Transition launched the new Patrol
earlier this week, and it's now joined by the Spire, a heavy hitting 29er with 170mm of front and rear travel. Transition call it a 'nimble bruiser', although that might be a bit of a stretch – its extra-slack head angle and long-ish chainstays mean the Spire is undoubtedly happiest when it's binging on steep, rugged terrain.
There are carbon and alloy frame options, with five sizes, from S to XXL, that should accommodate a wide range of rider heights. For riders who want to take the mixed wheel route, it's possible to run the Spire with a 27.5” rear wheel when the flip chip is in the high setting.
Two complete carbon framed models will be available - the Carbon GX model is prices at $5,899, and the Carbon XT model is $6,599. A carbon frame and shock only is $3,299, and the aluminum frame is $2,299.
Transition Spire Details
• Wheel size: 29"
• Travel: 170 (r) / 170mm (f)
• Frame material: aluminum or carbon
• 62.5 or 63-degree head angle
• 12 x 148mm rear spacing
• Sizes: S, M, L, XL, XXL
• Aluminum Spire: $3,699 - $5,399; $2,299 frame only
• Carbon Spire: $5,899 - $6,599; $3,299 frame only
There are three different complete aluminum models, with prices ranging from $3,699 up to $5,399. No matter the model, all bikes have Schwalbe's Magic Mary / Big Betty Super Trail tires, a OneUp dropper post, and a OneUp bash guide.
The same frame details found on the Patrol are carried over to the Spire, including a straight 1.5” head tube that opens up the door for riders to experiment with reach or angle adjust headsets, or a dual crown fork. There's room for a water bottle inside the front triangle, accessory mounts under the top tube, and a threaded bottom bracket.
The Spire has a touch less leverage rate progression than the Patrol (23% vs. 24%), but that number should still allow it to easily accommodate a coil or air shock. Speaking of shocks, it's possible to run a 205 x 60mm shock rather than the 205 x 65mm version that's spec'd in order to drop the amount of travel down to 160mm.
The carbon frame has tube-in-tube routing for the derailleur and dropper post housing, with external routing for the rear brake, and the alloy frame uses foam sleeves to help keep housing rattle at bay. There's also molded rubber seatstay, chainstay, and downtube protection, and SRAM's Universal Derailleur Hanger.Geometry
Like the Patrol, the Spire has a two geometry options that are adjusted via a flip chip at the lower shock mount. In the lower position the head angle is 62.5-degrees, which makes this the slackest bike in Transition's lineup, the TR11 downhill bike included. Reach numbers range from 430 – 535mm, and all sizes have steep seat tube angles with short seat tubes that make it possible to run longer dropper posts. Sizes S-L have 446 or 448 chainstays depending on the flip chip position, and then the XL and XXL sizes get longer, 452 or 454mm chainstays to help maintain an appropriate front to rear center balance. Ride Impressions
Earlier this year I was able to get in a few rides on the Patrol and on the Spire, enough time to get a form some initial impressions of the handling similarities and differences.
On both bikes, the slack head angle does mean the steering feels a little heavy while climbing, but because of the steep seat angle you don't get that unweighted, floppy feeling that would have been present in the past, back when bikes had slack seat angles and short front centers. The Patrol and Spire are obviously very slack, and they're not going to be the bike for mellower terrain, but there's also no reason you can't get up some techy climbs with them.
With the Patrol, the cornering is what really stood out. The very low bottom bracket and the smaller back wheel help create a bike that lives to blast through turns, the faster the better. It jumps well too – it's a little more eager to get off the ground than the Spire, and it has more of a goof-off-ability to it. You know those videos of UK riders snaking their way down some muddy rut track hidden in the woods? That's who the Patrol is for.
The Spire has a bigger presence on the trail, and while it's no slouch in the corners, it's on the steeps where it feels the most at home. The sense of security it delivers on those portions of trail that feel you're like dropping into an elevator shaft is impressive; the way it tames fall-line plunges had me on the hunt for even longer and rowdier descents.
Downsides? Well, that low bottom bracket height and the 165mm cranks aren't going to be for everyone. Even with those short cranks I still hit my pedals occasionally, and in really rocky areas that could get annoying. The alloy models I rode also aren't the lightest bikes, although that faded to the background pretty quickly.
Overall, both bikes almost seem like they escaped the laboratory a little early; there's sort of a wild, slightly unrefined air to them. I like that trait – it's a nice change from the bikes that incrementally push boundaries a millimeter at a time. We're working on getting one in for some longer term testing - keep an eye out for that review later in the summer.