Evan Martin is a longtime Goldstream customer and mountain biking enthusiast, and he was willing to share a review of his new Transition.
GiddyUp! – Transition‘s branding is true to its word.
How many times have I made bad purchases on the basis of things I hoped I would do – a mountaineering harness when I barely make it out of the climbing gym, long travel bikes when I mostly ride cross country – shall I go on?
This time, I’ve forced myself to be a little more honest about the type of rider I am, and the rider that I see myself being a little further down the road. So, who am I? It sounds like one of those mid-life crisis sort of a questions, but the truth is, I know who I am. I’m the guy that rolls down the mountain just to be able to climb back up to the top. An all-mountain goat with a cross-country heart. Don’t get me wrong, I love the downs… but the fun doesn’t stop at the bottom as I rip back up the hill for the second lap. And while I’ve ridden most of the areas our beautiful island has to offer, as well as various destination trails on the mainland, Hartland is my backyard, where I could tell you every turn in the trails – plus some.
The previous twelve months saw a lot of time riding with my wife as she discovered the joys of mountain biking. And while my tolerance for risk has always landed me squarely on the side of caution, now in my early-thirties with a baby on the way, I have found myself a little more prone to walking away from the big drops and rolls that my riding buddies are hitting, as the potential consequences outweigh the thrill.
Enter the 2017 Transition Scout. With only 125mm of rear travel (140mm in the front), the Scout has the shortest travel of the bikes I was considering. When combined with a shorter wheelbase than Kona’s Process 134, shorter chain stays than a Devinci Troy and noticeably lighter weight than both (not to overlook that steep seat tube that Transition is famous for), what you get is a bike that is half Mountain Goat, half Jack Rabbit – GiddyUp!
I opted for the kind of bread ‘n’ butter groupo that gets you close to what the pros ride, while not having to take out a second mortgage: an alloy Scout 3 kitted out with SRAM’s GX drivetrain, Guide R brakes and Race Face for just about everything else. And dressed in Transition’s “Red Rum” paint scheme, my new Scout 3 has all the subtlety of a flashy two-seater.
While my buddies are dreaming of larger 160mm bikes for occasional trips to Mount Washington, Squamish, and the North Shore, I wanted a do-it-all get-up-and-go trail bike that makes even my wife’s favorite trails fun. After the first puddle jump, I had to reassure myself that the shop hadn’t filled the tires with helium; I was hooked. I just couldn’t wait to get it out to Twister, Dave’s line, and Snakes and Ladders. With the bike having arrived just in time for Christmas, a Christmas Day night ride it was!
With such a playful steed, I was willing to accept the lack of stability and inevitable tradeoffs that come with such a gift and lay to rest the good ol’ days of riding the Green Ribbons, and Hot Cherrys of the world… only one problem, the tradeoffs never came: a little tuning of the rear shock and I was back to riding everything I was riding before on the biggest short-travel bike around. And to top it off, it has also proven to be a truly excellent climber – capable of tackling everything Switchbacks or Snakes can throw at it, while secretly shaving a few candles off the old birthday cake.
The secret – with a 330mm bottom bracket height, the Scout doesn’t just look like a little red sports car, it ranks in among the lowest of the low. Surefooted and stable enough for our rocky West Coast terrain, but with the added curse of a few more pedal strikes in the chop. I’ve invested in a Blackspire bash guard and Race Face crank booties to soften the blow and protect the gear.
Despite the peppy pedal-ability of the standard 32T chainring, I opted for a 28T ring to provide that slow steady climb that gets you to the top of Breathless without being completely out of breath. Second gear now provides the necessary punch for tearing up short steep sections, while the lowest gear provides a high enough ratio for the end of a long day – all without giving up even a full gear on the high end. While many riders will find the 125mm KS Lev Integra dropper post on this medium-sized bike to be just what the doctor ordered, I opted to swap to a longer post for improved climbing performance – a mod that would be appreciated by those with longer inseams or who prefer fuller leg extension.
So, what about the bounce? Out of the box the suspension may require a bit of trial-and-error tuning depending on your riding area and style. The stock setup might be well suited to flowy or loamy runs, but with the recommended 35% sag in the shock, the rocky, technical trails at Hartland were burning through the travel too quickly, with a harsh bottom at the end of the stroke. Fortunately, the Monarch Debonair shock and the Pike RC fork, stock on the Scout 3, both have the ability to step up their game with spacers or tokens, reducing negative air volume and providing a more progressive ramp up. What does all this mean? Stock the rear shock full of bottomless rings and insert tokens in the fork and suddenly this mid travel bike has the ability to play with its big brothers, while still allowing for the sag and small bump cush that Transition intended. Coming off of a longer travel bike and on to the Scout, I found six bottomless rings (the maximum for this stroke) as opposed to the two Transition provided was required to dampen the bigger hits and smooth out the Hartland chatter. While tuning both the shock and the fork is relatively easy, if you’re at all unsure, have the staff at Goldstream Bicycles guide you through it when you pick up the bike.
With my changing perspectives on riding, the Scout is plenty playful to make casual rides with the wife exciting, while still providing all the capability needed to keep up with the guys. I used to like to keep my tires on the ground, but the Scout is so playful and quick, I found myself jumping over anything and everything from roots and rocks to the missing lines of rotted out logs and felled trees. This bike infuses its rider with the confidence to turn any obstacle into an opportunity to get its wheels off the ground. And although my intentions were to scale back a little, after pulling the trigger on this flashy new hot rod, I must admit, I won’t be getting any older for a while yet.
The bottom line?
Heavier riders or those intending on hitting the bike park, pushing steep gnarly terrain, or more inclined to cruise up the fire road in exchange for maximum enjoyment on the downs may look to the Scout’s bigger brother, the Transition Patrol. Although a little harder on the wallet then its competition, the Scout is a great do-it-all bike from long cross country(ish) rides to true all mountain riding. The Scout is an excellent option for those looking for a playful bike to enjoy the climb up Switchbacks as much as the ride down Dave’s Line, Snakes, or Who’s Your Daddy, but when properly tuned, doesn’t shy away from more aggressive terrain when you’re feeling the need to drag your buddies down Hot Cherry or Green Ribbon: GiddyUp!