The Specialized Trigger Pro 38c may be getting on a bit and it’s up against plenty of newer gravel and adventure tyres, both wider and lighter than the Big S’s first foray into the world of gravel tyres. Is it still a viable option?
I’ve been running the Trigger Pro for over a year and have put it through pretty much everything from dusty gravel farm tracks, MTB singletrack, roads and muddy canal paths. In every type of weather the UK can throw at us. And it is still one of my favourite tyres.
An oversized CX slick?
According to Specialized, the Trigger is “ideally for those looking to get the most out of a smooth, fast cyclocross course or your favourite gravel roads. This tire rolls great on and off-road.”
From my own testing, I’d say that Specialized’s final claim was spot-on: The fast-rolling tread works best on hard-packed dirt and asphalt. It can seriously motor along on a smooth surface. The central diamond shaped tread is almost road bike tyre smooth, the small side knobs however, are more than just decorative and have proven to work off-road more effectively than you’d imagine.
The day before 2017’s edition of Yorkshire True Grit, I had a catastrophe of tyre sized proportions . Let’s just say I couldn’t get it up… #tubelessproblems. With no time to spare, I had to go with the skinny Triggers. My ride buddies laughed. When it started to rain the evening before the ride, they laughed even more while pointing at my semi-slick shod Mason Bokeh. With rain overnight, conditions could be interesting!
Remarkably, I managed to get around the 100 km course in one piece, finishing 7th overall. The tyres absolutely stormed along the public roads and cruised the limestone fireroads with ease. As the course meandered it’s way up onto the Yorkshire Moors and along shooting trails deep in the heather, only the muddiest sections showed the limits of grip. Running the tyres at low pressures meant that those side knobs helped with extra traction as best they could. The downside to such skinny tyres and low pressures became apparent after the event, when I noticed a surprising number of dents in my alloy rims!
Superb Puncture Protection
Specialized have put all their puncture protection know-how into these tyres, utilising something they call Endurant casing. Endurant casing is made up of a “Triple Wall” casing and Specialized’s BlackBelt puncture belt under the tread. Of course, they are also tubeless ready (“2-bliss”). All the puncture gubbins obviously works too, as I’ve not had a single flat with these or noticed the telltale hissing and wet marks from tubeless goo sealing up holes.
Durability comes at a price though and the Trigger Pro will never win any weight-weenie contests. At 500g, it is a heavy tyre but hey, I’d rather carry a bit of extra heft rather than sitting on the floor messing about with inner tubes. If you plan to head out into the wilds then you’ll want tyres you can trust not to let you down in the middle of nowhere. That is exactly what you get with these.
Did I mention these tyres are skinny? If the 38c moniker hasn’t put you off, the fact that they actually measure closer to a 36c probably will! In an age when most riders are trying to fit the widest possible tyres to their bikes, the anorexic Trigger isn’t going to look ‘on trend’. Particularly with that extra lard it carries around. Furthermore, it’s also not particularity supple. Rated at 60tpi plus all that puncture protection in the casing makes for a stiff ride.
Skinny yet portly, but fast as you like in dry, smooth conditions. As an all-conditions touring tyre with a bias for road work, the Trigger makes sense. Its resistance to punctures and ability to take on a variety of terrain in a variety of conditions, has seen me keep these on my own bike for much longer I thought I would. The only reason I’ve actually taken them off at all is because I can now see the canvas on the rear!
As an all-conditions training tyre, I’d certainly recommend them. For a multi-day tour, they’d be confidence inspiring with their puncture resistance. As a light weight racing option, you’re best looking elsewhere.
Last modified: 21st March 2018