Review: 2023 Transition Smuggler - The Little Ripper

Nov 29, 2023
by Dario DiGiulio  
The newest addition to the Transition Bikes catalog comes in the form of a long-awaited refresh, breathing new life into the Smuggler name. With 10mm more rear travel than the prior model, as well as a host of frame and geometry updates, the 2023 Smuggler fits squarely into the trail bike shaped hole none of us knew was in Transition's lineup. With 13 unique models now filling out their range, Transition seems to offer something that caters to every niche in the sport, but the Smuggler might just be the bike with the widest reach of the bunch.


With a 130/140mm travel layout, 29" wheels front and rear, carbon and aluminum frame options, and a few solid build kits, the Smuggler hits the sweet spot for most riders in most places. I've been testing the Carbon GX AXS build for the past few months, and for the most part it's been a great ride.
Smuggler Details

• 29" wheels
• 130mm frame travel, 140mm fork
• 65° head angle
• 430-535mm reach (485mm size L)
• 435 or 440mm chainstays, size dependent
• 78° seat tube angle, size dependent
• 5 sizes available, L tested
• Weight: 31.6 lb / 14.3 kg
• Carbon Frameset: $3,699 USD
• Complete: $3,999-$8,499 USD
transitionbikes.com

More on that below, after some more information about the bike.



bigquotesThe Smuggler hits a sweet spot right in the middle of my preferred types of riding, with a great climbing characteristic, lively suspension feel, and surprising downhill abilities for a shorter-travel trail bike.Dario DiGiulio




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Frame Details

The outgoing Smuggler was the last bike in the lineup to harken back to the swoopy curvy days of Transition, with the new model landing in the angular aesthetic that marks the brand's new era. Alonside the change in form are a few updates to the frame's details, namely in the cable routing and headset department. Where the prior Smuggler Carbon had external brake routing, the new model snakes the rear brake through the front and rear triangle.

The headset has also gone the way of integration, with drop-in bearings replacing the pressed headset cups. This was done to facilitate the use of the new internal cable guides that terminate at the headtube of the bike, as those are apparently incompatible with the press-in aluminum cups seen on most other bikes. The integration is clean, but I'm sure some will bemoan the loss of aftermarket options there.

I wish I could say the updated cable routing simplified things, but it turned out to be quite the opposite. Where most carbon bikes are now employing fully guided tube-in-tube cable routing, the Smuggler stops a step short of that convenience. The routing ends a bit in front of the bottom bracket, with the carbon tubes' raw ends accessible via a big cutout in the back of the bottom bracket shell; I've dubbed this opening the Loam Cupboard. From there, it's a bit of a free-for-all through the stays, though those are easy enough to route if you start from the back. Ultimately, this means you'll have to remove the lower pivot hardware and swing the stays up in order to start fishing the cable up into the guide tubes, at which point they'll pop out of the headtube.

That Loam Cupboard does the job of getting the cables through the bike, but it also does an excellent job of funneling mud and debris into the frame. Every time I pulled the bottom bracket, I found a hardened plug of dirt crammed all around the BB area. I tried to shield it with some mastic tape above the stay, but it seems to get from the sides and below, and at a certain point you don't want to wrap every exposed gap. My advice here would be to make sure you use the plastic tube that connects the two bottom bracket cups, it'll go a long way in keeping crud from collecting and killing those bearings.

I asked the folks at Transition about this issue, and they're well aware of it, enough so to design a little fender that shrouds the area over top of the hole. Dirt and water might still accumulate from underneath, but hopefully this would do a bit better than my mastic tape fix.

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This hole sits behind the chainstay bridge, but there's enough of a gap for plenty of trail debris to accumulate.

There are no flip chips, no geometry adjustments, no extra gadgets or features - just a well-rounded bike made to ride up and down hills. Stick a water bottle in the frame, accessories on the top tube mount, and get out the door.

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Geometry & Sizing

The do-it-all trail bike can be a hard geometry to nail, as any desire to bias towards one characteristic can derail the overall balance of the package. Arriving at something that climbs well, descends confidently, and keeps things fun is tricky, but I think the Smuggler toes that line very well.

The 65° head tube angle is becoming a pretty typical figure for modern trail bikes, and I wouldn't want it any other way. That keeps the handling sharp and responsive, without sacrificing a reasonable amount of confidence in steeper terrain. For the majority of riding, this is plenty slack, and pairs well with the shorter travel forks seen on trail bikes. Transition was once on the sharper end of pushing reach numbers, but now their figures are pretty much in line with other contemporary brands. 485mm for a size Large felt bang-on to me, and it's nice to see the stack numbers growing somewhat proportionally with each jump in size.

The effective seat tube angle of the Smuggler changes with each size in the range, but the center of that fairly tight spectrum is the size Large's 78° figure. This is much steeper than the trail bikes of even a few years ago, and it's a trend I'm fully in favor of. The seated position feels nicely central and upright, with good weight balance and handling over steep and mellow terrain alike. That upright feel is partially helped by the low bottom bracket, with a drop of 35mm across sizes.

Transition fell short of fully size-specific chainstay lengths for the Smuggler, instead splitting two different lengths across the size range. Small and Medium frames have a 335mm long chainstay, while the Large through XXL get the 440mm option. This feels well suited to the bikes in the middle of the bike fit bell curve, hitting good balance points where the majority of riders sit, but those on the larger frames might find the front center to rear center balance getting a little off. The Small's reach is actually shorter than the rear center, which should make for a truly middle-of-bike feel.

One small asterisk to the geometry chart is the subtle difference between the alloy and carbon frames, as the former has a longer seat tube on the size Small, and slightly longer chainstays across the board.

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Suspension Design

The Smuggler's 130mm of travel is delivered by a simple Horst link layout driving a 210x50mm standard-mount shock. Where the majority of Transition's bikes use a trunnion mount, I was happy to see this standard mount and a beefier rocker link, as this tends to bode well for shock longevity. The rather progressive rising rate of the bike's leverage curve makes it compatible with both air and coil shocks, though you'll note that all of the stock builds come with the Float X, as that's the shock tune that the Transition team felt best matched the character of the bike.

The setup information states that the bike can be run anywhere between 25 and 35% sag - technically true of most Horst link bikes - but I found my happy spot was right around 30-31% sag, or 15mm of shock compression.

If you want to run the Smuggler in the long-travel 140mm configuration, it's as simple as removing the travel spacer from the shock and airing things back up. Lots of folks who are doing this change then run the bike with a 150mm fork, pushing the little bike a little more into the burlier end of the spectrum. For me, the shorter travel arrangement felt ideal and more than capable enough, so that's where it remained.

It's worth noting that Transition has had some issues with the stock Float X the bikes are coming with, namely in the form of a knock in the rebound / topout portion of the cycle. By no means dangerous or even that critical to performance, but it's quite annoying to have the shock thocking away as you rally over bumps. Apparently Fox has a quick fix, and it's just a matter of replacing one sticky shim in the stack to get things back to normal. My test bike had this issue right off the bat, but after a couple hours in the shop the Float X was quiet once more.

Specifications
Release Date 2023
Price $7299
Travel 130mm
Rear Shock Fox Float X Performance Elite, 210x50mm
Fork Fox Float 34 Grip 2 Performance Elite, 140mm
Headset FSA NO.42/48/ACB
Cassette SRAM XS 1275 T-Type (10-52t)
Crankarms SRAM GX AXS Transmission
Chainguide N/A
Bottom Bracket SRAM DUB
Pedals N/A
Rear Derailleur SRAM GX AXS Transmission
Chain SRAM GX AXS Transmission
Front Derailleur N/A
Shifter Pods SRAM GX AXS Transmission
Handlebar ANVL Mandrel Alloy 35
Stem ANVL Swage, 40mm
Grips ODI Elite Flow
Brakes SRAM Code Silver Stealth
Wheelset Raceface Aeffect R
Hubs Raceface Trace 28H
Spokes Raceface 2.0/1.7/2.0
Rim Raceface Aeffect R
Tires Maxxis Assegai EXO+ 2.5 / Maxxis Dissector 3C EXO+ 2.4
Seat SDG Bel Air V3
Seatpost OneUp Dropper Post



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Test Bike Setup

Most of my time on the Smuggler was as you see it, with the stock parts you'd get on the GX AXS build, but as with many long term testers I eventually began to play with the setup and tweak things here and there. The main change was in the wheel department, where I swapped the stock Race Face Aeffect hoops for some carbon wheels I've come to rely on. Suspension, drivetrain, and brakes stayed the same, and tires changed with wear and the shift in seasons.

I quickly found a happy place with the suspension setup on the Smuggler, with around 180psi in the shock and 95-100psi in the fork, depending on the terrain and my mood. You can long-shock the Smuggler to land around 140mm of rear travel, but I opted to keep things stock for the duration of the test.

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Dario DiGiulio
Location: Bellingham, WA, USA
Height: 6'3" / 191cm
Inseam: 34" / 86cm
Weight: 180 lbs / 81.6 kg
Industry affiliations / sponsors: None
Instagram: @danger_dario

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Climbing

Back to the geometry for a moment, as the seated position on this bike feels perfect for a bike meant to climb, traverse, and move quickly over varied terrain. An unforseen upside to that upright position is how easy it is to transition (ha) out of the saddle in technical sections of trail. For those that climb heavy - sitting down and not shifting weight over obstacles - there may be more suspension movement than you want over bumps. I think this bike really rewards an active riding style up and down the hill.

