REVIEW: Cannondale Trigger 3 27.5 (2019) - Is It Worth It?

Cannondale Trigger 3 27.5 – 2019 Review

Cannondale Trigger Al 3 27.5 2018 review
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This model has been discontinued. See our review of Cannondale bikes for current models.


Imagine one bike that will slay XC terrain as well as demanding enduro rides, and everything in between — that’s Cannondale Trigger 3.

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. 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 3
Cannondale Trigger 3 27.5 Bike


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 and SmartForm C1 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.



Each component deployed on the Trigger 3 is specifically chosen for performance and value. Weight-conscious racers and riders looking to count grams can consider the lighter weight of the Trigger 1 and Trigger 2 builds, but there is nothing “economical” about the Trigger 3’s build performance.

Cannondale Trigger 3 rear suspension
Fox Float Performance DPS EVOL with Gemini remote-actuated dual-mode air-spring system

Every Trigger comes ready to hit the dirt hard. Trigger 3’s wide-range Shimano 12-speed drive will keep you pedaling efficiently, while the narrow-wide-toothed front 1x chainring retains the chain when the chunk and speeds ratchet up. Extra-bomber chain retention is possible by adding a chain guide.

Trigger 3 is outfitted with a solid array of gear from Fox, Shimano, SRAM, Maxxis, WTB, Formula, TranzX and Fabric that make it a great bargain.

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 maneuverability in the twisties, and your backside will appreciate Fabric Scoop Shallow Sport’s innovative and proven saddle design.

Tubeless-ready Maxxis Minion DHF front and High Roller II rear tires mounted to WTB STS i29 TCS 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 MT500 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 with 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 Rhythm 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-the-fly adjustments between Flow (145 mm travel) and Hustle (115 mm) modes.



S, M, L & XL 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 that 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) chainstays 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 a 24-ounce bottle


Cannondale Trigger 3 has numerous positive qualities, such as excellent suspension, quality frame, versatile build, and very few downsides.



  • At 31 pounds for a medium-size bike with no pedals, it may be weightier than some bikes in its category and price range
  • Ultra-short chainstays may not provide stability some riders seek for open/non-twisty courses


User Reviews

Cannondale Trigger 3 drivetrain
1×12 drivetrain with massive 11-50 ratio on the rear.

The usefulness 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 compression-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.

Riders willing to spend a bit more on their quest for a long-travel bike with adjustable air suspension can end their search with Cannondale Trigger 3.

Let’s face it, once you get into more premium bike territory, almost 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