By Vernon Felton
Preview: Transition TransAM 29 1
Price: $4,100 ($700 frame only)
There was a time when I only rode hardtails. This isn't my way of establishing my retro hipster radness. Shit, we just didn't have any other options. For that matter, there was a time when I rode fully rigid. And, yes, those times kind of sucked.
The truth of the matter is that I love rear suspension. I like the way it loads up in the middle of a corner. I like the way it makes me feel after a long ride, which is to say, I appreciate the fact that I don't feel like 160 pounds of tenderized meat, which is exactly how I usually feel after a long day aboard a hardtail. I'm old. Or older. I'm all about floating along on 120 to 160 millimeters of cloud-like suspension.
But, still, I invariably find myself being drawn back into the world of hardtails. Fortunately, hardtails are a hell of a lot more interesting than they used to be. Case in point, the Transition TransAM 29er--which gives several nods to classic hardtail designs while packing all manner of contemporary touches.
So, for starters, the TransAM 29er is configured around a low-slung 4130-chromoly chassis. Steel is real and all that jazz. Transition, however, equips the frame with a 142×12 rear end (with the option to go either single speed or 135×10, if you swing that way). Up front, the bike sports a 44-millimeter headtube, which allows you to run tapered-steerer forks. The frame also sports ISCG tabs, so you can slap on a chain guide for an added bit of insurance, should your riding be of the rowdier variety.
Our test bike is decked out in Transition's most expensive build kit--a Shimano XT/XTR drivetrain, RockShox Reverb post, Fox 32 Float CTD 120 fork and RaceFace Turbine two-by crankset. The TransAM 29, however, is available in two less-expensive build options, the base level model retailing for a reasonable $1,900. Still too rich for your blood? You can snag the TransAM 29 frame for $700.
I just brought the TransAM 29er home, so I can't say anything other than, "Yup, it looks pretty." I will, however, have a hell of a lot more to say in a few months time. Look for a full review in the pages of an upcoming issue of Bike magazine.