Bike: 2016 Transition Smuggler 1
Size Tested: Medium
- Drivetrain: Sram X01 / XX1
- Brakes: Sram Guide RSC
- Wheels: Easton ARC 27
- Fork: Fox 34 Factory
- Rear Shock: Rockshox Monarch RT3
Travel: 130mm Front / 115mm Rear
Blister’s Measured Weight: 28.6 lbs (13 kg) without pedals
Reviewer: 5’9”, 155 lbs.
Test Location: Boulder City, Nevada
MSRP: $5,999 as built[Editor’s Note: We first looked at the Transition Smuggler in our coverage of Interbike 2015. Now that bikes are starting to hit showroom floors, we’re taking a look back at everything we rode.]
Interbike’s outdoor demo is located at Bootleg Canyon in Boulder City, Nevada. It’s a fantastic network of trails, and it’s a great escape from America’s neon bunghole (Las Vegas). The trails we spent most of our time on were relatively fast, with a fair amount of sand and some pretty rocky sections.
Having said that…
Riding bikes at a demo is always kind of tricky. For starters, we’re unable to get as much time on each bike as we like–our test durations are measured in minutes and hours, not our preferred time frame of weeks and months. One good ride can tell you a lot about how a bike handles, but it certainly doesn’t allow for the customary, in-depth, Blister analysis.
Demo days also don’t generally permit the time needed to get each bike dialed to our liking. A quick suspension setup and fiddling with the bike’s ergonomics gets it most of the way there, but it’s certainly not dialed. We also take the bike as we get it, so things like bar width and tire selection may not be optimal.
So while we believe it’s important to be upfront about the limitations of reviewing bikes in such settings, there is also merit in riding a slew of bikes, back to back, on the same trails. Subtle differences that might not become apparent if our test rides happen weeks or months apart are able to come to light, and each bike’s attributes may be more easily identified.
With all that in mind, let’s take a look at the Transition Smuggler
The Smuggler was high on the list of bikes I wanted to ride at Interbike this year; I’ve been spending a lot of time on Evil’s The Following, and I wanted to get a comparison between the two. Like The Following, the Smuggler falls in with a few other aggressive 29ers that feature relatively slack angles and a penchant for pillaging rough trail.
Like most of Transition’s trail-oriented bikes, the Smuggler uses the “Giddy Up Link” rear suspension that they debuted last year. It’s a horst link design that bears some basic similarities to a Specialized FSR link. But, like most rear suspension designs, the devil is in the details, and the Transitions ride a bit differently from their Specialized counterparts.
The Smuggler is still only available in aluminum, although with Transition’s recent debut of the Patrol carbon, it’s not a stretch to expect to see a plastic version of the Smuggler in the future.
The Smuggler that I rode at Interbike was the top of the line build, and as one would expect from such a build, everything worked extremely well and there’s not much extra weight hanging off the frame.
The XX1 / X01 drivetrain is always appreciated, and Transition is nice enough to include a set of RaceFace Next SL cranks, which are plenty stiff and crazy light. Shifting was spot on, so no complaints there.
After a quick adjustment of the air pressure to set sag, the Monarch RT3 rear shock is pretty damn good right out of the gate. It’s not the most tunable rear shock, but it’s my favorite of the straightforward, non-adjustable air cans.
Most of the companies out there seem to be running Pikes for this sort of bike, and the less expensive builds of the Smuggler have Pikes. But for this top of the line build, Transition went with a Fox 34. While the Pike is certainly a very good fork, the 34 seems to have a bit more support through the mid stroke, and it’s a little less inclined to get crushed on hard hits.
The Smuggler was rolling on some Easton ARC 27 wheels, which run on a DT Swiss 350 hub. Like any bike that’s designed to be ridden fast and hard through techy trails, the wider rim is appreciated to give a bit better support for the tires in hard corners. And speaking of tires, Transition specs a Maxxis DHF / DHR II combo, which is pretty tough to argue with.
My only real complaint on the build was the Anvl Forge saddle. Saddles are, of course, a matter of personal preference, but whoever it is that prefers that thing has an ass that’s shaped way differently than mine.
NEXT: Fit and Geometry, The Ride, Etc.