Transition Bike's Covert Review

Nov 23, 2009
by Tyler Maine  
The Covert from Transition Bikes is their answer to the All Mountain rider's demands for a bike that can ride the whole mountain - the ups, the across and the downs. At 6 inches, it falls into suit with a lot of other All Mountain bikes, well how does it work on my local mountains and where I ride? We've had the Covert for 4 months of trail time and it's been all over British Columbia now and even in it's own back yard of northern Washington.

Read on to see how it fared,Initial impressions of the Covert were all visually related as I'd seen pics of prototypes floating around, with very little details to go with those pics. The new tubeset was nicely shaped, it had a tapered head tube, the angles looked good, but what were they? How much travel was in the back, all kinds of things were riding through my head. I guess we'd have to get one in for testing, so that we'd know more and be able to tell you all about it too.

I picked up the Covert just days before Crankworx and took it for a nice rip in Bellingham to make sure it all fit and then headed up to Whistler for 12 days around Crankworx. I had heard from the guys at Dirty Fingers Bike Shop in Hood River, Oregon that this would be a 3 helmet bike and that I'd be stoked no matter where I took it. Whistler is the Mecca of all things mountain biking for a reason - it is all there for you to enjoy and over the next two weeks, I got to know the Covert a lot better and worked out the fit and part details as I went. From Whistler it was off to the Hurtin' for Vert trip and then the rest of the summer was a blur of great trails that were sampled at the bars.

Summer on the Covert:
Views: 12,613    Faves: 22    Comments: 10

Let's look at the spec first and then I'll get into how it all worked over the past 4 months. I went with the All Mountain build kit (build kit retail is $1471 Canadian) with the Fox Float 36 fork ($826 Canadian through TBC) up front and the Fox Float RP23 shock out back. The 28" wide Truvativ Stylo 30mm rise bar was swapped out for a 30" T-Bar (N/C swap for customers) and then cut down to 29" for my ideal bar width for my riding style and size. There are no pedals in this kit, but I would be rocking clipless pedals for the duration of the test any how. Man I seem to take a lot of flack for the clipless choice, but for me it works for getting out and long days of pedaling. Tires were swapped 3-4 times during the test as I like to be able to run the best tire for the job whenever I am able to take advantage of the options at hand. I did make a few other swaps and try parts out to see how they'd perform or enhance my ride - I'll get into that in a bit.

Frame and Size2009 Transition Bikes Covert
•150mm (5.9") travel
•Medium Frame
Rear ShockFox Float RP23
•Air spring
•Pro Pedal
Fork2009 Fox 36 Float R
•20 mm
•160mm Travel
•Rebound Control
HeadsetFSA Orbit MX / TBC Integrated
CranksetTruvativ Stylo 175mm arms, 44/32/22
Our bike came with a bash instead of the 44T ring
Bottom BracketTruvativ GXP
Pedals2002 Time Atac Clipless
ChainKMC Z9000 9 speed
CassetteSram PG-980, 9 speed, 11-32
Front DerailleurSRAM X.9
Rear DerailleurSRAM X.9, 9 speed, mid cage
Shifter Cable/HousingStock
Shifter PodsSRAM X.9 pods, 9 speed rear and 3 speed front
HandlebarTBC T-Bar 30
760mm width, 31.8mm clamping
Stock spec is for Truvativ Stylo 30mm rise
StemTBC Temple Lite, 31.8mm clamping diameter, 50mm reach
Stock spec is Truvativ Team 75mm
GripsODI Cross Trainer X lock ons, Black
BrakesAvid Elixir CR, 8" front and 6” rear rotors
Wheel SetTBC Revolution AM
•Front 20mm, sealed bearings
•rear sealed bearings, 135x10mm regular Q/R
TiresMaxxis Advantage 26 x 2.4, Kevlar Bead
Stock spec is Maxxis Highroller 26x2.35, Kevlar Bead
TubesMaxxis Ultralite, Presta
SaddleTBC Park n' Ride AM
SeatpostTruvativ Team Dual Clamp

Trying a frame out is one thing, but swapping parts to see if they will benefit, hinder or give you a better idea as to why a company specs specific parts and not others all comes into play. While a stock, traditional seat post is reliable, I have grown attached to my Crankbros. Joplin post and it's infinite possibilities for seat height placement. The downside to Joplins is their reliability and I found myself back on a standard post midway through the test - I guess spec'ing a standard post is a good idea.