For me, the support and grip offered by the Smuggler was perfect; I felt like I was riding high in the travel while spinning, without losing too much grip when standing up and stamping on the pedals. Overall the climbing character is active, but it suits the nature of the bike well - you can simply leave the shock open and rip around, catering your riding to the terrain as opposed to making the bike adapt to take up slack.

Despite the grip offered, the bike feels light and zippy when you're simply trying to spin up a forest road. While singletrack climbs felt like the Smuggler's preferred terrain, it's clearly just as happy to motor up dirt roads. When things do get tight and squiggly, the centered position within the wheelbase allows you to arc around corners a little more easily than bikes that put you in a further rearward position between the wheels.

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Descending

My first ride on this bike wasn't at home in Bellingham, despite the proximity to the headquarters it came from. I actually first hopped on the bike up in Whistler, to check out some old janky scary trails I'd heard about in the Valley. Luckily my initial setup was pretty close to correct, as things were pretty full-on from the get go. To my pleasant surprise however, the Smuggler took it in stride, working hard to keep the wheels on the ground through some old chopped out tracks. This came to exemplify the rest of my time on the bike, as one that could punch pretty far above the assumed pay grade so long as you're able to cash the checks.

For a light feeling bike that climbed so well, I figured there would be a larger tradeoff on the descents, but the Smuggler can handle proper terrain if you're willing to be active on the bike and choose lines wisely. It's far from a long-travel enduro rig, but it's equally far from a pedal-only cross-country machine.

On more buff, flowing terrain, the Smuggler was an absolute hoot. It's one of the most intuitive-feeling jumping bikes I've ridden, arcing perfectly off lips without any unpredictable changes in the suspension feel. That predictability also makes it easy to pop onto the rear wheel, jib off small features, and carve around turns, as the rear wheel always seems to be where you want it. Only in very rough terrain does the back end get a bit lost - and that's when you're pushing things well beyond the typical trail bike realm. It may lose some shape, but luckily the relatively short overall travel makes for a compressed position that isn't too compromised.

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All that positive ride quality comes with a bit of a price, namely in the form of noise and premature wear. The GX AXS-equipped bike felt like a best-case scenario in terms of noise mitigation, but it still wasn't a silent ride. As I mentioned earlier, there was the initial issues with the Fox Float X knocking on rebound - that was fixed - but there was still a good deal of frame noise on rougher sections of trail. Most of this came down to chainslap and cable rattle, so one could probably chase down all the little sounds and come away in silent bliss. Chainslap might just require a beefier chainstay protector, as the stock one is hard and flat compared to some of the better options out there. The cable rattle was mostly centered around that Loam Cupboard, where the cables have a few inches to play before snaking back into smaller tubes. That plus the dirt that collects down there made for some in-frame noise that would come and go.

I've been riding this bike since earlier this summer, and the first set of bearings lasted me about 2-3 months of dry riding before needing service and a subsequent replacement. Luckily, I had a set at home that fit the spec, but it would incur an annoying cost right off the bat if you were a new owner. The bearings could definitely use better sealing and more robust hardware to deal with the forces you can generate cornering this speedy little whip.

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Transition Smuggler
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Santa Cruz 5010

How does it compare?

Don't bite my head off here - I know these aren't identical bikes. But they feel like the two of the top contenders if I were looking for a shorter travel trail bike right now. Both are very fun on mellow trails, capable when you push them beyond their purview, and have simple layouts that don't require too much fuss.

The mullet wheel layout on the 5010 might give it a leg up in the turns, where it feels more natural and seamless to initiate breakaway and slap into a catch right when you want to. The Smuggler's full-29" setup gives it more ability to truck over rough sections of trail, and might carry a bit more speed when pedaling along at a clip.

If I had to choose one to own long term, it would be the 5010. The frame feels more robust, the bearing life proved to be much better, the cable routing is a breeze, and you get the added benefit of internal storage. While the Smuggler might be a more adaptable base frame - you really can go long-travel XC or lightweight all-mountain with a build - the 5010 felt like a very well sorted trail bike for the trails I regularly ride.

The 5010 beats out the Smuggler on price as well. Equivalent builds are a little bit cheaper, and the fancy carbon framekit comes quite close. It's also worth mentioning the new YT Jeffsy here, as the pricing on those models falls well below either of these, and the ride quality is similar if a little more all-mountain.

I could be swayed by the overall value of an alloy Smuggler, but having not ridden one yet I can't say for sure.

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Which Model is the Best Value?

As I just alluded to, the pricing on the Smuggler is up there with the most premium brands on the market. Though the ride quality on offer here is up to par, the frame itself might be a step behind. Overall, I think that Transition's builds are excellent in terms of the parts on tap, but there were a couple sore spots I'll touch on in the Tech Report below.

If I were buying one of these sporty joints, I'd probably go with the Alloy NX or Carbon GX build. As I said before, I haven't ridden the Alloy frame, but assuming the only difference is about three pounds of weight and some slight variation in ride feel, I could get on just fine. The cash saved would probably be spent on a fork upgrade, as I really do love the performance of the Fox 34 for bikes in this range. The carbon GX is mostly just a frame upgrade as most of the parts carry over, including the NX shifter and Code R brakes, but at least you do get a 34 with that kit.

As a range, I'm really happy to see consistent shock, tire, and dropper post spec across all of the Smuggler's pricepoints. Usually details like that are overlooked in service of flashier component choices, but ultimately those are some of the most critical parts to enjoying that bike long term.

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Technical Report

SRAM Transmission GX AXS Drivetrain: I'm closing in on a long-term review of the GX AXS gruppo, but suffice to say it was totally unproblematic for the duration of this test. I clipped more than a couple rocks with the lower cage, had to do some creative Knipex work to get things back to normal, but still it shifts excellently under power. Compared to the old AXS drivetrain that initially came on this bike, it's a massive improvement in terms of shift quality and overall bike noise. The prior derailleur's weak clutch let things clap around far too much, causing a racket.

Raceface Aeffect R Wheelset: Soft and comfortable, but not my choice for the long haul. I found these wheels to be just fine for hard riding, so long as you kept a careful eye on their tension and trueness after most rides - but over time things just degrade with rims this soft. Strangely, I also found them a bit harder to mount tires to, as if the overall diameter were too small for looser-fitting tires like those from Maxxis or Bontrager.

SRAM Code Stealth Silver Brakes: You'll note that I have the older-style Code RSCs on my test bike - that was a small spec discrepancy that occurred in the handoff. Luckily, the new Silver model is functionally the same as the outgoing RSC, save for the positioning of the master cylinder. I like the new position (except for the weirdly inward-facing hose direction), but have no issue with the prior model's ergonomics and performance.

OneUp 210mm V2 Dropper: Transition did a great job of maximizing dropper clearance on these bikes, with plenty of clearance and insertion depth for the longest-travel droppers for each size. Small bikes get a 150mm, Mediums a 180mm, and Large/XL/XXL get the full 210mm.

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Pros

+ Lively, energetic, and composed ride quality
+ Comfortable to ride, easy to get up to speed on
+ Impressively capable in serious terrain for such a sporty feeling bike


Cons

- Premature bearing wear, dirt can get in around bottom bracket area
- Suspension may be too active on climbs for some
- Not the best value compared to equivalent bikes



Pinkbike's Take

bigquotesThe Smuggler hits a sweet spot right in the middle of my preferred types of riding, with a great climbing characteristic, lively suspension feel, and surprising downhill abilities for a shorter-travel trail bike. Sadly, the frame quality doesn't feel like it's quite on the same level, but I might be willing to deal with that long-term frustration for the joy of the ride. It's been a long time coming, but I'm happy to see the Smuggler waving the little-bike flag once again. Complaints aside, I'm definitely a fan. Dario DiGiulio






Author Info:
dariodigiulio avatar

Member since Dec 25, 2016
147 articles

308 Comments
  • 201 1
 Sad day when Sanat Cruz beats out Transition on price. Not so long ago this wasn't the case. Trasnparency: I have own 7-8 various Transtions and still have my TR-11 DH bike.
  • 96 0
 Beats it on price with better attention to details like: keeping the bearings working for longer than 12 weeks, easy cable routing, and only allowing user-placed items in the downtube.

I thought Transitions like the Spur and Patrol were supposed to be brick shithouses that ride great, marketed towards “core” riders?
  • 47 11
 Don’t blame Transition - blame the fanbois. They’re charging what they know they can get - it’s a cult.
  • 13 0
 Plus you can currently get 5010's for 50% in the UK right now... When you factor in the bearings as well, that's a lot cheaper...
  • 33 0
 Yeah @TransitionBikeCompany have been poor of late. Iv'e been riding them for over 10 years and have always recommended them to people. They used to joke about never bring out ebikes now you can't get hold of a tr11 in the uk but they have ebikes in every shape size and colour... Come on transition get some tr11's to the uk for the people that helped you build your brand.
  • 38 0
 Having worked in bike shops over the year selling Transitions, I can safely say the quality and finish of the bikes is pretty bad especially when comparing them price point to other bikes. I had to remove some invisiframe from a brand new bike for one reason or another and the paint/lacquer ripped straight off with it. The warrantied it off which is their saving grace. Customer support is very good from what I've seen.
  • 19 0
 @sjma: Santa Cruz bearings last a real long time in my previous experiences. I also remember they sent me a new set for free when I asked. This tranny has a direct frame mud injection hole, not a great attention to detail feature imo.
  • 3 0
 @senorbanana: I find the Santa Cruz bearings last pretty well, but the support with bearings for life is an excellent feature. We've had customers bring in 20 year old Santa Cruz bikes and get new bearings for them free of charge.
  • 3 1
 @shredddr: You could say that about a ton of different brands - Santa Cruz included
  • 2 1
 @senorbanana: I'm glad you had that experience but my HT2 frame creaked from the very beginning. That said, I would buy another Santa Cruz
  • 17 0
 Some manufacturers revised their pricing for 2024, Santa Cruz being one of them. It doesn't mean they're now affordable, but at least they're doing something trying to adjust to the market.

