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Cannondale Trigger Carbon AL 3 27.5 – 2018 Review

Jeff Balton - CEO / Main Writer

Cannondale’s all-new Trigger series is the most adaptable in the C-Dale mountain bike line, and the Trigger 3 will get you on the ride with the least sacrifice. Imagine one bike that will slay XC terrain as well as demanding enduro rides, and everything in between – that’s the Trigger 3. On-the-fly frame geometry and shock travel adjustments keep you in trail-crushing mode whether grinding out monster climbs and mileage, or white-knuckling your favorite black runs.

Cannondale Trigger Al 3 27.5 2018 review

Trigger 3’s 27.5-inch wheels provide a combination of light weight, maneuverability, strength, traction, smooth rollover – ideal for its broad range of duty. The BallisTec Carbon front triangle, carbon shock link and Boost rear alloy swingarm are engineered to laugh off punishment and deliver consistent performance. Hydraulic disc brakes and aggressive knobbies front and rear help keep the rubber down and fun rolling.


Trigger 3 is outfitted with a solid array of gear from Fox, Shimano, Maxxis, WTB, Formula, DT Swiss, TranzX and Fabric. Each component deployed on the Trigger 3 is specifically chosen for performance and value. Weight-concious racers and riders looking to count grams can consider the lighter weight of the Trigger 1 and Trigger 2 builds, but there is nothing “economy” about the Trigger 3’s build performance.

Every Trigger comes ready to hit the dirt hard. Trigger 3’s wide-range Shimano 11-speed drive will keep you pedalling efficiently, while the narrow-wide-toothed front 1x chain ring retains the chain when the chunk and speeds ratchet up. Extra-bomber chain retention is possible by adding a chain guide to Trigger’s ISCG05 tabs.

Cockpit components by Cannondale are the epitome of engineering excellence; C3 Riser 6061 alloy 780mm handlebar with lock-on grips and stem complement one another – and the bike – perfectly. The stem’s 45mm length combined with 44 mm fork offset enhance high speed stability without giving up maneurerability in the twisties, and your backside will appreciate Fabric Radius Scoop’s innovative and proven saddle design.

Cannondale Trigger Al 3 27.5 bike

Fox Float Performance DPS EVOL with Gemini remote-actuated dual-mode air-spring system

Tubeless-ready Maxxis Minion DHF front and DHR II rear tires mounted to WTB Frequency Race i29 rims and Formula 32-hole hubs are serious all-mountain players – they’re also found on premium bikes with price tags far higher than the Trigger 3. Stopping power is in no short supply with Shimano’s SLX Series hydraulic disc brakes, replete with generous 180 mm rotors front and rear.


Maxxis Minion 27.5 tires with disc brakes on Cannondale

Maxxis Minion 27.5×2.3″ tires wih 180mm rotors.

The Diamondback Trigger 3, like all Trigger models, is proud to include performance suspension gear from Fox. Up front, the Trigger 3 sports the venerable Fox Float 34 Performance fork, with 150 mm of hit-taming squish and Boost spacing for additional tire clearance and stability. Trigger 3’s Fox Float Performance DPS EVOL frame shock includes Fox’s Gemini remote-actuated dual mode air spring system, allowing easy, on-fly adjustements between Flow (145 mm travel) and Hustle (115 mm) modes.


S, M & L unisex frame sizes accommodate nearly every rider size. (REI suggests 5’3” minimum and 6’3” max rider height.) Your
Cannondale dealer can advise you on which frame size best suits your dimensions and riding preferences.


Bikes, by nature, are imperfect tools which are designed for specific purposes. Keeping that in mind, we noted:

• Versatile beyond reason
• Reasonably priced compared to similar industry offerings
• Ultra-short (420 mm) chain stays and good rear tire clearance
• Tapered head tube with integrated headset; accepts industry-standard fork designs
• “Asymmetric Integration” 3 mm drive-side hub offset; enables more evenly tensioned rear wheel
• Post-mounted rear brake caliper; eliminates adapter
• Carbon down-tube protector; minimizes rock-strike damage
• Full internal cable routing, including for Di2 and shock remote
• Inside-triangle bottle cage mount with room for 24-ounce bottle

• At 29 pounds for a medium size bike with no peadals, it may be weightier than some bikes in its category and price range
• PF30 bottom bracket requires specialized tools and supplies to service
• Ultra-short chain stays may not provide stability some riders seek for open/non-twisty courses

User reviews

Cannondale Trigger Carbon drivetrain

1×11 drivetrain with massive 11-26 ratio on rear.

The usefullness of the dual setting options became apparent in testing the Trigger 3. Jeremiah Boobar, Director of Suspension and Component Development for Bike, noted superior climbing and XC performance in “Hustle” mode compared to a simple shock lockout. (Still, the shock can be locked out using the comprerssion-adjust lever on the shock itself.) He also found the Trigger 3 really sprang to life when pointed downhill – its 66° head angle and generous 439 mm reach (on a medium) to account for this. The entire package has been well received in published reviews by VitalMTB, Dirt Mountain Bike, Dirt Rag and others.

Bottom Line

Trigger 3 is not an inexpensive bike, but its economy is defined by its wide range of personality and uses. Its unique suspension technologies, essentially, allow two different suspension setups – “Hustle” setting being more XC-oriented, and “Flow” for descending and more technical terrain.

Let’s face it, once you get into more premium bike territory, most all bikes are competent at one riding aspect or another. But Trigger 3, a single bike that can act as two separate bikes, will keep most riders from ever perceiving a need to pursue N+1.

Cannondale Trigger Carbon AL 3 27.5 Bike - 2018













  • Superb Quality
  • Lightweight
  • Tubeless ready tires


  • Three Sizes