DH mode - low seat - Joplin Post
DH mode - low seat - Joplin Post

AM mode - mid seat - Joplin Post
AM mode - mid seat - Joplin Post

XC mode - high seat - regular post
XC mode - high seat - regular post

There is typically a little note on all manufacturer's catalogs and sites that states "Spec may change at any time." This is to cover themselves in the event that a product is not available at the time you order it or if a manufacturer finds a better suited part as time goes by. Our Covert was spec'd with 175mm crank arms in 2009, but will be shipped with 170mm lengths in 2010. 5mm doesn't seem like a lot, but ask any lady and they'll tell you that there is a difference. And just like the ladies, I noticed the longer arms (I traditionally run 170mm arms) with a few additional pedal strikes. The strikes increased when I swapped in a 150mm fork with a lower axle to crown height - this dropped the front end and the BB making the already longer arms more prone to strikes. Hmm maybe they are on to something with the taller fork? Yep throw the 160mm Fox Float R 36 back on and voila, steering was more accurate and the ride height was back to proper angles. Oh and the pedal strikes decreased too! One has to try these things to see what it'll affect in the outcome. The 170mm crank arms in the 2010 kits should really help alleviate all pedal strikes on all but the gnarliest trails.

The rest of the parts spec held up great to the rest of the season - no broke parts and still shifting strong after a few bad rain rides. One part that keeps impressing me as I've had two test bikes this year that were spec'd with them, is the TBC Revolution AM wheelset. To grab some info straight off the TBC site:

"Revolution AM Wheelsetis our lightweight all mountain/enduro wheelset designed with performance in mind. This versatile wheelset can run a standard QR front, 15mm or 20mm thru axle to fit any fork on the market."

Standard marketing info, but what they don't say is that the retail is set at $340 Canadian - there is little to nothing out there at this price point that offers this quality. 2 sets of wheels and not one flat spot, not dents, no need for trueing all season. This product is in my top 10 for 2009 for sure!

Size: 26" front and rear
Front Hub: QR, 15mm or 20mm Thru Axle Front Hub
Rear Hub: 135mm rear hub spacing, 10mm or 12mm interchangeable axle system. Wheelsets come standard with 10mm QR axle but nutted axles are available.
Freehub: Alloy, 3 pawl system Bearings: Sealed Cartridge (2 front, 4 rear)
Rims: Alloy 6061 with eyelets, double wall pinned, 25mm width, 32 hole
Spokes: 14/15g double butted stainless steel black
Nipples: Black Alloy
Colors: Black w/Black Hubs, White w/Black Hubs
Weight: 2070g

Ok enough about the parts, let's have a look at the all new frame that the crew has put together for the riders out there looking to get more out of their rides. A proprietary tubeset is what brings the all new Covert together in both form and function. At just over 7 lbs with the Fox Float RP23 rear shock, this 6 inch travel AM frame is built to take the descents and is still be light enough to hop up the climbs. The newly shaped tubes make for more contact between meeting points like the top/down and headtubes, making for a stronger frame.

The new Covert was made stiffer in a number of other ways besides the tubes. From the new drop outs, chainstay/seatstay yokes to the one piece CNC'd rocker link, it was all done to increase rigidity and add strength and to make the new frame visually appealing too. The frame with a Fox Float RP23 rear shock retails for $1793 Canadian.

The Fox Float RP23 might just be the bar in which all other air shocks are judged upon and for good reason. Air it up firm, turn the Pro Pedal and you've got a trail bike, air down a little soft, open the Pro Pedal and you've got a stable descender or set your sag correctly and enjoy the AM abilities. This shock really is versatile! Turn to the fork up front and I find it harder to tune. Too much air and it gets choppy on the repetitive bumps, too little and it blows through travel - these are characteristics that I encounter being a heavier rider. I should have requested a 36 Vanilla RC2 on this bike for that reason alone but wanted to give the Float R a try. If you are sub 200lbs (180 and lighter is best), then you will likely love the feel of this fork as it's easiest to set up to your size. The biggest change that I made to how the bike handles was when I swapped in the lower axle to crown height fork. This made the bike feel all wrong and it was back to a "normal" feel once I put the Fox 36 back up front.

