Video: Transition Pulls Back The Curtain in ‘A Labor of Love'

Jul 5, 2018
by Transition Bikes  
Views: 7,141    Faves: 4    Comments: 0


The Behind the Bikes series will highlight the challenges and triumphs that go into the making of our bikes. These videos are a chance for us to pull the curtain back, and let you into our world to see what makes things tick here at Transition.

For our first episode, we go back to Lars' home garage, where he delved into a 2 year long exploration of bike geometry. Taking standards that have long been outdated and pushing manufacturers to support our vision. It was a long road, but it eventually led to a new wave of bike design we call Speed Balanced Geometry.


-Words by Skye Schillhammer | Transition's media wizard-
Speed Balanced Geometry. SBG. It may sound like a bunch of marketing speak, since it is our first acronym that actually means something. But that couldn’t be farther from what lies beneath those three letters. When I joined the crew at Transition Bikes, I walked into one of Transition’s biggest projects to date. At the time, it was a tangled mash up of technical geometry terms that would quickly turn away even the biggest bike nerds. Fork offset, front center, trail, and wheel flop, just to name a few. As things ramped up, it became confusing enough to where we internally needed a way to talk about what we were doing, and thus, Speed Balanced Geometry was coined. So you can call it SBG, or just “how Transition bikes ride”, either way it boils down to providing a means of simplifying the technical terms that make our bikes ride the way they do. Our SBG bikes have been out for a a year now, and we thought it was time to show the world how they came to light.


Starting from Lars’s home work bench, moving up through the minds at Transition, working with the two major suspension companies, and eventually getting into the hands of riders across the globe. SBG is live and on the trails. Some will brush this off as marketing, but it was a developed for the pursuit of better bikes, and not just Some Bulls*#t Gimmick, as they say.

Draft use
These four humans were some of the key components in getting SBG off the ground

A bike informally named "the Super Smuggler" was Lars's testing machine while developing SBG. Tucked deep in the PNW woods, he rode this trail over and over to unlock the magic.

Not a bad place to be stuck doing laps, eh?

Sam and his production Sentinel. Clearly pumped on the finished package.

Sam is a backdoor kinda guy. The trail that is.

Fittsie laying it over on his local trail in Santa Cruz. He and JC have been testing short offset forks on a range of frames, going through many of the processes as Lars did.


Chris Mandell and John Cancellier shaking some shocks on a lunch ride from the SRAM HQ in Colorado Springs.


Lars with proper audio setup. Keepin' it tight, but loose.

Stay tuned for the next episode of Behind the Bikes, where we will dive into the details of SBG, and what it took to make the whole package.

Words: Skye Schillhammer
Video: Skye Schillhammer
Photos: Oliver Parish and Skye Schilhammer


MENTIONS: @TransitionBikeCompany




29 Comments

  • + 11
 I bought the new Patrol a few weeks ago and am absolutely mind blown at it's capabilities. Long ago I built a ReignX with hopes to have a 170mm slayer that could climb... It didn't work out. Geo just wasn't right so it became no more than a FR bike. Years later, after a mate (a '17 Patrol owner) chewed my ear off about his bike, I figured what the heck, I'll sell my Trance SX and give this thing a shot. I've never been more happy with a product in my life.

Whatever they've done, it works. Very well.

I nearly can't believe how well it climbs for a bike with 170mm forks @ 64deg and I think it goes without saying this thing is planted and stable when pointed down. Yet still incredibly playful.
  • + 8
 If that's genuinely how it all went down, that's a great story for how innovation should be developed and brought to the market, unlike the way new wheel axle widths, crank axle diameters and other such 'innovations' are forced upon us under a guise of improvement but mostly seem like just a way of making older stuff obsolete quicker. That actually makes some sense about original fork offsets remaining unchanged for donkey's years. I'm surprised that the fork manufacturers haven't tinkered much with axle offset (fore and aft - not width ways) over the years yet. I know angle sets artificially affect offset but not without changing fork rake angles and effective head tube angle too.

I have yet to test ride a Sentinel but the reports of them do make them sound amazing and almost tempting me towards a wagon wheeler, however in the meantime I love Transition, my '16 Patrol carbon still absolutely rocks.
  • + 2
 demo'd a new Patrol. nice bike. prefer my original Patrol. the new one is way more of a sled and not in a good way for how i ride.
  • + 6
 Most accessible, fun, non-pretentious group of bicycle-makers. Love this company.
  • + 2
 "You can't just throw it on any bike." So you'll need a new frame...

Guaranteed that these reduced offset forks are the next Kool-Aid that fork makers will be pushing and riders will be drinking.

Anti marketing-hype marketing.
  • + 5
 Amending my comment: fork makers will shift production to reduced offset forks when bike brands invest enough in adopting and marketing the "new", "better" offset "standard", not the "outdated" one.

Check the offset numbers on all 2019 Rockshox forks, and you'll see where this is going...

That said, who's going to be first to build a "flip-chip" fork dropout?
  • + 4
 @PinkyScar: The difference is a different casting for the uppers. And look at that - they now have made that different casting. But they didn't throw away the mold for the old one - they're still producing them. So whatever fork you can fit on your bike now that works because it's the amount of offset the bike was designed for will still be available for a very long time. Nope, they won't make brand-new forks with it - but when was the last time they really re-did an upper? Yes, they mess with dampers and springs all the time - but the stanchions and uppers are pretty stagnant.

