Custom Love - The Transition way!

Jan 10, 2008
by Robert Kerr  
This past season I had the privilege of building two custom Transition Bicycles and understanding what's in a name.

I’ve been mountain biking for nearly 20 years now. It was only this last season that I took the turn towards full suspension. This is my story and I hope you like it.The spring of 2006 was when it all began. I had been riding my last hardtail for almost 12 years – I had taken great care of it but figured it was time to upgrade. This first led me to Pinkbike where I browsed the classifieds for used rides. It was fantastic but became a bit of a retail therapy as my riding and enthusiasm for bikes grew out of hand. I had to figure a way around it. My new toys were stacking up; I figured building the ultimate bike would help my cause. So I started to sell off my stable in hopes of creating my ultimate ride.

I took a good look at all the new bikes out there and the people who pimp them. The decision was simple; I contacted Transition directly. In browsing their line it once again became clear that I just can’t live with one bike alone, and so I ordered a Bottle Rocket and a Covert. I knew my style was suited for the Bottle Rocket though I just couldn’t let go of a lightweight bike. The Covert seemed to be a great choice and a perfect compliment. I ordered the Covert as a full bike and the Bottle Rocket with a few key Transition components. Both bikes were in for my own custom touch.

Upon arrival, it was like Christmas. I had these big boxes in my living room, bubble wrap all over and the smell of new bike filled the air. It was almost surreal as I looked at it all. I had bought my hardtail new in ’94 with all top end parts, but these bikes just blew doors off everything I had seen before. Not only were the guys at Transition super cool, these bikes arrived easily and they’d obviously done their homework to be building these machines.

To add my touch, I had to get started.

In reading reviews, I had heard a few comments on the paint quality with Transition. Let me start with this first: it’s paint. Most bikes today are powder coated or anodized. Transition has amazing paint quality and by the looks of things, they even paint their logos on some of the frames and clear coat over it for a smooth finish. That’s detail. That’s quality. Too bad I wanted them to be a different color. Trust me, this story is not all about fun and games. Building a custom bike is a huge passionate hassle but I did not know this at the time. So I took the frames to pros who know paint. When I walked into their shop, they even thought I was weird for wanting different paint. At the end of the day, I still had to paint them myself. For all you weight weenies out there, go lightly.

So just in time for spring, I painted them yellow. Doing my best to not let any of the curious insects become art, I kept them in the warm sun to dry. Hanging them in anticipation the dogs gathered as we all took in the warmth. I was proud of my colors and I figured if I ever took a good tomahawk, they would be easy to find. At this point though, I realized that this is one of the more important things to let the professionals handle. At the end of the day, I spent more in time and lessons than a custom professional job. I also probably added weight.

Progressing towards their fruition, I had to face the fact that not only am I a rookie at paint, I am also a mediocre mechanic. Topping it out with a jittery case of butterflies, I contacted the guys at Oak Bay Bikes to help me out. Some work I would do and they would fix, other stuff I would just bring strait in. I had built a few bikes in the past and realized I was not exactly calm about my new rides. These were my dream bikes and knew that I could make them a nightmare with my shaky hands of worry. Sean and Cory were there for me.

So now they were built and ready to roll. Spec’d out to the ridiculous.

’07 Transition Bottle Rocket

Size M
Fox DHX 5.0 shock
Marzocchi 66 fork w/ETA
Avid Code brakes
Mavic DeeTrax
Shimano Saint cranks
36/24 gearing
Dangerboy pedals
Maxxis Minion 2.5’s and more
Weight: Approx. 44lbs

’07 Transition Covert

Size M
Fox RP23 shock
Fox Talas 36 RC fork
Syncros bars/stem/post
Avid Juicy 7’s
Mavic CrossMax SX
Shimano Hone cranks
Crank Bros 50/50 pedals
SRAM X-9 drivetrain
Maxxis Advantage tires
Weight: Approx. 32lbs

The riding impressions:

’07 Bottle Rocket

Well, let's face it, the Bottle Rocket is full on. It is extremely responsive, perky and tracks like a DH bike all at the same time. Picking it up, you’d think it was going to bog you down on the flats and climbs but NO. The Bottle Rocket, set up with the ETA or not, climbs until I can’t pedal anymore. It is simply the best all around geometry I have ridden. It is extremely comfortable rolling into anything you can throw down, leaving open the door to unsuspecting bite. We exchanged vows twice this summer without going to Vegas; One broken elbow followed by a complete knee blow out 8 weeks later.