Looking at the whole package and knowing that it will set a rider back approx. $4000 Canadian, I have to say that I am pretty impressed with the whole set up. The 67 degree head tube allows one to feel more secure once the trail gets steep, while the 73 degree seat tube made for good climbing legs on the ups. The spec held up great to all the trips I took it on and is still going despite the poor weather we are currently experiencing. A one year warranty and lifetime crash replacement also speaks volumes for how Transition feels about their bikes lasting in the field - they are built to be ridden.

I'd like to leave you with Transition Bike's owner Kyle Young on board his Covert this past Spring:
Views: 87,526    Faves: 136    Comments: 33

To learn even more, please visit Transition Bike's all new site.

Happy Trails,
Tyler "Brule" Maine


  • + 4
 I have had this bike since the summer and cannot be more plaesed. i owned a Bottlerocket and the Covert for a while and never rode my BR once, even in Whistler! I put on a single ring for maximum shredability and a Talas for pedaling and it works like a charm. I find that the bike jumps great, manuals beautiful, and can take some serious downhills with ease. my roomate has the new reign with a similar setup to my covert and comparing the two the covert does have more petal bob and doesnt quite hold up in pedaling efficiency to bikes with meastro, fsr.... but is MUCH more lively and playful and a much better decender than any other 6 incher ive ever rode. Latly i have been pushing my bike harder and harder to really to find out just how fat you can go before landings get a little squirly. jumping i have no problem with it shreds A-line, dirt merchant, and frieght train with ease. tho on all 3 i felt it was reaching its comfortable limit on the high speen shutter bumps. steep lips and booter jumps are easy and fun when i threw on a 45mm stem. dropping to relative flat or overclearing has its limits, i am weary of the rear swingarm being on the thin side as compared to the very strong looking frame. i have landed a few 6-8 foot drops somewhat comfortalby other than a bottomout of two but that is as high as i would go. Bottom line- the most fun bike i have ever ridden, but does have its limits. my little write up i hope it answered a few Qs
  • + 1
 Your post is the kind of post that pinkbike was made for, finally an informative list. I have been doing some EXTENSIVE research on the Covert and other AM bikes and your post may have sealed the deal for my purchase of the Covert. The Talas is what i was looking for in the front fork realm, and after riding Aline this summer and knowing that the bike can handle some good jumps and flow is just too exciting. Would like to hear how it rides on the up a little more. If you have any more likes/dislikes in that area i would appreciate it.
  • + 1
 I have my covert sitting around 29lbs. I run a single ring and chainquide. The bike is great for climbing. It hooks up well, the harder to force the pedals the more the the rear tire seems to hook up. With an rp23 on the back this bike should climb anything, maybe not that fast but it won't leave you so exhausted that you can't rip the downhills.
  • + 7
 Beautiful Bike!
  • + 2
 beautiful photography as well. Brad Walton Photo's? anyway, damn fine bike
  • - 1
 not mine but I agree they are really nice!
  • + 2
 i feel like they could have put the rotor on the right way...
  • + 0
 I see how this bike could attract riders that can only have one bike to do everything but I don't think that this one is the way to lean. I am a HUGE lover of transition but there's something about this bike that really puts me off. I don't particularly like the rear suspension link and it seems like just a XC bike on steroids. it's definitely a gorgeous bike though and I'd love to give it go if I ever get the chance.
  • + 2
 well written review but i would have liked to hear more about the frame and less about part options and feel.
looks like a great design but it would have been cool to go into suspension design and feel, how it brakes, corners, climbs, descends etc.
instead of "you can set this thing up to descend by taking more air out of the back shock" which is a little obvious.
good article, more info
  • + 1
 Thanks for the note and I appreciate the constructive criticism. I'll try to be more frame focused next time, but this was about the whole bike. Either way thanks for the input on how to improve things.
  • + 2
 Ok. The review is pretty good. But the video shows pretty tame riding. This bike is capable of so much more. I have had mine for 4 months and have put it through hours of xc riding, and even more hours of bike park and shuttle runs, from kicking horse to silverstar and MT.7
  • + 1
