PINKBIKE FIELD TEST
Transition Spur X01
Words by Mike Levy, photography by Margus Riga
The all-new Spur is a 29er with 120mm of front and rear travel, which, if you've been paying attention, you'll know is not exactly an uncommon formula for fun these days. While it's designed to cover ground quickly and even be built up into a relatively light bike, Transition also says that it's ready to “descend anything you may encounter along the way.’’
Rather than using a race-focused frame with a bump in travel as a starting point, something Transition doesn't have in their lineup anyway, the carbon fiber Spur was intended for more serious terrain from the get-go. With that target in mind, it sports some relatively long and relaxed geometry for a bike with just 120mm of squish, especially compared to some of the other options at our cross-country Field Test.
Spur X01 Details
• Travel: 120mm rear / 120mm fork
• Carbon frame
• Wheel size: 29"
• Head Angle: 66°
• Seat Tube Angle: 75.9° (effective)
• Reach: 480mm (size L)
• Chainstay length: 435mm
• Sizes: XS, S, M, L (tested), XL
• Weight: 24.74lb / 11.22kg
• Price: $5,999 USD
With burlier riding in mind, the 2,500-gram frame is also heavier than those bikes, but the 24.74lb weight isn't half bad given its intentions and build; this is a $5,999 USD bike, not one with another digit on the price tag.
Transition certainly has the most extreme geometry numbers of the bunch, with a 66-degree head angle and a roomy 480mm reach for my large-sized test bike. Remember, because the Spur doesn't have to pull double-duty and also be someone's race rig, Transition could take a much more aggressive approach with its geometry. There's also a 75.9-degree seat angle that helps to hide the long front center during seated climbing, and all sizes get a 435mm rear end.
The Spur is a straightforward looking bike, with the SIDLuxe shock compressed from above via a carbon fiber rocker link. There's no pivot to be found at the axle, either, as Transition skipped using sealed bearings and the required hardware in favor of engineered flex in the carbon fiber stays. Other details include a threaded bottom bracket shell and a headtube that accepts press-in cups, which means Spur owners could install an angle-adjusting headset if they want to tweak the handling. There's also loads of room inside the front triangle for a single large bottle, and a set of threaded bosses on the underside of the toptube for you to attach a tool kit of some kind.
Other details: Cable routing is internal and tube-in-tube (as it should be) to make repairs easy, and the rubber chainstay protection sits nearly flush with the frame and sure looks classy. Climbing
The Spur wasn't made to dominate the climbs, but that doesn't mean it's allowed to feel like you're sitting on the backseat of a tandem by yourself while steering it through roots and rocks. Thankfully, it's nowhere near that bad on the way up, but there's also no hiding the Spur's length and angles when the trail gets tight. It was a soggy test period, which probably highlighted some of its shortcomings on the really tricky stuff, and back-to-back testing up the same climb in the same conditions revealed that the Spur requires a different approach than the Scalpel SE1 or Yeti SB115. While you can do more on-the-spot thinking when pointing those two bikes up a tangled mess of roots, the Spur responds best to more deliberate (AKA the easiest) line choice.
One of the trickier spots was a tight left-hander with some rocks perfectly placed to grab the wheels, followed by a right turn that folded in on itself to be impossibly tight. And of course, there were some roots and rocks in it because the trail wanted me to dab. Which is precisely what I did every time I went through on the Spur, while I eventually did clean it on all of my other test bikes. But hey, if you're considering a Spur, you likely care much more about what happens on the way down than a single, mega-tricky uphill corner. And if your climbs aren't tricky, then I guess none of the above matters.
But you know what's not technical? A gravel road climb, which the Spur doesn't mind at all. I never once reached down for the SIDLuxe's pedal-assist switch, with the bike feeling just as speedy as the lighter weight machines it went up against.
It's probably best to break it down like this: If you're the kind of rider who's happy to re-do a section of the climb to get through dab-free, or you want a bike to do a bunch of competitive racing aboard, you probably won't be a fan of the Spur's climbing abilities. But if that sounds like a terrible ride to you, and you'd rather just get to the top so you can have fun on the way back down, then the Spur might be your pony.
It's usually not a good sign when your first lap on a new bike includes getting tossed over the handlebar to a near-perfect, 9/10 faceplant into the ferns. I had let the long front-end get away from me on a fast, loose corner, but then it caught and, well, a high-side while wearing barely-there skin-tight stretchies never feels like it's going to end well. But it only got better after that mouthful of dirt and leaves. I had been dilly-dallying, going half-speed since it was my first time on the bike, and without enough weight over it, the front tire lost bite.
That's not how to ride the Spur.
It's when you stop riding the Spur like it has only 120mm of travel that it becomes obvious that it's more capable than the others. Do the same on the Scalpel or SB115 and you'll end up in the ferns while the Spur holds its line around the same corner; it offers traction and stability that's just not in-line with what you'd expect, and despite the light-duty Schwalbe rubber I installed.
It's as if the Spur delays what's coming at you in a Matrix-y way, but instead of dodging bullets in slow-mo while wearing cheesy gas station shades and a suit, you're eyeing up giggle-gaps and all the inside lines. Spandex suit not recommended, by the way. That surefootedness means you don't have to tippy-toe through fast, rough corners as you might on a more traditional bike.
Of course, the Scalpel and SB115 comparisons aren't really fair given their more well-rounded take on how to do it. Besides, those two are probably for a different type of rider than someone who'd prefer the Spur. The Ranger and Epic EVO make better rivals, but the three are still quite different. The EVO-fied Epic is easily the most versatile option, and while it's incredibly capable on the descents, I never got quite the same level of calmness from it when things were really rough and hectic. The Revel Ranger is up there as well, with all three letting you ride in a way that used to be reserved for bikes with an additional 30mm of travel. But it's the Spur that I felt the most comfortable aboard, and the clock agreed with me - I consistently set my quickest descent times when on the matte grey Transition.
Most of the bike's capabilities come from its geometry, but it wouldn't work at all if its suspension wasn't up for it. The SID Ultimate is kinda like a pint-sized Pike, and they've squeezed an impressive amount of suppleness, support, and bottom-out resistance into just 120mm of rear-wheel travel. That said, the fork did develop some noticeable bushing play; RockShox says that they'll look after anyone's SID that does the same.
In case it wasn’t obvious already, the Spur isn't your normal cross-country bike and it’s not for racers. Instead, it's a short-travel bike for riders who don’t care that they have a short amount of travel, and for those who love the responsiveness of a 120mm bike but don't want to be held back by it on the descents.