Transition is a small company based out of Bellingham, Washington, with a reputation for designing bikes that are durable and just fun to ride. Last year Transition released a new range of trail machines with revamped geometries and a new, shorter fork offset. Since the release of their revamped line, several other brands have followed suit with shorter offsets. 2018 has become the year of “shorter is better,” and the Scout is waving that tiny flag on a short stick. After a rough winter of testing, the Scout X01 had plenty to say and said it all on the trail.
WHO IS IT MADE FOR?
Transition has built a diverse line of trail bikes, leaning heavily towards aggressive riding. The Scout sits near the middle with 130mm of rear travel and 27.5 wheels, ensuring the maximum amount of fun times and playfulness. With a starting price tag of $3000 for a complete build, the Scout will suit the budget-minded weekend warrior or the gravity enthusiast looking for a capable bike to ride when the chairlifts are closed.
WHAT IS IT MADE FROM?
The Scout may look simple with an aluminum frame and threaded bottom bracket, but Transition built in some progressive features setting themselves apart from the mainstream manufacturers. The heart and soul of the Scout is Transition’s Speed Balanced Geometry (SBG) that they debuted on the longer-travel Sentinel. SBG is designed around a longer reach and slacker head angle but with a custom 37mm offset fork. The shorter offset moves the front axle closer to the rider and increases the trail. Transition worked on SBG for over two years in hopes of giving riders more confidence and stability.
On the suspension side of the design is Transition’s GiddyUp 2.0 that works similar to a Horst Link. The Scout was designed and tested in Pacific Northwest winters, and for added durability, Transition uses Enduro Max bearings in the suspension linkage. The rear triangle uses Boost spacing and has clearance to fit up to a 2.8-inch tire on a 27.5 rim. Wrapping up the frame design are molded rubber protectors on the downtube and chainstays.
WHICH COMPONENTS STAND OUT?
The X01 Eagle build kit that we tested is the top of the line for the Scout builds. The SRAM X01 Eagle drivetrain shifted consistently and gave our test riders all the gearing they needed. Our test bike came stock with e*13 TRS+ wheels, and we were impressed with the strength and quick engagement of the rear hub. Of course, the Fox 36 Performance fork and DPX2 shock delivered smooth and consistent performance and offered plenty of adjustment for our test riders.
HOW DOES IT PERFORM?
Moving out: The Scout came stock with wide, trail-worthy 800mm Race Face Turbine R 35 handlebars paired with a 40mm-long stem. This cockpit setup is part of Transition’s SBG concept, and once seated on the saddle, we liked the longer reach and steeper seat tube angle. Naturally, we set up the tires tubeless and adjusted the air pressures on the Maxxis Minion tires a touch lower than normal for our dry and loose trails.
Our first ride on the trail it took us a few minutes to get used to the visuals of the shorter offset fork. We weren’t quite used to having the front wheel so close. A standard 27.5 bike in this suspension category will use a 44mm offset fork. The difference of 7mm may not sound like much, but it is from a visual standpoint.
Setting the sag: Transition includes a guide to setting up their suspension, in particular the shock. For the 130mm travel Scout, Transition recommended 32–35 percent (17–19mm) of sag. We started at about 19mm with the rebound set to match our testing trails. Up front we set the Fox 36 to 20-percent sag with two volume spacers and the low-speed compression set a few clicks in for a little more support.
Climbing: There is no deny- ing that the Scout is a burly and heavy bike, but it can climb—just don’t expect to set any PRs on the fire roads. The stock 32-tooth front chainring was low enough for our test riders and didn’t have us blowing up our knees when the trail got steep. On steeper sections of trail with rocks and ruts, the 75-degree seat tube angle allowed us to distribute our weight over the handlebars comfortably. The shorter fork offset did make it a little easier to maneuver the front wheel around switchbacks or tight sections of trail. We often left the shock in the middle setting, even when climbing technical singletrack. This provided a good balance between traction and pedaling efficiency.
Descending: Transition lives by the slogan “Engineered to party,” and the Scout is the life of the party when the trail points down. The 27.5-inch wheels and mid-level travel gave the Scout a lively and playful feel that we would expect from any bike Transition designs. With the suspension wide open, the Scout tracked the trail confidently and the Maxxis Minion tires gave our test riders all the traction they needed. The rear suspension was active and plush and felt like it was giving more than 130mm of travel. We appreciated every bit of the progressive geometry, especially the longer and lower position.
Cornering: The Scout made quick work of just about any corner in its path. At high speeds the Scout was stable, and with the extra grip on the Minion front tire, it grabbed the trail effortlessly. The short chainstays made the rear end of the Scout easy to pull through switchbacks and tight corners.
Braking: Our test bike came stock with SRAM Guide RSC brakes with 180mm front and rear rotors. The Guide gave us all the stopping power that we needed and controlled modulation when picking our way through steep and technical bits of trail.
TRICKS, TIPS OR UPGRADES?
The Scout is a seriously burly bike that feels ready for a big day on rowdy B.C. or Pacific Northwest trails. The build kit left us little to complain about, although some riders will want to invest some extra coin to shed some weight off the bike.
We had a lot of questions about the Scout going into our testing, especially with Transition’s SBG geometry and shorter fork offset. Our test riders were split on whether they could really feel a huge difference with the shorter offset. The riders who did notice felt that the differences were subtle, but most pronounced at lower climbing speeds and when riding the Scout at full speed. Either way, the Scout is a well-made, burly bike that we would recommend to anyone looking for a trail bike that is capable and, most importantly, fun. ❏