By: Anthony Smith
$4,700 ($2,500 for frame with shock) / transitionbikes.com
Aesthetically speaking, Transition’s TR250 stands out from the other big-travel bikes in our test. Out on the trail, the Transition proved just as unique: It’s a nimble-yet-fearless, mini-DH bike.
The TR250 has the ability to run at either 160 millimeters of travel or 180 millimeters of travel (which is how we tested it). Even in its long-travel setting, the TR250 would be considered ‘short travel’ by typical downhill bike standards. The Transition’s adjustable geometry, however, enables you to run a head angle as slack as 64 degrees (and it is also Cane Creek AngleSet compatible) and a bottom-bracket height as low as 13.75 inches. Those figures put the TR250’s geometry squarely in the downhill category. At speed, I loved what those angles did for the handling of this single-crown missile. No matter what I threw in front of it, the TR250 ate it up and asked for more. I didn’t miss the ‘missing’ 20 millimeters of rear suspension.
What really set this bike apart, however, is how short you can run the chainstays. Three rear-axle positions are available, but I had the most fun running the rear chainstays as short as they would go. The stiffness in the rear swingarm was a noticeable asset and was aided by the inclusion of the 12×150-millimeter rear wheel. The stiff, compact rear end held a great line through the corners, and the short rear end was ready to roost out of every turn. Combine this with a maneuverable, yet stiff, single-crown fork, and the TR250 proved fun and playful when I wanted it, yet when it was time to keep up with the big bikes, I was hot on their tails.
There’s no question that Transition’s ‘rider-owned for life’ motto shines through in the TR250’s smart parts spec. Highlights include a great bar-and-stem combo, an 83-millimeter bottom bracket spinning SRAM’s new Descendant cranks and, to top it all off, a set of Maxxis Minion DHF tires mounted to Transition’s burly, house-brand wheels. This was one of the rare occasions when I built up a test bike and didn’t find anything I immediately wished I could change.
Full-blown DH rigs don’t always feel necessary on our Southern California test grounds, which include big doses of smoother, wide-open downhill trails. The Transition gave me the best of both worlds: The ability to pop off little lips and manual out of corners. And when it was time to man up and lay off the brakes, the TR250 answered the call every time.
Final Take: This bike is about having as much fun as possible while charging as fast as you possibly can.