Is the Specialized Crosstrail "the perfect do-it-all bike"?

Words by Aaron Scott

on 28/12/2018 16:08:00

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When we reviewed the Specialized Crosstrail Sport Disc back in 2015 (read the review here), we praised it as �the perfect example of a do-it-all bike�. With a perfect balance of quality components, front suspension, multi-terrain tyres and a keen price point, that model was the ideal gateway into the world of cycling for newcomers and a useful multi-purpose tool for established riders.

Has that changed for the new range? Most certainly not.

Across the new range, the Crosstrail comes with disc brakes and front suspension, with chunky tyres and wide gearing providing ample support whatever the terrain. Prices start from just £474.99 and range up to £999.99.

Let's delve into the details of the range to see how the bike has been updated for this year, and how it still ticks those boxes as �the perfect example of a do-it-all bike�.

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Frame and Forks

The well-balanced A1 Premium aluminium frame used on all but the Sport and Elite carbon fibre models is responsive and durable, with the chunky head tube tapering down to the seat tube combined with lithe seat stays and quality forged dropouts. Despite appearing seemingly simple, the frame is tough enough to take pot-holes, kerbs and juddery trails in its stride, yet be light enough to make off-piste shortcuts not just a possibility, but essential to arriving at your destination with a grin on your face. And it hides a few tricks too, with fully-manipulated butted tubing concealing internal cable routing and Plug + Play rack and mudguards mounts, setting the Crosstrail up as a more-than-capable commuter as well as an all-round fitness bike, with even some light touring potentially within its reach. At the top end of the 2019 range, this blend of comfort and speed is built upon with the A1 Aluminium SL material, which adds compliance while still accommodating rack and guard mounts.

Specialized have used the extensive resources of their Body Geometry team on the Crosstrail to develop a 'Fitness' geometry that strikes the optimal balance between comfort and efficiency, while keeping things lively and entertaining.


At the lower end of the range, forks are SR Suntour's NEX with Multi-Circuit Damping for smoother travel through its 55mm of punch. The lockout is still present to see off the pedal feedback making climbs and fast sections a joy to attack whilst still reaping the benefit on the bumpier stuff. For the Elite model, the Crosstrail is upgraded to an SR Suntour NCX fork which increases to 60mm of travel but combines it with an integrated remote lockout and Specialized's Fitness Brain technology. This system promotes more climbing and pedalling efficiency by differentiating between rider input and trail bumps to ensure that pedaling forces aren't being wasted in compressing the suspension.


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Groupset

On paper, there's a fairly substantial variation in groupset spec across the 2019 Crosstrail range, perhaps to be expected on a bike of this nature which sits in a competitive market at a range of key price points. Shifting duties are largely handled by a combination of Shimano and Microshift, and each model has a suitably wide gearing range perfectly designed to give you quick acceleration from the traffic lights, the ability to flatten climbs, and a decent top speed for when you need to punch it. Things start off with Shimano's solid 7-speed Tourney TX groupset on the entry level models, which comes with a 48/38/28 triple cassette to provide the wide gear range. As you head up the range, as you'd expect, shifting becomes a little smoother, faster, and better performing and moves from 9-speed Alivio all the way up to Deore Shadow Plus on the top end model, with 20 gears. Stopping power comes mainly from Tektro and is managed by hydraulic discs across almost the whole range - the only deviation being the entry models which use hydraulic and mechanical discs from Promax.

Specialized Crosstrail Range

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Wheels and Finishing Kit

Outside of stopping and going duties, the brilliant 38c Trigger Sport tyres jump out - the amount of bite they put into the off-road terrain is excellent, and on the road the flatter central tread allows for easy cruising speeds without any interference from the rubber. The Axis Disc wheels used on most of the range provide reliable performance and are seen on much higher spec bikes, like Specialized's Roubaix. At 700c, they provide a good compromise between on-road speed and off-road performance.


Who's it for?

Instead of 'who would ride a Crosstrail?' it's probably an easier question to ask �who wouldn't?�. There aren't many riding occasions when the Crosstrail isn't up to the job. OK, it's not going to keep up with a race bike but it will certainly do the distance and you'll be more comfortable. You're not going to slay it down Fort Billy either, but if you've ever wanted to get from point A to point B in as short or as long as distance as possible, with or without cycle clothing, with or without the laptop/picnic/textbooks then this bike is essential to have in the stable.

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