The 5010 GX AXS being 800$ CAD cheaper with pretty much the exact same specs as the Transition Smuggler GX AXS with better build quality, better paint, in frame storage and free bearings is definitely showing that Transition pricing structure is out of touch with the market.
  • 10 0
 These prices can only continue if we pay them, but we are dumb suckers
  • 6 0
 @sjma: I can't agree more with you a friend of mine had a Transition eating bearings like chips, there was a clear misalignment on the frame but they said it isn't so. Then he bought a KTM Prowler, sure a less cool bike but man, the frame quality is 3 times better, riding three years and bearings are still good.
  • 4 1
 Looks like the PB joke of Yeti and dentists are getting a bad wrap. Have to include a lot more brands in that PB joke.
  • 5 1
 @shredddr: nah, it's not fair to say that the people supporting these brands are driving them to raise their profit margins.

They're just getting greedy. Tile was I would have loved to ride a Bellingham brand as it's just a couple hours north of me, but that time has passed as Transition and Kona have been moving up the pricing scale.
  • 1 0
 @mkul7r4: i would absolutely say that about santa cruz. the cool factor should be dead with them by now, but it's not quite yet...
  • 2 4
 @BarryWalstead: so that may be margin. However, a lot of it can be their suppliers rejecting the prices up. Pretty much across the board. Everything anywhere, regardless of source is higher. So return they've got to raise prices to a degree. I'm not saying isn't a hard working with all. However, "greed" is too simplistic a term in many cases
  • 4 0
 @shredddr: Take it 1 more step and take a look at a current Giant Trance 120/130. Great bearing life and great geo....just not sexy to the fan-boi crowd. The latest Trance is my favorite bike to date.
  • 5 2
 @shredddr: Seems like most people in pnw who ride Transitions have a bro connection and get a significant discounts.
  • 1 0
 @Dogl0rd: tranisition has a factory team to fund now!
  • 3 3
 @holdandhope: people decide which bike mfg to purchase from based on if they make e-bikes or not? LOL
  • 1 0
 @shredddr: I still have my last transition frame as my membership if case anyone asks.
  • 1 0
 @Mrmee: Had to do the same with a YT Capra and YT blamed me for not knowing how to remove invisframe. Luckily I have a great painter that was able to match the paint for the customer, but I was out $$$ because YT did not take responsibility for something that should clearly not happen.
  • 2 0
 @road-n-dirt: I think the trick is to use heat to take off film.
  • 1 0
 @road-n-dirt: Thats a bit shitty of them. I've removed of invisi off many Santa Cruz bikes and never once had any issues. Normally I would use heat for any invisi thats been on the bike for months even years but this was so fresh I just didn't think it would be an issue.
  • 1 2
 @bman33: except that they are now priced higher than brands that also spec THE SAME COMPONENTS!!! So I'm not sure what point you're making.
Obviously they are making more margins in those cases. And this idea that margins continue to rise and that doesn't immediately equal greed is silly.
  • 1 0
 People rave about Transitions and something like the smuggler would be perfect on paper for me. But noisy, poor cable routing, poor sealing on bearings at a premium price are just deal breakers for me. At least with Santa Cruz you get free bearings
  • 1 0
 @mkul7r4: Pretty sure Cube do it as well. Could be corrected
  • 1 0
 @bman33: Double post
  • 1 0
 @OzarkBike: Yeah if you want to spend money to ride a bike that looks like that go for it
  • 3 0
 Santa Cruz is owned by the PON group. They can afford to keep prices low. PON owns more than just bikes.
Distribution of consumer automotive brands in the Netherlands: Volkswagen, Audi, SEAT, Škoda, Lamborghini, Bentley, Bugatti and Porsche
Distribution of commercial vehicles in the Netherlands: MAN, Caterpillar and Motrac[clarification needed]
Importer of Continental products
Operator of several garages
Owner of Reifen Gundlach, Summa Tyre and Euro-Tyre
Car leasing, such as Dutchlease

So spend your money how you want. Transition is an employee owned company. Long gone are the days of Santa Cruz being a small fun company. PON bought SC because the can make their money in numbers.
  • 134 3
 NX is not value my dude, it's hot garbage. Derore or SLX are value and work flawlessly.
  • 52 2
 Agreed. NX and SX are dog sh1t
  • 19 0
 NX isn’t even cheap compared to deore/SLX which is annoying considering it’s meh performance and heavy casette
  • 8 9
 I'm not a fan of NX, SX or Deore. GX and SLX are great.
  • 14 2
 @tacklingdummy: can you explain?
Deore has the exact same shifting performance as SLX or XY but is heavier but more durable due to the all steel cassette.

What do you think you don't like about Deore vs liking SLX? For reference my wife's bike has full Deore and mine full SLX and I cannot feel any difference.
  • 8 9
 @BarryWalstead: I have had every groupset in Shimano and SRAM. It is great that people like Deore. More power to you if you do like it. I don't want to change your opinion of Deore. Just to me Deore is much heavier, not as refined, and does not have the shifting performance of SLX. I still think SLX, XT, and GX is the best bang for the buck, and would rather have those groupsets. However, I still favor SRAM because I'm not fond of Shimano's clutch because it gets squeaky and requires maintenance. That is just me, though.
  • 4 1
 @tacklingdummy: Thanks for the response, but what I'm curious about is this:
"and does not have the shifting performance of SLX"

As I think Shimano doesn't even claim that. Just weight savings. To say you don't want the weight there (especially as it makes a difference in suspension performance) makes sense, but I don't get the thought that even if the maker says they shift the same, because of it being the more budget option it gets panned.

But to each their own. Happy riding.
  • 3 4
 @BarryWalstead: It is just the feel of SLX shifting. SLX has slightly smoother shifting to me. I had Deore on a bike I sold last year. I don't think Shimano claims that Deore shifts the same as SLX. Do you have a link to that publication?
  • 5 5
 @tacklingdummy: I have Deore right now, as well as TRP12, SLX, and just got rid of X01. Deore is noticeably less crisp than the others, as well as heavier, with a very weak derailleur. It's by no means "bad," but it's not significantly better than NX.

Never been able to talk down a Deore evangelist, but that's the truth. It's a good drivetrain for how cheap it is. It's not fantastic.
  • 5 0
 @TheRamma: on price Deore doesn’t compete with NX it completes with SX and it’s miles better than that. SX has plastic limit screws threading into plastic. It wears out in one ride. SX is actual garbage and barely counts as a marketable product
  • 1 0
 @chrisclifford: it's hard to say how they price, when we're talking about OEM spec. Usually, when companies offer both, I see Deore vs NX, slx vs GX, and x01 vs XT price wise, but companies cheat those builds so much it's pointless. In aftermarket, Shimano is cheaper.

I don't have much time with sx, so can't contribute much there.
  • 15 1
 @BarryWalstead: put a XT shifter on a deore derailleur - cheap and awesome. There’s no way you can tell what’s hanging off the back. The placebo effect that others are experiencing is a hell of a drug.
  • 2 2
 @sophisticatedhonky: do you ride in rocky terrain? Deore derailleurs bend pretty easily on minor impacts. Haven't really beaten up an NX, so can't compare, but you can scrape the paint of the better ones (X01, XT, TRP12) and they still ride fine.
  • 1 3
 Until your SLX derailleur literally breaks in half on a downshift.
  • 2 0
 @TheRamma: Yeah, that is exactly what I said. Deore doesn't shift as smooth and not as refined as SLX. Not saying it is bad, I'm just saying I prefer SLX and GX.
  • 3 0
 @BarryWalstead: I've used Deore, SLX and XT and Deore has been the longest lasting derailleur. Just upgrade the shifter to XT
  • 2 1
 @tacklingdummy: Shifting performance is 90% controlled by the shifter rather than the derailleur. There is a bit in the Derailleur in terms of build tolerances but not much in my experience at least with Shimano. In terms of weight my Deore was way lighter than my current GX AXS derailleur
  • 1 0
 @TheRamma: The joys of Shimano up the tension on the clutch
  • 2 0
 @jeremystclair: Happened to my XT. Apparently its a Shimano 12 speed thing
  • 1 0
 @briain I think it is the entire groupset on shifting performance and not mainly just the shifter and some of the derailleur. The cassettes have a lot to do with the shifting as well. The cassettes are more refined and shift smoother on better cassettes. Yeah, you can get some smaller gains each component you move up, but it will still be lacking some smoothness unless you upgrade the entire groupset.
  • 1 0
 @tacklingdummy: each to there own I guess. I've never found a fully matching group set performs better than a non matching one staying within brand. But I tend to run better shifters and chains than derailleurs and of late third party cassettes which has been of mixed success so far.
  • 1 0
 @briain: Great to know it is not limited to their lower component groups. Comparing it to the GX I replaced it with, it seems less substantial.
  • 3 2
 Shimano 12 speed is breaking way more often than NX or GX, but that's just my opinion.
  • 1 0
 @mjscyclery: Love how we are getting downvotes. I will tell you I have never broken a derailleur before, on any bike, but my wife snaps a Shimano 12 speed SLX derailleur that had only about 500 miles on it....
  • 1 0
 @mjscyclery: Perhaps it is just that there is more bikes have Shimano drivetrains? I think you have to look at the percentage of breakage for each group to find out which is really breaking more. But with that said, derailleur and chain breakage has a lot to do with shifting properly and shifting not under load.
  • 1 0
 Value would be 10 or 11 speed XT or GX!
  • 1 0
 @riliy: They didn't have much success with the XT builds. You can always get a frame and build one up, but you'll never approach the value you get in a complete.
  • 111 0
 Not often you read a review where a Santa Cruz comes out as the sensible financial choice....
  • 6 0
 On the issue of the “loam cupboard” it seems like a better solution than a fender might be something like trek’s downtube zip tie guide.

www.trekbikes.com/us/en_US/equipment/bike-accessories/bike-tools-maintenance/bike-cables-housing/bike-cable-housing-parts/trek-control-freak-downtube-cable-guide/p/W513977
  • 39 2
 @boopiejones: or just revert to external brake cabling, which was one of Transitions selling points!
  • 3 2
 $7,300 and you’re not even getting Kashima coating.
I also don’t know why they’re referencing performance elite in the review, yet it clearly show Factory in all the photos.
  • 17 0
 If you look more closely at that section of the article, the real winner is the new YT Jeffsy.

