Words by Vernon Felton
$4,100 ($700, Frame Only)
THE TRANSAM HAS BEEN A MAINSTAY OF TRANSITION'S LINE- for some time, and while this hardtail has worn various wheel sizes over the years–it's currently available in both 27.5- and 29-inch versions–one thing has held constant. The TransAm is a versatile rig that's equally at home on both buff and burly singletrack.
The heart and soul of the bike is its double-butted 4130-chro- moly frame, which sports plenty of thoughtful details. The modular rear dropouts allow you to run the bike as either a singlespeed or a geared rig. Similarly, you can choose from either a traditional quick release or a 142×12 through-axle. In 2015, the TransAm will gain a new dropout system that will also allow you to tweak chainstay length. Thanks to the 44-millimeter headtube, the TransAm also accepts a variety of headsets and forks. Want to run a chainguide? ISCG-05 tabs enable you to go that route as well.
If you're looking for a flyweight hardtail with that springy 'steel is real' ride quality, the TransAm 29 isn't going to rock your world. The frame errs on the tough-as-nails side of the build spectrum, and while it won't rattle your fillings loose like some fat-tubed aluminum frames, the ride quality isn't what anyone would call 'resilient.' The frame itself tips the scales at a hefty 6.4 pounds. Even when hung with a fairly posh kit (Fox 32 Float 120 fork, RockShox Reverb dropper post, Easton Vice wheels and primarily Shimano XT clicky bits), our complete bike still weighed 28 pounds.
This isn't ideal for weight weenies, but that's not the TransAm's gig in the first place. Sure, it's a competent trail bike, but the Transition is ideally suited for rough-and-tumble business. The slack head angle (68 degrees), long cockpit, stubby stem, wide bars and burly build add up to a bike with a very confident mien. Thanks to the bigger hoops, the TransAm floats above the kind of trail chatter that can make long days on a hardtail an exercise in pain.
I would change very little about this bike. The under-the-toptube cable routing is clean, but makes shouldering the bike a bit of a pain. The 17-inch chainstays aren't particularly long by 29er standards, but it'd be great to shave off a bit of that rear end. I'd also opt for something fatter than the stock Schwalbe Nobby Nic 2.35 tires. Fortunately the frame accepts chunkier meats. Likewise, I'd run a stouter fork, such as the Fox 34 or RockShox Pike, either of which would better match the frame's burly personality.