An­thony Smith’s Tran­si­tion Pa­trol Car­bon

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We all have friends who are risk­tak­ers. They tend to fall into one of two cat­e­gories—the first be­ing those whose risks in­evitably never pan out. You want to look away, but can’t re­sist watch­ing for the I-told-you-so mo­ment. And those whose out-of-the-box thought pro­cesses open your mind to what’s pos­si­ble.

In the bike in­dus­try, risk-tak­ing in­no­va­tion tends to fall into those same cat­e­gories—from the what-were-they-think­ing to a why-didn’t-I-think-of-that mo­ment that drives tech­nol­ogy for­ward.

Tran­si­tion’s new SBG lineup of bikes falls into the lat­ter. What started as a pet pro­ject in the garage of Tran­si­tion’s Lars Sternberg has quickly evolved into an in­dus­try-wide move­ment to re­think what shorter fork off­sets could and should be for moun­tain bikes. A sim­ple ex­per­i­ment with a short-off­set, dirt-jump fork crown matched to a longer-travel set of low­ers has man­aged to ef­fect in­dus­try-wide change with most ma­jor man­u­fac­tur­ers of­fer­ing short-off­set fork op­tions that sim­ply did not ex­ist prior.

But it’s not as sim­ple as shorter off­set equals bet­ter. It’s a more holis­tic ap­proach to bi­cy­cle de­sign. In Tran­si­tion’s case, this al­lowed it to push the lim­its of head an­gles, reach and stem length to achieve cor­ner­ing and over­all sta­bil­ity char­ac­ter­is­tics with its bikes that couldn’t be achieved with pre­vi­ous off­set stan­dards.

Tran­si­tion’s 2019 size-large Pa­trol sports a 475-mil­lime­ter reach with a 64-de­gree headtube. It bolts a 170-mil­lime­ter Lyrik on with only a 37-mil­lime­ter off­set. The reach is a full 17 mil­lime­ters longer than the pre­vi­ous gen­er­a­tion, which I gushed about dur­ing our 2016 Dream Builds is­sue. You’d think it’d make for a wan­der­ing, mind-of-its-own ride qual­ity, but that’s sim­ply not the case. It ac­tu­ally equates to a marked im­prove­ment in cor­ner­ing and high­speed sta­bil­ity. It’s so no­tice­able that it’s un­de­ni­able: The front wheel feels more planted and in con­trol through turns while still tak­ing ad­van­tage of a

slacker head an­gle in steep and high-speed ter­rain. Add a 76.6-de­gree seat an­gle and your ped­al­ing po­si­tion wouldn’t lead you to be­lieve any­thing rad­i­cally different was go­ing on be­neath you.

A key to SBG’s proven han­dling is run­ning a short stem. When com­bined with long reach and a slack head an­gle, it feels right. The 35-mil­lime­ter Nora stem from Belling­ham-based Tenet Com­po­nents is a per­fect match. Com­bined with Tenet’s tall 35-mil­lime­ter-rise Bo­dem car­bon bar, the Pa­trol ex­hibits un­be­liev­ably pre­cise and con­fi­dent han­dling. De­spite the stout ap­pear­ance of the front end, the Pa­trol still of­fers all the com­fort needed for all-day mis­sions, com­bined with DH strength and con­fi­dence when the trail turns treach­er­ous.

The ride qual­ity of the front end had a cas­cad­ing ef­fect on how the rest of this build took shape: How far down the DH rab­bit hole could I go on a mod­ern trail bike?

The Push ElevenSix rear shock has been a per­sonal fa­vorite of mine. Its so­phis­ti­cated tune, shock­ingly sta­ble ped­al­ing plat­form and bot­tom­less feel on de­scents make the most of Tran­si­tion’s Giddy Up rear link­age. I wouldn’t de­scribe the ride qual­ity as mind-blow­ingly plush but rather a har­mo­nious cock­tail of con­trol and sta­bil­ity. So much so that I’m still not sure that I’ve found its lim­its.

Of course this is all a wash if what you’re rolling on isn’t on the same page. The new Maxxis Assegai DH-cas­ing tires on pa­per might seem overkill on a trail bike (and for many they might be) but for what I want this bike to be it’s been a fan­tas­tic choice. Match the amaz­ing brak­ing and cor­ner­ing char­ac­ter­is­tics of this new tread pat­tern with the sup­port of a DH cas­ing and it re­ally feels like you can do no wrong. But this isn’t solely based on tire choice. I stepped out of my com­fort zone with the Santa Cruz Re­serve 37 wheel. Yes, 37 refers to the in­ner width of the rim, and this is by far the widest rim I’ve ever rid­den on a bike of this style (read: non-plus). De­signed around tire widths of 2.5–2.8, the Assegai WT mounts nicely with­out squar­ing off, and the sum of all the parts—tread, cas­ing, rim width and one of my fa­vorite hubs of all time, the I9 torch— and it all feels com­ple­men­tary to what I want to achieve with the ride char­ac­ter­is­tics of the bike.

The Cane Creek eeWing cranks have the same ethos as the rest of the build: stout, stiff and vis­ually stun­ning. It’s not all looks though. Cane Creek claims the eeWings test about 20-to 30-per­cent stiffer than car­bon cranks of a sim­i­lar weight. The di­rect power to ped­als gives it sports-car-like ac­cel­er­a­tion, even with flat ped­als. Flat ped­als might seem like a bit of an af­ter­thought, and I’ve of­ten thought of them as a dis­pos­able part like tires or grips. Tenet how­ever takes a different ap­proach by of­fer­ing a pedal-re­fresh pro­gram, which in­cludes a free ser­vice on its FPT ped­als. Tenet wants you to be as con­fi­dent in its ped­als as you would a high­end cli­p­less pedal. This is wel­come news for me. I haven’t been clipped in since the days of Ly­cra and V-brakes.

The Bike Yoke Re­vive drop­per is an­other com­po­nent on the bike that stares dura­bil­ity right in the face. Its ex­ter­nal re­set ad­just­ment di­rectly ad­dresses any un­wanted slip­page that could de­velop in the hy­draulic cir­cuit via a 4-mil­lime­ter Allen key lo­cated right un­der the seat clamp. Ad­di­tion­ally, the Re­vive has by far the light­est ac­tion re­quired to drop a post that I’ve used. Speedy re­turn and a lever that in­te­grates seam­lessly with the SRAM Code brakes (among oth­ers) make this drop­per a step above the rest for me. Gen­er­ally, on a size large, 170 mil­lime­ters of drop is all I can get away with. On the Re­vive, I’m able to get run 185 mil­lime­ters with room to spare.

With all this at­ten­tion to brawl­ing speed and dura­bil­ity, I’m only pay­ing a small price in over­all weight at just about 33 pounds. This Par­tol is un­apolo­get­i­cally built to de­scend but mod­ern ge­om­e­try and an ef­fi­cient ped­al­ing plat­form are able to turn this mini-DH bike into a daily driver.

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