That damn Jeffsy Core 5 in space blue keeps beckoning to me: Full XO transmission, Fox 36 Factory with kashima, I9 hubs, just 32 pounds - all for just $6500 msrp? hot damn!
  • 4 2
 @opetruzel: Grab the seat and then grab the rear tire on any YT and move them back and forth. There is a reason they are cheap.
  • 2 0
 @thustlewhumber: Maybe... on the other hand, a friend of mine has both a Jeffsy and a Capra. He had one issue with the Capra that YT support handled in less than a week without hesitation, and his OG Jeffsy has been flawless so far. I know it's anecdotal, but... [shrug]?
  • 112 31
 Transition relies to much on there cool bro factor to sell there's overpriced cheaply made and horribly specced bikes..but seems there's plenty of suckers out there.
  • 15 33
flag itslightoutandawaywego (Nov 29, 2023 at 8:38) (Below Threshold)
 Good comment. Keep it up!
  • 14 32
flag patrickinthewoods (Nov 29, 2023 at 9:09) (Below Threshold)
 Oh lookout the keyboard warrior is back on the prowl
  • 3 2
 I kept buying the wrong bike sizes because everything felt great in a parking lot. I bought one a few years ago (Sentinel) because I could actually demo it and worrying about the last few hundred dollars compared to the Big S or Trek was not worth it to me. I wanted to try a Norco but could not do anything more than ride it around a parking lot. Almost bought a GG based honestly... That would have been worse. The Transition owners FB group is about the most positive online community I am a part of. Now if Transition is getting greedy on QA and pricing they are going to be in for a rough ride or they officially become the next Yeti.
  • 24 9
 They don't want Kona and Evil to be the only low value Bellingham bike brands relying on the bro culture they crafted years before.
  • 3 0
 I had a scout and currently have a spur that I got a deal on, but I have to agree that at full price, the value isn't there at all anymore.
  • 8 0
 That is sure a lot of “there”, but at least some are the proper version.
  • 5 3
 I thought Transitions were like the Ford F150's (OK, base model from 1995 ... not the blinged versions today) of the bike world: Solid and reliable.

And CC @TransitionBikeCompany
  • 2 3
 You mean just like Evil?
  • 12 11
 Transition is a hipster brand for bro brahs. BuIlT bY RiDeRs 4 RIderZ brah
  • 7 3
 @twalker: Hey now, there is a clear distinction between Transition and Evil. Transition actually takes care of their customers whereas Evil f's them over (and has since inception).

I wanted to say Transition was like Nike (All branding and marketing with crap products), but I think Evil and Nike are much more aligned with their despicable business practices, transition is more like Adidas. Their bikes are still largely outsourced cad designs with marketing attached but their overall business practices are not objectively Evil.
  • 2 1
 @ATXZJ: I have to say that actually Evil with discount has better value (still I will not buy one actually) but there are frames at a good price actually.
  • 1 0
 @Alexh1983: fair enough. I saw some wreckoning frames going for a great price online.
  • 2 0
 @ATXZJ: yes it's just me.. I have a problem with the world actually uhm...
  • 75 2
 Transition has lost the plot it seems. Bummer.
  • 29 1
 Yup, bring back 2020. External brake routing and ZS headsets!
  • 1 2
 Well, at this point in the game, are Kevin and Kyle really that into it anymore? I probably wouldn't be. The brand is successful and they put the time in. Maybe let someone with similar ethos run it, even if they don't absolutely align with the original intent of the company.
  • 61 1
 I feel like Transition was a brand for the people, real hardcore mountain bikers. They used to market *not an ebike*, and they were more affordable. Now they are bikes reserved for being hung off the back of a 100k sprinter or a tesla
  • 9 0
 I just picked up a perfectly suitable 2023 Spur for $3400 which is $400 more than my last new bike. In 2013.
  • 2 13
flag cuban-b (Nov 30, 2023 at 9:31) (Below Threshold)
 people decide which bike mfg to purchase from based on if they make e-bikes or not? LOL losers
  • 5 0
 @cuban-b: get out, e-normie
  • 64 1
 3700.00 for a frame only option. Crazy times.
  • 11 5
 Have you seen Yeti? I believe the SB160 is a $5k frame only, which is somehow $500 more than an Atherton frame only.
  • 10 4
 @ocnlogan: At least for both of those frames you listed, theyre not another 4bar linked bike. I really cannot see the appeal of buying a Transition frame when almost every cheaply made/designed frame is probably comparable since they have the same suspension platform.
  • 15 1
 I just bought a Fezzari La Sal for $3400 with full XT and Ultimate-level suspension. I know it's direct to consumer, I know it's a brand that doesn't have the same weight as Transition, but still...that's pretty crazy.
  • 23 0
 It's expensive but consider that you're getting horrible cable routing, no frame storage, chintzy bearings, enduro weight and lots of noise and things start to come into focus. :-)
  • 5 0
 @rickybobby19: transition is also direct
  • 4 9
flag ATXZJ (Nov 29, 2023 at 9:53) (Below Threshold)
 @ocnlogan: I don't care about yeti.
  • 41 0
 Norco Fluid A1 complete bike for $4000.

Horst-link, nearly identical geometry (also size-specific), 34 Factory and Float X Perf Elite, XT drivetrain and TRP Evo brakes.

Also 31 lbs, but aluminum. No frame storage, but no weird hole in the bottom either.

These are basically the same bike. There's no way a carbon frame warrants an extra $3300.
  • 3 1
 @ATXZJ:

To be clear, neither do I (although I also don't really don't dislike them, per se). I was actually pointing out how expensive Yeti frames are, even relative to other brands.

Where they (a relatively common/mass market brand) is selling frames in 4-5 sizes, for $500 MORE than an ultra boutique/relatively unheard of brand selling 3d printed Ti/Carbon tube frames offered in 22 sizes. Heck, you can get it custom modified in size for the same price as a Yeti.

Which, strangely makes Atherton frames a good value in comparison.
  • 9 3
 ... and no alloy frameset option. Transition is definitely not cool anymore.
  • 6 3
 @ocnlogan: No argument with ya there. I even owned a couple Yetis. Would I buy one again? No. Transition is a pretty basic frame comparatively and I struggle to see the $3700 value.

Unless its something groundbreaking, carbon frames need to stay at that MSRP of $2999.95 or less pricepoint that existed before all of this post pandemic greedflation took hold.

Lastly. What's with manufactures obsession with integrated headsets these days? Good god.
  • 10 0
 I just ordered a Kavenz VHP and it's 3k delivered.

This ^ is a custom designed, made in Germany frame, and it's less expensive than a plastic frame popped out of mold?

Strange days for sure.
  • 1 0
 Agreed but let’s face it. This was decided in 2022.
  • 2 0
 @sanchofula: yes, or for a more direct comparison to the Smuggler my Nicolai Saturn 14 frame was $3k USD delivered, and that's with a ~$700 custom geo surcharge.
  • 1 0
 @rickybobby19: and a great choice, nice bike man!
  • 2 0
 @jdejace: yeah. My G1 is bombproof too. 3000km on it at least and checked the bearings a few months ago and still buttery.

Just awesome bikes.
  • 2 0
 @TranceAllez: You're absolutely correct, carbon doesn't warrant a $3000 upcharge. Actually, purely from a manufacturing perspective, carbon doesn't really warrant any significant upcharge.

The fact that people think that carbon is a "superior" material and are subsequently ready to pay more for carbon is mainly based on gaslight marketing and nonsensical performance buzzwords.
  • 2 0
 @chillrider199: 100% - I can appreciate a higher cost frame if it's a unique design but this much for a 4 bar is pretty silly.
  • 2 0
 @rickybobby19: Well done. How’s it riding?

Funny how emotional men get about brands.