 Nice bike you got there Brix. Got a question for you though, do you have a camera man with you everywhere you ride? Nope me neither Smile This bike has been to WHistler, Bald face in Nelson - actually the whole Hurtin for Vert Trip was done on this bike, and many places in between. Making a riding video takes time and you are often limited to the trails that day. Just wanted to show it in use in a few places.
  • + 0
 The video was great! Nothing against it at all. And for sure it's pretty hard to stop and get good footage when you are ripping in the bike park, who wants to stop when you are having that much fun. It's the best do everything bike i have ever owned! I'm using mine for a few DH races around home as a short travel bike works just fine around here. I'll see if i can't get a video of that up. And maybe a long term review after a full year of riding.
  • + 5
 Nice bke .... but is there a reason the front brake rotor is on backwards? Smile
  • + 2
 Good eye.
  • + 0
 holy shit....that's true
  • + 2
 The bike looks quite nimble and it has beautifull angles. I can see it ain't very comfortable for climbing (Tyler struggles a bit to keep the front end down) but you could have a Talas fitted for that purpose. There is a chance I am going to put this bike down on my shopping list. BTW, I did enjoy Tyler's video: I can tell he had a good time doing it.
  • + 2
 Demo'd this bike. honestly the best all around bike i have ever ridden. pedals like a champ, rips downhill like a true dh rig should. so fast! Best frame Transition makes without an arguement. ive ridden them all.
  • + 1
 I just bought a 2010 Covert from a fellow PB brother, and I am stressed that a medium will be too small. I am 5'11 and I've been riding a large Gary Fisher Hi Fi Deluxe for 2 years, until something went "snap!" last weekend. I hope the med frame is a better fit for me. What else does anyone say/think of the 2010 Covert? I will be using my trusty/thrusty TALAS 36 160mm on it. WHat else does anyone say about components that make this thing fly? Crank set, wheel set....??
  • + 1
 agreed with brix, the suspension on uphills due to the single pivot gives it great traction as compared to a more complex suspension design (meastro , fsr, vpp) as it is less stiff in pedaling. wich is a tradeoff but at 30 pounds with my fork down and seat up ive never ever been trailing behind my freinds on their reigns and nomads, unlesss they are in granny which i dont have. I spend a lot of time riding similar bikes befor settling on the covert (reign, nomad, sx trail, blur LT, remedy...) the covert was the most livly, nimble, and fun of all of these IMO.
UPS- as said very fun bike, with the rp23 its poppys and jumps around all over teh place with litte effort, kinda hard to explain how fun it is. decends better than any other 160mm bike, manuals like a dream with a short stem, great traction on uphills, backed by a great company.
DOWNS- though capible, i find myself wanting more traval on rough bumpy trails liek whistler and other lift assisted places, pedaling on flats and such i feel pedal bob. haha thats all i can think of really
Good luck!
  • + 0
 Wow Tyler, you must have been pretty serious about the issues you mentioned regarding the 36 Float. I was watching that video, and noticed you must have been running the fork really, really soft. It looked at times like you were going to bottom out the fork without putting any real weight on it. That's too bad. I'm running a a 2007 888 ATA on my park bike, and that thing is butter, whatever pressure I run it at.
  • + 0
 Ya I lean towards the softer fork feel due to not wanting it to be too rigid. It's a compromise, but still the 36s are great AM and FR forks.
  • + 2
 it's cool to finally see a review on the new covert, but it would be nice to have something much more in depth dealing with the frame and more of it's characteristics.
  • + 0
 Yea I also felt the review could've gone into more of the feel and initial thoughts of the bike (read frame) and how it did once you settled on a parts build. Although it was interesting to hear about the change outs and how they changed the bike, I'm looking for more of a concrete break down of your impressions. After all you're buying the Transition frame, not Transition's fork.
  • + 4
 I will go for new Devinci Hectik instead.
  • + 2
 Very versatile looking bike. amazing reviews.
i dont see this bike winning any wc races for downhill but it would be a great bike to pick your discipline with Smile
Great bike.
  • + 0
 Amazing bike. So simply looking with so much potential, absolutely fantastic. Component choice is pretty good too. Though... I'd really liek to see that one with flat wide bars Big Grin
  • + 2
 If that were my bike, i'd probably have a TALAS on the front. Smile
  • + 1
 Good spread. I love my Covert, truly an "All-Mountain" bike.
  • + 0
 Hey, great review, thanks. But how does it compare to the Ibis? sounds like you had both bikes set up for similar uses.
  • - 1
 Great question. I hope we see an answer.

