BIKE TEST - Transition Bikes



BIKE TEST - Transition Bikes
Words Photos v i c to r l u c a s
wners Kevin Menard and Kyle
Young together with employee
Sam Burkhart came over to
Dirt last summer en route
to Eurobike. They brought a
load of TR450’s, did a load of
riding, before hitting the local boozer. Very
often time constrains such evenings, but on
this occasion we’d got to know Transition
quite well. They are totally committed to
In a short space of time Transition Bicycle Company has
come some way. Based on the west coast of the USA in
Ferndale, Washington, not far from where the Twilight, New
Moon movies were shot, it is said to have some incredible
riding. This then is where the bikes are developed. Deep in the
On that occasion it had also been possible to get
a first ride on the 450. But the story goes back
a lot further than that. Ed here in the office had
spotted the Transition many months before and
everyone here was massively impressed with
the clean lines, good angles and well thought
graphic. The 450 looked every inch a race bike.
Which it certainly is, represented well by
racers Lars Sternberg and Bryn Atkinson
(and lets not forget Jill Kintner) both in the
US and internationally. As with many of their
designs this bike is based around a link driven
single pivot. The shock is mounted low in the
frame and the nature of the suspension is
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There have been many good downhill bikes
coming on to the market over the past few
years, however one key area in which some
have failed is in sizing. Transition have sized
well on the 450, but most importantly have a
good range.
In terms of numbers, a reasonably low
bottom bracket, ranging from 13.75” through
14.25”, when matched with low bar height and
well–sized downtube gives the 450 a good riding
position. A 47.5” wheelbase is good on the large
and the head angle will fluctuate between 63º
and 64º depending on the link setting.
a progressive design, featuring a supple top
stroke that leads into stronger mid to end
stroke, there is said to be very little mid–stroke
wallow. The even progression enables excellent
tuning options and the bike comes with
adjustable geometry, which can be achieved, via
a ‘potato-chip’ in the linkage. Sound features.
That well curved downtube has tooled
reinforcement rather than a gusseted one,
giving clean lines but also great strength.
Double welding up front reinforces this. The
450 has a tapered head tube with integrated
Cane Creek sized top headset bearing and
1.5” bottom. The height up front is super low
on this bike due to the bearing and short
headtube height.
Overall the TR450 is an incredibly clean bike
then, the lines are flowing and there is no place
for mud build–up. The one–piece swingarm
with internal cable routing, the protected
linkage and shock, it all seems very simple,
but yet few companies really get this near.
Transition, in taking care to look at what some
people might see as minor details have created
a very strong package.
In terms of hardware the bearings are
pressed directly against post welding machined
bearing seats inside the linkage. There are no
worries of misalignment here and the whole
rear end is beautifully put together. The 9.5” x
3” Fox RC 4 sits centrally amongst the triangles
and is protected from mud and grit quite well
by the linkage. Designed to be a bike to “be
ridden hard and put away wet”.
dirt magazine
Lets get the minus points cleared up first of all.
We had a complete build direct from the US,
and the Transition wheels and pedals on it were
disappointing to say the least, we have now had
two pairs of each and both have not been up to
the punishment. The wheels need looking at
very quickly and the pedals simply come loose.
Something to think about if buying complete…
actually, we’ve just heard that it will be ‘frame
only’ here in the UK!
One of the areas we struggled with the
450 was in set–up. At first we were quite
disappointed with the ride and to be fair it has
taken us sometime to get the set–up correct.
At first we were getting way to much chassis
feedback through the back of the bike and only
after spending some time on the dials did we
arrive at a happy point. This was a new bike
and the RC4 did appear to loosen up after
several days, so maybe the initial sluggishness
out the back might well have been down to this.
Once all set the angles on this bike add
up when you get to ride it. It’s very much a
stand and go riding position, one which very
few bikes achieve. For that alone it scores
massively. Adverse weight transfer once sorted
was never an issue and balance in cornering
is spot on. Everything about the 450 geometry
shouts ‘RACE’.
In terms of manoeuvrability, well, not being
the lightest bike on the circuit, the complete
test bike came in over 40lbs, might suggest a bit
of a tank ride, but it’s not at all, and when you
get used to this bike after a few runs it becomes
second nature to pick up and drive.
Spending some time on the suspension
set–up is the starting point with the Transition
because all the angles are ready for you to
hammer. Lighter components would help to
bring the bike in under 40lbs, which would also
help. After many weeks the chassis is holding
together well.
Overall it looks amazing, rides positively and
can probably deal with hammer and abuse a bit
better than some of the skinny bikes currently
on the market. z
Price: £1899 frame & shock, S, M and L
(no completes will be available in the UK)
Surf Sales 01303 850 553
Colours: Racing Stripe Red, Racing Stripe Yellow or White

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