Bike Test: Transition TR250
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 12×150 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.
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 speed too.
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 onand we’re fine with that.
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.