I am not a fan of gratuitously introduced standards - there's real harm there to consumers. But I don't think this creates the same amount of harm/hassle as, say, the constantly changing rear hub stuff. You switch rear wheels a lot more frequently than forks.
  • + 0
 But one can just throw it on any bike. Fox has had 44mm 29" XC forks since 2016 or earlier, Jeffsy 29s have it, as well as Whyte S-150. Here's an article from Fall of 2015: www.bikeradar.com/us/mtb/gear/article/pushing-the-limits-of-fork-offset-an-experiment-45343. There are probably earlier examples that I'm too lazy to dig up. Fork and frame marketers will certainly exploit it, but that doesn't mean it's not better.
  • + 1
 @ceecee: Yeah I own a Jeffsy and didn't even know that I had a reduced offset until I looked it up after Transition announced their SBG geometry. But...fairly pumped I can take my 46mm offset fork and put it on a Transition frame!
  • + 1
 @gbeaks33: 44mm offset...Jeffsy 29 didn't do it for you? Striking that a Large Jeffsy has only a 445mm reach vs Smuggler 475mm, but they still put a 'short' offset fork on it. Shorter wb, longer trail--what's not to like? At 6', I'd still go for a Medium SBG Smuggler. Thanks for the reply.
  • + 1
 @ceecee: I def love my Jeffsy, but I've had it for two years and usually sell a bike after that time while it still has value. It's also a little too short for me. The 500mm reach of a smuggler looks about perfect with the degree steeper seat tube. If yt made an XXL Jeffsy, I might reconsider.
  • + 1
 @ceecee: I'm 5'11 and the 475mm reach fits me perfectly. A medium would be too small for me. I was very nervous looking at the numbers (coming from a 439mm reach Trance) as I couldn't demo the bike but my dealer said "trust these guys". I'm glad I did.
  • + 1
 @doakwolf: @doakwolf: 36mm reach diff...huge. At least top tube lengths are comparable. Demo or bust. Regards
  • + 3
 Joined the TR family this year with the Scout. Been great watching them evolve and put out quality bikes built to ride in the mountains. Thanks dudes!!
  • + 1
 "You can't just throw it on any bike, it's tied to the rest of the geometry." I fear this will end up in yet another new standard that renders 1-2 year old bikes obsolete if fork manufacturers and bike manufacturers start to adopt it across the board.

I'm all in favor of innovation if it works. From the sounds of it (according to Transition) this works. I've never ridden a bike that incorporates these changes so I can't pass judgement. What I can say is, currently, both of my trail bikes handle just fine...and I can purchase any fork currently available on the market for either of them. If the market creates a new fork offset standard specific to a certain frame geometry...my fork options may start to become limited.

All that being said, this change does make more sense than some of the recent "innovations" coming out of the industry like Boost, Super Boost, DUB, etc...
  • + 7
 However and whatever, my Transition bike is good fun to ride!
  • + 2
 @Slapnutz: Absolutely. I don't change and tweak things to save 0.5 seconds here and there. I just want a bike that puts a smile on my face and my 16 Patrol does that in spade loads. However if a newer bike with these geometry alterations did it in even more spade loads, I'd be tempted by one.
  • + 3
 I'm on a 16 Patrol. Best bike I've ever ridden. I wouldn't worry too much about evolving standards rendering it useless. I dropped a Vorsprung Luftkappe in my Pike, and got the Tractive Tune for the Monarch. Mind=blown. Didn't even know how good a bike can ride when geo and suspension work in unison. Wow, just wow.
  • + 1
 @slyfink: Oh for sure Luftkappe made a huge difference to the Pikes.
  • + 0
 It seems the suspension guys were just waiting for someone to implement this on the frame side... It makes perfect sense to me... The one real drawback to the long, low, and slack trend is low speed handling.. Considering how frames had changed in then last 15 years, the forks would have to change at some point.. I would love to try a reduced offset fork on something like a Sniper trail...
  • + 1
 As someone who owned a 2016 Patrol and now have a Sentinel I can attest that these new bikes are mind blowing. I tell people it's like driving a Ford Ranger and swapping it out for a brand new Ford Raptor.
  • + 0
 Riding the Sentinel for the first time last Autumn was a revelation for me. How much i could trust this front weel, quite different from other bikes to test. Same for the new Patrol. They really dailed something perfect for me with this geometry.
  • + 2
 On a Sentinel for 1.5 months now and there's almost nothing this bike can't do. I'm loving it more and more every ride.
  • + 1
 @TransitionBikeCompany Whole lot of sweet segments in this one. Glad you were able to keep all the other "serial numbers" out of the area so you could shoot.
  • + 1
 Instead of 'mad scientist' maybe 'mad 'Gnarcissist is more applicable? Awesome bikes. The Klunker is still on my dream bike list
  • + 1
 Really cool to hear how it all went down. In the name of better riding!
  • + 2
 BEST BIKES EVER!
  • + 1
 Transition has come a long way! congrats guys.
  • + 2
 Patrol review NOW!

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