Source - a man
  • 44 0
 Stumpjumper carbon frames are $1750 right now. . .
  • 9 0
 Looks like all sizes too. I love my Stumpjumper. I'd like to buy one for my wife too, just need to convince her it's a good financial decision.
  • 28 1
 Oh but you see, the issue with that, is that the stumpy is a better bike by every metric....wait, what
  • 16 0
 Light, frame storage, great cable routing and geometry. Why would you want that crap? :-)
  • 33 4
 Specialized had every bike brand in every category chasing them with bikes they released over 3 years ago now - Epic Evo, Stumpy, Enduro... wonder what they will be releasing in the next year or so and if they're going to move the bar once again? Big S gets a lot of hate, until you own one...
  • 8 1
 @Lokirides: 100% right. I never had one until a bit over a year ago. Now I have two.
  • 11 0
 @Lokirides: FYI: also the Status 140 & 160 frames are $800… you’ll spend the “savings” on sick wheels and a nicer shock…
  • 17 0
 I wanted a Smuggler so bad but in Canada the frame is $5000. I drove across the border and bought an S Works stumpjumper frame for $2300 cad ($1750 USD). Almost 3 grand price difference between the two frames? Come on.
  • 4 0
 And the bearings last forever. Before having one I worried a little bit after hearing that the yoke design eats shocks and bearings but I am on the third season on mine and no issues at all. In the meantime I have changed the bearings once on my enduro bike, which is very reasonable in 3 years.
  • 2 0
 @Brodybro29: same here, 3 seasons on mine and the thing is still as dead quiet as the first day I owned it. maintinence required to date has included cleaning, lubing the chain, replacing brake pads, and a quarter turn of the barrel adjuster.
  • 2 1
 Also got a Stumpy with 3 years on the bearings, and it rides great, but it's not all roses. The frame alignment is crap (I'm on my second frame, and getting the rear axle in is always a faff), and the side loading killing the shock it was specced with from the factory is really a bit much.
  • 41 2
 2-3 month bearing lifespan - in the dry - is fairly ridiculous. this is a PNW company?
  • 2 1
 Ever since SBG, they've had a ton of bearing problems. My pre-SBG bikes never had this issue. I don't know why this got ignored or swept under the rug for years, but every SBG gen bike I worked on had seized bearings in under a year. My Smugglers were entirely frozen solid after about 12 months, my Sentinels lower pivot bearings lasted 4 weeks before being seized, and the rocker bearings were walking out of their shell due to bad tolerances. Two of my friends here, same story, one had Sentinel bearings frozen after several months and another slightly less. It was to the point I had to do bearing maintenance every 2 months and found them seized most of the time.

They really need some kind of rubber gasket or seal that presses between both sides of the pivot to prevent dirt accumulating around the bearing. I've never had this problem with any other brand (SC, Specialized, REEB, Giant, Ibis, Intense) riding in the same area for whatever reason.
  • 4 2
 @shinook: interesting. My sentinel is ridden 2-3 times a week right through the British winter for two years and I’m only on my second set of bearings.
  • 5 0
 @tbc: Similar story for me, except with NW debris and grit and rarely have an issue. Guess I am lucky, as I have owned: first gen Patrol, second gen Patrol, third gen Patrol, second gen Sentinel. Just replaced bearings in rocker on Sentinel after riding it for almost 2 years. Not saying Transition is a perfect company, but I have yet to have ANY issues with customer service or warranty needs. I am however, not stoked on the internal brake routing and hope this Smuggler version is a outlier.
  • 2 0
 @shinook: I haven't run into hardly any bearing issues since the move to SBG. My first gen Patrol ran through more bearings in the 3.5 years I owned it than any other bike I have had from them. Just mentioned in a reply to tbc that I just replaced the bearings the in the rocker of the Sentinel after riding it consistently for over 2 years. Other bearings are running alright after a cleaning and grease. My 2019 Patrol is basically a bullet proof tank. Have gotten away with a lot, most of my major large double progression occurred on that bike. Think it's finally time to replace the bearings on it. I do only weigh 150lb, so 155 fully kitted. So maybe that has something to do with it? I agree though, how the shields could have better coverage.
  • 4 0
 I own two transitions and I’ve never replaced bearings in the 3 plus years I’ve owned them.
  • 2 0
 @levie125: ditto. And I’ve put a shit-ton of miles on as well.
  • 2 0
 @levie125: Our family has two Spurs and one Sentinel. The Spurs have been rock-solid bearing'wise. The sentinel eats them like candy.
  • 3 0
 @RBalicious: I'm not sure why some have issues and some don't. The trails here tend to be pretty wet and gritty, but I'd find all kinds of debris and nastiness inside of the bearings after I replaced them on the regular. Again, never had that problem with any other bike brand, even some with the same type of layout/exposure of the bearing. It had to be something unique to them, but what it was I can't figure out.

My Sentinel's rear triangle was so badly out of alignment that I had to twist it to reinstall the axle. It broke after a month and the one they replaced it with was aligned better, part of me wonders if frame alignment has been an issue, but since I've seen 5 different bikes with the same problem (some alloy, some carbon), I doubt it. That generation's Sentinel Carbon also had issues with the rocker bearings walking out of the frame, you can look down the rear triangle where the seatstay connects and see the outer races hanging out. Every bike in the demo fleet here had this happen as did my own, I had to press them back in with a retaining compound.

Either way, I ditched them as a brand entirely over this issue. I've had a lot of their bikes over the years and I hated doing it, but replacing bearings every 2 months is really annoying. I also thought it was really crappy to pay the same MSRP for a carbon frame as every other brand and not have internal routing, it's one thing if you are charging less than others, but it was annoying running a silencing kit on a high end frame.
  • 1 0
 @tbc: My guess would be frame allignment. my 2018 mega replaced the lower pivot bearings once in 4 years and my 6 month old Giga the bearings all fell horrible but the amount of dirt the worked into the bearings on the Giga is incredible
  • 1 0
 @shinook: do you use cleaning products on your bike? Since I’ve gone water and brush only I’ve had much better luck.
  • 38 1
 At that price they really should have tube-in-tube routing. Shouldn't have to deal with fishing cables through the BB and all that BS
  • 10 1
 Agreed at at the expense of being able to run an angleset too.

Feels like Transition have go backwards. They are loved for maintainability and adjustability. This one has none :-(
  • 6 0
 I recall they were one of the first companies to coin "TITS" and I was like...AMAZING everyone should be doing this...then they cheaped out removing that (at least on the newer carbon sentinel design) along with paint too..
  • 6 0
 agreed, high prices should always come with TITS
  • 9 0
 Cable routing problems, cable rattle, and the bottom bracket debris issue are just not acceptable for a premium-priced bike in 2023. I'm glad the review calls them out on it.
  • 3 0
 @rickybobby19: username checks out
  • 2 0
 @iJak: looks like they dont like TITS anymore
  • 1 0
 @iJak: I am drawing a blank on this acronym and how it was left out of the V2 Sentinel, mind refreshing my memory?
  • 3 0
 @RBalicious: Tubes Inside Tubes
  • 22 0
 That price

Transition seems to make great bikes, but for the price, I'd rather have a Tallboy. For $6500 CAD, you can get a carbon Tallboy with GX, RaceFace rims + DT Swiss hub (albeit the 370), AND it's actually full GX, not the NX shifter. Or the Hightower for $7300, same build. The Smuggler is $8200 and comes with a NX shifter, WTB rims, and Novatech hubs. Sheesh. Who's buying this?
  • 2 1
 5010 Carbon GX AXS is 5% less than Smuggler Carbon GX AXS, it's not like Santa Cruz is the Patron Saint of Pricing
  • 22 0
 I just found the transcription of the actual call with Transition:

Dario: Are you aware that the hole in the bottom of the frame is letting dirt get through?

Transition: Yes
  • 24 0
 I'll stick with my Norco Optic...or the Fluid. Price is insane.
  • 8 0
 hell yes.. I got an Optic C1 in September on that sale, slightly more than the NX carbon build Smuggler,,,,, Yikes... I'll take XTR over NX any day LOL
  • 20 0
 It looks like the Smuggler doesn't have in-frame storage, but it sounds like the Loam Cupboard is a great place to put your rock collection.
  • 18 0
 Who designs a bike with a hole in it to fill up with dirt. I thought transition were part of thread riders who ride in mud not desert summer wannabes. A really poor design decision
  • 21 1
 Wait. It's just an open hole with no cover? On the back of the BB shell?

Am I being gaslit here? This seems insane.
  • 14 0
 I've owned several Transitions. Unfortunately won't be purchasing one again.. Nothing but warranty claims with their newer carbon frames. Headset cups coming loose in the frame, linkage bearings wearing unevenly and very quickly. Their QC is absolute shite.
  • 1 0
 For me it was the aluminum bb sleeve that started moving and creaking like hell. They warranties the whole front triangle, but I had to do the work myself replacing it.
  • 20 8
 "Apparently Fox has a quick fix, and it's just a matter of replacing one sticky shim in the stack to get things back to normal."

That's hilarious!

Maybe they should just come out and say that Transition sucks at picking shock tunes. Smile
That crossover compression stack they love with the huge gap is no bueno.
  • 4 1
 What’s all this about? It sounds nerdy.
  • 12 0
 The cable routing in this frame was frustrating to say the least. My smuggler is quite noisy. Seems to be a combo of chain slap, cable rattle, and now I’m thinking I need to check the float x for that top out noise. Overall, love the bikes performance, but there was a hefty price to pay and there’s some short comings that seem to be well sorted by other bike brands. Transition should do better. It shouldn’t be that hard to have good cable routing and a chain stay protector that actually dampens chain slap noise.
  • 3 0
 I just bought a Spur. Didn’t want to wait on the Smuggler to go on sale.

