Ask anyone who’s ridden a Transition, and the word “fun” will come up at some point. Fun is sorta Transition’s thing. Whether they’re making an efficient, seemingly conservative trail bike or a gravity-hungry enduro machine, they will put pleasure slightly ahead of business. Just watch the video they released this past Monday to tease the lineup we’re about to dig into. It’s not a 30-second montage of darkly-lit product pans. There’s no smoke machine. No dubstep. There’s just a whole lot of Old Yeller meets Bonanza. It’s the guys at Transition doing what they do – having fun.
About two months ago, another video with its tongue just slightly less deep in its cheek was released to tease Transition’s new design concept, SBG, or Speed Balanced Geometry. The first bike to feature Transition’s first acronym was the Sentinel, a 140-millimeter rear, 160-front, 29-inch brawler with a couple tricks up its sleeve. One is Transition’s new Giddy Up 2.0HH suspension, with more built-in anti-squat and leverage curves. The other trick Transition calls SBG, which involves a few geometry adjustments we’ve become familiar with in 2017. The reach is longer, the stem is shorter, the head angle is slacker and the seat angle is steeper. But what’s new is that SBG bikes utilize a significantly shorter fork offset. Ever since wheel sizes started increasing, fork and bike manufacturers have been using longer offsets to mitigate the longer trail that is a natural side-effect of big wheels.
If you already know what “offset” and “trail” are, feel free to skip to the next paragraph. But as a refresher, offset is the distance, measured perpendicular to the fork, between the steering axis and the axle. Trail is the distance between where the front tire touches the ground, and the point at which an imaginary line passing through the steering axis intersects the ground. Longer trail makes for more stable steering at high speeds but more sluggish at slow speeds. Shorter trail makes for more twitchy steering at high speeds but more responsive steering at slow speeds. A longer offset shortens trail and a shorter offset lengthens it.
The SBG concept worked so well that they’ve applied it to much of their 2018 lineup. Porting the concept to the 27.5-inch Scout and Patrol was not as simple as introducing it to the 29-inch Sentinel and Smuggler. Those bikes were able to use crowns built around traditionally shorter-offset 27.5-inch wheels. Transition needed an offset built for 26-inch wheels, but Boost front spacing hadn’t happened yet when the last modern 26-inch-specific fork crowns were being made. So Fox and Rock Shox made a leap, and produced boost-spaced 37-millimeter offset forks for use in 27.5-inch SBG bikes. And if you are thinking of building you own bike, Transition has a full inventory of RS and FOX SBG forks in every configuration to sell frameset customers until they are available aftermarket. 2018 also brings us Transition’s new 29 and 27.5-inch hardtails, the Vanquish and the Throttle. Oh, and there’s that new carbon DH bike, the TR-11. So far, we’ve only gotten to ride the new Sentinel but here’s a quick look at what’s new from Transition.
In addition to the linkage and geometry updates, the Smuggler goes up to 120-millimeter rear, 140-millimeter front travel from last year’s 115 / 130. Its fork offset changes from the 29er standard 51 millimeters down to 43. It’s still alloy-only, and ranges from $3000 for an NX 11-speed build with a Revelation fork and Deluxe rear shock up to $5000 for an X01 Eagle build, Float 34 Fit4 fork and metric DPS Elite rear shock.
The Scout went up to 130-millimeter rear / 150-millimeter front from 125 / 140. The updated Scout will only be available in aluminum for now but of course includes the SBG geometry concept and the new Giddy Up linkage. There’s an NX 11-speed build with a Revelation and Deluxe RT metric rear shock for $3000, or you could go with the Eagle X01 build with a Fox DPX2 rear shock and a Float 36 Fit4 fork up front for $5000
A Bike Mag favorite, we’re looking forward to seeing what Transition’s updates bring to the Patrol platform. It went from 155-millimeter rear / 160-millimeter front to a 160 / 170 setup, and follows much the same pricing pattern as the Scout and Smuggler, though the entry-level NX version comes with a beefy but budget Yari fork. The top end for now is an alloy Eagle X01 build with a DPX2 shock and Fox 35 RC2 fork
We got a chance to ride the Sentinel at Crankworx this year, and posted a First Ride write-up. The brand new platform is 140-millimeters in the rear and 160-millimeters up front. It’s built and priced nearly identically to the Patrol.
The 29-inch Vanquish (left) and 27.5-inch Throttle (right) each offer the same GX Eagle / Fox Float Performance 34 build for $3700.
The TR11 marks Transition’s first carbon Downhill bike. The 195-millimeter rear / 200-millimeter front travel beast is available in a mixed GX DH / Boxxer RC build for $5300 or an X01 DH / Fox 40 / e*13 option for $7300.
Going into another model year, we’ll be anxious to see how Transition’s possible paradigm shift in the geometry wars will be received, and how that in turn will effect future bike designs. Oh what a time to be alive.
All models are available for purchase fall 2017.