Transition Smuggler

Transition Smuggler: First Ride Review

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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

Transition Smuggler
Pic: 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.

Berry beautiful

PIc: Corie Sprull

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.

The kit

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.)

Transition Smuggler
Pic: Corie Sprull

The ride

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…

Transition Smuggler
Pic: Corie Sprull

The point

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…

Pic: Corie Sprull

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

Review Info

Brand: Transition
Product: Smuggler
From: Windwave
Price: Frame £3,799.95
Tested: by Tim Wild for 1 day

Viewing 17 posts - 1 through 17 (of 17 total)
  • Transition Smuggler: First Ride Review
  • sargey2003
    Full Member

    how tall are you, Tim? You make that bike look quite small in the jumping pic.

    1
    timnwild
    Full Member

    Im 6′ 1″, but tucked that jump right up to try and make it look higher than it really is. And make the photographer shoot from as low as possible. Need all the help I can get mate.

    2
    jam-bo
    Full Member

    is it £5999 better than my tatty old 2016 smuggler…

    rhayter
    Full Member

    Pretty sure WTB i30 rims are alloy, not carbon.

    hardtailonly
    Full Member

    Lovely bike. My ideal bike, like a Spur ++.

    But, the price!!!! 🤯

    (Just a lottery win away then!)

    Onzadog
    Free Member

    It’s a lovely bike but the price has caused me to start looking at Last Bikes

    docrobster
    Free Member

    It looks lovely.

    The review says 32lb size large £6.5k

    My alu aether9 cost £3.5k to build. Has the same geometry give or take. (M/L same reach 10mm shorter seat tube and 5mm shorter chainstay) and weighs 33.7lb on my scales with sensible build kit including some pedals. Pike ultimates deore 11 speed 180 bx dropper etc

    I’d love to try one to see what all the fuss is about.

    It does look lovely.

    I also have a last bike but unfortunately it’s my hardtail.
    A fast forward frame I bought 3rd hand for £50 that looks like dogshit as it’s so rusty now the paint has all peeled off. Still rides great though so happy enough.

    honourablegeorge
    Full Member

    Prices are super high – meanwhile, our cousins across the pond are enjoying a 20% off sale on Transitions’ website…. no sign of that over here yet.

    ayjaydoubleyou
    Full Member

    It’s a lovely bike but the price has caused me to start looking at Last Bikes

    every so often I go and drool over the last website.

    similar to hope brakes, they are the same price they always were, but the bigger players are creeping up in price so they start to seem reasonable.

    oscillatewildly
    Free Member

    honourablegeorge
    Full Member
    Prices are super high – meanwhile, our cousins across the pond are enjoying a 20% off sale on Transitions’ website…. no sign of that over here yet.

    ASAIK its not on the latest smuggler model though, more so looks like what SC have done and trying to shift older stock

    chrismac
    Full Member

    is it £5999 better than my tatty old 2016 smuggler…

    certainly not and if we are to believe the editorial line on this site then anyone replacing a bike that is less than a decade old should be flogged to death as a consumerist environmental terrorist

    1
    hardtailonly
    Full Member

    certainly not and if we are to believe the editorial line on this site then anyone replacing a bike that is less than a decade old should be flogged to death as a consumerist environmental terrorist

    🙄

    joebristol
    Full Member

    Seems very pricy for a bike with performance level Fox suspension, wtb i30 rims (surely alloy not carbon) on Novatec hubs and GX build kit.

    Also the weight seems high – my alloy sentinel is about 34lbs when I weighed it last and it has a heavier frame, lyriks and a coil shock (maybe the 34lbs was pre coil shock 🤔).

    Frame looks gorgeous but the full build kit is looking too ish pricing wise now vs a lot of other brands.

    flowmtbguy
    Free Member

    How was the sizing – am also 6ft1, currently on an XL Norco Optic (their suggested size) – Transition recommend a size L, though the XL has near identical geom/measurements as the Norco..

    IdleJon
    Full Member

    Pretty sure WTB i30 rims are alloy, not carbon.

    I’m fairly certain that mine were made of cheese. That’s the only thing I can think of that caused so many more dents than any other wheels I’ve ever owned.

    1
    hardtailonly
    Full Member

    Anyone had any time on one of these and can give some real life feedback?

    snotrag
    Full Member

    Also wondering the same.. Does this get a bump on the forum too? @timnwild any sign of a UK test yet?

Viewing 17 posts - 1 through 17 (of 17 total)

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