Phew?
  • 2 0
 @itslightoutandawaywego: I had a spur previously and it felt like a more well sorted frame
  • 1 0
 My new patrol is loud too, I tried the SHFU chainslap protector and it helped a little but not totally.
  • 14 0
 Good luck with that pricing in this post-bike boom world where ridiculously good deals can be head.
  • 12 0
 Transition needs to be at like YT prices to be competitive at this point. I don't see this working out too much longer. There are so many better priced bikes, and most of them appear to be just plain better.
  • 4 8
flag SunsPSD (Nov 29, 2023 at 12:09) (Below Threshold)
 Can't say I agree with you. I never start by looking only at Transitions but once I balance geo (functional STA is a big one), dropper insertion, rear suspension progression and suspension design, CS length & so on, I just keep ending up back on Transitions. Also, the frame's themselves are of a competitive weight, even though they are not class leading.
Every other bike I look at seems to have significant gaps somewhere in its basic design that I can't get past. Also, many don't offer frame only options.
Fortunately for me, the cost of the frame one way or the other is a pretty minor concern in the scheme of things, but I agree that Transition's builds seem heavy and with poor spec selections for the $.
  • 3 1
 @SunsPSD: I'm in the same boat. Gobs of dropper post insertion, a short seat tube, and steep seat tube angle are non negotiable to me. I'm on a medium sentinel and have the stock 180mm dropper. At my height (5'8") that is a game changer. I've seen someone slam a 210mm on their medium sentinel and will go that route if my dropper has issues. It's hard to find other bikes out there that can do that, especially when many run the shock through the seat tube path, or have a big kink in the seat tube. Not many brands see the value in having the seat all the way out of the way.
  • 13 0
 long live external routing.
  • 12 0
 STOP SPECCING METAL BIKES WITH GARBAGE COMPONENTS.

Alloy+ GX/SLX would be great.
  • 14 3
 Over priced, Small boutique brands will be extinct in this economy. We just got too many brands in MTBing.
  • 2 6
flag devinkalt (Nov 29, 2023 at 10:47) (Below Threshold)
 They must be doing well if they can price these bikes like this
  • 8 0
 @devinkalt: Maybe it was working during the pandemic, but the market has now moved on and is in a totally different mood.

Not sure how you can expect to move bikes at these prices when other brands are offering more for less money.
  • 1 3
 @rick26: nah I think you are forgetting how brands couldn't even get parts or drivetrains at that time
  • 1 0
 @rick26: Well you would think they would lower the price if nobody was buying them right?
  • 1 0
 @rick26: I mean - they've had almost all their bikes at 30% off for the last few months. I've been getting a bunch of emails about it.

The Smuggler might be new and shiny enough to be selling at the moment, but I'll be shocked if we don't see Snugglers on sale here soon, and a "pricing correction" from Transition when new models or significant updates come out.
  • 2 0
 Mtb has been around for longer than since 2018.
Most small boutique brands have been through several economic downturns.
It’s mainly the ones who got greedy during Covid and thought they could continue selling like that forever who are in trouble.
  • 4 0
 I'd be curious how this bike in the 140mm/130mm configuration compares to buying one of the on-sale spurs ($4299 for Performance Elite/GX/GuideRSC) and bumping the Fox 34 fork up to 130mm vs the stock 120mm. The spur would weigh 3+ lbs less.
  • 4 5
 Spur has flex stays. Good for hilly XC/trail riding. Not so good for longer, more natural descents.
  • 4 0
 I first figured you were riding it in wet mucky PNW conditions to warrant a bearing replacement that soon, but DRY conditions?! That's a deal breaker for those who ride frequently...to have to partially strip the bike and disassemble the frame, order bearings, then remove and press new bearings, every few months.
  • 6 0
 Absolutley loved this bike when it was released... Wanted one so bad... Ended up with an Optic on sale... amazing how similar those two bikes are in geometry at least.
  • 4 0
 Me too. Nearly Identical bike but C3 with XT/SLX spec and burlier fork for $3800 CAD; literally half the price for better spec.
  • 3 0
 Same. Love the look of the Smuggler but the Optic's value is just so much better. Mine absolutely charges too, really is a perfect trail bike for most of what I ride.
  • 4 0
 Optic's are super nice.
  • 2 0
 @GBangShredder: I wanted a C2 shimano real bad... had one lined up but shop wasn't able to get it in time.. "Settled" for the C1 HAHA ... epic until i have to replace that XTR cassette.......
  • 2 0
 @MaxGuerette: get the Garbaruk MS cassette, cheaper and lighter than XTR
  • 2 0
 @MaxGuerette: I'm riding mine as a mullet right now with 35mm rise bars and a 240mm dropper. I might add offset bushings to get the original geo back but for now it's rad, basically a firmer, snappier, better climbing version of my Patrol.
  • 1 0
 And there's a Carbonda frame with very similar geo to this, available for well under £1k - and probably longer-lasting bearings.
  • 1 0
 @souknaysh: doesn't shift as good as the original Shimano cassettes though. Best bang for the buck is a good old XT cassette
  • 1 0
 @GBangShredder: I went from a Stumpy Evo 29 (raw 2019 version ... LOL) to the optic .. so playful / poppy means a whole new thing to me.. you don't find the BB too low with the 27.5 rear wheel eh ?
  • 1 0
 @MaxGuerette: I mean... it's lower for sure but I got it mainly to ride on XC trails to a bike park 10 minutes from home that is mostly machine flow. So it's fine there. For anything jankier I stick to my patrol. Offset bushings did arrive in the mail yesterday so I'll probably try them at some point which will raise everything back up. If you're used to a mullet it's hard to get a full 29er to lean the same way I found.
  • 6 3
 Pro-it comes in more than 3 sizes

Cons-bearing wear and cable routing

These cons are common to direct to consumer “value brands” and might be an acceptable trade-off for saving a few hundred dollars for some folks. Not in this price bracket though.

I’d also be curious is the frame is perfectly aligned. Bearing wear that fast suggests it might not be.
  • 6 0
 Baffling how bad of a value this is. Gotta have plenty of f@#$ you money to buy this thing
  • 3 0
 Rode Transition for about 5 years. Had a version one sentinel in alloy and a version 2 in carbon. Bikes rode excellent but the paint on both sucked. Alloy bikes paint chipped a lot, and the carbon in Loam Gold became extremely faded after a little over a year. Had to jump ship to WeAreOne and haven’t looked back.
  • 8 2
 To be a one-issue bike buyer, and to have that one issue be paint…are you a Seinfeld character???
  • 1 0
 Agreed. I also have a Transition Sentinel v2 and had to buy touch up paint to go with it. To be fair, most bikes these days seem to have paint that chips easily (Santa Cruz is another example) and they all need a frame wrap. By contrast, the paint on my Ibis HD3 took a lot of abuse and lasted forever.
  • 2 0
 @owl-X: thank you

Keep your paint immaculate on your mountain bike.

Clean bike is a fast bike but the fastest bike is the one you don’t care about the paint
  • 5 0
 I’d go Druid at this price point. I remember my first dirtbag frame was $899 new
  • 4 0
 Went with the Fluid FS C over this bike based on price alone as I figured they would ride very similar. Wild how pricey Transition is these days.
  • 2 0
 I don't see how the cable port location has _anything_ to do with the headset type. Those ports are still close enough to the middle of the tube that even the deepest EC or ZS headset cup isn't going to interfere with the cables.
  • 1 0
 I tend to agree, though they cite a manufacturing reason here.
  • 3 0
 @dariodigiulio: I understand that's what they said, but that doesn't explain why actual why.

What is the process that necessitates the addition of an angled shelf to the ends of the headtube as opposed to leaving it smooth? The bores still need to be aligned and concentric and smooth, and now they've added the shelves that also need to be aligned and concentric and smooth. It seems like just more work on top of the more work to make the guides.
  • 2 0
 Have had 2 ripcords, a scount, 2 sentinels, 2 spire and now a patrol across the family. Ripcords - awesome kids bikes - years ahead of everyone else (who have now caught up), v2 scout was bombproof and a fast, playful, toy. V1 sentinels were amazing - geometry was incredible coming off a yeti sb5.5 but ate bearings. Spire #1 - alignment issues and then the bb sleeve came away from the carbon. Spire #2 (warranty was amazing) - same thing happened - pretty unimpressed. Now on a replacement Patrol which is a great, fun bike and probably suits me better than the Spire. Pros - Transitions service is top drawer and the geo and feel of the bikes is superb. The company ethos and how they approach supporting trails, community, women riders etc is awesome. Cons - bascially what the review says is spot on. Much as it pains me to say it paint quality, bearing life, frame tolerances and QA - just isn't where it needs to be, espeically at this price point. I love the company and the bikes, but unless things change the Patrol might be the last of a long line....
  • 2 0
 I really, really wanted one of these when they were announced, and it tied up with my new bike time. Super low seat tubes and long reach for us short-leg-long-body types, my preferred shock, the right travel and geo.

However the pricing (in the UK) is bananas. Mixed with this being the only bike in their whole range where the alloy is not available frame only, and the carbon frame has been held steadfastly at RRP all year despite discounts everywhere elsecin the range. And then - my LBS/dealer start to hint at the quality not being what one might expect, the paint finish being poor... This review kind of backs that up. I ended up going with another carbon option, a superbly finished 'boutiquey' frame for less money and impeccable quality.