I do suspect though that this bike is more in line with the new Mojo HD (160mm beefier version).
  • + 0
 There won't be any comparison articles on any bikes tested this past year. If you have specific questions, please send me a PM.
  • + 0
 Looked like a Santa cruz when I checked it for the first time but it's not.
  • + 0
 Good review Ty...nice pics! Looks like a capable AM machine.
  • + 1
 Time pedals for the win!
  • + 0
 I tried to buy that wheelset and my lbs told me they are 450-500 cad :S
  • + 0
 They should retail for 350-400 if i recall... Depending if you go for a 150mm rear and 20mm front... They are machine made with straight pull spokes.... they might be that much if you LBS bulds them up themselves.... with some DT double butted spokes and fancy nipples...
  • + 0
 I just asked for the pre-built wheels with standard qr, I might just order them from the transition website.
  • + 0
 I found them to be a little heavy. After 9 months I started breaking spokes on my back wheel almost every ride
  • + 0
 could someone plz get that guy a full face!
  • + 2
 Why he's out XC riding? He being me, I have a Full face and a neck brace that I use when I'm DH riding, this is XC out here. HEck you are from Vancouver so I am guessing you are not into XC.
  • + 2
 EasyKillah, please try riding XC in a full face and let me know how it feels to drown in sweat.
  • + 0
 how does it jump?
  • - 2
 The back triangle is the same as my solid, so is the shock mounting. In fact this frame is sickeningly similar
  • + 0
 yeah... except that yours is a horst link and this one's 4 bar... sooo by sickeningly similiar you mean totally different suspension. oh I get it!
  • - 5
flag browner (Nov 23, 2009 at 9:58) (Below Threshold)
 Ah so rude of me, but just beacuase 2 inches of pivot placement has a different name doens't mean they aren't similar. I'll admit I hadn't noticed before simply beacuse of the other similarities. Not that anyone on here really cares it was a passing comment.
  • + 1
 ever notice how actual profession riders critique their ride based on every mm of their bike so that it rides just the way they want it to? and somehow you mangage to critique a bike based on looks and not actual numbers? I laugh
  • - 1
 Whether the pivot is on the chain stay or the seat stay makes a huge difference when it comes to how they pedal, react to bumps, brake, and, of course, how much you have to pay Specialized Wink . If you had one of each bike and rode with a buddy and switched around a lot they would feel quite different: and you don't need to be a pro to feel the difference. Which one you prefer, however, is up to you.

This is a great looking bike.
  • - 1
 I'm no pro, thats for sure - mm don't matter to me and i'm not too pernickety to compensate. Transition are probably just annoyed they can't use the horst link scotch free like solid can. Everyone knows that a good horst link will eliminate unwanted brake influence and make it pedal easier.
  • + 2
 its to add strenght and reduce weight
  • + 1
 Well, it says on the video doesn't it? They call it "tapered" because of the way it's been made. I cannot see what you mean when you say this design decreases stand over height, but it has been made in this fashion with purpose. The idea is to strengthen the frame in those parts where it is more likely to suffer from unwanted stress. In the second video the guy says they wanted to come up with an usual looks a little bit different from what Transition costumers are used to, but as you can see there is also a technical reason for it. And not only Trek does it (Trek Scratch, Remedy for instance) but look at Spesh and what they've come up with for the next season (Trail SX, etc.).
  • + 0
 it does look a bit like a nomad
  • + 0
 So you're coming from the TT and not so more from the tapered headset. I see what you mean now, but I see no hump in it but a TT in a curve shape like form. If it is bent it is more weight as the TT needs to be longer to be able to go from A to B, so you are right in this, but the weight penalty should be minimal in terms of weight/ratio. About the stand over height, it looks as if you were right on this one too, but I don't think this is affecting the ST length in terms of size/length (16.5"/419.1mm for small, 18"/457.2mm for medium and 19.5"/495.3mm for large). As the TT starts its arc right from the ST, it looks as if the fitting was a bit too tight when standing with your feet on the ground, but, on the other hand, I can see how low the TT has been fitted onto the ST, which thing, I believe, makes a call for the gusseted stack bit in it. I can see what you mean now, but I am not all too sure whether I fully agree with you anyway.

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