Handguards are a brilliant invention and I'm never going through a summer without them. These particular…
Tim Wild gets a sneak ride on the new Transition Smuggler before its UK release. Snozberry Spectacular! The bike is due for release in the UK through Windwave in early April.
Pics: Corie Sprull
In a hurry?
John Peel once said that the art of the review is taking “It’s great” or “It’s crap” and spinning one of them out until it’s 500 words or longer. So if social media has reduced your attention span to a twitchy vanishing point, you can stop here – the new Transition Smuggler is great.
Slightly more detail
This all-carbon 29” trail bike, due out in the UK in a few weeks, is the latest release from Transition. I always pay attention to bikes made in the wetter parts of the US, because they tend to be designed in ways that are friendlier to UK riding conditions than those from, say, California – better at mud, and wet roots, and wallowing around in the slop.
Transition is based in Bellingham, in Washington State, which is as loamy and muddy a locale as you could want, so I had high hopes. And this doesn’t disappoint.
Aesthetics aren’t normally my first priority. I’d happily buy a bike that’s cheaper because it’s an unpopular colour, or because it got scratched in the shop. I don’t polish my bike to within an inch of its life and post pictures of it on the internet.
The way it feels is what counts. After all, when you’re riding, you shouldn’t be looking at your own bike.
But this is a lovely, lovely thing. Maybe it’s a primal call from my inner adolescent BMXer, but that frame just looks…exciting.
The simplicity of the geometry, particularly that straight line from headset to rear axle, is so clean, and the matt Orchid paint job – they were going to call the colour Snozberry until they discovered it’s slang for male genitalia – is as delicious as a cone of gelato on a sun-drenched Italian beach.
Colour-matched decals on the suspension decals too. Hubba hubba.
There’s that Fox 34 Performance upfront, a Fox Float X two-position in the rear, and you can add another 10mm of travel to that rear shock by removing a reducer. I didn’t miss it, but it might make for a slightly burlier ride on big downhill days.
My version had a GX Eagle 12spd, although other bikes in the range have AXS as standard if you want. Finishing kit on this includes an FSA headset, RaceFace bars, the excellent OneUp dropper, an SDG saddle and ODI grips, but you’re also getting a full carbon wheelset with WTB i30 rims on Novatech hubs, with an Assegai upfront and a Dissector at the back.
Things are made simpler with drop-in headset bearings, fully guided internal cable routing and a mount for accessories under the top tube.
It’s not cheap – this build will retail for £6499 – but there are pricier bikes with lazier specs out there, and again, it feels like all these elements have been chosen to improve the bike, rather than just complete it.
Overall it’s specced really well, and you’d only need to change for preference. (I’d personally prefer Shimano brakes to the SRAM Code Rs, for example, but there’s nothing wrong with them – I just like a more definite bite point.)
This was a quick test – I only had the bike for a morning – so it’s not comprehensive. I don’t know how the bike feels on a long uphill slog, or after hours in the saddle. But initial impressions were extremely promising.
On a short, fast downhill in Sedona, with slabs, kitty-litter stones and a few unannounced puddles, the Smuggler was like a puppy after a pork chop – aching to speed down, bounce off the sides and jump for joy all the while.
The transfer of power from pedal to forward motion is instantaneous, and adds to an overall feeling of nuanced control in every position. It feels sturdy enough to be planted and stable, with the 65° head angle and 485mm reach on the Large making for an in-the-bike standover position.
The all-carbon frame and,er, GiddyUp suspension (their words for a 4-bar), makes it feel light enough to throw around wherever you want it to go, with a smooth, progressive feel to the suspension.
So while it’s technically a shorter travel bike than a lot of full-suss 29ers out there, I had no problem whatsoever on steep chutes, chunky rocks or the more modest gap jumps of the local bike park.
I did not want to give it back, and still regret doing so. Just so I can try it in my local woods, and at BikePark Wales, and Roegate jumps, and and and…
The new Transition Smuggler is a fast, fun, supple bike that feels lighter than its 32lbs, plusher than its 130mm of rear travel and faster than large 29”. It has brilliant kit, looks amazing, and would do almost anything from a long XC day to a bike park jump session with a grin on its face the whole way.
We should grab one when they make it over and put it through some longer paces to make sure, but my money’s on this being a long-term winner. So if I can just have it back…
Transition Smuggler Carbon GX specification
- Frame // Smuggler Carbon, 130mm
- Shock // Fox Float X Performance 2 Position
- Fork // Fox Float 34 Grip Performance 140mm
- Wheels // WTB ST i30 rims on Novatec hubs
- Front Tyre // Maxxis Assegai EXO+ 2.5in
- Rear Tyre // Maxxis Dissector 3C EXO+ 2.4
- Chainset // SRAM GX Eagle, 32T, 170mm
- Drivetrain // SRAM NX Eagle 12-speed, PG1210 10–52T
- Brakes // SRAM Code R, 200/180mm
- Stem // RaceFace Effect R 40mm
- Handlebars // RaceFace Chester 35
- Grips // ODI Elite Flow
- Seat Post // OneUp Dropper 210mm
- Saddle // SDG Bel Air 3.0
Geometry of our size L
- Head angle // 65°
- Effective seat angle // 78.1°
- Seat tube length // 460mm
- Head tube length // 120mm
- Chainstay // 440mm
- Wheelbase // 1,247mm
- Effective top tube // 617mm
- BB height // 35mm drop
- Reach // 485mm
|Tested:||by Tim Wild for 1 day|