The short-travel 27.5-wheeled bike is the motorcycle of the mountain-bike world. You can't justify your desire with logic, and in the end, part of the joy of ownership is in accepting that there is no justification: You just want it.
A 29er with the same travel would be more efficient and at least as capable, and a longer-travel 27.5 bike would be more capable without sacrificing much efficiency. But the Scout doesn't care–it's just here to have fun. Its full-carbon chassis accommodates 125 millimeters of Horst-link-served travel. Two of our three testers ran 30-percent sag and were impressed by the Scout's climbing aptitude and overall efficiency, as well as its mid-stroke support and ramp-up. Neither felt that the rear end was harsh. The third tester preferred how capable the bike felt at 36 percent, and even wished for a slacker head angle to match the rear end's potential, but he also used the pedal platform on the RockShox Monarch RT3 shock to achieve climbing performance and to preserve the Transition's commendably steep 75-degree seat-tube angle.
The Scout has a surefooted, confident demeanor, thanks to its roomy 457-mil reach (size large) and supple suspension. But all three testers noted that despite–or perhaps because of–how capable it feels, the 67-degree head angle and 140-mil fork can become overwhelmed when pushed into the steep and technical or high-speed terrain usually reserved for all-mountain bikes.
Transition's 'Tubes Inside Tubes' technology makes for painless internal routing, and the threaded bottom bracket promises creak-free simplicity for years to come. The $5,100 baseline build we tested is competitive value-wise with non-consumer-direct bikes in the same category, and didn't yield any complaints–beyond the sticky KS Lev Integra post.
Transition's party machine is best suited to a rider who prioritizes maneuverability and playfulness over efficiency and capability. For someone on tight and twisty or smooth and jumpy trails, the Scout will enthusiastically tire-tap that tree, slash the exit of that corner, accelerate through that rocky uphill, weave through those tight trees, nose-bonk that stump, manual through those rollers and put a goofy smile on your face.
What's the advantage of the Scout over a long-travel 27.5 bike like the Patrol?
I think the advantage is in the eye of the beholder, and a lot of this depends on who you are and where you live. We find the Scout to be almost as capable as the Patrol, but a bit more nimble when things get weird. The slightly steeper head tube angle, shorter chainstay and inch less travel equate to a ride that is just a bit more responsive in most aspects. In my opinion the biggest advantage is due to the 125mm rear travel allowing you to get a better response when you want to pull up or lift the bike on trail. There’s just a bit more resistance to push against when you need it, which equates to the Scout having a bit more pop than the Patrol.
What's the advantage of the Scout over a short-travel, aggressive 29er like the Smuggler?
The Scout has a bit more travel than the Smuggler, but again I think the advantage is entirely due to your perspective. Although it has 10mm more travel, it’s still going to feel a bit more nimble and maneuverable due to the smaller wheel size than the Smuggler. Not to mention the Scout carbon is roughly 1.5lbs lighter than its alloy counterpart which makes quite a bit of difference in feel on the trail. I’d say the Scout and Smuggler feel every bit as capable as one another, it’s the wheel size that’s going to make one feel that it has an advantage over the other.
We loved the Scout, but a lot of buyers are waiting for a carbon Smuggler. How long until we see one of those?
We’re always working on a lot of things, who knows what the future holds…
One of our testers wanted the Scout to have a slacker head angle. Why did you choose to keep the head angle at 67?
The carbon Scout is simply an alloy Scout in a different material. We wanted to maintain the integrity of the Scout’s geo as we didn’t feel it warranted any changes, in its current form. We don’t discourage our customers from ‘forking up’ on our bikes, and feel +10mm or even +20mm of travel increase in some cases are a totally acceptable way to make a bike like the Scout feel more aggressive should you want it.
Anything you'd like to add?
These are hard questions for us to answer as we ride the Patrol, Scout and Smuggler the same way, and on the same trails. They’re each just going to provide a slightly different experience, especially due to how the bikes are built up. But just because one bike has less travel than another one doesn’t automatically make it more or less capable, or have more or less of an advantage than another. I feel people get really hung up on travel numbers and directly associate that with capability. There’s so much more to consider that compiles the whole of a bike and the experience you’ll get out of it.