Disclosure - previous very happy Transition owner. Fear they might have jumped the shark with this one.
  • 2 0
 Okay, guess I will be the one who takes up the counterpoint to all the negative comments. I own a 23 Smug in the XO AXS build and it's fantastic. Instead of blasting some of the technical points why not focus on the most important parts of Dario's review "I might eb willing to deal with these frustrations for the joy of riding the bike". Full disclosure that I did put a 150 Fox 36 and am running the rear shock at 140mm. Mostly I did this out of necessity since I have such long legs that I needed more front end height to keep up with the length of my exposed seatpost. However, that ended up really ramping up the performance on descents without really changing the lively character of the bike. I put a set of 1400 g Roval Control wheels on it, and you get a bike that climbs like mad, feels incredibly light underfoot and yet just charges on the descents. I have never owned or ridden a bike that nails all of those traits Here's my take on a few of the criticisms:

Cable Routing - It's just fine, and in fact addresses one of my pet peeves which is the loop of housing on other designs that is external around the BB before it goes back into the chainstay. Super clean. Also, with AXS there is really only the rear brake line to deal with and rerouting that is only a thing if your swapping brakes. Also, pulling the lower pivot bearings to swing the rear end up to enable routing MAKES you clean and check them. 10 minute job.

Bearings- I have 1500 plus miles on mine and they are still going strong. Maybe it's bike dependent but my experience is just different.

Pricing - Yep, I agree they are not the value they once were. Can't really fight that one, but to me the end product is pretty special so it is what it is
  • 1 0
 Nice to hear, no-one seems to post positives anymore just jump on the hate bandwagon. They've just gone on sale and I was mulling over the AXS X0 build but was disappointed to read about the issues with this frame like the hole. TBH having to fish a cable through the frame is hardly a deal breaker for me, I don't really see why people are so up ina rms about it. TITS on the 16 Carbon Patrol was excellent for routing but ended up filled with grit and making noise. The routing on the 20 Carbon Scout (which I imagine is very much like this frame) isn't a pain whatsoever. My concern is the fork, had nothing but issues with OEM Fox and a clunky shock from the factory? Err definitely sets alarm bells off.

I guess you thought it was but is the X0 AXS really worth the extra coin over the GX AXS?
  • 2 0
 @veero: They didn't have GX AXS when i bought it but that's probably what i would have bought to save some coin. The only issue is that GX AXS crank which I think looks a little plasticky but obviously that could be replaced with something cool and STILL be cheaper than XO AXS. Bike industry is in such bad shape right now that it's really the time to snap something up at great value. Coulda saved $1000 on mine if I would have waited til now! The other one in this travel range to consider is the Propain Hugene which is a fantastic bike, but the issue for me was a not steep enough seat tube because of, again, my extra long legs. 78 degrees listed as "virtual seat angle" on Smuggler becomes about a degree and half slacker at my post length, but the hugene starts at 76 degrees virtual which puts it a at 74.5 at my length. Unfortunately a deal breaker for me
  • 4 0
 Seems on paper pretty similar to a Norco Fluid FS, but more expensive. I wonder how they compare.
  • 1 0
 I loved my 1st gen smuggler. And I was ready to buy the new one this year. But, their prices on the builds are shit! $4k on the cheapest alloy build and its a crap build. And, no alloy frame only option. I'd love to get on one in the future-I hope they get the price/build value a bit better.
  • 2 0
 I went from 1st gen smuggler to 3rd gen alloy Sentinel. One-off build. Geo feels pretty good. Do recommend
  • 3 0
 Fully internal cable routing and the 'loam cupboard' is enough of a reason to wait for the next edition. Shame, though. Seems like an incredible bike otherwise.
  • 3 0
 I find it very difficult to believe that the Alloy frame weighs 3 POUNDS more than the carbon frame.
Perhaps this was worded incorrectly?
  • 4 0
 Build difference is 3lbs, no info on their alloy frame weight.
  • 1 1
 The alloy sentinel frame is 2.7 lbs heavier than the carbon frame, so I'm sure thats not far off the mark. I've heard it joked that transition alloys their aluminum with lead slightly more probable is that they are just overbuilt. My medium alloy sentinel (nx build, but switched drivetrain to Deore 11 sp) comes in a little shy of 38 lbs (17.2 kg). It's a little on the tanky side for me at 160 lbs, but the weight isn't as noticeable as most people would think.
  • 2 0
 They run their carbon frames a smidge light. They overbuild the alloy ones. That way they can differentiate and justify the cost delta for carbon.
  • 1 0
 My guess is some of the weight comes from industrial design choices in the tube shapes. If they were round they could probably use less aluminum for the same strength. Carbon might be more adaptable to these shapes.
  • 3 2
 I have had a Spur for 2 years and about 2500 miles without any issues. Rides great. Just bought a Sentinel carbon XT a month ago on sale for $4000 on their site. Too early to speak of reliability, but no problems after about 10 rides. Maybe the Smuggler is a black sheep?
  • 1 0
 No thanks Transition
For a bit more than 300€, I've got a V.3 Smuggler from a V.2 by mounting a Cascade Components link + a -1° angleset.
Works perfectly, the only shite I keep is the poor rear tyre clearance, but otherwise I love my V2.3 Smuggler Smile
  • 1 0
 You happened to have a bearing kit that fit? As in, Transition have you a free replacement or they are such standard size that one might just have a fitting bearing kit?

I hugely desired Transition but lately I’ve been hearing some stuff on their quality… makes me reconsider as I was pretty much set on a tradition as my next bike…
  • 4 0
 Transition take the piss with the spec and price of their bikes these days.
  • 1 0
 Bought my entire e bike 2 years ago for less than the cost of this frame!?
  • 1 0
 Looks nice but not quite convinced on the shorter travel, heavy, slacker rigs category after owning different bikes, but maybe it is just my age. Not quite enough travel when you need it as the 34 gets out of depth and its a heavy, slack bike to climb or go for longer rides.
  • 2 1
 I looked hard at these when they came out. On paper it was the perfect bike. But it was hard to get, and eyewateringly expensive. But I also realized that a Sentinel was cheaper and, if you picked the right build, just about the same weight. Unfortunately, I couldn't get my hands on one of those either so I ended up with a Specialized Stumpjumper Evo Comp, which was cheaper than both Transitions, but probably a lot less fun. I am still sort of thinking of flipping the Stumpy to get a Sentinel, though. I'm still working the kinks out of the Stumpy and get the sense that a Sentinel might be a little less quirky.
  • 1 0
 IMO Stumpy and Sentinel look so similar on paper, it may not even be worth the trade. I don't think fun factor is that much different. I personally like low stand over, and the looks of the Sentinel. Alloy is the way to go though
  • 2 0
 Haha what a dumpster fire, I have the ALLOY and I LOVE IT. Upgraded to everything I wanted to change anyway and sure was happy when the stick went through my NX derailleur instead of an AXS. Just sayin.
  • 1 0
 Wow. That's a lukewarm review if I ever read one.

Essentially boils down to: "In a vacuum it's an ok trail bike, but in reality there's others that do everything better for less money."

