Review: Transition Patrol

When it was confirmed that I was heading to Italy for Nine Knights, I immediately realised that I needed a suitable bike for the terrain. Knowing that the team at A-Line have hands on experience with Alpine riding, I enquired to see what they had available for review. I was pretty chuffed when they came back and said that they’d build a Transition Patrol for the trip.

Transition Patrol 1.jpg

 

The Bike


Very simply put the Transition Patrol is an all-mountain bike with 155mm travel. All-mountain bikes have seen big steps forward in recent years. Once the domain of awkward handling and poor pedaling machines, all-mountain bikes have become versatile all day mountain conquerors.

 

The Patrol follows the low, long and slack geometry trend that more and more manufacturers are adopting. Some geometry stats from my extra large test bike: wheelbase is 1240 mm, head tube angle 65 degrees, an estimated BB height of 339 and reach stretching out at 483 mm. Figures that weren’t out of place on a downhill bike not too long ago, let alone a bike that promises some ability to climb.

 


Transition Patrol 4.jpg

Transition Patrol 2.jpg


I found the fit of the Patrol to be spot on and was very happy with the aggressive geometry. The longer reach and lower centre of gravity made an immediate impact while the slack head angle caused a few mistimed jumps and drops at first. The short rear end results in a bike that thrives on having it’s front wheel off the ground.

 

The Patrol is built to fit a 160mm fork and 650b wheels. Each frameset comes kitted with RockShox’s Monarch Plus Debonair shock. The rear axle is a Syntace X12 and the bottom bracket is the threaded sort. While the internal routing looks great, I’m not convinced from a ease of service and adjustment perspective.

 


Transition Patrol 6.jpg

Transition Patrol 9.jpg

 

The 2015 Patrol frame is full aluminium with a carbon frame model being released in 2016.

 

The build


A-Line built up the Patrol using parts from their demo fleet. The components were all top-notch and well thought out. This meant that I could simply focus on riding the bike.

 

  • FRAME:Transition Patrol
  • FORK:RockShox Pike 160mm
  • SHOCK:RockShox Monarch Plus RC3 Debonair
  • DERAILLEUR REAR:SRAM X1
  • SHIFTERS:SRAM X1
  • BRAKES:SRAM Guide RSC
  • RIMS:WTB KOM i23
  • HUBS:Hope Pro 2 Evo
  • SEATPOST:RockShox Reverb
  • HANDLEBAR:Chromag
  • STEM:Chromag
  • FRONT TYRE:WTB Vigilante
  • REAR TYRE:WTB Trail Boss

On the trail


I tested the Patrol on a variety of trails and terrain, mostly in the Livigno Mottolino Bike Park, as well as some general trail riding in the Alps and back home in Cape Town.

 

Transition were one of the first companies to take advantage the Horst Link suspension patent expiring, using it to create their own adaptation which they call Giddy Up Link suspension (Horst, Horse, Giddy Up - get it?). In their handy suspension setup guide, Transition recommend a seated sag of 35% for the best anti-squat characteristics. When I first jumped on the bike, the shock felt way too soft. But a few loops around my local trail proved, what I should have known all along, that the Transition’s designers know better. It turned out that only minor tinkering was required to get the Transition's rear suspension to my liking.

 

Transition Patrol 7.jpg

 

Once setup, the rear suspension turned out to be a whole new level of smoothness. Despite the feel of effortlessly moving through the travel, the Giddy Up suspension maintained good support through the stroke and gave the necessary spring when called upon. The plush feel continued all the way to the end of the stroke which never felt harsh. One downside is that the feedback from the rear of the bike is somewhat muted, but I quickly got to grips with the Transition's feel.

 


Transition Patrol 3.jpg

Transition Patrol 5.jpg


It’s clear that Transition have built the Patrol with fun riding in mind. The aggressive geometry means that it excels on fast sections, the rougher the better, and the front end pops up at will. On fast flowing trails the bike felt supremely stable and continually invites the rider to let go of the brakes. There were no problems picking tight lines on the slower more technical rooty and rocky forest sections in wet or dry conditions. Although the rear suspension felt slightly stiff under hard braking in rougher sections, the Patrol remained predictable and responsive throughout.

 

An important characteristic for an all-mountain bike is the ability to get the rider out of trouble when skills run out. The Patrol does this well, saving me from myself on a number of occasions. Most notable was the downhill course attempt. After few days in the bike park, we could no longer simply ride past the sign labelled “DH World Championship 2005”. Curiosity prevailed and we pointed our bikes down the mountain. Never have I done so little and the bike so much. The Patrol nursed me down the terrifying top section of that course like a guardian angel.

 

Livigno Transition Ride 1.jpg
This is how bad ideas begin.

 

After spending four days in the bike park, I felt the urge to stretch my legs and explore the mountains. Luckily, a local tour guide was heading off the next day to do exactly that. This is description of the route I got from him: 48 km with 1700 metres of ascent starting at the top of Stelvio Pass (roadie heaven), an hour hike-a-bike up to the summit of Piz Umbrail at 3,000 metres above sea level, then a 1 km drop into Switzerland before climbing another pass back into Italy. I couldn’t have been more excited!

 

Livigno Transition Ride 1-2.jpg
There was no exaggeration about the hike. That's me suffering at the back. The summit of Stelvio Pass in the background.

 

While this route offered some of the sketchiest, scariest trails I’ve ever descended - all of which the Patrol took in it’s stride - it was the all day trail riding ability that I really wanted to test out. The Patrol handled the trip with ease. Climbing and pedalling over distance were comfortable with the firmer suspension settings (the shock is well placed for quick adjustment on the bike). It was so good that I quickly forgot about the bike entirely and just enjoyed the scenery. Of course, endurance racers wouldn’t accept the slight bob that emerged under hard pedalling but it seemed like an insignificant compromise considering the bike's abilities elsewhere on the mountain.

 

Livigno Transition Ride 5.jpg
The Patrol held it's own amongst some tough competition.

 

Conclusion


Transition have a built a solid all-mountain bike. The Patrol has fun at it’s core and shows it’s full potential when ridden hard. As a complete package, it’s an excellent descender and a more than adequate climber. The Patrol does its best to help the rider enjoy his or her riding, be it on an all-day mountain adventures, hitting jumps and drops in the bike park or simply riding local trails.

 






7 Comments

zero, Oct 20 2015 11:14

That must have been an awesome trip Nick.

 

I took my Patrol to Canada earlier this year. Rode non-stop for 2 weeks and covered Kicking Horse, Silver Star, Whistler, Coast Gravity and Fernie - down some of the gnarliest trails I'll probably ever see, and the bike handled everything with absolutely no problems.

 

The Patrol is by far the most versatile and capable bike I've ever owned and I'd recommend it to anyone looking for a "one bike" solution.

Bibi, Oct 20 2015 06:47

Such a practical frame ;)

Really cool 

ridin dirty, Oct 20 2015 07:05

frame price?

Bizkit031, Oct 20 2015 07:06

Awesome review.

Bibi, Oct 21 2015 08:48

The One One Codeine 650B & 29r frame and complete build needs to be up here as well - soon ;)

Fr33rider, Mar 18 2016 08:43

This exact frame now belongs to me :) Thanks for the review Nick.

Nick, Mar 18 2016 08:45

This exact frame now belongs to me :) Thanks for the review Nick.

 

I thought it looked familiar when I saw the build photos the other day ;) Enjoy it!