I realized I had embarked on a whole new ideal about riding.

The Bottle Rocket is not a bike you just climb on and go. This is a serious machine that will take you way past your abilities if you aren’t prepared. The way I can best explain this bike would be a parallel to motocross bikes. In comparing the Bottle Rocket to other bikes is like comparing a Husqvarna to a Japanese Motocross: they’re completely different animals. Set up right this can race 4X, Super D or tour a summer with Bush Pilot Biking.

’07 Covert

New is where the Covert comes in. I live on some of the most buffed XC trails on the island. It gives me the opportunity to ride on those ‘not so fresh’ days and be home for a shower in no time. What I found riding the Covert is that there really is a magic number. I found that the way I built the bike up was way too light for me. The CrossMax wheels also needed a bit of rotational weight if they were going to track the bike in the air. What stood out for me was the amazing comfort of the ride. I could see this as being a fantastic endurance bike and full on race rig, easily. I hadn’t exactly built the Covert ‘as is’ and still got a lot more out of it than I expected. It climbs well, tracks smooth and doesn’t have that boxy ride like a lot of XC bikes. This bike is a real sleeper that I now have many plans for. You’ll see. It evolves with me as I build trails through the winter, nursing my injuries. Building trails, you will find, truly can be for the Covert and it is perfect for those long exhausting days. That’s a different story though.

To sum it all up with the bikes would take a lot more time and to be honest, won’t be done. What I look forward to the most is still the experience. All the places I think of to ride, the building of different ride setups and progression of my riding has taken a Transition. What the future holds for my riding can take any direction. For now, I ride easy and give back to the system. As this winter keeps me in the lowlands, I am hoping to tell the true story of what makes the Transition Covert the ultimate ‘trail’ bike.

Check out my friends at and


  • + 17
 Very well done man! Love getting a new bike = ] Its better then x-mas.. Transition bikes always are kick ass!
  • + 6
 Nice rides man....hope to see you out on the trail again soon, till then heal up. Hopefully my heavy duty covert will come to be a reality one of these days...till then I am happy with my old dirtbag...heh.

This is a sport of excess IMO...we all ride bicycles on the trails and most of us ride bikes in the 1-5k range....most non cyclists think thats INSANE, but what a lot of people don't see is the sacrifices we make to afford these nice rigs, or how much safer the sport is on a better bike. To whine about an article about a man with a passion for bikes is lame IMO...sorry you didn't see the passion Dave, maybe you should ride with udog to see how much passion for the sport he has before whining about his article. /rant Big Grin
  • + 0
 More VIMB people!!! I am gettin' the warm fuzzies!
  • + 1
 We are everywhere.....
  • + 8
 my bottle rocket just got stolen.
  • + 6
 That Blows!
  • + 6
 I thought I'll never say this but Bottlerocket in yellow looks as cool as in black. Maybe even better. Nicely done!
  • + 3
 udog i don't personally read anything into your article that suggests an advertisement of your supposed wealth. i read more of a commitment to the sport on your part throughout the piece. i'll leave it at that. but great article, imo transition are the fastest growing bike company out west, and lots of it is due to word of mouth, and seeing shredders tearing these bikes up in most bc resorts. looking at the companies mebsite reinforces the impressive vibe and product they are putting out. cheers. any cryptic or suggestive advertising on your part
  • + 2
 Way to go man... nice write up. I was there for the broken elbow, although I didn't see it Strahn's description of it was classic and had us all laughing for hours.

Still cant believe that you not only rode out, but drove the shuttle truck for like 3 or 4 more runs!! Udogguy = Hard Core
  • + 1
 Thanks Gman!!

I miss the whole VIMB crew. I thought I would never say 'plagued by snow' but... we are!!!

VIMB = Great People

  • + 0
 I just got my 08' Bottlerocket last month and I agree with everything you wrote about it. This bike is perfect for riding in the Pacific NW / Northshore. Its also nice that the Transition headquarters is 5 miles from my house too. The owners/designers/riders from Transition Bikes know what riders in this area want and they nailed it with the Bottlerocket.
  • + 1
 Fantastic bikes you have there. I just got my bottlerocket and absolutely love it.