One does wonder what exactly happened to Transition. They used to be cool once but really seem to have lost the plot somewhere along the way...
  • 1 0
 Let it be known I really liked this bike, there are just a lot of good options out there now.
  • 3 0
 I think I'll save some money and buy a discount dentist bike, a Yeti for example Smile .
  • 3 0
 insane that the delta between frame only and an ENtire bike is only $300... speaks to the actual value of nx gear lol
  • 1 0
 Just kidding- just realized its also carbon vs alloy
  • 3 0
 Can we talk about @dariodigiulio’s nose down saddle tho… how does one put in so many miles like that??
  • 4 1
 Smuggler has really grown in dimensions. You may as well get a Sentinel with this wheelbase and enjoy more travel.
  • 4 0
 Hard to buy one when stuff like the Izzo exists.
  • 3 0
 It seems like a vibe of unhappiness looms here! Am I reading the room wrong?
  • 4 4
 I have a alloy spire with absolutely no frame/bearing issues after riding 3-5 days a week, and at least a day of bikepark all summer. Shit ton of miles, and ive had no bearing issues. I did torque everything to spec out of the box. Comparing the alloy Transition to my previous YT Capra, YT fell apart constantly, chainstay snapped in half in the fall after a season of riding, brearings replaced twice. Frame was super flexy. Felt kinda shitty tbh. The spire is way stiffer, rides super smooth, no bearing issues thus far. I did ask them about the harsh big hits on the SDlx U shock on the back and they were kinda short and not very helpful. after messing with tokens and PSI i settled on original config and 33% sag, high LSC and slow Rebound. Works awesome on steep, dry, loose, techy bikepark jank. Feels good.
  • 5 1
 Imagine paying that for a boring-ass bike
  • 2 3
 i'm confused as to why, with different molds for each frame size, the actual seat tube angle remains the same. surely they'd want to design it with the effective seat tube angle being the same, since that is what impacts our position on the bike to begin with. am i missing something?
  • 1 0
 You seem to favor smaller frames than your height would suggest. Maybe I missed it in the article, but would you consider sizing up to XL?
  • 3 0
 The sizing on this felt great for me, I do prefer a 10-15mm smaller reach than one would expect but the XL's 510 is generally too long for me.
  • 3 1
 Have owned lots of high-end bikes, but my '23 Smuggler is my favorite. It rides so darn well.
  • 1 1
 yup, this bike rips
  • 5 1
 Harsh crowd.
  • 4 1
 Man, no love for Transition lately in the PB comments
  • 12 0
 Saying Santa Cruz is better value than Transition, they earned it unfortunately.
  • 2 0
 @dariodigiulio how does it compare to your tallboy that you raced Downieville with?
  • 9 0
 Feels like more of a trail bike, Tallboy is sharper and more efficient.
  • 2 1
 Tues vs Tr11
not even remotely close in terms of value. come on guys lots of loyal customers but the $2k gouging really hurts
  • 1 0
 seriously, the tues would be my #1 pick for a cheap DH bike.
  • 2 1
 They are also not remotely the same bike either. YT is a race bike and the tr-11 is a freeride/ park bike @DoubleCrownAddict:
  • 1 0
 @bigmeatpete420: Tr11 is being raced at the top world cup level under some juniors I think so it's plenty fast
  • 1 0
 @basalt: i’m not saying the bike is slow, but it definitely wants to jump way more than it wants to plow. It’s definitely the most playful downhill bike ever in in recent years and I’ve written just about everything there is.
  • 1 0
 @bigmeatpete420: I would have seriously considered a TR11 this year but it's too expensive
  • 1 0
 @basalt: it’s very cheep I’m
Not sure what other alloy frames are 2k now
  • 1 0
 @bigmeatpete420: carbon please, $2500?
  • 1 0
 @bigmeatpete420: $3700 for a smuggler frame
  • 1 0
 @basalt: the tr-11 is 2000 right now and 2300 normally
  • 1 0
 @bigmeatpete420: nukeproof dissent $1100 on chain reaction
  • 1 0
 @basalt: this brand doesn’t exist anymore so maybe not a smart idea. But go ahead Smile
  • 1 0
 @bigmeatpete420: Jedi 29 $1800
  • 6 3
 Too bad the Guerrilla Gravity Trail Pistola isn’t around anymore.
  • 8 5
 A 130mm bike shouldn't weigh more than 30lbs
  • 2 0
 fyi typo - CS should be 435 not 335.
  • 3 5
 "For those that climb heavy - sitting down and not shifting weight over obstacles - there may be more suspension movement than you want over bumps" ... nice paraphrase to point out the usual problem with Horst Links on the uphill: they bob happily on uneven terrain and under power. Hard to understand why so many still use it, other than because it is cheap to build and it works ok on the downhills.
  • 2 4
 Demo'd this bike and rode it up 2k feet on smooth forest roads, which felt very good (geo, firm platform). Then had to ride it up 1/10 mile of technical single track to access the top of the climb and was really surprised at how terrible the balance of the bike felt and the utter lack of traction to the rear wheel. Tried the climb a couple of times thinking it was me, but same result. n=1 scenario on a short section of trail, but enough for me to go buy a pivot T429 instead. T429 has proven to do everything better than the Smuggler both up and downhill.
  • 2 1
 @mountzlu: I wonder how much of this was the Float X? My experience with it is not great. Horst link bikes are usually great on tech climbs.
  • 5 0
 @dododuzzi - with the current trend towards very upright seat tubes, I find that my Horst link bike (a Sentinel) has a lot less bob on the up than my old split pivot Kona did, despite 15mm more travel. It's all a game of trade-offs - the very sprightly DW link and VPP bikes tend to hang up more on the up and don't have quite the same climbing traction. To each their own - but I'm continually surprised by how Horst link bikes acquit themselves quite well in the current market.
  • 5 1
 @g-42: My Stumpy EVO doesn't bob much at all and it's like a grappling hook on tech climbs.
  • 2 0
 @Tinshield: float X is probably part of the equation, though the bike's balance & feel when climbing out of the saddle up something punchy was my bigger concern; felt too long in some ways and too short in others, which meant I never found the sweet spot for body weight distribution. Again, just my one-off personal experience and I'm definitely not above picking a linkage design and being a dick about it (s/o DW), so to anyone considering this bike go try for yourself. For me it wasn't an intuitive climber, for others it might be fine. Of all the bikes I've demo'd and owned, I've never had this issue.
  • 3 0
 I don't think this generalization works anymore man. I went from a HT2 to a stumpy evo and spend the vast majority on tech climbs - couldnt be happier. Just because this specific bike felt like piss doesnt mean that others havent come a long ways....
  • 1 0
 Absent seeing the anti-squat graphs for this bike, it's pretty hard to tell what's going on - but its an overstatement to say that Horst Links universally bob under power. They can be readily tuned to provide plenty of anti-squat and pedal quite well, and there are examples where this is the case.
  • 5 4
 Spur > Smuggler. The Spur can be made into a trail bike and be an XC race bike at the same time.
  • 9 0
 I've owned both and don't agree. The Spur was fine but I realized that flex stay suspensions just aren't very good if you ride constant chunk.
For the 1.5# weight penalty (my actual difference using all of the same parts from my Spur except a longer fork and dropper on the Smuggler) the Smuggler is so much more bike and still fully entertaining on easier trails.
I do agree that the value isn't there, but I bought a frame and built my own and am very pleased with the end, 28.5# result.
  • 2 0
 You can't get that rear travel from the Spur. The Smuggler can probably push into the Spur category better than the Spur can push into the Smuggler category. I owned the Spur and pushed it to the to the trail category... its was fun for sure but was definitely at its limit... particularly the rear.
  • 2 1
 @SunsPSD: Fair enough but I got a great deal on my spur! Plus I have a spectral 29 for the chunky stuff. I do think if I had a one bike quiver, I'd def go Smuggler.
  • 3 0
 @SunsPSD: always good to hear your thoughtful feedback. I'm on a Spur now. Came off a '22 Top Fuel onto the Spur as my short travel bike. Switching to a Fox Float rear shock on the Spur helped it work better. The tiny little RS shock that came stock on the Spur is light and it works, but not as well as the Fox. But I do agree- the rear end does not work as well as the TF did, but the Spur fits me better and handles better. They got something right on the Spur- combo of geo, lightness, and compliant frame seem to make wanna shred corners like a slalom bike. Still chasing down a mysto cable rattle like sound coming from the downtube though. Hoping its just the dropper cable needing a foam sheath...
  • 1 0
 @Speeder01: What brand and travel of fork are you running on the spur?
  • 2 0
 @Speeder01: I had that and indeed that's what it was
  • 1 0
 Former Spur owner here. You can get into a lot of trouble very easily on that bike if you don't choose absolute perfect lines on chunky descents. Mine lasted just two years before I moved up to something with more forgiving travel. If I could afford two full squish bikes, I might have kept the Spur for XC stuff, but that's about it - and I personally prefer my hardtail SS for those days anyways.
  • 1 0
 @Kruton: Fox 34, 44 offset, 130mm travel, grip 2 damper.
  • 2 0
 @Speeder01: same here, just moved up to 130mm from the 120mm 34SC. Also got a DPx2 on the back, and built the bike up a bit beefier than stock. Absolute weapon.
  • 2 0
 @Speeder01: Yeah that's exactly what it will be, done mine and it's silent again
  • 1 0
 It's made from 100% recycled post-consumer plastic park benches...and restrooms.
  • 4 2
 Correct: wheel size
Incorrect: Frame material, spec, price

FAIL
  • 2 0
 You can also say wrong wheel size as well
  • 3 1
 No Shimano? Why? Take my money when you build Shimano.
  • 1 0
 In my opinion, the Revel Rascal is one of the best bikes in this category. Such a fun and efficient bike.
  • 1 0
 The sale price on their XO1 builds right now is bonkers. 40% off = $42,00. Nuts!
  • 1 0
 I agree that linkage is the best I have ridden for a trail bike. Only downsides are the extra weight of CBF, a yoke that is harder on the shock, not UDH compatible(yet). I also prefer HA around 64 to 65.
  • 1 0
 Missed a huge opportunity to make a purple one and call it the Plum Smuggler.
  • 2 0
 Or a red one and call it the Budgie Smuggler.
  • 1 1
 13 ‘unique’ models . They keep making the same bike and try to market it as something new and innovative. All their energy goes towards sucking off the local breaux’s
  • 1 0
 Yaaay squish video!! Thank you!
  • 2 5
 I used to have a 2016 smuggler and it was awesome. I bet this one is too or even more awesome. Good job transition, gotta love a good smuggler. Also, I felt so cool because I was able to service the linkage bearings myself in my garage, even though I was scared to.
  • 2 5
 What a mess of part colors! Nothing matches, the Kashima in the shock is different from the fork, the cranks and derailleur are grey the seat post is a darker grey and everything else is black. I would go for a cheaper build just to get everything black!
  • 11 0
 * the Kashima in the shock is different from the fork*

This isn’t actually something people give any amount of thought, is it?
  • 6 0
 @pmhobson: It bothers me every single time, but they never match.
  • 1 0
 @Genewich: yeah it bothers me too, but thats a Fox issue. None of the Kashima ever matches
  • 1 0
 @pmhobson: absolutely. I hate the mismatch look of fox stuff, dont even care if its superior performance lol
  • 1 0
 Thank you for the vido of the suspension. Even from both sides. Well done.
  • 1 0
 It's mighty tightly whitey and it's smugglin' plums
  • 1 0
 The smuggler looks good in grape.
  • 1 0
 Smuggler is replacing my Spur, someone by my Spur.
  • 3 4
 When are you guys going to stop being surprised by the descending abilities of a 140/130 bike? Or the climbing abilities of a modern 170/160 bike?
  • 1 3
 An XL Trek Slash from 5 years ago has same HA and reach as this "little bike" in Large.
Plus it has good seattube. No wonder it feels good.
Too bad for the rest.
  • 1 0
 $3600 for a core4 tues
  • 3 4
 And this is why Tranzishuns sell like hotcakes on Temu.
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