Words Derri Dunn | Photos Daniel Gould
Until its 2013 models were unveiled, American cycle behemoth Trek offered a dizzying array of commuter vehicles: dozens of bike types, from brash urban fixies to basketed shoppers. Yet, conspicuously, it hadn’t yet produced anything to fill one of the most successful iterations of the all-purpose bike to emerge in recent years: the drop-bar, disc-braked, multi-terrain machine.
That all changed last year when Trek’s UK arm chose to slim and streamline its range. Gone were the Dutch-style bikes, the singlespeeds and the electric cycles; in came the all-purpose CrossRip.
Although there’s a nod to its cyclo-cross roots in the bike’s name, Trek makes few bones about this being a much more everyday vehicle than a race bike. After all, it has two specialist cyclo-cross ranges already, the Cronus and the Ion. The CrossRip is less about racing and more about real life — one bike to do it all.
There’s certainly plenty to recommend it for a variety of purposes. The fork and rear stays bear the full complement of drillings to accept any combination of mudguards and luggage racks, and the clearances are massive around the tyres to make sure it’ll accommodate your chosen rack-fender set-up.
Ridden ‘naked’, it’ll take 29×1.8in mountain bike tyres, Trek says, so you could turn it into a fairly capable mud-plugger too, if that’s more your thing. With skinnier rubber and a heavy-duty rack, it could work nicely as a tackle-anything, round-the-world touring machine, particularly as it has mechanical disc brakes for ultimate reassurance descending rough, mountainous roads with luggage piled up.
In fact, the brakes are just one part of the bike that demonstrates pleasing attention to detail: the front one is a common 160mm size, but at the back, where frankly you don’t need as much stopping power, the rotor is a mere 140mm. The Hayes CX is an unusual choice — compared to the more frequently specced Avid BB5 and BB7 road brakes — but they are neither twangy nor feeble in use on road or over rougher surfaces.
So the CrossRip feels adventure-ready, but if the ride to work is as wild as you get, it’s just as well prepped for you. Tellingly, the wheel skewers are Allen key bolt-type, rather than quick-release, providing much better theft protection. The dull grey paintwork is another nod to urban intentions, blending into the metropolis in an understated way. Less so the pretty anodised blue trim on ferrules and skewers, though, which always give a really trick finish and expensive sheen to any bike.
Gearing on the CrossRip is Shimano’s new iteration of Sora, now with sensible STI levers instead of the thumb paddles of old. It’ll never have the finesse of the more expensive gearsets in this series — Tiagra and 105 — but it’s a perfectly functional nine-speed set-up. That said, on a £950 bike, this groupset seems a tad stingy. Sora is used because, we’d guess, the budget has been chewed up elsewhere, notably by the provision of internal cable routing. Unlike the anodised blue trimmings, this is not just about looks — it’s the ultimate protection for the cable inners, particularly on a machine like this, which might see some mucky trails.
On our first outing on the CrossRip, the first thing we noticed was how large it felt and looked. Our test bike was the smallest size — 50cm — despite a pretty short little stem, yet for our 5ft 6in rider the CrossRip appeared both long and broad. A wide set of bars with padding below the tape are part of this beefy illusion, as are the 700x32c tyres, of course, but it’s also a long bike, which you can feel in its stability once rolling.
The ride isn’t especially cosseting or refined, but nor is it clattering or agricultural. The CrossRip feels like it is just getting on with the job of steamrollering you over the rough and smooth in a no-nonsense manner. There’s some sensation of road-drag as you pull away, which a smoother set of tyres would improve immeasurably — well worth it if you ride mostly on tarmac.
If you never tackle rough stuff, the CrossRip is more durability than you need. On the same budget, you could find a lighter, nippier road bike with a posher groupset that would meet your requirements. But if you have that niggling feeling that one day you might want to venture down the path less travelled or perhaps take that six-month two-wheeled jaunt overland to Mongolia, this multi-purpose steed feeds into those aspirations very nicely, while still being perfectly at home as your everyday ride.
Trek CrossRip £950
Frameset 100 Series Alpha aluminium
Gears Shimano Sora
Chainset FSA Vero 50/34t
Brakes Hayes CX5 mechanical disc
Wheels Bontrager Nebula rims, Formula hubs
Tyres Bontrager H5 Hardcase Ultimate, 700x32c
Bar/stem Bontrager Race Lite/SSR
Saddle Bontrager Evoke 1
Seatpost Bontrager SSR
Size range 50, 54, 56, 58, 61cm
Kona Jake £1199
For years, the Kona Jake was almost peerless as the entry-level cyclo-cross bike of choice. Nevertheless, to keep up with current trends for disc brakes and all-round use, the 2013 model has received some pretty major upgrades. Most noticeable are those rather beautiful Tektro Lyra 140mm disc brakes. We think they look lovely, but sadly, in our experience, the Lyras can be a pig to set up and maintain. The Tiagra groupset is a small upgrade from the CrossRip’s Sora, but at £250 more, the Jake requires a chunk more budget.