One question if you knew you were going to paint them why didnt you just get the raw aluminium frame?
  • + 0
 It is a good question.... These were the only colors available at the time.
  • + 4
 nice bikes this but favourite is bottlerocket
  • + 0
 Amazing bikes mate. Well built and well spec'd Wink

If I ever get rid of my Demo then I'm deffo going to get a Bottlerocket or DirtBag.

Anyway, have fun on your new bikes!
  • + 2
 he rode the same hardtale for 12 years dude you work hard you get to play hard sick bikes man
  • - 1
 i am going to race this year for urban downfall cycles in provo, utah, who sell transition, black market, and some other kick-ass brands!! and i am getting ready to build up a blindside!!! i am stoked!! nice bikes too! those are both bad-ass!!!
  • - 1
 Nice bikes! There's just something about getting a clean frame and building it up yourself. I was hoping to build up my BottleRocket around 40lbs, but it's just over 42lbs. I'll take a couple extra pounds for the feel of a coil-sprung 66, a coil 5.0, plus tires and tubes that aren't anorexic.
  • - 1
 Stupid build.
He should have bought both bikes complete and built lighter. Compaired to the Bottle Rocket my SC Bullit has more travel, is 10 lbs lighter, and can lower the front end to climb (TALAS). He used a coil shock on a 5.5" bike! Was he trying to build the heaviest small bike ever?! Hell, my V10 is 3lbs lighter. Compaired to the Covert my Yeti 575 has the same travel and is 6lbs lighter. Well, hope you like the color since you'll be staring down at it and panting on every climb or at the end of a rythme section.
  • + 0
 Hey lelandjt, I rode the custom Covert that he built, and it totally rocks. Anyways, why don't you post your own review of your bikes, rather than trying to school with cheap comments. You sound envious, and bitter.
  • + 0
 I also love my transition. It gives me the feeling that only a transtion owner can knowSmile Not to mention the fact, that the guys at transition do really know what customercare is.
  • + 1
 if this guy has ridden the same hardtail for 12 years, he has more than shown his dedication to deserve these works of art
  • + 2
 i love the smell of new bike
  • - 1
  • + 0
 Totally agree with what you said about THe Bottle Rocket ! this bike is definitely amazing !! I love it !!
  • + 0
 the sweetest ride ever! my fakin wish to have one of those...but still out of my financial range...;(
  • + 0
 what does it matter to you? rob, you are the best of the best....
  • + 0
 As I touched on before, I went through some 'retial therapy' which I was hoping these bikes might help with...
  • + 0
 Great Pics, I love the gusto, your story makes me fiend for the new bike feel.
  • + 0
 bottlerocket 44lb? surely you mean 34lb? otherwise that'd take the point out of a bike like the br being that heavy
  • + 2
 i doubt it...theres nothing on that build to make it lightweight. besides 44lb is hardly heavy. fabien barels 2 wc winning kona weighs about 41lb. a lot of people talk complete crap about their bikes weight. most dh bikes wont come in under 40 despite what people say.
  • + 0
 I love this bike. It is a heavy build more for DH and feels nimble and focused. I will be writing an article on the rebuild of this bike..... Stay Tuned.
  • + 1
 Dee trax wheels weigh a ton. Avid codes are heavy as anchors and Saint cranks are pudgy too. with a steel spring and 2.5 Minions....I'm not surprised at 44 lbs. at all.
  • + 9
 I also think you shoulda left the paint alone. The Transisition blood orange on the covert is way nicer than "springtime daffodil"
  • - 1
 LOL... That's funny!! Thanks.
  • + 0
 bottle rockets are where its at i love mine except for the stock paint job scratches extremely easy.
  • - 1
 i love the way he says 'It is simply the best all around geometry I have ridden' but he's had the same bike for 12 years!
  • + 0
 correct bikes, nice setups
  • + 0
 I feel like I am being followed....
  • + 0
 if you feel like you are being followed, it's usually because you are riding too slow! someone wants to pass you? or have you look at their ass?
  • + 0
 ya u should of put a big roco on the bottle rocket
  • + 0
  • - 1
 if i ever buy a freeride bike that bottlerocket will be it
  • + 0
 sick bikes
  • - 1
 they look coll ,but i would go for the covert ,i love trail riding
  • - 1
 niiiiiiice!!! rly good article
  • - 2
 it´s true new bikes are better than x-masWink
  • - 1
 FF dude, FF!
  • + 0
 wat does FF mean???
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