Mike Kazimer's Transition Spur
Despite the fact that I spend a good chunk of each year riding and reviewing longer travel enduro bikes, I still have a soft spot for short-travel machines. Maybe it has to do with the fact that my formative years were spent as an aspiring XC racer on the East Coast – I still haven’t lost my lust for long rides, especially ones that contain plenty of technical, awkward trails.
That’s where the Transition Spur comes in. Earlier this year I decided to build up a fresh whippersnapper for myself, something that was light, fast, and above all, fun. I didn’t have any set goals in mind for the build, but the final result turned out better than 14-year-old me could have ever imagined.
• Intended use: mountain biking
• Travel: 120mm rear / 120mm fork
• Wheel size: 29"
• Frame construction: carbon fiber
• 66° head angle, 435mm chainstays
• Weight: 26.5 lb / 12 kg (size L without pedals)
The Transition Spur has 120mm of travel that's paired with thoroughly modern geometry numbers. The 480mm reach for a size large is a good match for my 5’11” height, and the 435mm chainstays keep things quick in the corners. I tend to prefer longer chainstays on enduro bikes, but for a bike like this it’s nice to have a little extra zippiness for tighter, slower speed trails.
When it comes to frame details, the ability to carry a full size water bottle inside the front triangle is a must for me, especially on a bike that’ll be used for lots of all-day adventures. The Spur also has mounts on the underside of the downtube, but I haven’t made use of those at all – playing giardia roulette isn’t my idea of a good time.
A Syncros IS accessory mount is attached to the two bolts on the underside of the top tube, and it’s loaded up with a 26” tube. Why 26”? It’s lighter, and it takes up a lot less space. Plus, it’ll stretch enough to work in an emergency, just in case I’m not able to fix a flat with tire plugs.
The Spur’s cable routing is internal, except for the brake line, which runs entirely on the outside of the frame. Henry Quinney and Matt Beer
may not agree with me, but I’m a big fan of this design. It makes it much easier to swap out brakes without needing to remove the line from the brake lever. I typically end up testing at least a couple different sets of brakes a year, so the easier it is for me to install and remove them the better. Suspension
Suspension from two different companies? Oh, the humanity. I’ve never been too fussed about mixing brands – I care more about performance than labels, and in this case a RockShox SIDLuxe and a Fox 34 Grip2
take care of the Spur’s 120mm of travel.
I ran the 34 in its stock 140mm configuration for a handful of rides until the 120mm air spring showed up, but in this case more travel and a slacker head angle didn’t create the ride I was looking for. The 120 / 120mmm setup feels much more balanced, and realistically the Spur isn’t the bike to try and turn into a mini-enduro bike – there are other bikes that are better suited for that type of project.
My fork settings for my 160lb weight are as follows. Air pressure: 87 psi. SC: 5, LSC: 12, LSR: 8, and HSR: 5 (all clicks from closed). In the SidLuxe shock I’m running 160psi which results in 27% sag.
I took off most of the stickers from the 34, since the orange Fox logo was clashing with the other colors I had going on. That’s the same reason the red sag indicator o-ring on the SID isn’t there anymore. I’ll replace it with a black one eventually, or at least that’s what I keep telling myself. Tires / Wheels
Roval’s Control Carbon wheels weigh in at 1473 grams, which is a very reasonable weight considering what they’re able to withstand. They have a nice ride feel too, one that strikes a good balance between comfort and stiffness.
As for tires, I’ve mainly been using Specialized’s updated Ground Control tires
, the tan-walled Soil Searching Grid T7 version for that little extra bit of ‘90s flair. They're reasonably light at 880 grams, with a tread pattern and compound that works well in most conditions. As I wrote in my review, “they offer a great balance of traction vs. rolling speed, with a level of handling predictability that's not always present in this type of tire.”
Now that the fall rains have arrived with a vengeance, I’ll likely put a Specialized Butcher or something similar on the front to gain a little more traction in the mud and slop. Brakes
I like taking little bikes where they might not necessarily belong, and good brakes make that much easier to accomplish. SRAM’s G2 or Level brakes are a much more common sight on downcountry and trail bikes, but given that the Codes are only 40 grams or so heavier per wheel, it was easy to decide which model to go with. I’ll pick more power and a better lever feel over saving a few grams any day. I’m running metallic pads, since they work much, much better than the organic ones in the wet.
I’ve been very happy with SRAM’s new HS2 rotors – the revised shape and extra thickness makes a noticeable difference compared to the previous version.Drivetrain
At one point this bike had a SRAM AXS wireless drivetrain on it, but I’ve since gone back to a tried-and-true cable actuated drivetrain. The electronic stuff works well, it’s just that I don’t want to need to worry if my battery is charged before heading out for a ride. I know, it’s not that big of a deal, except that I have enough trouble keeping my phone charged – the last thing I need is more USB cables and chargers to keep track of. I’ve also found that the AXS derailleurs are noisier than their analog counterparts – the clutch doesn’t seems as strong, and they have more chainslap noise as a result.
Why SRAM and not Shimano? In this case there isn’t any particular reason - I’d consider myself relatively drivetrain agnostic these days, since I’m able to get along just fine with options from either of the big S-brands. Although that rainbow cassette and chain does go nicely with those colorful titanium Cane Creek eeWing cranks... Contact Points
When it comes to grips, ODI's Elite Flow lock-ons are some of my favorites. They're nice and thin, with just enough texture to provide traction on rainy days or for use without gloves, and a soft rubber compound for extra comfort.
Speaking of comfort, Specialized's Power Pro Mimic saddle does the trick for me. Its short length keeps it from getting in the way on the descents, and there's padding in all the right place to prevent any discomfort or numbness. That saddle is mounted to a 170mm Fox Transfer dropper post. I tried out a 200mm post for a handful of rides, but that ended up feeling like too much drop for this particular bike – I have plenty of room to move around on the descents with the 170mm post.
Shimano XTR SPD pedals are the final contact point. If someone asked me, I'd actually recommend the XT version over the XTR, since they work just as well, cost less, and in my experience have better long term durability. The dust seal on this particular set of pedals has a tendency to slide away from the pedal body, but other than that they're still spinning smoothly. I've rebuilt and adjusted them a couple of times over the last few seasons, a simple procedure that only takes a few minutes.
I'm running a 40mm Truvativ Descendant stem and a 40mm rise Enve M7 carbon handlebar. A high-rise bar may not be the most typical setup for a downcountry-ish bike, but I chose it because it allowed me to have a similar position to what I'm used to on trail and enduro bikes. My days of being hunched over and stretched out are long gone, and with the 40mm rise it's even easier to imagine that I'm on an overgrown dirt jumper.How's It Ride?
So far the Spur has met and exceeded all of my expectations. It's the bike I grab when I want to knock out a bunch of fast miles, or to explore little-used trails that require a bunch of climbing to access. It may not be the absolute lightest or stiffest bike in this category, but its level of all-round capability consistently puts a smile on my face. It's been an excellent palate cleanser, a bike I can hop on and instantly feel quick, thanks in part to the faster rolling tires and the fact that it weighs nearly 10 pounds less than a burly enduro bike.
Call it a downcountry bike, a short-travel trail bike, or an aggressive XC bike, at the end of the day this Spur is all about having a good time, no matter which way the trail points.