the crowd, Specialized offers a female-specific counterpart called the Ariel. Seven models each for men and women range in price from $580 to just shy of $2,000. The Crosstrail Sport Disc retails for $830, making it the second least expensive disc brake-equipped model in the lineup. Only the base Crosstrail Disc is cheaper at $630.

Overall, I feel the Crosstrail is a highly competent package for a very reasonable asking price. This bike would be an excellent choice for someone who is new to cycling and looking for a versatile tool to help them explore their interests. Hell, this rig is a solid choice for experienced cyclists on a budget. I didn’t expect to find this bike so capable, nor did I expect to like it as much as I have. Specialized has a winner here—I’m sold.

Vital Stats

  • Country of origin: Taiwan
  • PriCe: $830
  • Weight: 30.8lbs.
  • Sizes AvailAble: S, M (tested), L, XL, XXL

 

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