While we love to watch World Cup downhill racers
smash down gnarly terrain on the edge of losing
it, most riders’ experience at the local bike park is
a far cry from that scenario. If you are like us, you gravitate toward the trails that have the most fun features:
jumps, technical but not necessarily death-defying rock
gardens, berms and a good overall flow.
Rider-owned Transition Bikes is based out of Ferndale,
Washington, just a quick jaunt from Whistler, British
Columbia. And they know that while riders enjoy
the occasional rough and gnarly downhill, the flowing,
jump-filled A-Line is world famous for a reason.
WHO IS IT MADE FOR?
The TR250 takes design cues from Transition’s full-blown
race bike, the TR450, but comes with a more nimble, 7-inch travel chassis. It is built for the bike park or shuttle rider who
wants to tackle a bit of everything but gets his kicks looking
for anything along the trail to jump off of. At close to 40
pounds, this is not a bike for riders who plan to pedal their
way to the top of a run.
WHAT IS IT MADE FROM?
The TR250 is constructed completely of 6061 aluminum. It
features a tapered 1 1/8- to 1 1/2-inch head tube, an 83-millimeter bottom bracket shell and a 12x150 rear through-axle
configuration. The single-pivot rear suspension can offer 6.2 or 7-inch settings.
Transition has built in a lot of versatility into the TR250’s
geometry by offering different drop-out and linkage chips that
adjust the chainstay length, bottom bracket height and head
tube angles. The head tube can also accept a Cane Creek
AngleSet if you want to further fine-tune the geometry.
WHICH COMPONENTS STAND OUT?
Transition offers two complete versions of the TR250, as
well as a frame/shock/fork-only option. Ours was built up
specifically for testing Shimano’s newest gravity component
lines, the Saint and Zee. For the most part, the Zee group
spent more time on our TR250.
The Fox suspension package of a coil-sprung 36 Van RC2
fork and DHX RC4 shock is high quality but relatively
straightforward so riders can dial it in to their liking.
HOW DOES IT PERFORM?
Moving out: When we first swung a leg over our size-large TR250, we almost had to check the size
sticker. The TR250 lives up to its mini-downhill
reputation; however, the wide bars and short
stem ensured that our position was stretched
out enough, and we never felt cramped on the
bike. Instead, the bike felt nimble, even at
nearly 40 pounds.
Descending: With the adjustable geometry, the TR250 can be slanted toward a
full-on downhill race sled or toward a
park bike. We
split the difference, setting
up the bike
with a 64.5-degree head
and a 13.75-inch bottom
despite its shorter
travel, the 250 will still
handle steep chutes with confidence.
While there are certainly more capable sleds for smashing
through rock gardens, the TR250 thrives on carving corners, manualing through sections and connecting smooth
lines down the track.
The rear suspension would have you believe there is more
back there than there really is. The beginning stroke is very
supple and keeps the rear planted through braking bumps
and chattery sections. While the beginning is supple, the
bike doesn’t simply blow through its travel when things get
rough. The 250 rides high enough in the travel that you feel
you are getting the most out of what’s available.
Jumping: The TR250’s tight geometry and short rear end
make this a downhill bike with a bit of slopestyle in its
blood. If this bike doesn’t make you want to find every lip
on the way down the trail, you might need to check your
pulse. On a few occasions, when we were spending more of
our time on jump trails, we found the end of the shock’s
travel too soon with our more versatile shock setup. Dialing
in the high-speed compression a few clicks helped combat this, though it inherently gave something up in comfort
through general trail chatter.
Cornering: This bike simply rips through corners. Its
geometry is very balanced and simply asks that you point
and shoot. It will carve tight lines through corners, but
with its supple rear suspension and slack head angle, it
tracks confidently through wide-open sweepers at high
Pedaling: Though there are long-travel trailbikes out
there in the 6- and 7-inch range that can be pedaled up
climbs with relative ease, the TR250 is not one of them.
When set up properly for pinning it down the hill, the
TR250’s single-pivot design is more interested in keeping
the rear end supple over chattery trails than giving the
rider a stable platform to sprint on—and we’re fine with
Braking: Our Shimano 8-inch rotors and Zee four-piston brakes were up to any challenge we could throw at
them. While a single-pivot design typically makes the
rear end stiffen up under hard braking loads, with the
TR250, this was unnoticeable.
TRICKS, UPGRADES OR TIPS?
While our component spec wasn’t stock, in our experience, Transition does a great job spec’ing bikes that are
ready to hit the lift right out of the box.
Transition puts a lot of emphasis on their rider-owned
status. Calling the company for customer service means
talking directly to the guys who dream up these bikes. They take
pride in their work and it shows. The TR250 is well
built, well designed and, most of all, a ton of fun. For
those looking to tackle any trail in the bike park but also
put in some serious laps on the jump lines, the TR250
will serve you well.