Whether you’re going with the top-end build kit tested
here, or one of the more price-conscious builds Transition
offers, you can rest assured that the parts they choose to
spec are because they’re the ones they ride, not the ones
that look good on an accountant’s spreadsheet.
HOW DOES IT PERFORM?
Setup: Lack of setup is more like it. While the RC4 damper provides
plenty of adjustability to satisfy even the most demanding
riders, we found the setup
process to be remarkably simple. We even found that
the stock 450-pound spring
that Transition supplied
gave us an ideal 35-percent sag right out of the box.
Nice. We quickly felt right at home on this bike, something that’s rare in the sea ofoverly complex downhill rigs.
Descending: On our first day of testing at Big Bear’s bike park in
Southern California, a pair of locals asked one test rider, “How are you with rock gardens?” While dropping in, the low and slack feel of the TR450 made it the
perfect “plow bike” and held the wheels of the locals who
knew the trails much better than us. Not to say that the TR
can’t be playful on the right trail, but this bike loves speed.
The TR doesn’t mind staying Velcroed to the ground to do
it, and it’s especially at home plowing rough rock gardens
and steep chutes.
Cornering: Don’t expect this bike to turn on a dime,
because it won’t. However, the adjustable chainstay length
on the TR450 allows this bike to go from race rocket to
park-rat specialist, and the shorter you go, the quicker the
handling becomes. We spent the majority of our time with
the chainstay set right in the middle, which struck a wonderful balance between high-speed stability and slow-speed
Suspension feel: The 8.25 inches of travel are certainly
plush and capable of leveling the gnarliest of trails, but that
doesn’t mean it’s a slug on the trail. While we won’t go and
say this bike is nimble, we will say we had some serious fun
flicking it down the jump lines like Miracle Mile in Big Bear
and Pipeline at Mammoth.
Pedaling: Okay, it’s not at the top of most gravity riders’
list, but anyone who’s ridden bike parks knows that there’s
almost always some amount of pedaling, no matter how
great a shuttle or lift-accessed run is. The TR450’s pedaling
is adequate, although not the most efficient among gravity
bikes. Dialing up the low-speed compression damping helps
to minimize the shock’s movement, but we found ourselves
enjoying the descending prowess of the bike too much to
sacrifice any of it for the pedaling performance.
TRICKS, UPGRADES OR TIPS?
Our TR450 came stock with nearly an inch of headset
spacers to raise the front end. While we never felt the need
to slam the bars all the way down, we removed about half
of the spacers to shift rider weight slightly more forward
and were happy with the improvements in handling.
The Easton 35 bars provide a great width and are plenty stiff, but the lack of upsweep left several of the crew wanting to swap the bars. Love them or hate them, the EC35
bars feel pretty unconventional and will certainly take a
little getting used to.
You want a daily driver that will hold up to day-in, day-out abuse in the park? Look no farther. You want a dedicated race steed? Strap on your number-plate, buddy. This
bike is built for speed, and it’s much more versatile than
we expected. It’s designed to be durable, fun to ride and,
more than anything, fast. While Transition’s shorter-travel
TR250 serves as the dedicated park bike, we see a wider
range of usability with the 450. The lower and slacker
geometry is much more capable as a race bike, but doesn’t
detract heavily from the flickable feel. This is a big bike
with serious capability to conquer the steepest of trails,
but it doesn’t require a World Cup-level racetrack, a World
Cup racer to pilot it, or a pro mechanic to get it set up.
Bottom line: this is a gravity bike we felt right at home on
right out of the box.